Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Puppy Turns Seven Months Old

Puppy officially celebrated her 7-month milestone this past weekend. She still seems to be growing at a slow but steady rate, although some days her hind quarters stand taller than her head. My husband still insists that she'll never be a huge Saint Bernard, like her father was. Lord Justice was a 190-pound award winning canine.

But give me a break. A small Saint Bernard is still a rather large dog.

She's still learning and inquisitive and chewing things up when we're not careful. But hey, now that I have a nook maybe I'll buy The Help in a format she won't chew up. She'd better not chew up. Where is that nook again?

She's also very attached to the kids, but the Big Dog is her favorite person to follow.

Puppy is a Big Dog in attitude, if still a Puppy at heart. She's successfully mastered many basic commands, but still thinks of most of them as optional. More reinforcement is needed, especially before she gets much bigger and realizes we can't make her do anything.

Happy 7-month-birthday, Puppy!

Friday, August 27, 2010

I Love my New E-reader...But...

Earlier this month, my parents gave me a nook for my birthday, the Barnes & Noble e-reader with the color touch screen at the bottom.

So far so good. I love the ease of use. I love that I can sit at B&N and preview books for free. I read a whole short story for free one day while sitting there waiting for one child's guitar lesson to be finished. It was a new Sookie Stackhouse story from Charlaine Harris, part of an anthology I'm thinking I might need to buy... I bought and read the third book of the Millenium trilogy without having to pay hardcover prices or wait for my turn on the library waiting list.

Best of all, I was able to purchase MOCKINGJAY with just a few clicks, no lines no waiting.

But. There are drawbacks.

Halfway through said MOCKINGJAY with Katniss in the midst of battle, while I'm sitting in a parking lot at a soccer field miles and miles from home waiting for son's practice to be over (lots of waiting time in a mom's life).... the nook decided to surprise me.

It summarily informed me that the battery was too low to continue reading.

"Plug me in," the device whined.

And turned itself - and MOCKINGJAY - off.


Paper books never whine about low batteries.

(You can be damn sure I'm fully charging the darn whiny nook before tonight's soccer practice.)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

No one told Puppy that St. Bernards are supposed to lumber instead of run like the wind across the sandy stretches of shoreline.

No one told Puppy that St. Bernards aren't supposed to like swimming in the ocean, or that they don't enjoy romping in the salty waves with other dogs.

No one told Puppy that Big Dogs like Her are supposed to act more dignified.

Puppy does what she feels like doing. And likes it.

Why would I want a dignified, lumbering Big Dog who turns her nose up at the thought of salt water, when I can have this exuberant Cape Cod Puppy who loves life? Granted, she's not your standard Cape Black Lab or Golden Retriever.

No one told Me that I needed to be standard.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Puppy Meets a Weiner Dog

Meet Zoe. She's a miniature dashchund from Brooklyn, who likes to visit us each summer with her family. She was still a little (and I mean little) puppy the very first summer we met her, but she's always thought of herself as a Big Dog. She lives with two rescued greyhounds who let Zoe boss them around most of the time.
Puppy, being the bossy type herself, didn't know what to make of little Zoe. Puppy has been playing rough with her own Big Dog this summer, and I admit to being a little nervous in anticipation of this annual summer visit.

But it all worked out well. There was an awful lot of sniffing going on all week long. It was as if Puppy had trouble believing that all that Big Dog Attitude was stuffed inside such a little package.

We had joked that Zoe was the size of Puppy's head, but you can see in the photos that was an exaggeration. She's twice as big as Puppy's head.

Zoe seemed to have no trouble telling Puppy what to do and how to do it. And when Puppy wasn't listening, there were always coffee tables to hide under. Or on top of. Puppy actually played more with the greyhounds. Sabra and Kali were rescued from the race track, and are spending their retirement years perfectly spoiled and content with our friends from Brooklyn. And Zoe.

Down by the shoreline, Puppy was able to peer pressure the greyhounds into swimming with her in the ocean. Our three dogs and the two greyhounds had a blast in the waves. Even though the greyhounds seemed surprised by the salt water at first, they quickly caught on. The older dog, Sabra, even learned to imitate our Old Dog's favorite trick of just lying down in the surf.

