31 August, 2012

That Dumb Dog!

...ran off last night. That's right. He broke free while I was putting him out on the runner.

Jackson, as I mentioned in my last post, is just two. He is not allowed off his leash outside the house. In fact, he has three leashes.
"The Gentle Leader". Not Jackson. 
(image: eharnessesfordogs.com)

1) the "Gentle Leader" goes around his nose and just behind the ears, so that you can redirect him without pulling his neck, 2) a regular leash that hooks to his collar, and 3) a skinny leash that is used just for taking him out back and hooking him up to the cable on his runner. The first two are used together when we go for a walk.

When he's fired up, Jackson likes to play tug-o-war with his leash. I hate that. I'm afraid he's going to chew through a leash and then I'll have to get him a new one. Dumb dog. So I try not to participate, and just lead him where he needs to go.

Last night, he won. He tugged his leash right out of my hand and ran off through the trees. That dumb dog.

Not quite. His had MORE lights.
(image: funjeeps.com)
My preference would have been to just go off, calling his name, catch him, and bring him back, but I didn't know where my hosts keep a flashlight. So I called her cell phone to find out, and she suggested I take their extra car that was in the garage; maybe he'd recognize the car. So I drove down the dead end road - like half-mile? Less? - calling his name. At the end, I got out of the car, and one couple let me traipse through their backyard, where we'd seen eyes, also loaning me a powerful flashlight. The neighbor across from them actually got into his jeep (the kind with those powerful lights on top) and drove into the neighboring streets to look.

I was getting concerned that his leash might have become entangled in some trees or underbrush, so I headed to the house to put on some jeans and head out on foot. The jeep pulled back into the street as I was pulling into the drive, so I explained what my new plan was and thanked him for his help.

I hadn't yet changed when the Jeep came back with Jackson in the front passenger seat. Apparently Jackson and the Jeep's dogs were socializing when Jeep got home.

Jackson was wet, as was his leash. Most of these houses overlook ponds of various sizes, so I could imagine he'd gone for a swim. Dumb dog.

I put him out on the runner and then called my hostess to let her know her baby was safe but wet, and she told me where the dog shampoo was. What? DOG Shampoo?? I didn't think he was stinky, but said I'd check when I brought him in. Please, God, no stinky!

That dumb dog.
Stinky like fish.

Great. It's nearing 10:30, I've not even talked to Brett yet, and I have to WASH THE DOG! In my (guest) bathroom. Yippee.

I have no words for the ordeal that was the dog-bath. Suffice to say, water was everywhere, and now I need to clean my shower before I can use it. Dumb dog. I put him straight into his cage for the night (normal routine, not punishment) and went upstairs to call Brett.

By the time I got to bed, Jackson was whimpering. A lot. I thought there was no way he needed to go out again, but then, if he did and I left him inside, I'd have to clean up that mess, too. So I got out of bed sometime after midnight, put him on the runner and sat down on the sofa to give him time to do his thing. 2a.m. I woke up, brought him back in and finally went to bed.

That dumb dog.

Now excuse me while I bake banana bread as a thank you for the neighbors who helped.

27 August, 2012

I Found the Bat-Cave!

...or at least, Wayne Manor, and we all know that mansion sits above Batman's hideout.


The closest I could get...

I'm dog-sitting, and decided Jackson could do with an abbreviated walk this morning, thank you rain. So instead of turning out onto the main road, we turned back down our street toward the dead end. 

Little did I know. 

Jackson doesn't understand my fascination. He'd rather I take him on his regular, longer walk, in the oposite direction. But really, vast grounds surrounding an impressive pile of bricks set well back from the road. What other explanation could there be?

It's Batman.

Well, that's a bonus of dog-sitting, I guess.

I'm not really a dog person. I do well with Magnum, my dad's mature (as in, 12 years old) Malamute/Shepherd mix. But these friends of my parents have been wanting to make a road-trip out to Montana and didn't want to leave their new-ish rescue dog alone or in a kennel.

Very cute. With sharp claws.

Enter Red.
Living with parents.
Still jobless.  
Hey, it's easy money, I figured.

I should have asked for more. Jackson is a high-maintenance two-year-old Rottweiler/German Shepherd mix. That's right. Two. As in, puppy. As in, "play with me now!" I'm not really a "playful" person in the way he needs, but I'm learning. Mostly I'm learning that tug-of-war is a better option than him trying to climb onto my lap for attention and scratching me with his wolf-like claws. He doesn't know his own strength, and it is up to me to teach him not to jump on me.

