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Holy Sheep! You Mean I’m Allowed to Chase Them?

Gracie and I were invited by one of the local Samoyed clubs to come out and test Gracie’s herding abilities. It’s one of the activities they offer every year—these activities raise money for Samoyed Rescue organizations, so I was totally in. This afternoon we drove down to a place in Long Beach that specializes in testing and training.

We pulled up to the place and let Gracie out, and at first she wasn’t at all interested in much more than a drink of water and a good pee. I wasn’t sure what to expect—would I have to direct her? would they need me to sign a waiver stating that Gracie wouldn’t kill the sheep? would they give me a bunch of rules and regulations?—but the herding instructor opened the gate where three sheep were hanging out, looking like they were on a cigarette break, totally bored, like, yeah, okay, here we go again, and he had me lead Gracie in. The only instruction I got was to remove her leash.

Samoyeds are a herding breed and she herds me and Bill around the house, rounding us up, making sure we’re in the same place where she can keep an eye on us. If we’re in different rooms, she goes bonkers—she can’t relax. She’ll pace between the rooms until she’s sure that one of us isn’t going to wander off. But I didn’t know how she’s do with the sheep, in fact, I was a little worried for some reason she might try to take a little taste of one, but she stood there for a minute, assessing the situation, and then took off.

Her instincts kicked into overdrive and, tongue hanging out of her face in pure joy, she chased the sheep around the ring keeping them together and chasing the strays down when they tried to divide and conquer. At one point she turned to look at me, like, “What the hell? How did I get so lucky?!”

She was totally in her element. As tired as she was at the end she was ready to go the second she saw another dog enter the ring. The evaluator gave her high marks in everything, so in lieu of adopting some cattle or sheep, I’m going to have to take her out there once in a while to let her get her herd on.

Really? I get to do WHAT?

Really? I get to do WHAT?

Round 'em up

Round 'em up

I'm coming for ya!

Don't mess with the Crazy

Yeah, baby!

Yeah, baby!

Yo! Where you going?

Yo! Where you going?

Hey! Where are you going?

Hey! Where are you going?

Pure Joy!

Pure Joy!

Starting to get tired but still on her game

Starting to get tired but still on her game

Where are you going?

Where are you going?

Boobies, Horny Dogs and Patrick Swazye (And, No, None of These Things Have Anything To Do With Each Other). Just Another Random Tuesday

randomtuesday

Lazy Blogger

I haven’t written much lately. It’s not that I don’t have stories to tell, things to say or rants to make. I have plenty to say, I just don’t haven the energy to focus and write. Which stinks because it’s a good way for me to relieve stress and blow off some steam.

But I’m so tired. I’m worn down. I feel like hibernating—and it’s only mid-September. I feel so lazy that the simplest, most basic tasks seem exhausting. I did a few loads of laundry Sunday afternoon and it sucked every bit of life out of me. I don’t think it’s the seasonal change—I am so happy that it’s starting to cool off a bit and I can break out some sweaters and my beloved boots—I think life is catching up to me. I had a vacation (that I still haven’t written about. What’s the statue of limitations for that?), my birthday, my anniversary, dog shows and work. Plus, all the little stuff that adds up to long and busy days. I hope whatever this is stops and life gets back to normal.

Mondays are for Mammograms

If you’re feeling particularly sadistic, make sure your schedule your mammogram the week you have your period. I had my first mammogram at 35. Since I’m adopted and don’t have a medical history, they wanted to establish a baseline to check against. Now that I’m 40, I guess I have to do this every year. I had my appointment yesterday—the day before my period started. I made my appointment months ago and didn’t realize I scheduled it when I was going to be on vacation, so I pushed it a couple of weeks without really paying attention to the calendar.

It takes the pain and magnifies it a million times. It’s bad enough the tech has to grab what little boobage I have and wrestle it into this machine to smash it into a pancake, when they’re already sore and swollen (I apologize to my male readers for the visual!) it’s like having vice grip attached to your tatas while someone cranks it tighter and tighter until tears spring from your eyes, your boob feels like it’s burning and you’re just about to cry “Uncle!” when the machine mercifully released your bruised and battered boobie. Repeatedly. (Bill’s thinking, “Shit, she’s never going to let me near THOSE again!”)

