Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pets are children too.

Because I'm aging (gracefully, of course), I am often asked, "Do you have kids?' or, even better, "How many kids do you have?" or, sometimes, "How old are your kids?" 

It's not meant to be an awkward question - but it always feels like it to me - especially as I debate my answer.

I mean, yes - I do have potential kids. 

Well, hopefully - although the biological clock may disagree.  But I'm sure they're in there in their pre-fertilized form because I often have cravings for chocolate and peanut butter and I love pickles and ice cream.  Although, to be fair, I've never had them together.  I also have mood swings and weight gain - so really I am just one (major) step from having actual real kids.

On the other hand...there are two beings that do live and breathe at my house that require my utmost attention - including food, water and the occasional butt wipe.  Which, in my opinion...makes them very much my children. 

So to answer those questions ~
Yes, I have kids.
I have two kids.
They are 13 and 6.
Girl and a boy.  Kylie and Jack.

They get along most of the time although they are known to push the limits on the nightly wrestling match.

They fight for my attention and there are many nights when the couch gets a bit crowded...and I'm the one who gets screwed because we'd all do anything for those little cuties, right?

That's Jack (cat) and Kylie ~ the red blanket is actually my beloved electric keep me warm during the winter. When I'm allowed to use it.

They stalk the couch when they see the red blanket...waiting for me to get a drink or something, and then pouncing. Hardly fair.

And this is how game night (which is every night) starts...Kylie will dance around, making eyes at Jack trying to engage him in just about anything.

Jack will sit there playing it cool - no, way, man, I don't play with dogs....
About the time Kylie gives up and walks away, Jack will launch himself into (or onto) her path.

After some playtime, Kylie will let out "Crap with those CLAWS" wimper and the gig's up.

Cat with no shame:


Cutest sleeping dog EVER:

So there you have it - yes, I have kids.  Furry little, nose licking, over-excited kids. 
Who give me more of a "Welcome!!!!!!!!!!!" when I come out of a quick trip to the bathroom then most people get after a year in hiding. 

They never complain about dinner.
They rarely talk back.
They don't outgrow their clothes.
They don't ask to borrow the car.
They hardly fight with each other.

I'd say they are actually two of the best kids I know.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Mosque is a Church is a Temple

Well, I guess before I start, I should say that, yes, I am aware that most of the people who do ingest this thoughtfully will be the ones who really don't need to.  And the people that really should will have already bailed at the word "mosque" in the title.

Moving on.

My mom and I were just talking about an email she'd received from a camping buddy - one of those nutso emails about (in this case) boycotting the post office, president, etc. because of this coming-soon-to-an-envelope-near-you stamp.

The email expressed all the horrible things that Muslims do and how by approving the printing of this stamp, President Obama was essentially giving his stamp of approval (okay, that was funny) on all things terroristic.

Mama was wondering how to respond to such things and we came up with some ideas (the best of which I'll save for the end of this email). 

Now....let me express my first concern.  When someone sends you an email about a stamp that says the said stamp has Muslim Writing on should automatically pause and think, "Muslim writing?"  Muslim is a religion, not a form of writing.  The writing on this stamp is Islam Caligraphy or Sanskrit.  Starting your argument with "Muslim writing" is like starting your argument with "I'm a total moron."  Not very convincing.

When I hear people bantering about the relationship of Muslims and terrorism (and I'm feeling brave), I ask, "Do you actually know any Muslims?"  I'm not denying the effects of terrorism.  I watched in horror on 9/11/01 as my heart broke into as many pieces as the Trade Towers.  I wanted someone, anyone really, to pay.  But you cannot blame a whole religion on the actions of the few.  It would be like denouncing the whole country of Ireland on behalf of the handful of Catholic Priests who got too friendly with their altar boys. 

A few years ago - I went to Istanbul on vacation.  This is a predominantly Muslim city.  And guess what I found out?  It's totally normal.  I was very curious as to whether every woman would be burka'ed or if all those standing around me would suddenly drop to their knees when the Call to Prayer sounded - but it wasn't like that at all. 

As with every religion - people practiced at their own level - some fully clothed the traditional Muslim way, others not so much.  The Call to Prayer sounded five times a day - only as a reminder that we should all take time to slow down and medidate - not to prep for a jihad.

