Thursday, June 29

i am the dog walkerer

I really think there's something to this Dog Whisperer stuff. His number one thing is exercise. I've been exercising the dogs ever since we brought Alice home and I can't believe how well things are working out. Instead of Lizzy running around the house like she always does, she sleeps all day and doesn't get excited until walk time. I've only watched his television show twice and already you can see a difference in Lizzy. If only he'd been around 10 years ago... I've read countless "how to train your dog" books and this is the first method that has worked at all for me. I'm reading his book right now and while I'm still in the autobiographical parts, I've picked up a few good tips already.

In an effort to cut back on my exercise, I've walked both dogs at once on a few occasions. I stick pretty close to the house when I do this because I'm still not confident in my abilities. Plus, the other route we take has a ton of dogs (and not to mention, rabbits) on it and Lizzy always gets excited. I'd hate to be a few blocks from the house and have some sort of incident. But, as time goes on, I think I'll be able to do the secondary route on my own, too.

Already, my thoughts have turned to winter. I'm not looking forward to doing our daily walks then. Maybe we'll have to move to a warmer climate to accomodate my dog-walking.

Monday, June 26

it's like being unemployed

Not only did I take Friday off for Thunder in the Valley, but I also took today off to recover. We had plans to hit Thunder each of the days it was in operation (though we only got to 2 of the 4 days due to the rain) and we had 2 parties to go to on Saturday, so I figured that I'd need a day of relaxation before returning to work.

In retrospect, it wasn't really necessary since we didn't do anything yesterday, but how was I to know that was going to happen? I haven't done much today, so I'm not sure where the day has gone. This morning I had to run Lizzy to the vet for a bordatella shot. Jake and I whipped up a batch of my mom's spaghetti sauce early this afternoon (he's becoming quite the little chef) and we took the dogs for a walk between rain showers. Oh, and I took a nap. I need to do some cleaning yet today and continue working on some cards. I'm trying a new manicotti recipe tonight--the second recipe in my manicotti wars.

So, I guess this is a perfect day off--one without an agenda. And though I don't feel like I've done anything today, reading over this post, I guess I have. But, now I must go because it's time to make the manicotti.

Sunday, June 25

i covet

The Slammer.

more thunder

We didn't get to go downtown today due to the incessant rain. In lieu of a post, here are some pictures Brian took over the weekend. Enjoy.

Saturday, June 24

party in the valley

I guess it was more of a party on the hill kind of day, but whatever--the title goes better with this weekend's theme. We were invited to two parties today. We must be popular. Or something.

Our first party of the day was thunder-themed. Jake's babysitter and her husband throw a Thunder in the Valley party each year. The husband is a biker and they have the party so that all of their biker friends can have a good meal before going downtown to enjoy the festivities (rather than having to buy the overpriced food downtown). We hung out there for a few hours and then headed home to feed the dogs and let them out before our next party.

The next party was at my boss's house. He's thrown quite a few parties in the past few years and they're always a blast. It doesn't matter what time you show up--you're guaranteed to have some fun. Unfortunately, I was this evening's designated driver, so I didn't have as much fun as I sometimes do, but it was still a good time. He made a couple of recipes from my repertoire this evening and I even helped with some of the cooking.

After that party, we came home and walked the dogs (exercise, exercise, each and every day) and then got ready to go downtown to check out a band. Unfortunately, the band we went to see wasn't playing (as it turns out, Brian had the wrong stage earmarked for the event), but we still had a good time checking out all of the people and bikes. Then we headed home because it was time for a drink.

Friday, June 23

thunder in the valley

Brian and I took the day off so we could spend the afternoon downtown. We mostly walked around and checked out the bikes. We also watched the Balls of Steel Stunt Team do their stuff. Jake really enjoyed that. There was supposed to be an Orange County Choppers display in the War Memorial, but it was quite disappointing because they only had one bike on display. There were a bunch of other vendors set up there, but nothing particularly interesting. On our way out we caught the beginning of the Purrfect Angelz show. I could've done without that.

Thursday, June 22

jobs & dogs

I've been full-time for a little over a week and already it sucks. Actually, the days I work at home aren't too bad because I get off at 3:30, which is only 30 minutes later than I used to get off work, but the days I go to the office, I'm there till 5:00 and that really sucks. I know I'm not going to get any sympathy from anyone, but I feel better for having complained. Plus, I'm freaking tired all of the time because I have to get up an hour earlier. It's like I moved to another time zone or something. I guess I'll adjust to it sooner or later. To top things off, I'm technically only working 32 hours a week for the first four weeks of my foray into full-time because I've (coincidentally) scheduled a day off for the first three weeks and then there's the 4th of July... So, I guess this is a good way to ease into things, though it doesn't feel like I'm easing into anything, even with the days off.

