One new thing every day

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One of our favourite things to do, Shiva and I, is to explore new places together. It doesn’t have to be complicated. So often new discoveries are as simple as meandering around corners before ignored. The ripe smells invigorate Shiva and the fresh sights prevent mental boredom in me. I have learned that routine is my swiftest route to insanity. The smallest change is worth any inconvenience.

We never would have found this interesting church if we hadn't crossed a new road

We never would have found this interesting church if we hadn’t crossed a new road

I have been thinking of embarking upon a new challenge, to do one new thing every single day. It can be minor – finding a new tree under which to eat my lunch – or major – talking to a stranger. Would such a feat even be possible? This is what I wonder. There will come a time when I will run out of little things to alter. How willing am I to deviate from the norm? This is what I think I am ready to find out.

Shiva, contemplating doilies on trees. That is a first.

Shiva, contemplating doilies on trees. That is a first.

It is something else to think about, regardless. I might fail. Then again, I might impress myself. As winter approaches and I face seven or more months of Canadian Arctic, I have to focus on something positive, right?

Shiva will be my guide. No challenges daunts her. I couldn’t find a better companion. Year of Badassery, part deux?

First days are the best days

Fall is here. I knew it this morning at the sight of hopeful students loitering around the bus stop. Backpacks slung over their shoulders, crisp jeans fitting a little too well, they stood out like Shiva at a pug meet-up. I loved the first day of school. Next to Christmas Eve, it was my favourite day of the year. There was so much to believe in on a first day. Anything was possible. First days were fresh and clean, with no mistakes in them.  On first days, I felt confident, capable, and courageous. The pang of this memory hits me every autumn when the students return to class. It isn’t jealousy; at least, it isn’t all jealousy. I feel for them, sense their nervousness and excitement beneath their facades of boredom and ennui. As uncomfortable as such ambiguity is, it is also thrilling. They don’t know what will be hitting them next but they are ready to learn. It won’t be long before the reality of midterms and papers and annoying lab partners slam into them. Within a week or so their eager anticipation will turn into frustrated exhaustion. I try to remember this as I battle the curl of envy in my stomach. School means late nights and ink stains, dull assignments and obnoxious classmates who dominate the professor’s time with their unrelated questions. If only every day could be a first day.

Less Wordy Wednesday – Friends from another land

While on holiday sans Shiva last week I fulfilled one of my biggest dreams.

No, I didn’t go skydiving. This was even better.

Last week, I saw this cheerful face in person:

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I even got to scratch these downy ears.

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These adorable little bears from Kol’s Notes hardly require an introduction. They are only the most famous Canadian dogs since the Littlest Hobo. The was a moment, when the Kolchak himself licked my hand, that I contemplated never washing it again.

Jealous yet?

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Shiva should be. Now more than ever I realize how fast she would make friends with funny Koly. He is a dog after her own heart with superior begging skills. IN a way, I am relieved I couldn’t bring her along. She is bad enough as it is. Can you imagine being around this face all day?

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They are every bit as sweet as they sound on the blog, and even cuter in real life. No photo can do either Kolchak or Felix justice. I feel so lucky that I finally got to meet them in person. One doesn’t run into real canine celebrities very often. Though our visit was brief, I hope one day I will be able to count them among my small group of friends.

This is a plea for help

I have become that which I despise, that which I never thought I could be. There is no part of me that is confrontational. Strangers are dangerous. No matter the circumstances, I will go out of my way to avoid interaction with them. I will even use those dang self check outs when I have a ridiculous number of items just so I won’t have to make eye contact with someone.

I am a ninja with self check out. Fastest scanner this side of Toronto.

And yet! And yet, I have turned into the obnoxious outspoken crazy dog woman. The woman who yells at people and calls them out when their dogs are acting like hooligans. The woman who is just so bloody tired of dealing with ignorant people who think it is okay if their dog chases mine down the street. Something in me has snapped. I won’t, I can’t, duck my head and seethe inwardly anymore. My mouth speaks before my brain gives it permission. I know it doesn’t help; I know it won’t change anything. I can’t remain silent.

In essence, I have become my mother.

Oh, how that smarts.

