Month: January 2016

Stress shedding for fun and profit (just not mine)

Missy Spike is the most fussy dog I have ever seen where her feet are concerned. She’ll let you touch her back feet, but that’s about it; her front feet, if you even touch her legs at the joint analogous to our elbows, she quickly pulls the leg away with a sad “I’m sorry but you can’t do that” expression. I’ve been giving her liver treats while I play with her toes to give her “touching toes is a good thing” experience, but it’s going to be a l-o-n-g process.

In the meantime, her toenails keep growing and need to be cut. I managed a few of them once, but to do it with as little trauma to her as possible (which is a desirable thing when you’re trying to teach her that her feet are safe in your hands), I really need a) a table and restraining collar and b) a second person.

So I gave in and took her to the groomer’s today. It took two of them to do her front feet. She nearly pulled out of the restraining collar and did climb up their shoulders and did all manner of “yipe yipe”-ing before they were done. But they did get them done.

When dogs are scared like that or otherwise stressed, they do something called “stress shedding.” That means their hair falls out all over everything at an astonishing rate. I cannot figure out what survival purpose that may have had, unless maybe it meant your pursuer got a mouthful of fur instead of a mouthful of you, but it’s pretty amazing. Here’s a shot of a bit of my shirt when I picked her up off the table (and she actually put both paws around my neck and huddled into my chest as if she were a baby. Which, I suppose, she is, since nobody hurt her).


It’s even worse a little farther down on my shirt, but I couldn’t get a good shot of that.

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First artsy portrait

While at Snaotheus’s and KrisDi’s house last week, Little Miss D drew a portrait of me. I felt very flattered, and she got some individualized details she doesn’t usually get when portraiting her mom, dad and brother:

I think it’s quite fetching and very very flattering. 🙂

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The three little people and the terrible, horrible, no-good afternoon

I hate repeating headlines, but this one requires it.

In an effort to earn a few grandmotherly chops (and because I love them, of course—of course!), I’m at Snaotheus’s to help with kid-watching while KrisDi is gone. This would not ordinarily be a big deal, but Snaotheus has a full week of rigidly scheduled 9 to 5 meetings. His usual schedule lets him pick up the kids before 4 and have them home around 5-ish. Getting them home an hour later, at 6:30-ish, would throw everything too far back and they’d get home in time to cram something in their tummies and fall be tossed into bed.

Yesterday, Dad’s Major Presentation Day, we all (kids and I) stayed home. Things went along pretty normally ’til it was time to take Chilkat to her afternoon tap lesson. Snaotheus had printed out directions to the facility for me, tap clothes were packed in a bag, I packed a bag of water, snacks, and iPad (see? I’m learning!), and told the kids (after appropriate “in 10 more minutes we’re going to” reminders) to go potty and get in the car.

Chilkoot is 2. His frequent default is “no.” He tried that one. “You want to keep your underwear dry, don’t you?” I asked. He nodded. “Then you need to go to the potty.” He shook his head. “No. No go potty.”

“Sure you are!” I picked him up, he started wailing, I took him to the bathroom, tugged his pants down, and plopped him on the potty. “Go pee,” I said, not realizing until later that I sounded exactly as I do when I say that to the dog. (She complies more easily. 🙂 )

Next, Chilkat, whose tap lessons we were going to, also refused to go potty (she’s quite reliable, but I hadn’t seen her go all day, and it’s A Rule that if they don’t before entering the car, “I have to pee now” are the first words heard as soon as you get someplace where they can’t). I gave her the potential consequences: Go to the bathroom, or be really embarrassed if she peed her outfit during class.

“I don’t want to go to tap,” she said. (This is a patent lie.)

“Well, go anyway, or I’ll put you on the potty the same way I did your brother.” She stomped off, but did it.

We headed right on schedule out into the darkening world, with pouring rain and smeary twilight car lights all around us, a little ahead of major rush-hour traffic. As it got darker, traffic got heavier. I reached more unfamiliar territory in an unfamiliar car, with eyes that make pretty stars around lights but don’t do much for reading. I realized that there was no exit with the number Snaotheus had given me. Nor did any of the signs note the two roads I was to look for. By the time I realized we were not going to find this exit, I guessed we were about 15 miles too far north. I took an exit to a road I was pretty sure would take us south.

It did, for a long while, and then started to curve around so that, in the dark and surrounded by lengthy, sluggishly moving bicycle chains with red (going our way) or white (going the other way) smeary lights at each joint, I was no longer sure we were going south. This was because we hit a fairly large undeveloped area, and I couldn’t tell whether we were just going around the lake or headed up into the much-more-rural mountains which I fervently hoped were still another 20 miles to the north.

Up to the point where we probably should have exited, the kids were great. They talked, laughed, sang songs, teased each other, told me stories, ate snack food, no trouble. By the time I was no longer sure of direction, things had taken an ugly turn. The rest of the trip was completed with traveling music consisting of screaming and snarling as only small humans can do it.

“Chilkoot, stop crying!”

“I not crying!”

“You are, too, you baby!”

“I not baby!”


“Not! You baby!”

