Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ask For What You Want

Part 1

While growing up, I learned not to ask for what I wanted. Asking would open me up to charges of being some sort of moron, because what I wanted was usually considered, well, stupid, whether it was a present (“What do you want for Christmas?” is a trick question designed to elicit an answer everyone can mock) or a goal: “You want to go to college? Are you out of your mind?”

Well, yes, obviously. There’s never been much doubt about that. So I learned not to ask for what I want. It took years to undo this training, and I’m still working on it.

Part 2

I was on a business/pleasure trip to Seattle the other day. It’s a three hour drive from here to there, and so the plan was to drive up, see a couple of clients, see a friend for lunch in between clients, and then, on my way out of town, I was going to stop in Bellevue to have dinner with my husband. He’s in Seattle every Friday and Saturday, and he hadn’t seen me since, oh, Friday morning when we both left for Seattle, so by Friday evening he was missing me terribly.

I was very tired by then, and in a bit of pain. I have constant pain lately, not that it’s anything worth mentioning, but it’s annoying as hell, and a day of driving doesn’t help it. And I still had a good three hours driving, at least, before I would be home.

Have you ever been to Bellevue? I think Microsoft’s on a campaign to take it over, and many of the new buildings have Microsoft signs. Bellevue has money. And people with money. I cruise around in my old car and it doesn’t bother me in the least because I don’t have a car payment.

On the off ramp to turn onto a main street in Bellevue was a man with a sign. An older man, with a grin on his wizened face, and his sign said, “Have chocolate chip cookies? Coffee? Anything would help.”

I see people with signs everywhere I go, which is one of the reasons I don’t carry cash with me. It wouldn’t  last long because I’d be compelled to hand it out. People say I shouldn’t because “they’ll just spend it on booze or something,” but I say, “so what?” What do I care what they spend it on? It’s not a government grant with strict requirements as to how it’s to be spent. It’s a gift. The person who receives a gift can do whatever they want with it. I’m not their mommy, I’m not here to tell them how to spend what money they do get.

Anyway. So I don’t travel with cash. I can’t afford to.

But here was this man asking for something besides cash. Chocolate chip cookies. And sitting there in traffic, I realized I had chocolate chip cookies. The really good ones, from the specialty cookie place, that my charming husband had put in a ziplock bag for me that morning in case I got hungry on the road, which I always do. But so far, I hadn’t touched the cookies.

The light was going to change soon, so I rolled down the passenger side window and said, “Hey, I’ve got cookies!”

He came over to the window and I handed the bag to him, and he was happy that someone in that long line of cars had something he was asking for. He gave me a fabulous smile, and it’s quite a good payment for a few cookies. Where else can you get that kind of return?

And me, I can get myself more cookies any time I want. I can get myself most things I want any time I want, at least most food items. No hardship for me.

But here’s the thing. The man on the corner would never have gotten any cookies if he hadn’t asked for them. It’s not that most of us don’t want to give others what they want. It’s just that we’re too busy doing our own thing, and we don’t know what people want unless they tell us. If you tell someone what you want, there’s always a chance they’ll say no. But if you don’t ask at all, there’s a really good chance you’ll never get what you want. How can you, if no one knows what it is?

We’re all running around doing our own thing. If you’re anything like me, you have a list of a thousand things in your head that you’re meaning to do, or get around to, or meant to do, and handing out cookies probably doesn’t even enter into the equation unless someone asks for some.

You may have to ask more than once. I’m sure when the man on the corner put out his sign the first car going by didn’t stop and hand him any cookies. He may have had to wait quite a while to get any cookies, and there’s a chance he might not have gotten any at all. But by asking, he greatly increased his odds.

You have to ask. Tell people what you want, and you increase, exponentially, your chances of receiving it.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Killer Dogs Exonerated

After a somewhat thorough examination of the kitty corpse, we have come up with a new theory, based on the following evidence:
1. Indentation in ground where cat was laying.
2. Clean cuts into kitty's internal organs. When found, it was all just a little too clean, if you know what I mean.
3. Long claw-like gashes on kitty's side. The other side.
4. Position of kitty on ground as if dropped from high up and then splat, on its side.
5. Flatness of kitty when found on ground. (I noticed this at time of disposal but was too traumatized to think about it. Kitty was in full rigor by then.)
6. Lack of blood evidence on either dog. 
7. Lack of blood evidence anywhere in yard. 
8. Lack of any kind of injuries on dogs, which would occur if they had engaged in any sort of paw-to-paw combat with kitty.
9. Behavior of dogs prior to kitty disposal: circling and running around excitedly, but no pouncing on kitty.

Also, no kitty is dumb enough to get that close to dogs.