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Mr. Poodle Man has been a common target. If we head a certain direction in the morning we are bound to encounter him. His dog is beautiful, poofy and black and bouncy and everything a standard poodle should be. Except for the whole barking at Shiva’s heels thing. If this dog was on a leash it wouldn’t be an issue. Of course, this dog is never on a leash. His or her owner doesn’t seem to think this behaviour is an issue. Sure, he calls and tells his dog to stop, but we all know that does nothing. Yelling down the street while your dog harasses another dog, making no effort to retrieve your pet and in fact having no leash on you at the time, does not impress me much. You are putting your dog, and mine in danger. If this was a park, I would let Shiva off to defend herself. It is almost always a residential road. Mr. Poodle Man may be willing to risk his dog getting hit by a car. I am not.

Do you know his response to my request to restrain his lovely dog?

“Mmmmhmmm.”

Mmmmhmmm. Indeed. There was no apology for his dog’s rudeness, no sheephish grin, no acknowledgement of how scary it might feel to be stalked down the road by a strange dog. I almost wanted to encourage Shiva to react, just to show him how risky his laissez faire attitude is. If I knew his address I would have reported him to Animal Control a long time ago. This poodle is going to get hurt.

And then there was the episode tonight with the Pomeranian. Shiva and I were on our usual evening jaunt. To the right of us was a busy parking lot outside of an outdoor swimming pool. We heard high-pitched barking and looked over. A small brown dog ran loose on the road. He or she headed right for us. My first thought was that this dog was lost. Rewarding Shiva, I directed her to my left side and looked around for an owner. I caught sight of a man walking a German Shepherd behind us. Not good.

That’s when I heard the voice of a woman come from one of the vehicles. While the little dog yapped and sped as fast as he could toward the Shepherd, she hollered at him to come back. She didn’t get out of her car, she didn’t even open her door.

The words tumbled out of my mouth before I knew they existed.

Her response was sarcastic, as expected. I told her I was just concerned for her dog’s safety. She said nothing and remained inside her vehicle. Her dog continued to run around the German Shepherd’s heels. The man was silent. Luckily for everyone’s sake, so was the Shepherd.

wpid-wp-1409108221566.jpegHow do I cure this? How do I return to my quiet, keep-my-selflsh-rants-to-myself self?

Even better, how do I help change the status quo? How do I teach people that their neglectful actions are putting their family members in danger? I feel like a jerk when I don’t speak up and a jerk when I do. Is that the way of it?

All I want is to walk with Shiva without fear, without the stress of running into ignorant owners with dogs who don’t know how to behave off-leash. Is this nothing but a fantasy?

My Thoughts and How I Spit Them Out

If you have been following along on the latest blog tour you have probably been as equally fascinated as I in regards to the unique methods of some of the best writers in the Petosphere. Always eager to glean as much knowledge as I can from my blogging heroes, I have been reading every entry I find. As if I will somehow discover the map to their brilliance and be able to follow it myself. Alas, it does not work that way. Though learning from the experiences of others is useful, the only substantial thing I have found is that I will have to make my own trail, bushwhacking and dodging flying monkeys as I go.

Once I finished pouting over the unfairness of it all, I was honoured by an invitation from Kol’s Notes to join the tour myself. It took me a week to realize this meant I could no longer be a bystander, watching the parade and hoping to snag a piece of tossed candy. Suddenly, I had to climb on to a float and give out my own bon bons.

The thought was daunting, nay, paralyzing. What do I have to offer with my meager attempts at stringing words together? One would think after publishing 873 posts I would have more to contribute. I am ashamed to say, my writing process – if I even have enough hubris to call it that – is not the structured I’d like it to be. It’s not even a process, more of a thing I do when I have a few minutes or when there is a deadline looming. However, if I can help someone else then I will air my humiliating secrets. Perhaps you can learn something from my laziness, or at least feel better about your own valiant efforts.

How I manage to spit words out, all of your questions answered here, or something:

Question #1: What are you working on?

This is an excellent question. Unfortunately, I have a less than stellar answer. At least it is short?

Nothing. That is to say, nothing other than putting words on the page. There is no larger project, no higher goal, than the simple act of writing itself. I do have hope that some larger scheme will inspire me if I keep on with it. Thus far, all I do is trudge away at it, putting in my 100 words, trying not to worry about anything else.

I am not sure that I ever had a prime directive for this space. The idea was to keep a record, to connect with others, and to seek solace in personal reflection. Writing things down made me feel better about them.

wpid-wp-1408531052243.jpegOne thing I know for sure is that I am happier when I am writing. I am forced to acknowledge the distinct differences in my outlook on life when I compare the weeks I let myself slide and the weeks I make myself to keep on. Even if nothing comes of it, this act brings me joy. For that reason alone I must continue. My sanity is worth it.

