First Snow Day of 2019

We don’t get a lot of snow around here, but when there’s a threat of an inch, schools and businesses close in precaution. (Don’t make fun. We don’t know how to drive in that stuff.) Unfortunately for Jeremy and Jackson, the Miller School for Boys is open every day, snow or no snow.

Still, we make little allowances for the delightful weather. It’s nice to not have to go anywhere. We sleep in a little later, take our time getting to school work, and this morning was no different. Jeremy, who protested that one to three inches of snow was no big deal, was the first one to throw on some layers and take the dog out. It’s Major, after all, who loves snow the most.

The meteorologist called for one to three inches in our specific area, and sure enough, that’s what fell. It was beautiful.

I tried to get pictures of our neighbors, but the snowflakes were so fast and fat that I couldn’t get the horses in focus, and it was too cold to cross the road to get closer.

The temperatures will continue to drop overnight, which gives me pause when I think of the surrounding trees and the heavy snow covering all the limbs.

Major really is the happiest boy in the snow.

Salem, on the other hand, took one look…

…and went back inside.

Once the snow stopped and the clouds cleared, we had blue skies once again and the sun melted all the remaining ice on the roads.

The Possum Chronicles

It began on Tuesday night, September 4, when Major lost his mind.

Evenings are typically low-key for our blue tick hound, but something had triggered his hunting instincts. Instead of dozing his way into the night, Major ran circles around the backyard, barking, howling, and panting. I went back and forth, back and forth to the patio door, trying to discern what caused Major to be alarmed.

On the third or fourth check, I saw the culprit: he cornered a possum on our patio, and the creature was noticeably scared. He hissed and hunched as I pulled all 85 pounds of Major by the collar inside the house. 

But Major didn’t settle down. He knew the intruder was still there. Where did he go? 

Inside the dryer vent hose, of course, but we didn’t know this detail until Friday night when the boys and I spent well more than an hour trying to lure the creature out of the hose and away from the house.

We kept Major locked in the bathroom, and we were victorious. 

One might think this means the possum moved out of our backyard. Alas! No! He lives with us still. Our victory was short-lived.

Every night for the last week Major has situated himself on the patio – on patrol, you might say – waiting for the possum to return. He is on high alert, and his Spidey senses are on point. 

This translates to sleepless nights for us. Though we bring Major inside at our bedtime, he can’t help himself at 2, 3, and 4 a.m., when he feels the need to patrol the yard. 

Until last night, I was sure he was overreacting. SURELY THE POSSUM HAS MOVED OUT. After all, why would he stay? We’ve done nothing to make him feel welcome.

Last night, a little after midnight, less than an hour after I fell asleep, I woke to the sound of Major whining at the back door. Here we go, I thought. Another night of chasing the possum who’s no longer there.

BUT I WAS WRONG.

I opened the door and out Major goes, nose to the ground as he runs the perimeter of the yard. I’m standing on the patio in my pajamas, dog-tired, irritated, wanting to explain to my non-hunting hunting dog that he’s lost his mind.

Then, I see the possum. As Major circles the yard with his nose (and eyes) in the grass, I see the possum casually walking atop the fence line. He’s not even in a hurry. He is totally unbothered by the commotion. Below the fence line is my non-hunting hunting dog, oblivious to the creature he hopes to find. 

*not our possum, but an accurate visual aid

“YOU’RE NOT EVEN DOING A GOOD JOB,” I yell to Major. “HE’S RIGHT THERE.” 

I watch as the two go in separate directions, Major in a frenzy, the possum unfazed. He is laughing at us, I’m sure, me in my pajamas, Major in his panic.

The possum eventually moves out of my line of sight, into a tree perhaps, and I use the leash to bring Major back inside, where I promptly give him Benadryl to calm him down.

If anyone knows of an effective, no-kill possum deterrent, help a sister out. I miss sleeping through the night. 

