Monday, February 20, 2017

Sunshine On a Cloudy Day.

 I wear my cold-weather wimp status without shame; I hate being cold. People who love winter baffle me....what is there to love? I get that the lack of mosquitoes and the bright cleanliness of snow is appealing, but really? The car locks freeze up, the endless shoveling of driveways, the scrambling over snowbanks, the dull, grey days that shut down into darkness in the late afternoon? Not to mention that there are little puddles of water on every floor, and I am bound to step in one in my stocking feet at least once a day. (Wet socks is one of Satan's very favorite playthings.) No, winter is a solid 5 months of putting your head down and getting through it.

A few years ago, the Mister and I were lucky enough to be given a trip to the sunny south by one of our suppliers; we earn points through purchasing supplies for the salon, and we had enough to go to Mexico for a week for a hairdressing event, did we want to go? OF COURSE we wanted to go! (Does anyone say "no"? Anyone without brain damage?)
This was the first time we had been away from our children for more than a night or two since they were born. (They were 17 and 20, at the time). And, more importantly, it was the most time we had had alone together since we had had children. ....a small part of me wondered if we had enough to even talk about for a week without the buffer of children...what if this brought to light a chasm in our marriage that had been hidden up until now? What if we found out we didn't like each other very much? What if all we could think about was how much we hated the way the other one ate?
Of course, I was an idiot and completely crazy, we went and had the most wonderful time. We laid on the beach and read and drank margaritas at 10 in the morning and ate guacamole at every meal and were able to remember why we were a couple in the first place. (People watching is spectacular in a place like that....we speculated endlessly on everyone's relationships and attire and behavior. Who knew that was the glue that kept us together?)
And, you know what? We were warm. Right down to your bones warm, and for a whole week, too. It was heavenly. I think that feeling of walking off a plane from the grey and the cold into blazing heat is one of the greatest sensations ever ever.
 We enjoyed ourselves so much that, on the way home, we decided that we had to figure out a way to to that again, no matter what. I didn't care if I had to take up a part time job lap-dancing and the Mister had to sell one of whatever body part he had two of, we were going to have a week in the sun in the winter.

It did not quite come to that, it turns out you can get a week down south if you aren't very picky about where you go and how luxurious the accommodations are. We wanted somewhere safe, somewhere clean, somewhere cheap and somewhere we could fly directly to from our local airport, and that meant Cuba. Sure, the food is bland and kind of weird, there's not much hot water before noon and ice and spoons seem to be hoarded like gold ingots, but the people are lovely, the place is clean and secure and the beach is spectacular.
We've gone twice now, and are on our way again soon. It is my very favorite week of the year; we do absolutely nothing. I love the enforced relaxation; there's really not much to do at our resort except read, swim and occasionally get something to eat or drink. Some might find such a holiday boring, but as I am naturally inclined to sloth, it suits me just fine.

Not only do I get to go south for a week, I get to think about going south for MONTHS beforehand, which helps get me throught the dull, cold weeks after Christmas.  Believe me, I am much easier to get along with when I have the thought of mojitos and sunscreen in my head while I am digging out the car on a frigid morning.

So, those of you who love the winter are welcome to it....I will plot my escape, while trying to avoid the little puddles of water on the floor. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Gone to the Dogs

Growing up, we always had cats as pets. Cats are pretty low maintenance  they don't mind being left alone all day, they clean themselves and they poop in a box. If you don't mind sharing your yogurt and  having your Christmas tree knocked over regularly, they are pretty easy to have around.

But last weekend, we went from a "no dog household" to a "two dog household" in a matter of 24 hours. One dog, Channing, is temporary; we are looking after him for my niece and her wife while they are down south for a week. But the other dog, Pippa, is ours for good.

People told me that dogs are a lot of work, and they were 100% right on that. Dogs need way more of your time and attention than cats. But, oh my God, do they ever give it back....I've had many a cat tell me in it's cat way that they love me, but I don't think I've ever had anyone gaze at me with quite the adoration of a dog.

Channing is a Golden retriever/border collie cross. Which means he is pretty smart, has lots of energy and likes plenty of treats. Since retrievers are the frat boys of the dog world, and border collies are no dummies, this means that Channing is a big goof with enough sense to stay on the right side of the law. . He likes to get in on my side of the bed when I get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, which is a big surprise when you come back to bed and forget you have a dog temporarily. On Sunday morning, when the Mister and I usually sleep in late, Channing HAD to get up on the bed with me, so I was sandwiched in between he and the Mister, and since they both give off enough heat to power a hospital, I got so sweaty I thought I was going to throw up. Channing is an excellent dog.

Pippa, our newest family member is a 2 year old corgi/terrier mix. Thing 1 got her from a rescue organization, which means that Pip didn't get the best start in life (we think she was used as a breeder in a puppy mill), but she's landed with us, and I think she's going to enjoy her life very much from now on. She is just the loveliest dog; sweet tempered, cuddly and incredibly quiet. She's like a cat in dog form. She has tragically short little legs and a corkscrew tail, and could not be any cuter if she tried.

Unlike cats, dogs need to be walked. And these dogs would prefer it if I walked them every hour or so, and I understand why, because this is their very favorite time of the day. Channing is so excited to be out in the world that he has to see it all at once and preferably right now. This means that he would pull your arm right out of your socket and not care one ounce. The first part of any walk with Chan requires that I be dragged to the school yard a block away, where I take him off his leash and let him catch his frisbee for 10 minutes, so that he burns off some energy and I can walk him without danger of being pulled off my feet and hauled along the sidewalk behind him. I haven't been to the gym in a week.

Pippa of the Short Legs requires about 1/3 of the walk that Channing does, because her little self has to work three times as fast to keep up. And keeping up is the most important thing in the universe for that dog. God forbid we fall behind Channing. (It does occur to me that little dogs have NO IDEA they are little. They don't look in a mirror and they just think they are as big as they want to think they are. ) She will also yank your arm out of your socket, but for a much shorter length of time.

One thing I have to thank these dog for is that they have made me go outside about 100 times more than I would have, had they not been here. I am an unabashed cold-weather wimp, and chose to mainly go from the car to  my destination in as short a time as possible in the winter. But these guys have required that I bundle up and go out a couple of times a day, and for a good while, too. To my surprise, I've enjoyed it....the cold, clear morning that I watched the sun come up, the snowy evening when it was so quiet I could hear the flakes hit the ground, the bright, sunny, bitterly cold afternoon, they have all been pleasant reminder that winter can be something more than a season to be endured and ridden out.

The cat has gotten used to the dogs; she and Channing have come to an understanding and she ignores Pippa completely. I wonder if she is enjoying not having the laser-like focus of our collective attention off of her, or if she's pissed that there is now a dog on my bed when it used to be solely hers.

Channing goes home today; I will take him to the dog park before we leave,  where he will run in circles and bark his fool head off and sniff all the other dog bums there are to sniff, and I will thank him for all he has done for me this week: now one dog will seem like no dogs. And my floors have never been so clean.