I thought we were getting somewhere, but then yesterday I saw an awful lot of bared teeth. Even after I put him out on his runner to use up some energy, he was fired up. I think he got into some kind of bad weed. Or something. Cocaine. I don't know.

Oh. And there's a cat. My new nemesis. Spice is clearly allied with the Dark Side. I had forgotten they even have a cat until my hostess was running me through my duties. The cat's hardly ever around, so I don't think I'd even met her before.
She's quiet.
Unobtrusive.
I could go all day and not see her.
She's a luxuriously soft long-hair cat.
Spice. Isn't she purr-ty?...with Darth Maul eyes.

What's wrong with that?

When I agreed to house-sit and had been freely told "Feel free to bring friends over," I began talking with Brett about possible times he could visit. It would be great. A whole house with no parents (mine) or kids (his) around.
Nice.
Especially because lately, due to (in chronological order) his finances, my finances, my car and his job, we've not seen each other in three weeks. THREE WEEKS!  And on that visit I was accompanied by Aphrodite, so again, no alone time.

Dog-sitting was like a golden opportunity. Was. Enter the Dark Side.
Brett is hugely allergic to cats.
BRETT IS HUGELY ALLERGIC TO CATS!
Yeah. That's how it feels.

Stupid "Spice".
Stupid, sweet, fluffy, unobtrusive "Spice".
Emperor Palpatine, more like. Never seen, but controlling what happens, and all for evil.

19 August, 2012

In Which I Survive a Brush With Death

CRUNCH!...SSSKKRKRKREEEee...YAHHHHH!
Drat. There's just no successful onomatopoeic word for the noise of a van running into the side of a mountain. (Any suggestions are welcome.) Suffice to say, in the game of "rock, paper, scissors, van" the van loses to rock, I don't care how tough you may think "van" is.
and ROCK destroys VAN.


You know that joke: "When I die, I want to go peacefully in my sleep like Grandpa, and not screaming in terror like everyone in his car." Yep. I lived that. Only "Grandpa" was a young native driver, and he didn't die.

Let me back up.

Shortly after my tenth birthday, my family moved from a small town in Iowa to the small island nation of Sri Lanka. Being cold-blooded Iowans, ill-prepared for life in the tropics, our home would be up in the mountains where it was cooler.
The other missionary who had arrived first with his family were already settled into Colombo, the capital. They were from Texas and could take the heat. Our partners in Sri Lanka,  we'd been corresponding for about 6-8 months before leaving the U.S. (Yes, actual letters. It's how we did things in the dark ages pre-internet!) They had two daughters about the same age as my sister and I, and we'd become friends as pen-pals.