Signs of Life Days Seventeen through Twenty

When Friday morning rolled around and I’d finished a laundry list of things to do, including laundry, I hibernated in my bedroom for two hours awaiting my best friend and her family to arrive. I was going into a weekend with house guests and their four-month-old puppy. For an introvert and lover of all things neat and tidy, I needed a little bit of time to prepare mentally.

That may sound terrible, like I don’t enjoy having company, but that isn’t true at all. I love hospitality and I certainly love hosting people who are important to me, but I need to ready my brain for a house to be in disarray, for extra mess in the kitchen, for an increase in overall noise. Throw in a puppy and we’ve got a busy household. Because I love these people and their dog, it’s a no-brainer! It just means I need a minute.

Corey, Gwen, Alex, and four-month-old Wrigley showed up late Friday night. In my animal-loving fantasies, I anticipated Major and Wrigley running circles around each other, spending hours in the backyard, and wearing each other out, and out-snoring each other in marathon napping sessions.

Nope. That’s not at all what happened. Despite Wrigley’s attempts, Major wasn’t having it. It’s like he knew Wrigley was a Georgia dog, and in this Tennessee house, this wasn’t okay. While Wrigley puttered around the house, Major secluded himself to my bedroom and whined. This might be the closest they got to one another.

His loss! Wrigley Chubb is a sweetie pie.

We all went to the dog park and Greenway on Sunday afternoon so both dogs and both 13-year-olds could get out some energy. Jackson wore his Georgia Bulldogs hat in solidarity.

That’s Jeremy (on the bike) and Alex (on the skateboard) and Major following them inside the dog park. Poor fella wanted to run alongside them.

Our families have strong ties to one another, so anytime we can plug in and make memories, it’s worth it. Though Major didn’t make the family photo (he was hiding in the bedroom), Salem was a big boy and suffered through it. He kept his eye on Wrigley the whole time.

Before they headed back to Atlanta this morning, we had one more visitor to welcome. My family lived in Atlanta from 1990 to 1993, and while Corey’s friendship is one I’ve kept since living there, my sister has hung on to a few friendships as well. Andre was like a big brother to me. In fact, all of my sister’s friends treated me like I was their little sister. I felt special, loved, included, all of it. This is where social media has been a blessing to people like my sister and me – it’s enabled us to keep tabs on folks from everywhere we’ve lived.

So when I read a Facebook update from Andre saying he was going to Gatlinburg for the weekend, I jumped on it. COME SEE ME! What’s it been – 18 years? More? I don’t even remember.

Of course, this means he knew Corey too, because she was always at our house and we all went to the same high school. They were seniors, we were freshman.

How does this happen exactly? To go decades without being in touch and then see someone again and it feels like no time has passed? Or even if you realize time has passed, it just doesn’t matter.

Sitting next to Andre on the couch in my grown-up living room, in a home I share with my husband and children, it was all I could to not act like a 14-year-old girl and talk about how special I felt riding around in his red Chevrolet Tracker. He was so sweet to me, and I never forgot it.

This is the stuff that makes life GOOD and worthwhile. Deep and abiding relationships, making memories with people you love, loyalty that spans decades…

And puppies. We cannot forget the goodness of puppies.

Signs of Life is a blog series I’m writing for February 2017. It was born out of desire to replace the negativity and despair that’s been bogging down our friendships, families, and communities after a tumultuous election season. This series won’t solve the world’s problems, but I hope it will create a speck of light and positivity when and where it is needed. 

Christmas 2016

Christmas celebrations began on Saturday night with Jeremy and Jackson exchanging their brother gifts – a tradition my sister and I had and one we’ve passed on to both sets of boys. They use their own money and we take them out separately to shop.

Christmas morning was slow-moving. Because the Packers game in early December was the big family gift, the boys knew that wrapped gifts would be minimal. Per the Four Gift Rule, they both still received a book, clothing (Packers socks), and something they needed (an iPod charger for Jeremy, pajamas for Jackson).

There were fun things in their stockings – a particular favorite were these goofy glasses. Thank you, Corey!