Question #2: Why do you write what you do?

These days I write what I am thinking about. Sometimes it is something that happened to me, sometimes it is something I read, and sometimes it is something else entirely. I tend to spew whatever is most sticking in my mind. Often it relates to life with Shiva, but not always.

I started blogging as early as 2000, in the early days when Livejournal was still cool and required a special invitation. Given my propensity to get bored with a project after its early stages, I opened many LJ accounts and then abandoned them all one by one. When Blogger was a thing, I started an account there, and then left that behind too. The same with several attempts at WordPress. It was all too much like work, too much like journaling, and I never had a sense of community. For the most part, I kept my writing attempts to a private notebook.

Pet blogging was quite different. Instead of a chore, it was fun to share pictures and chat about the silly things my dog did. It was also much easier to connect with others. While I was always shy to comment on other personal blogs, I felt less vulnerable leaving a cheerful note about another blogger’s dog or cat. The more I commented, the more I got to know others in the community and the more I read, the more I wanted to share my own stories.

I suppose this is my long-winded way of saying I write about my dog because it is fun and because it has led to other positive opportunities. It has also allowed me to experiment with other forms of writing in a way I feel comfortable. Shiva remains my main inspiration but she is no longer the only source. I am still trying to figure out how they all can be combined.

Question #3: How does your writing process work?

Um… Writing process? You mean where I sit down and type letters on the screen? Is there supposed to be more to it than that?

Perhaps it will be easiest if I follow the lead set by Kol’s Notes and break it into steps.

Step the first: Inspiration

I go for a walk. Yep. That’s it. Away from distractions, with only Shiva to tear me from my thoughts, walking is crucial for the idea process. The only trouble with this lies in the fact I never have a way to write anything down. I have to rely on my memory to retain all of the genius sentences I come up with during my perambulations. I should probably start carrying a notebook but I have enough in my pockets, what with poop bags and treats and keys.

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I do find Evernote is a fantastic program for keeping track of thoughts. Of course, I have to have my phone with me to take advantage of this application. Which I never do during my chief idea-seeking wanderings.

I never said I knew what I was doing.

Step the second: Preparation

Okay, so, this isn’t really a step since I don’t do much planning in advance. There have been times where I have needed to do a bit of research. Often I utilize the skills I developed while writing history papers and research while I go. This isn’t ideal. I don’t recommend it.

wpid-wp-1408531003709.jpegWhile Jodi of Kol’s Notes recommends the Italian countryside, I find the hills and valleys of Canada have just as much to offer. Why travel when you can get a lovely burst of creativity at home? The Okanagan Valley is my new favourite destination and I highly recommend a little Therapy in advance of your next writing experiment. It did wonders for me.

Step the third: Execution

I sit down and start typing. Sometimes quickly, sometimes excruciatingly slow. Sometimes on my blue chair, sometimes on a camping chair, sometimes on the floor. I always sit and I always type.

My preferred method is to write by hand with a pen and paper. It feels more natural and is closer to the practice of my childhood. Typing is faster, however, and there is no way I will bother to type something I have written by hand. Is there a computer program out there that automatically does this? You’d think there would be.

The time of day changes. I used to write in the mornings before going to work. It is still my best time of day. My current schedule does not allow it, unless I am willing to get up earlier than five-thirty, which I am not, at the moment.

These days I write at night, shortly after Shiva and I return from our walk. This way the ideas are still gurgling. Unfortunately, this timing can also lead to bitter diatribes and emotional rants, as I haven’t given myself the chance to digest anything before putting it out there. What can you do?

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Step the fourth: Editing

I tend to edit as I go, an arresting and somewhat inhibiting habit, but it works well for me. It is hard for me to write a sentence without re-thinking every word. Reading a troublesome line out loud helps me figure it out before moving on.

Before I hit publish, I try to read through every post at least once. Often I forget in my elation at finishing and find myself reading through and making changes after the article has already gone live. Oops.

Editing is actually my favourite part. I love chopping words and fixing errors in punctuation. It’s the same feeling I get when I throw out old things around the house; it can be liberating and almost always makes the post better. I rarely make the time to do it in any serious fashion. Something else I need to work on.

So yeah… That’s the insight into my, er, writerly process.

You are wowed, aren’t you? I thought so.

According to the rules of the Official Tour, I am now to tag several other bloggers and make them divulge all of their juicy secrets.

Lauranne of 25 Castles on 25 Clouds is officially up. I bet she will have some terrific advice for everyone. If not, she can at least recommend some good wine.