So the day after we landed, my parents and three of my siblings headed off up the mountain to our new home in one van (and a native driver) with a bunch of luggage.
~~~The vans were not American-style vans. I wonder if Americans are aware how big and fluffy our vehicles are? Only two rows of seating (driver bench-seat and one behind) and then open cargo space. (Fortunate, because of the amount of luggage.)

"Diana" and I were permitted an extra day with our new buddies, and headed up the following morning under the careful chaperonage of their father, my dad's partner.
And so the next day we were off. New "Dad", Diana, me, and the local driver. Plus all the remaining luggage.

We interrupt this post for a quick GEOGRAPHY LESSON:

Colombo, Sri Lanka's capitol, is in the lowland, at the coast. Nuwara Eliya, the hill-town we were moving to, was inland, about 6,000 feet up, via winding, pot-holey, narrow roads. It was about a 4-5 hour drive. Sri Lanka is about 10* North of the equator. The lowlands are Hot and Humid.

As we rose in elevation, the temperature mellowed out a bit until we were above clouds, winding around the tea estates in the foggy dusk (sun sets earlier close to the equator) and it was cool enough we pulled on our jackets, closed the windows, and turned on the heat.

Windy road.
...Toasty van.
...Filmy, misty air surrounding us.

Drowsy girls in the backseat.

...CRUNCH! "YAAAAaaa!" We all awoke screaming as the left-side (passenger side) of the van crumpled up against the side of the mountain.

You read that correctly: "All awoke". The driver had dozed off, as the warmth from the van's engine, housed underneath his seat, drifted up to surround him like a blanket.

I don't know if you've seen pictures of the hills of Sri Lanka...

...and this doesn't really do it justice, pretty as it is.

...had the driver drifted the other direction we would have sailed out over the side and had a steep tumble down through the beautiful, lush, green, tea bushes. ...not tall enough to break a fall. Thankfully, our guardian angels did not allow that to happen.

When we finally arrived at our new home, Diana and I had to climb over the front bench seat and we all exited by the driver's door, because the left was crunched beyond the capacity to open the doors on that side. My parents were beside themselves. Remember, this was *ahem* years ago, and there was no such monster as a cell phone, so they were not prepared to see the mess that was the van.

*****
At the mature age of TEN, I thought I was a big kid. I was embarking on an adventurous life, and I thought I knew it all. I didn't understand my parents' stress, because I was fine! I have nephews about that age now, and they are SO YOUNG! On this end of the age spectrum, I can understand a parent's disturbance at their children's jeopardy a little better.

Of course, nowadays when I remember that trip I just think of the fact that, if I had died young in a crash down the side of a mountain, I would have missed out on the best part of my life - meeting and falling in love with Brett, the Transformed Non-Conformist! (Of course he's the one who invited me into Dude Write - who else?) It sounds sappy, and it is. I'm not usually that way, but Brett has brought out a whole different side of me that would have never come to light otherwise.

The end of the story? The driver lost his job, clearly, and I continued to avoid noticing if I was in an obvious "you could die" scenario, although I don't think I ever was quite that close again.

14 August, 2012

Two Days of the Rat Race

Ha! I'm so awesome. I was hired temporarily into the HR department of a large regional organization to complete one task. I was told it was "one week for sure, probably two". Dude, I am so going to be done by the end of this week.

Okay, I know I'm tempting fate to say that. I've tempted fate once already this week, and fate bombed my butt. That's right. I was close to getting a full-time job - totally un-connected with this position - and mentioned as much to a couple people. Today I found out I'm not getting it. DOH!


That's okay, though. It was in an industry I had intentionally gotten out of years ago, but I have experience and would do well. Even though it bugs me on some level. BUT... I had AMAZING references. Ha!

As much as I thought I would be fully employed soon, I can honestly say I wasn't heartbroken to be denied. It was nice to have a positive feeling about the job search, even for a while, so I'll take it! And it's not like I stopped checking my online sources.

Back to this job, though.

At my temporary home for the week, I found I quite like the office setting, but this particular place is somewhat... austere? Quiet, certainly. I don't know if there's a rule against music, but it seems to be the case. No music coming from any cubicle. Yes, it's a cubicle farm. Excuse me: "open plan" as they say. Fortunately, being in HR, I have a door with a lock. I've been instructed that I need to lock my computer any time I step away from my computer, and lock my door if I leave the office.

I also have an officemate who is a very sweet lady, but who only works three days a week. She's "long-term temporary", but her job is about to be posted as a full-time position because they realized they need someone there all the time. She suggested I apply for it when it opens. ...but I don't think I could do the "no music" thing in the long term.

Oh! Extra bonus!
There's a rule. Like, a written rule, that says you canNOT eat lunch at your desk! At my previous job I ate while I worked 90% of the time. I LOVE this rule!

Anyway, I'm moving along. Still looking for something full time, before I actually need to utilize health insurance, which I no longer have. My advice? If you have a job, don't leave it!

12 August, 2012

Working Again - Sort Of

As of tomorrow, I'm a working girl again.

I had an unexpected summer off, and it was fun, but I'm looking forward to getting back to work. This is a temporary job, though. Probably just two weeks, which is fine. It's a paycheck. Just in time too.

The job search is terrible. I had a couple of contacts when I first moved, and both of them turned out not to have any positions "at this time" but both recommended I set up an account on Career Builder. Since then I have been on Career Builder daily, in addition to calling in response to ads I see in the paper, and stopping personally at local businesses. I have a reasonably wide search field, too, since of course I'd love to live closer to my dear Brett.

No dice. I've had a few interviews, and since I'm not in a destitute position, have had the freedom to say "no thank you." Actually, I've turned down a couple of options the Temp agency had for me, because I will not make an hour-long commute for the tuppence they offered!

So I'm using my discretion. This job is in an office closer than the previous offers were, doing a specific task for a specific office that is changing a procedure and needs to update old files. Not exciting, but something I know I can do, and in a decent environment.

This is just a post to keep you updated, that I'm here, but haven't anything exciting to say at the moment. I'll work on it, I promise.