Jackson was so pleased to receive some South Dakota State University gear from my parents. Random team, you say? Nah. Jackson loves the SDSU Jackrabbits!

We had one other surprise for the boys and that was an upgraded game system for the whole family. We all enjoy playing video games, and the last time we bought a new system was in 2009. They didn’t see that one coming for sure.

Christmas was mostly good, but it was also challenging. It’s hard to celebrate a holiday when there are two people missing from the family. There’s a tender balance between forcing Christmas cheer and making sure your kids’ holiday isn’t overshadowed by immense grief.

Still, we are thankful for those who are still here and happy to share a warm meal with as much gratitude as we can muster.

We tried very hard for a family photo of all six of us – the pets included – but Major is wholly uncomfortable sitting in close proximity to Salem. Hence, the ever watchful side-eye.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! Many blessings for a fruitful, healthy New Year. 

 

Medal No. 15 from The Santa Hustle

December has been a good month for our family. It started with the most amazing experience ever at Lambeau Field, then Jeremy killed his first deer – a five-point buck. Then yesterday, I ran my 15th race.

First of all, I scarcely trained. I do not recommend not training for a race and today I have the sore knees to affirm it. I have a strong base of running four or five miles a few times a week, but in the last couple of months, I only did two long runs (if you count eight miles as a long run). We were busy, plus East Tennessee was covered in smoke from all the November wildfires. Race training was an afterthought.

And yet, I knew I could run it. Muscle memory is a real thing.

An hour before crossing the start line, it was 26 degrees. I seriously considered wearing the complimentary Santa beard to keep my face warm. I didn’t wear it, but I considered it.

santa-beard

The course was mostly flat, save a few long and steady hills. Lots of runners dressed up in holiday costumes, like snowmen, reindeer, and Mr. and Mrs. Claus. I stayed with my usual attire because, like a baseball player, I’m superstitious about changing it up.

I crossed the finish line in my usual time, grabbed a couple of bananas, and went to the car to go home. I remember when race weekends used to be full events with hotels and big dinners the night before. But now it’s old hat. I’ve done it 15 times, and while getting that medal is still a huge emotional and physical reward, the race experience has lessened from a group event to a singular one. I go, I run, I leave. And as long as my body allows it, I’ll keep doing it.

santa-hustle-medal-no-15

I spent yesterday laying in bed reading, watching football, and icing my knees. Guess who joined me?

post-race-snuggle-buddy

Like new little baby teeth

You know how exciting it is when those first few teeth pop through your precious baby’s tender gums? You knew it was coming, you saw all the signs. Then suddenly one morning, there’s a tiny white speck. Eureka!

That’s how excited I feel when my newly planted vegetables take root and grow twice their size in under a week.

It brings me such happiness to go in the backyard and see new life growing.

Okra – never grown okra before, but it’s darling:

okra

Sweet Georgia Onions. Can’t wait to sauté them:

onions

Surprise sprout of potatoes, left over from last year. I decided to leave it:

potatoes

Japanese eggplant, my favorite:

Japanese eggplant

Pickling cucumbers:

cucumbers

Sweet basil for a summer of pesto:

basil

Never-grown-before artichoke. No idea what this will look like:

artichoke

The pets are loving the warm sun as much as I am and always join me outside. Look at our gorgeous boy! Major is three years old and far more chilled out than he was a year ago. Thank goodness.

Major May 2016

Salem – God bless – looks completely stoned. But hey – he’s alive.

Salem May 2016

Napping in the sun

Jeremy and I took a moment to mourn this beautiful white moth. RIP pretty thing.

RIP white moth

Though there’s a cold snap this week with temperatures in the 50s and 60s, summer is indeed on its way. Three more days of school and then I’m off the hook for a while. Amen, and amen.

A couple of firsts

The past two weekends served as firsts for Jeremy. Instead of trick-or-treating (which was a first in itself), he went on his first official deer hunt. He and Chuck have been planning this season for months. Though they didn’t come home with meat for the freezer, they had a ball together and look forward to giving it another solid try in a couple of weeks.

