Monthly Archives: August 2014

In the books

The first full week of school, that is. And while I’m feeling pretty worn out, it’s good. My voice usually takes the brunt of the fatigue, what with singing with shy fifth graders and making demo recordings of various songs for cast members to rehearse at home (most of which are way out of my comfortable vocal range, oy). But thumbs up; we made it through, and I’m excited for the choirs and shows this year.

I think. :-)

One of the highlights of my week was going to the Browns/Bears game on Thursday night. What fun! We met up with friends from the Cleveland area who are season ticket holders, and we had a fantastic evening. The weather was perfect: mid-60s, no clouds, and a soft breeze off Lake Erie. Perfect night for football, and of course, stadium hot dogs. (Candid mouth-stuffed photo here.) First Energy Stadium in Cleveland has undergone quite the facelift recently, after being built in 1999 to encourage a heartbroken fan base that had just endured one of the cruelest sucker punches ever pulled. Whether or not Art Modell had legitimate reasons for doing what he did mattered little then, and is inconsequential now. The fact remains: the Browns haven’t been the same since.

Our view from the upper deck of the Dawg Pound

Our view from the upper deck of the Dawg Pound

But back to the stadium renovations. They are spectacular! If you click the “facelift” link in the previous paragraph, you’ll find a graphic that allows you to use your mouse to compare the views before and after the project. I must say, the design is impressive. Our seat location allowed us a great view of all these improvements, as well as the fixes to come. It’s exciting to watch; I just hope the team rises to the occasion.

As darkness fell, the crowd had relaxed considerably, and it was easy to carry on a conversation.

Preseason games are, of course, not well attended. But that was fine with us, as regular season games are pandemonium. During the 10-minute dashes to and from the parking lot, our friends shared their wonder at not feeling like a moving tin of sardines on the sidewalks. Emily kept holding her arms out to her sides as she walked, marveling at the amount of “personal space” she had on the concrete.

Winning didn’t hurt anything, either. (Props to the Thriller, who was likely one of 14.5 Bears fans in the entire stadium.)

And here we are, finally arriving at Saturday morning. We all survived, and I was fine yesterday, despite the three hours of sleep the night before. I’m taking my time, sipping coffee and enjoying 15 open browser tabs of Gothamist articles. Later this afternoon, it’s grocery shopping, cleaning bathrooms and folding laundry. I need this kind of day, because as you know, after Labor Day, yeah

Happy weekend, fiends!

It’s all right

Have a good time, ’cause it’s all right. (Whooooa yes, my pathetic life is song lyrics.)

It’s all good today. It’s fine that I pulled an all-nighter on Friday night (we had an upset 5-year-old, having a terrible time with growing pains — aching arms and legs), and that Saturday was a mix of getting work done, resting up, and general craziness.

A definite “lowlight” was Pax getting attacked by two pit bull mixes at the dog park yesterday, completely unprovoked. He got a nice little chunk removed from above his eye, and his rear legs are extremely stiff. He now drags himself up off the floor like a seal or walrus in order to walk. We called the vet at 8:00 last night, and she suggested straight Benedryl to relax him until she can work him in this afternoon for a checkup and x-ray. And the hits just keep on comin’…

Before the attack (the offenders are on leashes in the background)

Before the attack (the offenders are on leashes in the background)

The park owner, who is wonderful and attentive to all visiting dogs, was mortified and apologetic, as the two attackers are his personal pets. He offered to pay the vet bill, and told us that these two particular dogs would be taken inside whenever we’re at the park — exactly the right things to say, and what we were hoping to hear (of course, we wouldn’t stick him with the bill). We felt bad for him. He usually keeps the two pits on leashes when dogs come into the park, until he’s certain that everything is peaceful. We all thought that was the case yesterday, until *bam* — out of nowhere, they went for Pax, who was minding his own business with the other four dogs. The owner and the Thriller immediately jumped into the fray to free him, but not until Pax had been jumped on several times, and bitten who knows how many. He was covered in dirt and saliva, so we bathed him as soon as we got home, looking for any hidden wounds.

Skinny McScrawny

Skinny McScrawny

He was already in bad shape when we got him into the car, as he couldn’t make the jump into the back seat, and had to be lifted. And while all this sounds terribly serious, which it surely is, we think he just got janked around, and he’s a middle-aged, underweight dog with joint problems. He’s going to be sore for a while, and he’s back to being quiet and clingy. But that’s OK — we will overcome, and he will heal, and all will be well. But sheesh — in your new home for a week, and you get mugged by thugs. Poor guy!

OK, enough drama for one weekend. I’m off to the school house for my first full five days. Goodbye, voice!