Conclusion reached by charming husband, who has more experience with these things than I do: poor unfortunate kitty kidnapped by eagle or some big bird, which have been sighted around here. Then poor kitty dropped by eagle. And splat. Eagle, or hawk or whatever, then did not want to engage dogs in order to regain control of by then very dead kitty.

Honey and Ash have been exonerated of all charges.  

A collar was found on kitty, but not tags, so next of kin have not been notified. An APB has been put out for the unsub, but chances are slim that the true criminal will be found and convicted.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Killer Dogs, A Love Story

This is not an amusing tale, so don’t laugh. This is a story of death and mayhem, and what happens when creatures venture into unknown territory. It’s also a tale of redemption and the struggle of the human spirit to survive in a world of chaos and destruction.

Or not.

Anyway. I live happily with one husband and two dogs. Last night charming husband was away for his one night a week in Seattle, and I was out late. Not late for some people, but late for me, who is never out much at all. I was at a fabulous birthday dinner, and met lots of wonderful people, and got to sit next to the birthday girl. It was a great evening.

Then I drove myself home. I was looking forward to getting home because I always look forward to getting home and it’d been a long day. This was especially true since I’d taken the day off and hadn’t done a lick of work. (What is a lick of work? I don’t even lick envelopes – I get the self-sealing kind so I don’t have to.) It was a nice night out and was, as it typically is at 10 pm, dark. It took just over an hour to get home.

The dogs, who had been left out in the back yard while I was gone, weren’t their usual barky selves when I pulled up. They know the sound of our vehicles, and the UPS truck, and bark enthusiastically when they hear any of them. The UPS driver doesn’t appreciate it much, but it’s not as if they jump over the fence and attack him or anything.

I thought this was odd. They never go anywhere without me or charming husband.

I went into the house, and then heard one of them scratch at the back door. I’ve asked them not to scratch at the door, but I might as well ask birds not to fly. I opened the back sliding door and let them in. They ran in as they usually door, in a hurry, which is only allowed if they’re feet are clean. Since it’s been dry, they rushed in, told me how happy they were to see me, ran around for a few seconds , and then asked to go back outside. I thought this was odd since they’d been out long enough, six hours anyway, that whatever needed to be done outside should have been done.

Then they came back again, and wanted back out again. This time I looked out in the back yard. It’s extremely dark out there, at least during the hours when the sun isn’t up. We have only the back porch light, and it doesn’t illuminate much of anything. But I saw something on the ground. Or did I?
There’s no grass in that section. The dogs have made sure of that, and we’re going to put river rock in the area this year so they can run back and forth all they want and not kill anything. It’s the area right outside the door.

It could have been a shadow. It could have been wet dirt next to dry dirt, though how just that one area got wet . . .  maybe someone peed on it? In the shape of a dead animal?

Highly unlikely. I got a bit closer. Not that I wanted to, mind you.

Dead animal, with long black tail. Or long tail. Hard to see what color it was in the dark, but it looked to be all black. And not moving. I wouldn’t expect it to be moving, had it been in the yard any length of time. 

And it wasn’t.

I made the dogs come back into the house. At this point they weren’t bothering said poor animal, but running around as if the night were still young and they were ready for an all-nighter.

They came back in, and were disappointed when I wouldn’t let them out again. Too bad for them. I told them I was very disappointed in them, to which they responded, “Yeah, but did you see what we DID?”

I called charming husband in Seattle and told him what had happened at the homestead. I don’t know why – I needed to tell someone because I was feeling a bit queasy about having a dead animal of some sort in my back yard. And I was afraid it was a cat.

I love cats. I love dogs, and have them, and I don’t have cats, but I bear them no ill will. One of the dogs, Ash, doesn’t either – he bears no one ill will, but he doesn’t know cats and thinks they’re toys. Honey, on the other hand, bears much ill will toward cats. I chalk this up to her abusive puppyhood before I rescued her. I think she was severely traumatized by a renegade kitty, which would explain her aversion to cats.

I was sad.

Charming husband advised me how to proceed in the morning. I had no intention of venturing back out in the dark to figure it out. “Put on two pairs of gloves,” he said, “And, if you need to, there’s a clothes pin you can put on your nose.”

The gloves I can understand. We have a box of the medical laytex gloves that we use for sensitive medical procedures and other things that go on around here. But a clothes pin? Why would we 1) have a clothes pin, and 2) why would I want to put one on my nose?

“But that’s going to really hurt my nose,” I said, stating the obvious.

“Yeah, but you won’t be able to smell anything.”

“I don’t care, I’m not putting a clothes pin on my nose.”

“Okay, but just in case.”

Where does he get these things?