Jeremy's first hunt

Yesterday Jeremy joined me on a 5K, something he’s been asking to do for a while. He ran hard much of the time, only stopping to walk on a few steep hills. We took Major along since the race was pet friendly, and though I wasn’t sure how this whole event would go, but I couldn’t have planned it any better. Major got a ton of attention from the crowd and pulled me down the road like a sled dog. The three of us crossed the finish line together.

Jeremy's first fivek

Me and Jeremy at his first 5k

Now he’s asking to do an 8K. Like mother, like son!

Also, Jeremy wrapped another soccer season this weekend and Jackson had evaluations for Upward Basketball. One sport for one kid at a time.

Though the weather has been drizzly and cold, the rain held off for the Tennessee-South Carolina game on Saturday, for which Jackson and I had tickets. It was stressful and emotional and we both had panic attacks in the third and fourth quarters, but the Vols pulled out a win so we drove home happy.

Me and Jackson at the UT SC game

We have been entirely too busy lately, and even though many of our plans and obligations have been worthwhile, it will do us well to take a step back for November and December. If we don’t slow down, it will be 2016 in no time.

Monday morning convo with Major

Major: It was a bad weekend.

Me: Yes it was.

Major: I can’t believe that game.

Me: Me neither, dude. Me neither.

Major: We should’ve won.

Me: I know, I know.

Major: We should’ve gone for two.

Me: I know, I know.

Major: It’s gonna take me a while to get over it.

Me: Same here.

Major: Now I’m nervous about the rest of the season. Did you hear that Kentucky beat Missouri?

Me: I heard.

Major: And Vandy put some pressure on Ole Miss. VANDERBILT. AGAINST OLE MISS. I can’t take it.

Me: Me neither.

Major: Mom?

Me: Yes?

Major: Do you think we’ll beat Arkansas?

Are we gonna beat Arkansas

Those brown eyes, though.

The Joint Birthday Gift

The boys had been asking for a basketball goal for at least a year, and once we realized they were completely serious, we decided to give them one as a joint birthday present this summer. (Jackson’s birthday was in June, Jeremy’s is in September.)

I’m happy to report that they use it daily. No lie! DAILY. The neighborhood kids love it, our kids love it, and even I’ve gotten out there to beat Chuck in a round of horse. Jackson has never been a lover of physical activity, but this basketball goal has been the exception.

(These photos were taken from the kitchen window when I was spying on my children.)

new basketball goal

I’m not sure what game they are playing when they bring everything out from the garage and arrange it on the driveway, but nevertheless, they love it.

Strange game

It’s been a good investment so far.

I’ll leave you with a random photo of Major, who has not yet started using the basketball goal.

Hey Major

Nature Love

We’ve settled into a summer routine of sorts. Math drills in the morning, then chores, then sporadic times of electronics and playing outside. Meals whenever. I’m saying yes more than I’m saying no, which seems like a fair deal for summer break.

I woke up yesterday morning itching to go outside, so we loaded up and drove to a nearby nature center for hiking and exploring.

nature hike

Bertha Elizabeth

cemetery from the 1800s

paddle boarding

Whenever we reached an overlook, even Major was curious.

over the edge

taking his dog for a walk

quarry reflection

Cooling off

The hike was longer than the boys expected, but reaching the quarry at the end was worth it. Major especially enjoyed the water break.

Oh how my garden grows

The weeds are bad, but everything is growing beautifully. Having never grown potatoes before, I didn’t know what to expect. So far, so good!

potatoes

The Japanese eggplant doesn’t seem to be as strong this year, so I might need to give it a little boost.

japanese eggplant

Sweet onions:

sweet onions

Gorgeous romaine lettuce:

romaine

Sweet peas:

string peas

Cucumber:

cucumber grab

My gardening companion:

Major in May 2015

Our sick puppy

We noticed Major was acting strangely Monday morning. He was lethargic and not eating, two qualities that are inconsistent with his normal behavior. By the afternoon, his food bowl was still full and he was spending a lot of time in the back yard eating grass. By the evening, he’d thrown up all the grass (in the house!) and attempted to eat some food. As Chuck and I readied ourselves for bed, we discovered areas of vomit all over the living room. None of Major’s food stayed down. Even worse, his vomit was bloody.

