Thursday, April 13, 2017

An Off Week

I've been off this week. Not from work. From all of my other obligations. CMS is on spring break. The sorting group at Loaves and Fishes didn't meet today. And I haven't really made going to the shelter much of a habit lately, although I did commit to going in early on Easter Sunday since the staff is off. Other than that, no appointments, no meetings, no nothing.

I'm also on a different schedule than normal, which has been hard, so it's been nice to sleep when I want. But if I'm not careful, I'll snooze the day away. The first week on this schedule was hell. I could not get on a consistent sleep schedule, and I was burning the candle at both ends. I'm managing it better now, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

So what have I done with myself all week? I slept. I walked the dogs. I read. I rode my bike. I did some yoga. I had lunch and took a stroll with Pmo. I watched T.D. Jakes and Steve Harvey. I listened to podcasts. I might have even watched some Downton Abbey for the millionth time, I can't remember.

Point is, it's nice to slow down once in awhile and let your options flow. I'm lucky to get one day a week where I haven't committed myself to something, let alone five or six. It's not to say I don't enjoy my commitments. It's just good to breathe. And snore. With no alarm.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Lunch Encounter

The beauty of a city like Charlotte is that it has so much to offer. Shopping, restaurants, bars, breweries... you name it, the Queen City has it. New houses go up every day, the job market is promising. Plus there's plenty of green space: parks, trails, walkways, greenways. You don't really have an excuse to be a couch potato around here. Especially with events that mix the beer with the brawn.

Yet, the small town girl in me recognizes a good thing when she sees it, even if it's not an urban advantage. Case in point, I tried a new place for lunch today after reading with my CMS student. I crossed the lake over into SC with the intention of getting a smoothie. I ended up instead with a sandwich, chips and a drink... as well as a pickle and a little dab of coleslaw... which I learned come complimentary with the sammie.

When I walked in, I was instantly greeted by a woman behind the counter with a sweet smile and chomping at the bit to tell me the different breads for my sandwich and an array of drink options. Then I sat at a high top table awaiting my food. The place was not fancy, in fact, the floor looked like it could use some work. But that didn't stop a steady stream of folks from filing in, taking the time to exchange pleasantries before grabbing a bite to eat.

This simple, everyday experience made me stop and think: I wonder if there are people in CLT who've never ventured out into these smaller communities. Especially those who are from big cities. Oh sure, they go to secluded mountain towns and trendy downtown areas on the outskirts. No, what I'm talking about are these plain old places where people have lived and worked their entire lives. There are no attractions, no hot spots, no claims to fame. Just pure hospitality.

There's something to be said for the way a lunch lady's smile brightens the day. The way religious music playing off an iPod fills the room with a sense of calm. The way a dab of coleslaw tastes so damn good you wish you could've ordered a tub.

Then, you see a woman, walking away with the smoothie you should have ordered, whipped cream and all. And it's official: you're definitely coming back. For the treat, and all the feels.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Hooked

This has been one warm weekend. In fact, our air conditioner is on right now, in February! That being said, it's been a great two days to get the dogs out.

On Saturday, we went to the Riverwalk in Rock Hill along the Catawba. Problem is, everyone else did, too. So with the extra people, and Smoky's unpolished public manners, it wasn't that fun. Plus, it's a bit of a drive.

Today, we went with the sure thing: Copperhead Island. It's five minutes away with a paved loop and plenty of lake views. There we are, on the first leg of the trail, about to come off the fishing deck, when I notice Smoky has picked up something. I see fishing line coming out of his mouth and bend down to get it before he swallows, silly dog. But, oh no, it's not just fishing line. There's a hook at the end of that fishing line. And that hook is stuck through Smoky's tongue.

I'm calm at first, but as I examine further, it's not just one hook, it's got three prongs with a piece of something stuck on one of them. The reason, I'm guessing, he grabbed it in the first place. Smoky is now trying to get out the hook himself, gagging and licking and wondering why this great treat is hurting him. Then as I try to remove it, he squirms and jumps around even more, becoming most uncooperative. 

