Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Didn't See You There

The rain has brought slugs into our basement- and not the little kind either. Big, fat, brown slimy things that lay down silver tracks everywhere. Tonight I decided I'd scoop the one I'd found up and put it outside. Specifically, I thought I'd put it on the dustpan and fling it outside.

After being chastised by Jacob for showing him my capture (Fine! Yes- it's gross.), I opened the door to fling it out into the night toward the street. The only problem was, as my arm flung I noticed a man walking his dog from the street up on to the sidewalk in front of my house. He quickly ducked and put his arms out. I gasped and said, "Oh no! Did uh...anything hit you?" No - it turned out he was just teasing me (I can only imagine what the view from the street must have been - man out walking in the rain with his dog only to have crazy lady open the door and fling a slug at him).

At that moment Suki bolted outside to menace him and his dog. After doing the usual "she's not dangerous just obnoxious" speech I felt the need to explain to him that I had found a slug in my basement I needed to get rid of. Defeated, I finally said, "I must be your most favorite neighbor right about now." "Yeah," he replied "Great introduction."

Sometimes you win one...

Last night was a miserable knock-down drag 'em out tantrum night. First we had to tell him that Michael had asked if we could limit the number of Bakugan we purchase for the kids to 12 total to stop the insane one-upping each other that was taking place. We agreed and told Vaughn only to be told, "Thank you for delivering the news that you're never going to give me another Bakugan as long as I live!!" Then it was just a sad, series of events that resulted in the usual tears, stomping, door slamming, etc. Sometimes I swear we have a mini-teenager. Peace only came with bedtime.

Tonight though- sweetness and light. I was told that dinner was the best thing he'd ever had (taco salad thankyouverymuch) and after dinner he thanked me heartily and cleared the entire table. A never before seen occurance. To appreciate this you have to understand that sometimes - sometimes - he'll take his own plate to the counter. Kids - they push you the brink of insanity only to lure you back.

PS Picture is of a couple weeks ago with Wendy and Becky's pumpkins - Sydney and Olivia

The Goats

I've decided to find a new home for my beloved kids (keeping only Vaughn). The noise and the mess are more than I (and I do believe my neighbors) can handle. It is very sad but I believe in the end they will be happier with more room. I have found a prospective parent- a 4-H leader no less!- who has 14 years of pygmy experience and has a small heard on 5 acres. I'm very excited and believe the goats will do well there.

I was nervous to tell Vaughn after my attempt to cull the heard by way of re-homing the rabbits resulted in protest but it turns out the only thing he was upset about was that we'd be "down to only 9 animals." Always quick on my feet I said, "I'll buy you two new fish!" Sold.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

You Can't Eat Just One

Jacob has long suggested that a way to deal with Suki jumping up on the table and stealing food would be to put something really spicy up there to teach her a lesson. While certainly not intentional, yesterday Suki jumped up on the table and polished off nearly a pound of See's Candy which ended in memorable results - although it remains to be seen how much of this will stick with Suki.

As you probably know, chocolate is toxic to dogs. She threw up on both the couch and "The OPB rug" ("The OPB rug" is a hand-knotted prayer rug and one of my most prized possessions - one, because I actually won it after a pledge drive donation for OPB and two, because it's retail value was more than we would ever spend on a rug. Despite having almost all it's tassels chewed off and being peed and thrown up on multiple times, I still proudly display it in the living room).

Jacob had neglected to tell me she had even eaten the candy until the puking started and as I frantically searched veterinary websites at the computer I read his own words back to him, "While some may be tempted to say 'serves him right for eating the chocolate, he got what he deserved', this is no laughing matter." After doing the toxicity calculations several times, I finally decided that the chances of serious injury did not warrent an expenisive trip to the veterinary hospital.

Approximately twelve hours later (at 3:45 a.m.), just as the website predicted, I had to rescue a whining Suki out of her crate to wisk her downstairs for the first of many desperate bathroom trips. I immediately picked her back up when she came back in the house to avoid her dashing off to a remote corner of the house (there was no way I was taking a chance with her spending the rest of the night out of the crate - the puking had depleted our stash of paper towels). After closing the door the crate I realized I had somehow managed to get poo on both my hand and sweat pants. I washed up both in the bathroom and crawled back into bed - thankful for having an extremely high gross tolerance.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


It is a strange thing that something that can in an instant make everything clean, bright and pure can just as quickly make everything a disgusting brown slurry. This is especially true around the Menagerie and so I spent some time taking stock of the state of the yard today and tried to clean up a bit.

The goats' den was completely scooped out and replaced with fresh hay and I felt relief as I cleaned out the basement knowing they'd be sleeping back outside again (which I am confident is proof I am not crazy - crazy animal people let the animals take over their home completely whereas I have only jeopardized resale value).

Moving around in the backyard I held out hope that Lucky might come tooling out from under the stairs or porch. Ultimately I uncovered a clump of feathers that told me I had just found all that was left of poor Lucky.

Monday, December 22, 2008

What Is It About Bears In Zoos?

I see that a lonely 37 year old man in Germany jumped into the cage of famed polar bear Knut (whom Jacob does not remember and thinks it's weird that I do) because he was lonely and "the bear appeared lonely too." What is it about these bears that makes men want to come into their cages and bond with them? There is a dissertation here for sure.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


The freezing weather continues up here delivering more snow than we've ever seen in Portland. Lucky never did return. I believe she wandered off and got stuck somewhere - like the poultry version of Into the Wild. I was sadder about this than I thought I'd be and found myself looking out the back window hopefully several times a day. Muffy-Fluffy also became despondent and sat on the floor of the coop getting snowed on. Last night we moved her into the basement which Annalee suggested was toying with the potential for Bird Flu. I imagine if there was a Bird Flu outbreak in Portland our neighbors would just shrug in a way that says "not surprised" upon hearing it emerged from our house.