Zoe knew better than to jump in when the waves were bigger than she was. She kept an eye on the rest of them from the edge of where the ocean caressed the sand. Zoe knows she can go in the ocean if she wants to - and she has been in many times over the years. But Puppy couldn't peer pressure her into romping with the Big(ger) Dogs.

In the end, all the visiting dogs had a fine time playing on the beach. The greyhounds got to sprint down the open stretches of sand, but turned and came back with Puppy and our Big Dog. Zoe was content to call the race from the sidelines, and boss Puppy around the back yard.

I wonder what Zoe will think next year, when Puppy is full grown.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Reading

Have you noticed this little yellow book everywhere this summer?

I wasn't going to read this series. There were lots of reasons not to, not least of which was how quickly it rocketed to the top of the bestseller lists in both Europe and the U.S.

Yet when my sister left it on my coffee table after her extended 4th of July visit, I couldn't help myself. I stuck it on top of my TBR pile, bypassing the other stories I'd dutifully lined up to read. And I became one of those people on the beach and everywhere else, cracking open the little yellow book.

And it was worth it.

I'll warn you, it's hard to get into at first. I almost gave up, thinking it wasn't summer reading and maybe should wait its turn in the pile until January. I'm glad I persisted. I picked it up on and off during the kids' lessons last week, but really got into it over the weekend and couldn't put it down until I finished it on Monday afternoon.

The intrigue keeps you going, and it's chopped up into enough voices that there are satisfying end points to stick in the bookmark when swimming lessons are over, yet it beckons you back into its clutches. After page 400, it's nearly impossible to put down.

I'm not going to give anything away, because if you haven't read it yet, you know you should. Before the movie comes out (and I have no idea when that is.) The book throws you into the middle of the story, with little set-up or back story at the beginning. Keep reading.

The characters are all flawed but the ones who the author wants you to like end up likable. The Swedish setting is exotic enough but yet familiar. I've heard criticisms that being translated into English has affected the literary flow, but once you get through the initial few chapters it all flows more easily anyway, and I'm assuming now that I know the players, the next two books will be easier to start.

Because I definitely plan on reading the next two books, and completing the "Millennium Trilogy." Maybe this summer... So what have you been reading?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Pros and Cons of Vacation...

I'm ba-a-a-ack... Did you miss me?

I sailed away on a luxury cruise with a good friend of mine. She was working as a guest teacher aboard the ship, and had an extra bunk in her cabin. After a little persuading, she convinced me to sail off into the sunset with her for a week, leaving me cares, troubles, three kids, three dogs, and husband behind....
So I did. For a week, I felt like I was back in those good ol' post-college years. Hanging out with friends. Few responsibilities. Able to sleep late if I wanted (which I didn't), stay up late when I wanted (which I did), make my own plan for the day with no thought to schedules, lessons, meetings, work, supermarket shopping, laundry... or any of the other myriad things that dominate the day-to-day life we all deal with in the real world.

Vacation. What a concept.

It was a week full of visits to many, many cool bars (Hello? No kids, remember?) both on-board the ship and scattered around the Western Caribbean, as well as visiting and photographing many interesting places and people.

We met people from all over the world, and saw ancient Mayan ruins, beautiful natural vistas and modern kitsch along the lines of giant cement beer bottles atop Mexican bars.

And then, it was over. A toast farewell to the Caribbean, and a plane ride home, to regroup and re-assimilate into the reality that is my life.

For the first week back on Cape Cod, my head was spinning. I felt like I'd been dropped into a blender of lessons and responsibilities that was whirling around me faster than I could run. How did I do this before? I was only gone for a week, but it felt like I'd never catch up.

Now in my second week home, I can see I needed that break from the everyday in order to more fully appreciate what I do have.

I have a family who loves me and needs me, even if it seems like all they want is clean underwear and a ride to the dance. I have a home that needs attention as well, and a lot of dying plants and overgrown weeds that didn't make it onto anyone's list while I was gone, but which I'm happy to take care of now that I'm back. I have a pack of dogs (a pack!) who don't want to let me out of their sight, for fear I might take off again for parts unknown.

Don't get me wrong, vacation is great. The pros really do outweigh the cons while you're on vacation. The re-entry into reality is where it gets a little sticky.

But the swirling craziness that is my daily reality is just as great. It just needs the right perspective.