Pmo has gone ahead down the trail with the other two dogs so he doesn't have a clue what's going on behind him. Mind you, at this point, I'm still thinking I can handle the situation, so I didn't yell for him. Luckily, a couple we passed earlier on the path has made it to where I am, and they stop to help. 

The man holds Smoky's mouth open to let me get a better look at how to remove the hook. But in all the commotion, I can't tell which way to pull it, and I'm afraid I'm making it worse. I'm still holding myself together, so close to the brink of panic, when the man says, "He can't breathe." 

Now, in hindsight, I don't think this was true. However, it puts the fear of God in me and I start sobbing. Yet, I continue working on the hook. Finally, after what felt like a lifetime, I get it out. Smoky returns to normal, even wagging his tail. Knowing him, he probably would have picked it up again if I had let him. And I just keep on crying. 

By this time, Pmo has come back to see what's holding me up. We both thank the man, me through the tears that just won't stop even though it's all over now, and start down the trail once more. I can't wipe my tears because my hands smell so bad I can't bring myself to put them on my face. My nose is also running, and I'm generally out of breath and just a wreck. By the time we reach the other side of the island, though, I calm down a bit and manage to use the underside of my t-shirt to wipe the mascara off my cheeks. We finish the walk, and we go home.

So that's why I started drinking beer at 2:00 this afternoon. Our youngest scared me to death, and even though I was probably doing my best to help him, it sure as hell felt like I wasn't. But Smoky seems just fine, besides the fact he now has a pierced tongue. The smell on my hands, despite washing them several times, still lingers.


 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Turn for the Worse

I was called into work last night on three hours sleep. The late emergency notice set me back an hour and a half from when I should have started producing an hour newscast. And it was not only the day after the Super Bowl, it was also just a few days into the ratings period. But I managed.

I was wearing a hoodie and a headband at the office because I showered quickly and got the hell out the door. Toward the end of my shift, I dropped said headband on the floor, then proceeded to accidentally step on it. So I threw it away.

I was coming down the stairs this morning after I got home and changed clothes, and my fuzzy socks hit just right on the edge of a step. I came down the rest of the way on my bum. And my hands, my arms, my elbows, my love handles... you get the picture, bruises to come, I'm sure. I sat on the landing, stunned by the pain and how quickly it all, literally, went down, then realized nothing was broken. And I got up.

That's a fine set of how-do-you-dos for a Monday if I ever heard of one.

The point is, I couldn't control any of those things. Well, the fuzzy socks may now be banned from the stairwell. And I could be more careful with my hair accessories. But in each case, the only thing I could do was react and move on. Or dwell in my bad luck that seemed to be piling upon me.

I read somewhere once that it's okay to feel the emotion in the moment when things like this happen, whatever it is: anger, frustration, sadness, etc. Recognize it, deal, then let it go. It's dwelling on the bad stuff that gets you down. And keeps you down. Plus, it's such a waste of energy. You could be doing many more worthwhile things, like sleeping. Which I'm about to do.

That's right. Just as I was writing this, my boss called to tell me I have to go in early again tonight. I have his ringtone set as a nuclear alarm, so I'm already setting myself up for an exasperated sigh and lamenting. But I had my moment of angst, thought about it a bit and now I'm heading to bed.

Why? Because there's nothing I can do about this turn of events. And I know now I can handle it as well as the next curve ball life throws at me. I couldn't have said that six months to a year ago. Here's to hoping you can also find some solace in a series of unfortunate events. It could always be worse.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Cozy

I'd have to say I'm fairly cozy today. I was off work so after I took care of some chores, I set off to complete a task that required a bit of a drive and treated myself to lunch somewhere new. Then I refueled at a coffee shop in the hopes of not lapsing into a nap this afternoon. When I got home, I did some more to-do's on the 'ol computer and have continued to sit upstairs in my "office" ever since, frankly because it's warmer up here than downstairs. I've had a shower, my hair is fixed, a rarity if I don't have anywhere to be. And we're about to get a big snow, big at least for this area.