The dogs are doing pretty well. Lizzy finally stopped her constant sneering at Alice. And, you can tell that Lizzy is more relaxed around her, so I'm no longer worrying about whether they'll get along or not. Lizzy was still pretty crabby on Saturday. Unfortunately for her, I started watching the Dog Whisperer a few weeks ago, so I picked up some tips. I wouldn't say she's the perfect dog, but she's much improved since I started using his techniques. I'm truly amazed. Plus, I've been exercising the crap out of them. Daily walks for everyone. I'm sure this was a key to my success. Brian is not always available to walk the dogs with me, so a lot of times, I have to take one of the dogs for a walk, then the other. I wasn't counting on all of this exercise. I suppose it won't hurt me, though it might be a contributing factor to my exhaustion. All in all, I'm pretty pleased with the new addition to our family.

Sunday, June 18

father's day

Despite the heat, it was a nice afternoon. My parents came over for a cookout today (Brian's parents spent the weekend in New York at his sister's place). I made a ton of food. Well, I got a bunch of food ready, and Brian grilled it. (that's what Dads are supposed to do on Father's Day, right?) We had lamb chops, bacon-wrapped chicken, and sweet Italian sausages for the main course. Everything was pretty good. I'm getting hungry again just thinking about it, so I guess it's about time for supper.

After my parents left, Brian went for a short ride on his bike because today is Father's Day and that's what he wanted to do. He worked in the woodshop for a little bit after he got home from his ride and now he's at the usual Sunday band practice. After practice is over, we'll walk the dogs, I'll hang outside in the garden for a bit and then get ready for tonight's tv viewing of Deadwood and Entourage. Then, that'll be it for the weekend. Where did it go?

Friday, June 16

dogs

It's been a doggy kind of week. I ended up taking yesterday off because I couldn't get an appointment with the groomer and the vet at a decent time. Not that I'm complaining. But, at least the house doesn't stink anymore. And, it doesn't take much to twist my arm into taking a day off.

Even though Alice snores like a drunk guy who smokes, we've been letting her sleep in our bedroom (Lizzy sleeps in Jake's room). At first, the snoring kept me up, but then I learned to live with it.

The thing I like about her the most is that I have to wake her up in the mornings. That's a new experience for me. This is what she looks like when she sleeps. How cute is that? Too bad I can't attach a sound file, then you could experience the snoring for yourself. It's so loud, I can barely think to type...

Alice is turning out to be my first good dog decision. Not only is she housetrained, she is probably the sweetest dog on the planet. She walks better on a leash than any of the other dogs we have owned. She already follows the "where do you go when we're eating" rule. She gets along with every creature in the house. She likes Asiago cheese, but not Fontina (there's no accounting for taste). I just can't believe that she was at the shelter for a couple of months. Everyone who passed her up was evidently nuts.

Not unexpectedly, Lizzy was less than thrilled with her new sister. She hasn't been that bad, but I've been keeping a close eye on things because Lizzy and Ripley had the occasional fracas and that is something I'd rather not repeat. We've been exercising the dogs daily because a tired dog is a good dog. I'll take this as a good sign.

Monday, June 12

alice

Meet the newest member of the mutt brigade: Alice. We just got her today at The Somerset Humane Society. As you might be able to tell, she's a Doberman mix. Mixed with what? Well, that's anyone's guess, but the Somerset people are guessing some type of hound. And, yes, her ass really is that fat. Guess who's now on a diet?

Let's see...she's supposed to be around 5 years of age and is already fixed. Supposedly she is also house-trained. We'll see about that. I certainly hope that is the case--that would be nice. Right now, she's napping on the dog bed. If her breathing is any indication of what she sounds like when she's sleeping, she won't be sleeping in my bedroom tonight as I had originally planned. With the way she smells, that's probably not a bad idea anyway. I gave her a quick bath this evening, but it didn't get all of the stink off. I need to make her an appointment at the groomer's pronto.

While she looks like a Doberman in the pictures, she is quite squat and doesn't have the barrel chest that Dobermans have. She is also quite a bit shorter than a Doberman. I'm anxious to see what she'll look like once she drops the extra pounds.

So far, she and Lizzy are getting along fairly well. Alice is pretty laid back. Lizzy's not used to that, but I imagine she'll adjust. Marley was totally pissed when he saw the new dog (but Alice didn't seem to care one way or the other about the cat). It was almost worth adopting her just for that scene.

It's nice to have a bigger dog in the house again. I guess she could be classified somewhere between medium and large. It was amazing how much safer I felt when Ripley was around. It is nice to have that security blanket again.

After Ripley died, I thought it might be a good thing to only have the one dog, so we were planning on trying that for a good, long while. But, there's just something nice about having two of them and I finally talked Brian into getting another dog. We didn't want to get another Doberman since Jake is still so young, but we did want something on the bigger side. But, obviously something that was good around kids. We were figuring on a mixed breed and this Doberman mix seemed to fit the bill, so here we are.