I am also nominating Ashley of The Accidental Olympian because she needs to write more and may as well do this. Her taste in beverage I am sure is also inspirational.

And as my final nomination I choose Kelly of Tails of Insanity. I can’t speak for her beverage choices, she probably drinks Diet Coke while she blogs, but she is another who needs to write more often. Hopefully this will be the commitment she needs.

If you made it to the end of this very long-winded beast, you have my congratulations. I hope you found something that helped you. If nothing else, you now know an excellent wine to try.

TC is a Jerkwad, Part 2

So we all know my cat, The Cat (TC), is a bit of an ass. Not just a bit, actually. Around these parts, he is known as a jerkwad. It’s kind of his second nickname.

wpid-wp-1408413624193.jpegI know. He looks so cute and innocent. It is an act, all designed to fool those of the outside word into thinking he is nothing but a fuzzy-faced angel. I admit, even I am fooled sometimes. He’ll walk up to me, all quiet mews and low purrs, rub against my legs, make me think he might let me touch him, and then wham! I’ve got a cat tooth stuck in my thumb.

Of course, we all know his story. We all know I am the evil interloper who dared infiltrate his quiet abode, the horrid female who dared intervene in the spoiled thing he had going with my PH. What he won’t tell you is that he met me as a teeny kitten, that I have been this dark presence in his life since he was barely two months old. Ten years later, you’d think he’d be over it.

But I digress. The purpose of this post is not to question his sinister motivations. It is to recount his latest acts of jerkwadiness.

1. The squalling has gotten to a new low. He squawks at me for everything these days, to refill the water bowl I filled ten minutes ago, to top up the over-loaded dish of cat food, to give him treats, to lift up the foot rest of the Lazy Boy, to give him more treats, to open the bathroom door so he can stare at me while I shower, to watch him clean himself, and – most often – to go outside. I like to think I have increased my level of patience since adopting Shiva, but there is only so much guttural meowing a human can take. I am tempted to record it for you so you can sympathise with my pain. Rest assured, I like you too much to put you through that.

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2. HIs fur. I know, it isn’t his fault he has too much fluff. That’s just genetics. However, it is his fault when he chooses to brush it all over the bottoms of my pants hanging in the closet. I adore finding gobs of sticky orange fuzz all over my cuffs before getting dressed for work in the morning. That must be what he thinks. Either that or he is a jerkwad, you decide. (Please note, he doesn’t do this to my PH’s pants.)

3. He is increasingly bold with Shiva. Not that she does anything to stop him. In the span of an hour he managed to trap her in the bathroom – again – and then had the guts to eat a piece of her kibble out of her bowl while she was eating from the other side! What cat does this? Clearly he is far too confident. Someone needs to take control and apparently it isn’t going to be the dog.

4. He has a pathological obsession with my shoes that is sinking to new levels. No one needs to see that Cat, no one.

5. He destroyed the frame of the boot room door. For no reason. Just because he could? Maybe because I didn’t let him outside at midnight to meet his pals? Maybe because I care too much about him getting eaten by coyotes? Jerk. Wad.

wpid-wp-1408413633541.jpeg6. As if I need another, right? Yet, it doesn’t end. TC has also taken to begging for food. Every morning when I eat my breakfast, be it cereal, toast, or a piece of fruit, he is right there demanding I give him a bite. Even Shiva has the decency to give me space. She knows the key to begging is laying on her mat, shooting me sidelong glances. The Cat? He shoves his face right in my Cheerios. This isn’t because he is hungry, don’t make that mistake. It isn’t even because he likes oaty o’s. He rarely eats anything, even when I generously attempt to share. He simply thinks he has the right to everything that is mine.

The nerve of such a cat! I tells ya. I had naively thought by his old age he’d be slowing down, maybe even start cuddling, you know, like normal, nice cats. Oh, how wrong I was.

Dog Poetry Sunday – Pollard

It has been a week full of challenges in Shiva’s House of Deluded Dreamers. Broken feet, broken websites, and broken reservations. All three have yet to be mended and the frustration levels are climbing. At least Rescued Insanity is back in action enough for me to share some happy verse with you. I will try to be grateful and enjoy the blessings I have in the moment, however short-lived they may be.

I found today’s selection on a website for children. What a chest full of fun little gems this online space is. I may be pulling from it again in the future. Like kid jokes, there is something all the more endearing about kid poems.