I watch the comings and goings of the neighborhood out of my window. The mail truck has come and gone. The school bus rolled by, though I don't think it's the last one I'll see this afternoon. I also watch what's happening in this room. My new paw print lamp is lit up. I have a candle burning. Two black dogs are lying right beside my chair, just waiting for me to hit the couch or bed so they can pile on top of me. But because I'm trying not to sleep, and I have on a cream-colored shirt that's currently free of dog hair, I stay seated. I might even move over to my grandma's glider and read a book, still fighting that nap.

I'm also listening to the news from the bedroom. Another mass shooting. One more reason to get lost in that book. It looks like it's starting to rain now. I can see windshield wipers swaying back and forth on the passing cars. Snowmeggdon is on the way. So is my husband.

I can hear the laundry downstairs tumbling. When it stops, I'll know it's time to put it away. I hate that part. But it must be done. That's about all that must be done today, if that even. Well, dinner has to be made. Some chicken tortellini, a little garlic bread, small salad and a glass of wine. Or two. And not long after, the sleep monster, he'll come for me when I just can't keep my eyes open anymore.

Yes, I'd have to say I'm quite cozy today.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Three's Company Too

One week ago, my day started off pretty normal. I had volunteered to take a dog to PetSmart for an adoption event. So after some breakfast and pug lounging, I headed to the shelter. When I arrived, I asked which pup I was taking, and they said, "You're with Blackjack." He was a new guy. I walk into the "little dog" room to find him waiting in a small cage. After a bit of tussle trying to get on a harness and leash, we were on our way.

I noticed right away, under all of that hair, Blackjack looked a lot like my Jack. In fact, I used to keep Jack's hair long and wiry like Smoky's. Not that I particularly liked it, just because the thought of getting him a haircut never entered my mind. Soon, we arrived at PetSmart (if I remember correctly, with Blackjack in my lap) and after dodging this psychotic bird that kept swooping at us while I was trying to get BlackJack to go potty, we made a run for the door.

We settled inside the store with a few other dogs and a ton of cats, just waiting for someone to walk in the door within the next three hours to take them home. From the start, Blackjack wanted to lay on me, so I let him, and he basically proceeded to take a three hour nap. Which didn't bother me at all. People tend to not like a "lazy" dog, but I do. I can keep up much better with a couch potato than a wild child.

Many people came by and said, "He's so cute!" and asked questions about Blackjack. Most were looking at the cats or the adorable little Eleanor who was stealing the show. Or big girl Reagan who kept rolling over for belly rubs. But when it came to Blackjack, everyone passed. And deep down inside, I was glad.

The end of the day came, and I asked Becca, the HSYC director, if I could foster Blackjack. Since he had just arrived at the shelter a few days before, she suggested waiting a week to see if he got adopted. That's the moment I knew: I didn't want anyone else to have him. So I took him back to the shelter, hastily filled out an application and went home to pick up Pmo. He had to meet this dog. I was so flustered I even lost my keys for about ten minutes before I found them in a box of collars.

I think Perry liked Blackjack immediately, but he was worried about taking on another dog. Our foster experience with Max went well, but there were a few skirmishes, especially with Jack. And the four of us had grown to be pretty comfortable since Gizmo came into the picture. However, my mind was made up, and I wanted Pmo on board. He agreed, especially when he found out Blackjack was surrendered by his owner to animal control. So we moved onto the next step: setting up a "meet and greet" with our fur kids.

All morning/night/whatever-you-want-to-call-it at work, I couldn't stop thinking about Blackjack. I was dying to pick up the boys, get to the shelter and see how they all reacted. And it went just fine. Blackjack seemed a little possessive if he was sitting by me when Gizmo or Jack came up. But overall, everything was cool. I was told I would know something soon and we went home, without Blackjack.

Naps were in order at this point, so after some social media surfing, Gizmo and I passed out on the couch and Jack slipped off upstairs, like he does. I awoke in the afternoon, filled with anticipation. I was so excited I felt like I was waiting on a job offer or college acceptance letter. Then the call came: "I talked to Becca, everything checked out, we're going to waive the home visit and you can come get Blackjack!" I said, "Now?!?!" And I was out the door.


Pmo and I had been talking about names ever since we met Blackjack. I wasn't coming up with anything good. Then Pmo said, "Well, he looks like he came out of a chimney with the gray on his face. How about Smoky?" Worked for me. We were also calling him "Wolfie" for awhile, until he got his haircut and his wolfieness went away. 