Something in the air

In the hours before I take off for the official first day of school, I am inundated with news that smacks suspiciously of an earlier time. Chaos in the streets, racial unrest, senseless violence, looting, hatred.

After reading the umpteenth article about the violence in Missouri, and the jagged separation between the two factions, I thought to myself, This country has got to get it together. Ah, a segue…

As cliché as it sounds, if we want to fix this thing for the future, we really do need to start right where we are. I resolve this day to be an example of tolerance and peace to my students, and everyone else, for that matter. To bend a little with my opinions. To not be so rigid in my thoughts. To never bathe in schadenfreude. To listen without simply thinking about what I’m going to say next.

Fiends, the revolution’s here. I think we need to strive to make it a positive alternative.

Happy day to you all — I’m off to the schoolhouse to meet 230 of my closest friends. :-)

Toute a l’école!

Evvvverybody back to school, yay! Well, not everyone, but definitely me and all the rest of the teachers and staff for the next two days. Funny how some schools have been in session for two weeks already, and others don’t start until after Labor Day. I like individual districts being in control like that. (Now if only we could do it with regard to curriculum and assessments…but that’s a rant for another day.)

It’s been a weird summer. Longer because of more time at home, due to a super-short Odyssey this time around, but shorter because there was a lot to accomplish, and as usual, I didn’t get 75% of it done. We had a serious discussion about the fence/no fence issue, which was brought into sharper focus last night after our neighbor’s 90-lb. Golden Retriever mix broke loose and attacked Remy and Pax in our back yard. (Our wonderful neighbor, Nancy, was horrified and confused; in the nine years we’ve lived here, that’s never happened.) No one was hurt, but it got us thinking about keeping two dogs safe and contained in a busy neighborhood, where the yards are pretty close together.

It’s the three-four grand that people want to charge us to install sixty feet of fence and two gates that’s the problem, you see. The Thriller wants to do it himself, but I am going to put down my little feet and veto that, for many reasons.

But hey, enough about me — have a good Monday out there, fiends.


…yeah, you knew it was coming. :-D

Those of you who are my Facebook friends saw the picture of our new pup yesterday, but for those who aren’t, let’s give it up for Pax, who just upped the ante for the canine team at our house.



We’ve had a longstanding love for Australian Shepherds, the rock stars of the herding breeds. We adore their intelligence, energy, beauty and loyalty. While Rousseau was an Australian Shepherd/Springer Spaniel  hybrid (here is a completely cool black & white variation of his breed), he favored the Aussie look.

Some interesting facts, if you’re in the mood:

1. Australian Shepherds do not come from Australia. They were likely brought to Australian sheep farms from either Spain or Germany. How exactly they were bred into their current form is unknown.

2. Aussies come in 16 color variants. Here’s a basic chart.

3. They are particularly prone to hip dysplasia and deafness.

4. The Aussie’s closest relative is the Scottish Collie

Six-year-old Pax’s owner passed away, and since no family could/would take him, he was remanded to the local shelter. We don’t know how long he languished there (long enough for them to shear off all his matted fur), but he had recently been taken into foster care by a woman who owned two other Aussies. She told us that he appeared depressed, and showed no interest in eating, no matter what she did to coax him. He was not thriving.

Enter the Thriller, who sent me an Aussie rescue link on 11 August, saying “Looky here…” Three days later, we brought Pax home.

He's about 7-8 lbs. underweight. His hipbones stick out like doorknobs, and his spine reminds me of a razorback hog.

He’s about 7-10 lbs. underweight. His hipbones stick out like doorknobs, and you can easily count the vertebrae in his spine.

The good news is that he’s taken to his new diet (Blue Buffalo with a spoonful of pumpkin puree, twice a day) like a duck to water. He’s eating like a pig. I’m noticing he takes extra care with his hip joints when lying down or getting up; this could be arthritic behavior, or it could be that he’s just skin and bone back there, and lying down hurts after a while. I hope it’s the latter. We have yet to get him in to see the vet for the full Monty check-up.

Last night, we had some moderate-to-slightly-serious “play” fights between Pax and Remy. This morning, we’ve had three play sessions between them, and so far, no flip-outs or ceremonial Dominance Dancing.

I luv u, u luv me

i luv u, u luv me

I’ve done one training session with Pax, and he’s another little smarty. He already knew how to sit and lie down, but “stay” was a new concept altogether. When we would go to take Remy out, Pax would have his nose right at the screen door, ready to bolt. He learned the “stay” command in no time. I think we’re on the way to being a family here.

Again, thanks for your concern over the past few days, and all your messages of encouragement. It means the world!