By Tuesday morning, I knew he was really sick. Lots of diarrhea, more vomiting, feeble… I took him to the vet mid-morning and after a round of blood tests, it was determined that he had a nasty bacterial infection that was tearing up his digestive system. Since he was weak from dehydration and needed antibiotics, Major stayed at the vet all day on an IV. I picked him up late in the evening so he could spend the night with us and not in the kennel. He had a cone around his neck to keep him from pulling out his IV catheter.

Sickly Major

He slept in the crate all night, too weak to move around and seeping blood out his backside. I don’t want to be too descriptive here because it’s unpleasant, but the vet assistant described it well this morning when she asked me, “Is he still experiencing the strawberry jam in the back?” Yes, he is.

Major is spending another day at the vet for more medicine and fluids. So far he’s eaten a little wet food and has managed to keep it down. The diarrhea hasn’t completely cleared up but hopefully that will happen at some point throughout the day. The goal is to get him well enough to come home tonight and stay home.

As for what caused this, we aren’t entirely sure. The only thing we can pinpoint is from Sunday afternoon when we spent some time on a family member’s farm. Major drank from a small stream on the property and we’re guessing there could’ve been something in the water that made him ill.

Throwback Thursday: Baby Major

Our blue tick will be two years old in December and he’s topped out at 75 pounds. He’s turned into a fabulous running buddy and is fiercely loyal to our family. It is a miracle that this is the dog we ended up with, especially since his puppy phase was mostly miserable. Caring for him was like having eight toddlers with sharp teeth.

I took Major to the vet today for yet another ear problem. He’s prone to yeast infections in his ears so we got new medicine to remedy it. When the vet assistant came in the room, she said, “I just looked through his chart and he was only seven pounds when we first saw him!”

Yep. I remember that.

TBT January 23, 2013

I should be reading Dune, but…

I’m making videos with my dog instead.

Sleepyhead

I filmed him the other day when I was off for a run.

We’re about to wrap up science fiction in my genre class and all I can say is IT’S ABOUT TIME. Once I finish reading Dune and find something intelligent to say about power, religion, and the state in sci-fi, I can piece my brain back together and move on to more enjoyable books and films.

Speaking of graduate school, it looks like I’ll graduate in December. Hurray! Fall registration is in two weeks and, according to my curriculum sheet, I have one more class to take plus the capstone. It’s not widely recommended to take a class while working on your capstone project, but I have secret super human powers that make me feel like I can tackle it.

Remind me of this in October.

 

Time to Train

It’s hard to believe I went a full year without running a race. Even though I participated in an 8K in 2013, I did not earn a medal, and I’ve been grappling with that frustration for months.

This is my medal collection to date: One full marathon and ten half marathons.

Medal Collection

I love this display dearly. Chuck commissioned an artist to create the background and then pulled together a shadow box with hooks to display the medals.  It hangs on the wall in our bedroom, right next to the treadmill. I see it every morning when I wake up and every evening before I fall asleep. But what I see is not necessarily what you see.

You see 11 medals.

I see an empty spot.

Empty spot

It’s a smug little spot too, jabbing me every chance it gets, taunting and teasing and telling me I’m lazy.

Well, forget you, Empty Spot! I’ve signed up for a race. So THERE.

That means I’m carving out time to run longer distances and sticking to a schedule to help get me back to 13 miles. It’s not that I stopped running in 2013, but I probably haven’t run more than six miles since November 2012.

Guess who is really excited about training? As soon as I lace up my shoes, he’s at my feet wagging his entire body.