And all those scary Mosques?  If you go back through history, these buildings have done a little bit of everything depending on what religion was most prominent when.  Today, they are mostly Mosques.  In the past, they were churches.  Or Temples.  They are really just buildings (beautiful buildings) where people can come together for their faith.

Now, back to the stamps.  While I don't believe in boycotting a Sanskrit stamp that translates to "Enjoy your holidays...," I will be boycotting a few others:

 I do not support Chinese Dragons.

Polar Bears sometimes eat cute baby seals. 
I will no longer support them.

Now the Post Office has to rub in my singlehood? Fail

Bill Mauldin (who the hell is that?) has an eery smile.

And, as promised...the winner for my mom's response:
Per whole "President Obama approves Muslim Stamp" thing?  Is just that - an urban legend.  Stamps commemorating the Muslim holiday of Ramadan have been coming out since 2001 - not every year - but more than once.  Obama didn't approve it, the Post Office did. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

I used to know this boy...he cried wolf...

Let me tell you how I feel about exclamation points. 

I love them most of the time - they really do the job of expressing, well, excitement. 

Watch this. 

Watch this!! 

Didn't the second version make you even more filled with anticipation that you thought you could be after reading the first one?

Here's my issue...when I see an email come through, and there's one of those little guys lit up like a floodlight attached to love for exclamation points dies just a little.  I know what's coming - as soon as I click on that email and open it's going to be there as clear as day....


And because I am now just one small step away from being a Pavlovian experiment...all I ever want to do when I see that word is hit 'reply' and type, "Is it really...??"

You know what's Urgent?  Fires.  Car Accidents.  Women in labor.  Maybe instead of berating the mis-used Exclamation Point, we would just eliminate the use of the word "Urgent" by anyone who does not carry a gun, hose or stethoscope for a living. 

It's partly my fault, I suppose.  I know kids today (sorry any kids today who are reading this) are coming out of college with a work ethic that might not be as stellar as the one folks my age paid for. 

So, when I see the word "Urgent," I get a little panicky and excited and send a surge of adrenaline through my veins in preparation for addressing this very Urgent matter. 

Maybe kids today (again, sorry) don't have that reaction.  Which means the obvious has to be pointed out - and yet, it's pointed out in a completely over the top way. 

I mean, half the stuff I see in my inbox that's marked Urgent barely rates a second read...sometimes it doesn't even merit a full read before I've already resolved the Urgent Issue.  On the flip side, I am a hero to some of these people with Urgent Issues.  I can only imagine what their homelives are like without me there to help out.

"URGENT....the batteries are dead on the remote....URGENT, what am I going to do?  This is you hear me anyone?  I can't change the channel.  URGENT."

And let me tell you something else.  These people who sent me URGENT matters one day to which I promptly repond with relevant questions to solve their URGENT matters...only to be ignored for the next week? 

Well...let me tell you where their URGENCIES sit in my list of priorities.

And when they do finally respond to my questions a week later and the first sentence is,

"Is this taken care of?"  that Pavlovian Tic starts again...
must hit "Reply"....


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spring Snow

It comes every year...and yet, every surprises me.  How can it be so grainy?  How can it be so thick?  How come I can't breathe??  It's yellow pollen season...our own southern version of yellow snow.  Usually, we luck out a bit as the yellow haze coincides with at least a little bit of rain. Not this year - no rain in the forecast until later in the week - and the news stations are already declaring this one of our worst yellow seasons in years.

If you live here, you can stop reading.

If you don't live here and are tired of me trying to explain this year after year - well, you're in luck...I took pictures this time.

Exhibit A:  The bane of my existence at the moment.  I have very, very few complaints about living in the south.  These things are on that very short list.  (They rate below anytime "Dook Won a Trophy" preempts my soaps, which also happened today).

So that's a tiny speck of what all our pine trees currently look like.  Driving to the beach last week, I noticed that all the pine trees had yellow dots on them - a sign of things to come.  Shortly after, the pollen starting blowing off these little pods...and up my nose.

My mother read an article Friday that said pollen doesn't 'blow' - that is just drops straight down.  My eyes beg to differ.  The author was evidently not from here. Nor has he ever been here during Pollengate.

Exhibit B: The lake behind my house.  See all that yellow in the water?  That's pollen.  Know what it's doing?  Making a break for my back door.  When I'm not looking, it will sneak through and coat my house with a dusting of yellow pollen. 