As is the custom, when I get a new dog, I have to pay for Brian's next tattoo appointment (with the house money, rather than making him save up his hard-earned dough). Don't ask me how this got started, but he's already made his next appointment.

Friday, June 9

the backdoor cafe

Tonight we blew an equivalent of a week's worth of grocery money on dinner. And, it was worth it. I'd been wanting to check out the Back Door Cafe for quite a while now. I decided that it would be the perfect place to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary this month. While our anniversary isn't until the end of the month, Jake was scheduled to stay at my parent's this evening, so we decided tonight would be the perfect time to go out.

We were forewarned that their portions were small. How small? Well, I had to choke back a giggle when they put down my plate of "assorted cheese and olives". I was picturing these big wedges of cheese and a little bowl of olives. Instead, the plate had four little cheese cubes and five olives on it. Unfortunately, it was so good, that I would pay the exorbitant price to have it again. Shortly thereafter, our dinners arrived, and I received the best compliment of the night when Brian dug into his Veal Saltimbocca and exclaimed, "This tastes like something you'd make at home!" Now, I'm hardly comparing myself to a chef, but I do cook. A lot. I've been known to follow a recipe or two in my day. So, being that we were at such a nice restaurant, it was cool to hear.

Actually, this was one of the best restaurants I've been to. Anywhere. Ever. They had great service--the chef even came out and talked to everyone, etc. I feel that all of that is part of the price. It was good entertainment, anyway. Definitely a "dining experience."

Just to let you know how small the portions were, I ordered dessert. I probably wouldn't have, but they had creme brulee on the menu. I've never had it, but have been wanting to try it so this seemed like a good time to do so (it's not every day that we're going to eat at the Back Door Cafe). It was excellent, too. Everything we had was terrific.

And, since we were there for our anniversary (they asked), they gave us two chocolate truffles as a parting gift. I can't wait to sink my teeth into those tomorrow. The portions might be small, but I'm still full. So maybe the issue is that it is the perception that the portions are small because they normally give you too much food in restaurants.

I hope I don't sound like I'm complaining about their prices, because I'm not. They had quite a few reasonably priced items on the menu. It's just that we were celebrating our 10 year anniversary, so we ordered whatever we wanted for our food and drink. This kind of thing doesn't happen every day. I'd like to go back there sometime and either stop in the bar for a drink or try some of their other (less expensive) items. But, this is definitely not a place where you'd want to take the kid, so it could be a while till we go back there.

Anyway, we had a great time this evening and the restaurant gets my highest recommendation.

Thursday, June 8

all good things must come to an end

Alas! It had to happen sooner or later. Starting next Monday, I will be a full-time employee again. Coincidentally (or not!), I'm going full-time 6 days after 6/6/06. Additionally, this is all happening after working full-time for 6 years and then part-time for 6 years. Hmm.

Anyway, besides the 666 stuff, I'm doing this for a number of reasons, some of which will likely become apparent over the next year, some of which may never become apparent. Part of the reason I'm doing this is that I no longer have an excuse not to--now that Jake's going to be going to school all day long in the fall (1st grade), I can comfortably work full-time and not have to worry about things like childcare (I have a pretty flexible schedule). He'd have to go to daycare in the summer either way, so that's not an excuse that I can use, either. The extra money will definitely be nice. Who doesn't like extra money? Ask me in a week...

Sunday, June 4

cookout

We went to our first cookout of the year today. Not the best weather for it, but at least it didn't rain (while we were there, anyway--it's raining now.). A guy Brian used to work with had a party and invited a bunch of people from Brian's old workplace, so it gave him an opportunity to catch up with some of his old friends and to meet some new people that are now working there. Jake got to play with some kids, so he was happy. I got to pet two well-behaved dogs, so I was happy. I guess you could call it a good day for all of us.

Saturday, June 3

signs that you might be drinking too much?

OK. So I made my monthly trip to the liquor store today to stock up on essentials. I went to the same checkout lady as last month. Obviously not remembering me, she asked me if I was having a party. I replied "Nah, I'm just thirsty." I sort of clarified that comment by explaning that I was stocking up on stuff. There was more banter along these same lines. Then, as I'm leaving the store, the clerk says "Have a great summer!" And I'm thinking, "See you next month!"

Thursday, June 1

marley & me

I'm not talking about the cat.

My brother got me the book "Marley & Me" for my birthday this year. I tore through it rather quickly. It was nice to read about a dog that was worse than any of the dogs I've owned (hard to believe, I know). Of course, the stories were also heartwarming and hilarious. Seeing that the book was about a dog's life, the ending was, of course, sad. If you like dogs, you'll probably like this book. If you don't, you'll probably want to skip it.