“Bitch in Heat!”

I went to my first dog show a couple of years ago. When I got Gracie, they told me I was required to show the little diva, and although it sounded fun and I watched the Westminster Dog Show on TV, I had never actually BEEN to one. So I begged and bribed asked Lesley to come with me, and we drove to the middle of nowhere (or close to it) to meet Gracie’s handler (who also owns Gracie’s Baby Daddy) at a dog show. I realized quickly that it was not going to be as easy (or as inexpensive) as promised, but I was willing to give it the old college try.

A couple of weeks before Gracie started showing. I met Gracie’s handler again at another show so I could see what this was really going to entail. I wanted to talk to her about how I needed to groom Gracie beforehand. I also wanted to watch everything from how they get the dogs ready to go into the ring, to how the judges look them over, to how people behave (Did you know that Rottweiler owners are big into clapping and cheering for every single dog while Samoyed owners think it’s not appropriate to applaud until the very end? File that under Weird Shit You Never Wanted To Know.)

Bitch in Heat!

Bitch in Heat!

So the Sammys are getting ready to show, and Gracie’s handler has me walk one of the male dogs to the ring for her. As I’m taking this dog over, a woman is dashing through the crowd with her German Shepherd, sees the obviously male dog I’m walking and starts bellowing, “Bitch in Heat! Bitch in Heat!” At first I wasn’t sure if she was talking about herself or her dog. But I realized she thought the boy at the end of my leash was ready to break free and start humping her little bitch. I was stunned. I looked around to see if anyone else thought this was strange, but no one blinked an eye.

Gracie has a show this weekend and she’s in heat. If we’re lucky, this will be her last one (show, not monthly visitor). She only has two more points before she becomes CHAMPION Gracie, so I think I’m going to go out with a bang (pun intended). I’m going to bring a bunch of bodyguards to surround my precious baby to make sure no rouge dogs knock her up. And I’m going to walk her through the crowds and announce “Bitch in Heat!” With a bullhorn.

Maybe that should be my new tagline?

Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner

Although it’s not unexpected, I’m still sad that Patrick Swayze passed away yesterday. Dirty Dancing is one of my all-time favorite movies. I love those Saturday afternoons when I don’t have anything to do and find it on TV. I will stop and watch. Every. Single. Time.

One of the best movie lines ever...

One of the best movie lines ever...

For more random reading today, check out Keely at the UnMom.

Pawsabilities

I signed Gracie up for Agility lessons. If you aren’t familiar with it, agility is kind of like an obstacle course for dogs. There are jumps, climbing obstacles, poles to weave through, tunnels and—god help us—a table that she needs to pause on, usually mid course.

Not Gracie

Not Gracie

I figured that this would be fun for her, and I thought it would be a great way to burn off some of that insane energy I can’t seem to get rid of any other way. And bonus? If I can actually train her to do these obstacles, I might actually have a chance of, ehem, actually training her to behave.

This Isn't Gracie Either

This Isn't Gracie Either

Our first class was on Thursday and even though she was a week behind (all the newbies started while we were on vacation) she caught up quickly and did really well. I’m kind of excited about this—even though I have to run alongside to coach her through the obstacles.

And Neither Is This...

And Neither Is This...

She’s still not finished doing regular dog shows, but we only have two more points to go.

Sometimes I think my life has gone to the dogs.

Random Thursday Thoughts: The Vacation Edition

I’ve been ignoring my blog and I really didn’t mean to. The past week has been full of milestones. I have turned 40, celebrated my 10-year wedding anniversary, and went on vacation. I’ve had a million things to write about but haven’t been able to direct a single thought into a coherent post. In fact, I started writing this post TWO DAYS AGO with a glass of wine in hand, thinking I was going to relax and let the words flow but I got sidetracked (OOH, SHINY THINGS! PRETTY), so this is what ya get… I’m sorry.

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We were in Sonoma/Napa for a week, and as amazing as the trip was, I think I’m thrilled to be home. We had an amazing time, but I’m on wine and food overload.

When we got to the Napa Valley, we were armed with a list of wineries we wanted to visit, and we agreed that we were just going to taste—sip and savor the wine and spit it out—not drink.