I will wonder why my eyes feel like sandpaper.
I will wonder why my throat feels like I took the sandpaper out of my eyes, chewed it up and swallowed it.
I will start living for the next Qtip.
I will keep a box of tissues everywhere.
I will hoard Zyrtec and Mucinex and Visine.

Exhibit C: Looking out my (or any) car window. 

There is no purpose in car washing at this point in the pollen game.
Because after an hour in the parking lot - this is what the cars look like.

All cars look like this right now - there is no vanity in having a super shiny, freshly waxed car...
as there are no clean cars on our roads this week. 
And there won't be.  We'll all wait until the worst of this is past (Sunday?) and make a dash to the carwash -
waiting in line as if Miley Cyrus tickets were on sale inside.

Okay, so what you are seeing on the left and below - that is the line where my garage door hits the driveway.  So, the brown/gray part is inside...and the yellow part is outside.  Typically, there is no color difference between the inside of my garage and the start of my driveway.  Only for this special week.  The left shot is in the shade - the below shot is in the sunshine.
So, this will be the drill for the rest of the week - a constant urge to jump in the shower to get the grit gone followed by a shot of some sort of allergy medicine, just to be safe.

An old high school buddy moved to Raleigh on the first...of April...just in time for Yellow Pollen Season.  My apologies....I didn't warn her at all...but there really is no way to understand what it's like until you experience it.  And by then, it's too're already here.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Oh, Sugarplums...

At Christmas time, about the same time the fake tree comes out, the lights go up and the Santa Frog gets to his spot on the pets develop a case of the Sugarplums. 

It's similar to Full Moon Syndrome - they just start acting crazy. Well, crazIER. Pets that adopted in any Johnson (or Beatty) household quickly learn that the line to unacceptable behavior is very, very far away.  Pretty much anything short of taking a dump on the carpet is fine.  And that is only not-okay if it stems from some sort of canine revenge. 

Okay, you're thinking, it's not December.  Who cares.  Because at 4am this morning, I was awoken by a singing collie dog.  With whatever is the Easter equivalent of Sugarplums.

Let me lay out the scenario for you.  I'm in Myrtle Beach with my parents - and bedtime means sleeping on the pullout couch/bed.  It's a full size bed - super comfy - not your typical pullout couch that is totally uncomfortable and bumpy.

The only hitch in the bed is that when we are all together, we have three dogs (two collies and a beagle). And two of those dogs (collies) get super excited when they see an extra full size bed available. 

I'm pretty used to the company, actually. It always starts with Hacker.  Hacker is a 90 lb tri-color collie.  Think Lassie, but totally different colors, twice as big and not interested in Timmy or the well.

What does Hacker love?  A sleepover. She'll wake up in the night, remember I'm here, and 'hop' into bed.  Imagine being jumped on by an errant rhinocerous.

For some reason, last night was a bit more animated.  Hence the Easter-Time-Sugarplums...Eggplums?  Bunnyplums?  Whatever they 4am this morning...Hacker began her summer concert series. 

Hacker's shows usually begin around 6:30am...they start with a doggy whisper and escalate into a full out morning song about her joy at being awake and still living with her rescue family.  (Hacker came to my parents after a breeder dumped her for killing her last litter of puppies...after he allowed her to breed too many litters in a given time).

A. Hacker starts everyday with a song. B. I am NOT a morning person.  C. It is actually impossible to wake up cranky when you have a singing doggy at your side.

Here's the kinds of positions Hacker typically takes when sleeping.  There was very little this this morning.  By 5:00am...Hacker had moved to the back of the camper into my parent's bed.  Where she went back to sleep...until my dad made the mistake of petting her.

Which started another round of song.

Eventually, of course, Hacker had herself so excited and riled up to start the day ( is not even 5:30am)...that an impromptu trip outside was needed. 

Which lead us to the realization that the early singing was actually more about a doggy bellyache than a morning concert series (do you need details? I think not).

So, now here's the question of the day...what "I'm-not-feeling-so-good" dog expresses her angst with a happy song? 

My beagle slinks by the door when she's feeling out of sorts - attempting to press herself through the crack.  The other collie contorts her face into a very sad/depressed/woe-is-me face.

Not Hacker....she'll just sing it out.