The below story, for it is more of a narration than it is of a poetic entreaty – the best poems are, in my opinion, features two familiar characters: a cat and a dog. They get on in an amusing way and I enjoyed the imagery of the two species singing together. Shiva and TC both vocalize but never together. Now I kind of wish they did.

Happy Sunday!

Music on All Fours, by Josephine Pollard

A Pussy-cat and a Black-and-Tan
Were shut in a room together,
And, after a season of quiet, began
To talk of the change in the weather,
And new spring fashions, and after that
They had a sort of musical chat.
Said Puss: “To me it is quite absurd—
But tastes and opinions vary;
And some have declared that no beast or bird
Can sing like the small canary,—
Who, if it be true as I’ve heard it told,
Is really worth more than its weight in gold!”

Said the Black-and-Tan, with a pensive smile:
“I’ve wanted to call attention
To this bit of scandal for quite a while,
And, if not amiss, to mention
That my daily allowance of bark and whine
Has greatly improved this voice of mine.”
“It has,” said Puss, with a comic grin;
“The words of truth you have spoken;
A name for ourselves we must strive to win
At once, now the ice is broken;
For one or two doses of catnip tea
Have had a wondrous effect on me!

“‘Twas only the other night I strayed
Where a silvery moonbeam slanted,
And gave such a beautiful serenade
You’d have thought the place enchanted.
It roused the neighborhood to a pitch
Of praise, or envy—I can’t tell which.”
Said the Black-and-Tan, “Why shouldn’t we try
To sing a duet together?”
Said the Puss, “I see no reason why
We can’t; and we’ll show them whether
To birds and bipeds alone belong
The gift of singing a pleasing song!”

They sang—and they sang; but oh, my dears!
If you had been anywhere near them,
You’d have shut your eyes and stopped your ears,
And wished that you couldn’t hear them.
‘Twas a brilliant effort, upon my word,
And nearly killed the canary-bird.
The Pussy-cat and the Black-and-Tan
With the music were so delighted,
They will give a concert as soon as they can,
And perhaps we may be invited.
“Bow-wow!” “Miaow!” I’m sorry, you know,
I’ve another engagement—and cannot go!

Market Day

On my way to the farmer’s market I realized how nice it was to walk alone. It isn’t something I do often these days. I almost always have a dog with me, or a husband or friend, or both. True, I do walk home from work on a regular basis but that feels like a commute. I am in a hurry to get to my destination, every block feels like a mile. It is rare for me to wander by myself on a Saturday morning with no particular schedule.

I took my time. Smile at the woman leaving the market with an armful of sunflowers. Chatted with another waiting with her Weimaraner outside.  I maintained this leisure as I entered the crowded building. It was lovely to explore with only myself to please. There was no one to consult, no one for whom I had to wait, and no one to get impatient if I lingered overlong at the cheese counter.

I love sharing my life with my family. There is not a day I am not grateful and I never resent their presence. Yet, every once in a while, I think it is good for me to take off on journeys alone, to remember the other parts of me. If nothing else, it makes going home again even sweeter.

The Cyclone

“Only six people have ever died on this thing,” the words were spoken in earnest. I turned to look at the source, a man in his mid-thirties who most likely enjoyed his Coors Light. He stood behind us in the line and must have taken the look on my face for concern.
He was wrong. It was terror.

“I’m serious,” he said when I raised my eyebrows in question. “In all the years it’s been open only six!”

I wanted to ask him why he thought this would reassure me, instead I turned back around and closed my eyes.

“Less scary than giving a speech,” I muttered to myself. “Way way way less scary than driving a car. I can do this.”

Beside me my PH shook his head, looking amused. He wasn’t frightened at all, of course. Born in a small mountain town, he was used to death-defying feats. Teenage boys without much to do have a lot of experience getting into trouble in one way or another. This was tame in comparison.

I opened my eyes and realized my turn was next.

Three… two… one…

Frustration

Our garage door is the hardest door in the world to open. I learned this last night as I drove my shoulder into the wood in my fourth attempt at gaining entrance. It wasn’t because I didn’t have a key. The door was unlocked. The handle, however, refused to work the way handles are designed. It either jammed when I jerked it left or spun wide when I twisted it right. It was terrible timing. I’d never needed inside the small, crumbling building more than in that moment. Infuriated and out of patience, I gave the door a kick. Our neighbours happened to be outside on their back porch with a clear view of my emotional weakness. I heard them laugh. It may not have been at me but it may as well have been. I glared at the rotting wood; I’d never felt more useless.

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