It's been one week now, and we're working on a few assimilation issues, the biggest being attachment. When I leave for work at night and Pmo goes to bed, we can't have Smoky whining for me and not settling down. So I'm teaching Smoky to "stay" while I do other things and also leaving my clothes around the house so he picks up my smell when I'm gone. He's not too excited about the leash, but he will at least go for a walk. Smoky was not eating at all at the shelter, now his appetite is just fine. He's also not crazy about the pet taxi, which he'll have to get used to in order to take any trips with us. 



Right now, we're all on the couch. No, wait, Gizmo's on the recliner. But we do all fit on the sectional, thank God we got it. A king bed may have to be next. We plan to get Smoky his own name tag and leash today, plus take all the boys for a walk before the sun sets us on fire. 

There you have it. Even though we were perfectly happy with two sweet dogs, and we're outnumbered now, turns out three's company, too.



"Come and dance on our floor, take a step that is new
We've a lovable space that needs your face, three's company too"

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Find Your Good

I've never been much of an activist. I don't participate in protests. I'm not one for a sit-in. And God help me if I ever try to go on a hunger strike. Don't get me wrong, I have beliefs and principles. I'm just not that involved, and I doubt I will ever be that type of person. However, I have found my own way to "change the world", and in light of the hate spreading throughout our nation so rampant right now, I'm beginning to understand why it's not only good for the cause, it's good for me, too.

When there's a tragedy like a mass shooting, and people are trying to make sense of it, this quote from Mr. Rogers almost always starts circulating on social media. I know I've shared it a time or two.


In other words, find the good. I say, find YOUR good. Start with something to make yourself feel better, and the rest will follow. Whether you're going through a personal struggle, or you're tired of seeing all the violence in the news, giving your time on your terms is a easy way to bring what really matters into focus.

Again, don't get me wrong, I can lie around, play on my phone and watch TV for hours with the best of them, and not get off the couch for a whole weekend. With snacks and a pug, of course. And that's fine, sometimes you just need to do that. I'm a staunch supporter of "me time". But I think part of the reason I began going to the animal shelter this year was because I have all the "me time" I can stand since I work overnight. And there's only so much TV-watching, nap-taking, house-cleaning, errand-running, pool-sitting I can do before I start to feel like I'm just worthlessly killing time. Plus, I don't have any kids, and I don't see myself going down that path. That takes up a lot of time. That is a major contribution to society. So if I'm not doing that, what am I doing?


I found the HSYC online and read up on how to volunteer. The guidelines and instructions were super easy. I knew exactly what I could do, what was expected of me and how to go about it. I didn't have to do anything I didn't want to do, and I could come at my leisure. Pretty soon, I was walking dogs a few days a week, even taking them to adoption events. And like I said, it does me just as much good as it does them. Especially when I've had a rough day at work.  Any worries seem to wander away, replaced by wagging tails and wet tongues.

Now I'm looking at other ways to donate my time. I've applied at CMS to help children learn how to read. Because I like to read. So far, I've received a clearance status as "unsupervised without driving". Whatever that means. I'm waiting to find out the next step. And, if for some reason that doesn't work out, or if I just really never want to be lazy again, I'm going to check out what I could do at the library to help out.

It really doesn't take a lot, and you can do it. Start small, with something you love. Why it never occurred to me before to volunteer at a humane society, I'll never know. For once in my life, I was looking for a way to get to know my community since I moved away from home. Which was odd. Normally, I prefer to mind my own business and keep to myself, being an introvert and all. But something about the CLT area made me not only want to explore my surroundings and what they had to offer, but also see what I could offer in return.   

So get out there. Find your good. For yourself and whatever cause you choose to back. There are so many different things you can do for non-profits. You don't have to work in a soup kitchen if you don't want to. Or if you do, go for it. We have something in CLT called Share Charlotte where you can find all the different charities, what they're about and how you can help. I'm sure there are similar organizations across the board that make it easy like that.

Alas, the time has come for me to bring this blog to an end. You see, I also volunteer as a pug snuggler. Now that's a demanding job.