Running shoes

Major wants to run

Let me translate this precious face for you: I see your shoes. I LOVE those shoes. Ohmygosh, ohmygosh, ohmygosh. TAKE ME TOO. Oh please, oh please, oh please. Can I go? Just say it. Just say that one word. PLEASE MAY I GO? I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. JUST SAY THAT WORD.

Major pre-run

To which I reply, “Do you wanna go?”

Then he wiggles and barks and tries to contain himself while I hook him to the leash. We run and we both love it and he gets all the attention because he’s beautiful.

Finally, there’s the aftermath, when he melts into the floor and sleeps for three hours. ♥

Major post-run

My other boys

One of them was happy to take a photo this morning and wish you a happy weekend. The other pretended not to hear me. Forgive his rudeness. He doesn’t care about you or your weekend or what you think about his lack of caring. You can move along now.

Fur babies

 

 

My Buddy and Me

Wherever I go, he goes.

My buddy:

Best buddyI’m not an attachment parent, but clearly I’m  an attachment dog owner.  We’re together all the time, and when we’re not together, he’s waiting for me on the other side of the bathroom door.  Hurry up! I miss you!

Major and I went on two runs over the weekend, clearly our best activity together. He’s a faithful running companion, eyeballing creepy people and urging me to run faster. (The two aren’t necessarily related.)

I’m also happy to report his behavior is light years better than it was a month ago thanks to a training collar. Y’all, it was time to find some sanity with this pet before I put his crazy butt on Craigslist.  The training collar has allowed me to be the Alpha, something I’ve tried (and failed) to do for the last year. We’ve finally turned a new leaf. Now, we can sit down to a calm dinner and Major lays down on the carpet in the living room. This is huge.

In other news, I’m still editing my first short story, but I plan to post it later this week.

The Monday Morning Report

So you’re in the loop:

Major ate a plastic spatula Thursday night. It’s finally coming out. Of both ends.

Jeremy has cornered the market on world news  now that he listens to the Christian radio station each morning. As I pour my first cup of coffee, he gives me all the updates. Today I was told we shouldn’t buy beef from California, Texas, Illinois, or Arkansas because the meat has a disease in it. Now you all know.

My first short story is due today. I’m all kinds of nervous about submitting it.

It’s supposed to snow this week. Old Man Winter can suck it.

Chuck gets home this week after a long time of being away. Words cannot express.

I’ve tried watching some of the Olympics in the evenings, but I’m distracted by Sochi’s overpopulation of stray dogs and Bob Costas’ pink eye. The is the first time in my life that the Olympics are on and I’m like, “Eh.”

And finally, I discovered that two of my photos from Charleston and the Isle of Palms have been shared more than 700 times on Pinterest. Neato!

Marina

Always Worth It

Major Pain

This dog, y’all.

This dogHe’s running me ragged. I swear I could put razor blades in his food bowl and he’d still want to eat our socks. I have to keep an eye on him at all times and it’s making me dizzy. Sometimes I think he should be with a hunting family instead of us, being worked to the bone, using his canine instincts for good and not evil. (I’m embarrassed to show you the back yard. The snow from last week does a fine job of covering up the holes.)

See dog runThe boys would be heartbroken if we didn’t keep Major. Truth be told, I’d have a hard time with it too. The thing is that he’s great in so many ways. He is an excellent running buddy, not only for companionship but also for security. He’s loyal to our family and snuggly when he’s sleepy.

But when he’s awake, we have to watch his every move. In the last three days, we’ve lost two ball caps and an exercise ball because no one was watching him and he lost his little canine mind. I cannot tell you how many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches he’s stolen off the boys’ lunch plates. He’s faster than a Hungry Hungry Hippo after marbles.

Treeing the coon tailYes, he is one year old. Yes, he’s a stubborn hound. But God help me if this is what the next ten years will be like. Will he ever calm down? What should we be doing differently? Dog owners, give me your best advice. Tell me it’s going to get better. Tell me I’m crazy to wonder if getting a second dog of another calmer breed would help.

I’ll leave you with Salem’s dissatisfaction. I can’t say it any better. Angry Salem