I started to sing a song and sidetracked them for a while, but Chilkoot, who was truly exhausted and I’d hoped he’d fall asleep in the car, wasn’t having much of that. Crying felt better. About everything. His car-seat belt was too tight (it’s always too tight). He was hungry. When were we gonna get there. He wanted a toy.  Interspersed with his sister’s big-sistering ordering him to be quiet (in less-polite terms) and their intermittent shouting matches. They weren’t horrible; they were just rather loudly being tired little kids in a car that wasn’t getting where we wanted it to go. Still, the shouting background noise wasn’t a great concentration aid.

“Gamma, I do’ like you anymo’e!” (This became a common refrain from Chilkoot, with an occasional “Gamma, I like you” thrown in, probably to confuse me.)

“I know, sweetie,” I replied. “I love you anyway.”

“That wasn’t very nice!” said sister. “How would you feel if I told you I didn’t like you anymore?”

“I don’ like you anymo’e!”

“You’re mean!”


Finally, I found a spot where I could pull into a shopping area and regroup. Even more fortunately, I recognized one of the stores, and realized we were a good 20-30 miles north of where we were supposed to be. At that point, even had the car sprouted wings and helicoptered us elsewhere, tap was already over and that boat had launched. I called Snaotheus to Fix This. As it turned out, after much confusion, I had been on the correct road and another five miles or so would have taken me back to the freeway, where I could have joined the tortoise-ly moving bicycle-chain traffic home.

“When are we gonna get to tap?” asked Chilkat.

“I’m afraid we’re not going to. It’s too late now, sweetie. I’m really sorry.”

“But I really, really, really wanted to go to my tap class!” she wailed. (cf “don’t want to go” above—nobody ever said children made sense, did they?)

“I know, and I really wanted to get you there. Daddy gave me the wrong exit numbers.”

We got back on the road and I tried to get them on board with “this is going to be a really funny story one day: ‘Remember that day Dad gave Grandma the wrong map to my tap class and we drove around in circles in the rain and the dark and the gridlock traffic for nearly two hours before we got headed the right way?’ You’ll be able to razz Daddy about this for years!

Silence from the back seat.

“Dis not funny,” said Chilkoot. “I do’ like you anymo’e, Gamma.”

Eventually we did reach the interchange, pulled over into the newly expensive express lanes, and I floored it for home, stopping briefly at the golden arches drive-through because it was well past dinnertime. Mostly, they wanted to compare Happy Meal toys and complain that they didn’t get the right one.

We reached home, got everybody unpacked, out of the car and into the house. Snaotheus gave me a hug, and I whispered, “You owe me so —ing much for this you will never get it paid off. I can’t believe you gave me the wrong exit number. You live here. You know where things are.”

“I should have told you 20, not 24,” he said. “Sorry.”

Daddy tried to get them to eat something besides the fries in their Happy Meals while I tried to get Spike to eat her own happy kibble. That was a no-fly. I carried her through the house so she could do her own go-pee, since she’d been crated all afternoon while we were gone. She growled in the kids’ direction. I really think she thinks they’re aliens. (Since KrisDi is allergic to dogs, Spike’s crated most of the time in the garage because she can’t come in the house. She’s feeling really unloved but I’ll go play fetch with her soon.)

Right after they ate, Daddy announced it was bedtime. Chilkoot took me by the hand and dragged me bodily upstairs (I guess I was an in an “I like you, Gamma” phase at that point) and I put him to bed. Daddy took care of sister Chilkat, and shortly the snoozes of peace were heard throughout the land.

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Catch-up to year’s end

Though 2015 qualified easily as the second (maybe first) worst year of my entire life, it did have its occasional joys.

One of those not previously detailed was having a Mother-Son Day with Snaotheus when he came up to install the dishwasher he and KrisDi gave me for birthday/Christmas. It was rather an ordeal, and there is now a leaking line under the sink that I need to pinpoint and fix (yes, I have no doubt that will qualify as the First Disaster of 2016 and be eminently documentable), but I also have a functional dishwasher after three-plus years, and I can hide dirty dishes in it and have some counter space to work on. Yay!


A couple days later I went down to Snaotheus’s to hang out for a while (I didn’t want to try leaving Spike in the garage overnight because it was cold and she doesn’t have a double coat except on her back. Her hairless nekkid tummy woulda froze). I had the unusual honor of watching “Frozen” all the way through with Chilkat snuggled up next to me on the couch (this is *rare*), and somehow the movie made sense when I wasn’t seeing half a scene here and there out of order. I still say someone should get rid of Disney. Gads, they own everything. Sadly, young Chilkoot was having a bad day, even after his nap. Poor sweetie.



It’s been cold close to the “bitter” stage since then, and my heater’s been running full blast most of the time. I suppose that means something’s not healthy inside it. But today hoarfrost coats just about everything, so I took a few not-very-good shots of some things that were in shadow. In the sun, they were too bright and I couldn’t get much of anything even with the big camera.




I’m hoping that tomorrow morning this will have turned into the huge, lacy kind of hoarfrost, which is really neat to photograph if you can get a good angle and lighting.

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