The snow hasn't been all bad though. We sledded at the park yesterday and Michael and I felt inclement weather and pear brandy in the middle of the day made a smart match.

Today I got up early and shoveled pathways out the front and back so that everyone on four legs could get around without sinking up to their belly (which irritated Suki so much that she decided to tell us by coming back in the house and pooping and peeing).

Later our neighbor Ruth came by to bring Suki over for a play date. Suki's play dates at Ruth's house are wonderful because we can truly enjoy having her gone without feeling guilty since she is being showered with love and attention. Ruth told me that her family has gotten Suki a Christmas stocking with gifts which I'm sure does not include a "No Bark" shock collar - the only gift Suki was slated to get from us.

Friday, December 19, 2008

When Not Just Any Outfit Will Do

Vaughn and Sten are playing superheros who live in a pillow fort. After a long night of pretend sleep, they emerged and Vaughn said, "Time to put on my super sexy clothes!" I can only guess he's heard Jacob say this while getting dressed before work.

The Chickens Are Gone

Last night when I went out to check on the chickens to make sure their water wasn't frozen, they still had food and the heat lamp was securely in place I discovered they were gone. It was as though they had just wandered off - there were no feathers on the ground and the coop was in the same shape I'd left it (as Jacob added, "There were no signs of foul play". Sigh). The weather had been sunny briefly so I thought maybe they had taken the opportunity to leave the coop and wander around the yard and were holed up under bush. With almost constant snowfall they'd been confined to their nesting box or perch for days so this seemed like a distinct possibility. Today I did a more thorough search of the yard and still no evidence.

Several people suggested to me that they'd been taken and this made Jacob and I feel better. If someone needed to eat so badly that they'd steal chickens then they needed them more than we did. They would have made for a fairly pitiful dinner though - particularly Muffy-Fluffy who was tiny.

I'll be keeping a close eye on the goats and making sure that Jacob doesn't put any signs on the fence that say "Fat, Yummy Dog in Yard."

** Update ** Muffy-Fluffy is back! I really hope Lucky comes back. One scrawny chicken is sad, particularly in this bad weather.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snow Day!

Portland gets about one good snow a year. The beauty of the occasional snow in the unprepared city is that everything just shuts down. Snow is treated with the same joy and reverence in Portland as that first really sunny and warm day after the long rainy winter. Despite the snow Vaughn decided he really needed to see Sten, "one way or another." The only solution was to pack Vaughn up in the laundry basket and tow him the two miles to Sten's house.

Vaughn is Reading

It's so amazing to see that Vaughn went from tentatively reading to us to confidently reading to his little friends (in this case Sydney) in the course of two weeks. I can't wait for the day when I can stop reading altogether and lay in bed and have him read the rest of that Thomas Friedman book to me (which I'll undoubtedly not have finished). It will also be super awesome when he can do laundry.

Grandpa and Tita Visit

Why does it seem like people only think to take a group picture at the last minute before everyone leaves? This is usually in the morning, before anyone has had the chance to shower and get ready properly. The next time people visit I'm going to suggest, we're all looking so good right now, how about a group picture?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

You're Only As Old

Colin came to visit from Texas and stayed with us. At the work holiday party he referred to us as "his surrogate parents." When did we skip the "cool older sibling" step? Jacob sealed the deal by asking me today if he had texted to let us know he arrived home safe as he'd promised.


Michael pointed out last night that at the bottom of Vaughn's class photo "Sunnyside Environmental School" was spelled "Sunnyside Enviornmental School." I guess that doesn't bode well but it's like they're always flaunting the fact their kid goes to a Japanese immersion school. ("Wow.")

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Do You Hear What I Hear

The goats have been really loud tonight and when I went outside to shush them I heard one of my neighbors making comments about them. I couldn't tell what the comments were - but I sense they were disparaging. This is the same neighbor I've heard making comments before but I've never heard the whole comment - just snippets..."blah blah blah goat blah blah noises blah blah". It's making me paranoid and giving me anxiety so I've sent Jacob - sweet, sweet good-with-people Jacob - over to ask them if the goats bother them. He thinks this is weird and is reluctant to do so but I must know - it's really making me tense and driving a wedge in my love for the goats. Jacob agrees perhaps because he thinks he'll discover there is a neighborhood petition to get rid of them and this is his chance before my second foot surgery puts him in charge of the menagerie again.

I hear things wrong all the time. One time, when I was working at a concession stand at a movie theater, I thought a guy asked me "Are you Chinese?" when he was pointing at candy and saying "Have you tried these?" I sensed I had heard him wrong so I asked him to repeat it and again, "Are you Chinese?" I replied, "No, do I look it?" There was some confusion.

So I'm anxiously awaiting Jacob to come back and hopeful the news will be good. Cautiously optimistic I guess.

* Update: He's been gone for maybe 20 minutes. I try and imagine them all sitting around the table, sharing beers and laughing about this misunderstanding and what a great neighborhood this is.

* Update: Miracle of miracles - they love the goats! The downside - they really hate Suki. Apparently we were about to get a mystery gift of a no-bark collar in our mail box before we just started keeping her inside due to the weather. I can only imagine what an unmarked no-bark collar in the mailbox would have done for my anxiety. I guess we'll have to consider getting her one as a Christmas gift - making this the worst Christmas for her ever but since she's not quite two and hasn't gotten anything in year's past the bar hasn't been set all that high.