After sitting up for a couple of hours watching reruns of Criminal Minds, in which many people dye gruesomely (and this does not bother me in the least – these are fictional tv people, after all, and even so, they’re still just people, not cute little kitties or doggies), we went to bed. I told the dogs to keep their distance from me because I was not pleased. They were so tired from their adventures they didn’t really care anyway.

This morning they started making “go outside” noises, as in, “Let us out right now! We left a toy out there and we want to play!”

I told them no way and suited up. The big plastic garbage bags were not where they belonged. In their place was a box which once held big plastic garbage bags, but it was empty. So I took a smaller kitchen garbage bag , double gloved, and ventured outside, telling the dogs to stay put. They actually did so, which was a huge surprise.

I approached the poor dead kitty, for kitty it was, carefully. Not that I thought it might jump up and attack me after feigning death all night, like some demented kitty in a slasher movie, but to show respect. I then apologized to said kitty for its tragic fate. I told said kitty, who had actually been quite lovely in real life, that I thought she was a lovely kitty, and that I would seek revenge on her behalf.
Perhaps that last phrase isn’t quite true.

Kitty had a hole in her side, a big gaping hole, as if someone had cut into her with surgical precision and then decided, halfway in, to just start ripping out intestines.

I picked up kitty by her pretty black tail. She was stiff as a board. For all I knew, someone had thrown her into the yard already dead. I’m not sure who would do that, or why, but I’ll take any sort of implausibility as a sign my dogs aren’t killers.

Getting her into the bag was a bit tricky, but nothing my years of accounting hadn’t trained me for. I then double bagged kitty, and took her out to the garage for charming husband to dispose of. If I’d had yellow crime tape I would have marked the scene of the crime, but I’m all out.

Then the dogs were free to go outside, and they rushed to where they’d left their new toy and then looked at me, disbelief on their little doggy faces.

“Life’s tough,” I said, “Get used to it.”

Their response was to look at me with that “What the hell?” response I’m so used to from them.

I hope kitty wasn’t someone’s much beloved pet. I’m not in the mood to go door to door asking if someone has misplaced their kitty just so I can announce, “I found it! And it’s dead!” Of course, then I could hand over double bagged kitty. My insensitivity knows no bounds.

I have a very plausible scenario for how kitty ended up in our backyard. Work with me here. I think kitty is new to the neighborhood, and therefore didn’t realize that this is one of those yards she should avoid. So she’s out doing her thing, walking along the fence perhaps, when suddenly, due to poor nutrition and a reluctance to exercise, she experiences a massive heart attack. And then plop, she falls into the yard, already dead. I’m going to go with this one I think, because it helps to alleviate my guilt. I know the dogs didn’t leave the yard to go out hunting. Despite their best efforts, they’ve yet to figure out how to get out. In this one thing, we’re smarter than they are. It’s not much, but sometimes it’s all we’ve got.

The dogs are grounded for the time being. No play dates, no Internet access, no telephones. Just wait till their father gets home.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Secrets To My Success

1.   1.  Avoid the general public. Reasoning: the general public has been infiltrated by members of a para-hypothetical group. While some members of this group are easily identifiable by the vacant look in their glassy eyes, many more look like nothing so much as harmless bumblers. However, this group’s founding tenets are to annoy the rest of us, so it’s best to steer clear of any large gatherings where they might congregate.

2.   2.  Ignore unpopular opinions, by which I mean, if someone tells me I really should do this or that, and I don’t want to, I just ignore it. Now, if this or that consists of “You really should eat more cake,” I’m likely to agree, despite my ever expanding girth. Reasoning: There’s far too much advice being thrown around for our own goods.
3.  3.  Be nice. Reasoning: It’s just as easy to be nice as it is to be mean, so why not?
4.  4.   Wear comfortable shoes. Reasoning: It’s a lot easier to be nice when your feet don’t hurt. (See Secret #3)
5.  5.  Don’t listen to the little voices in your head that tell you things they ought not to. Reasoning: There’s no telling where those little voices are coming from. See Secret #1.
6.  6.  When plotting the overthrow of the universe, use good planning software. Reasoning: There’s a lot of details, and you’re bound to forget something if you don’t use good software. Hence my failure on plots 1 through 10. I’m still looking for the right software.
7.  7.  Dress warmly, unless the weather’s warm, in which case, dress coolly. There’s no reason for this, I just don’t want you catching cold.
8.  8.  Dance more. Reasoning: It’s good for you. Or revert back to Secret #2, if you don’t agree.
9.  9.  Carry bandaids. Reasoning: It’s a dangerous world out there, and you might hurt yourself. I’m still waiting for the invention of psychic band aids, for all those little internal wounds that crop up unexpectedly, but until then, we’ll have to make do with patching up the outside.
1010.  Buy yourself a gift card and use it when the urge strikes. Reasoning: Why not?
1111.  Laugh more. Reasoning: It’s better than laughing less. Unless your laugh might scare people, in which case you might want to tone it down a bit.
1212.  Continue with the plan, even when it seems as if the plan isn’t going anywhere. Reasoning: If you keep going through the sticky parts, eventually you’ll come out on the other side.
That’s all for today. These are just some of the basics, obviously. Later we’ll get into the harder stuff, such as when to use sunscreen (always) and how often to take a walk (whenever you’re wearing sunscreen). But for right now, I have to pay attention to number 12.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Me and God and Easter

Easter, that celebration of chocolate and bunnies, and chocolate bunnies, has again been survived successfully, in no small part because I have a husband who possesses great reserves of patience and who desires nothing more in life than to provide me whatever I want. This comes in handy when nothing will satisfy me as much as an egg from See’s.

Of course, Easter isn’t all about bunnies and eggs (which, far as I can tell, aren’t related to each other), but it also apparently is about ham. We have nothing against ham, personally, and in fact it’s quite useful for ham sandwiches, ham and eggs, and as a doorstop, should one be desperate for one. But around here, we’ve decided that crab is the traditional Easter food. This necessitated a trip to pick up a stock pot on Easter, since we believe the concept of “planning ahead” to be terribly outdated. Anyone can plan ahead, but it takes a pioneer to venture forth without a plan.

Naturally, the store we wanted to visit for our stockpot was closed. We’ve been meaning to get one, especially since our last crab feast, but since we don’t plan ahead we didn’t need one until hours before we, well, needed it. But we found another store because, as my husband will tell you, if you drive around long enough, something’s going to be open somewhere.

Then to my favorite purveyor of crab.

They didn’t have any. Not a sign of a claw anywhere, not a leg, not even a packaged container of crab. Nothing.

Again, all it takes is perseverance, and we located crab at our next stop, both snow crab, my new favorite, and Dungeness. They had king crab too, but we thought two varieties would be enough.

So all in all it was quite successful, and I’m thinking this should be a regular tradition. Oh, not just Easter. Just anytime I feel like it.

I know there’s a theory that Easter is more than chocolate bunnies and ham, and believe me, I am quite cognizant of the contribution Jesus has made to this holiday. It was his idea in the first place, though I’m a bit confused on how he got bunnies involved. Must be the whole spring thing. Anyway, it’s not that I’m irreligious, it’s just that God and I have come to an understanding, after many conversations.

Last time we talked, God and I, was a couple of weeks ago, give or take a year. Time isn’t very relevant to God. I said, “Oh my God!” as I’m wont to do when something’s gone awry.

And as soon as I said it, I knew I was in trouble.

It is true that God has a booming voice, when he wants to, but when answering me he’s decided the big scary booming thing isn’t working, so instead he just says, “What now?” This usually comes from right behind me as God finds it quite amusing to see me jump a foot or two in the air.

I have to be careful when choosing my words with God. I mean, he KNOWS what I’m thinking, but he likes to see how I come out with it. And if I make a mistake in my grammar, he’s all over it.

“It’s just these towels aren’t coming out of the wash clean. I mean, they’re dog towels, but I’d like them to be really clean.”

God sighs.

“You called me for that?”

“I didn’t mean to. It just slipped out.”

“Do you really think I have nothing else to do?”

“I don’t know your schedule, God. Maybe if you’d let some of us view your calendar we can plan accordingly.”

“I’m always busy. If it’s not you and your prayers for clean towels, it’s your neighbor, praying for deer to stay out of the garden. Or it’s Howard, who’s always asking for a date. Do I look like a dating service?”

“Well, kind of.” I’m not really sure what a dating service would look like, but I don’t see why God couldn’t take care of these things. It would make life easier for the rest of us. Why should we try to figure it out when he’s the omniscient one?

I think of telling God this. Then I remember what happened when I suggested God look into taking over the mortgage industry. There was much bellowing, let me say that much, and I think I could smell sulphur, thought that might have just been allergies.

“Use extra bleach on the towels and you’ll be fine. Is there anything else you need, as long as I’m here?”

“Well, remember that conversation we had back in December? I asked for world peace, and you said you’d look into it?”

“I’m looking into it. There’s a feasibility study out on it right now.

“Ooookay. I guess that about does it then.”

As God faded away I could him or her muttering something that sounded like, “Damned stupid people, when will they learn to think for themselves?” I made the mistake once of asking God about God’s gender and God was displeased, so much so that I woke up the next day in a cave, with a note, “This is for being impertinent!”

So God and I have come to an agreement – I’ll try to fix my own problems and, in return, he won’t turn me into a rabbit. Or a ham.

That, and I’ll share my chocolate bunnies with him. It’s all good.