On Friday—our first full day—we hit three wineries. And I’m guessing it was one too many. Somewhere along the line, that whole tasting plan went out the window. I didn’t eat breakfast that morning, and by the time we had lunch it was about 1:00. Since it was our anniversary, I had wine (natch) with my salad. After that, we walked down the block to a tasting room for a winery we like. They sent us to another winery, and that winery sent us to yet another…

I’m sure I got carried away with the whole Hey It’s Our First Day of Vacation and It’s Our Anniversary! And I drank. We split a tasting of about 5 wines at the first place. At the second, we tasted-—and I use this term loosely because these are pretty generous servings—about 5 or 6 more. The third place? I’m pretty sure there were about 7 wines. And my tastebuds were numb.

Add to that the fact that it was 105 degrees.

I didn’t get super sick/drunk, but I definitely had too much wine/sugar/heat that day. After that, I paced myself, but I have eaten my body weight in parmesan cheese, salami and sourdough bread—all with a heavy amount of olive oil. Plus, we had dinner in some amazing restaurants and I felt compelled to try a little of almost everything. I feel like that guy on The Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food, who takes on every food challenge he can find. 96-ounce steak? Sure! 12,000 hot wings in 10 minutes? Done. I ate the equivalent of a wheel of cheese, had more frisee and tomatoes than I can count. I slurped soup, peeled shrimp and inhaled pasta. I know I’m lucky but I was so happy to have a plain green salad with iceberg and Italian dressing on our way home.

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Last Friday was our 10-year wedding anniversary! Ten years is a big deal for us. We have stayed together through raising three sons (his), the death of two parents (his), biological clocks ticking exploding (mine), job changes (ours), and a million other little things that added up together make for a crazy life.

It hasn’t always been easy, but I probably wouldn’t change a single day of it (well, maybe a couple). I feel lucky to have met and married my best friend, my partner in life, and the one man who’s most equipped to deal with me and all of my idiosyncrasies. I love him more than my shoes and I’m looking forward to many more years together.

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So I turned 40 and it really wasn’t that bad. Certainly not as bad as I thought it would be. I’m not sure what I was expecting—maybe I thought I’d suddenly become decrepit overnight, hunched over, blind as a bat, complaining about my sciatica—but it was a pretty smooth transition. No additional wrinkles, no gray hairs (as far as you know), and I actually feel better than I did in my 20s. I think I look better, too, if I do say so myself.

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When I was in Northern California I spent the day with one of my best friends. We met on the first day of high school (twenty-mumble-mumble) years ago and we’re still in touch. She saw me through braces, bad perms and ugly school uniforms and she was my maid of honor at my wedding.We don’t talk often and probably see each other even less, but we seem to pick up right where we left off when we do, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

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Tonight I’m putting Crazy Gracie to work. We’re going to take our first agility class together. I’m sure much humiliation (for me) is in the cards. Stay tuned for the update.

Perspective

The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it. —Anonymous

I think I’ve thoroughly established around here that Julie the Cruise Director Bill is a doer, a planner, a get-up-off-your-ass-and-move kind of guy. He is always on the go, making plans, going places, meeting friends. He likes the idea of sitting still, of just being, but can’t really wrap his head around actually doing that.

For my part, I’m The Master of Chill. I have no problem lounging around, doing not much of anything except riding the couch, watching the TV and/or reading a book. For me, there’s a lot of pleasure in doing nothing. A perfect day is one that extends infinitely ahead of me without plans or demands. It’s how I get my bearings, find my center.

Most of the time Bill and I balance each other our pretty well. He drags me out (sometimes kicking and screaming, sometimes willingly) to do things, and 85% of the time I’m glad he did. Some days I insist that we’re doing nothing and I plant myself somewhere and refuse to budge like a willful child. About 85% of the time Bill will tell me later in the day that he needed to do nothing that day.

Until a few days ago, though, I wasn’t really sure why he was so unrelenting with doing. There’s almost an urgency to it sometimes, as though if he can keep moving…what?

We were having one of those State of Our Marriage talks that happen from time to time. Nothing serious—more like a check-up more than anything. You good? Yup. You? Yup—and the topic of living life came up. Bill was reminding me that it’s not just doing what you have to do, but really living life—actively participating, taking charge, having fun and not letting it pass you by.

I’m all for that, but I’m a proponent of balance, too.

And then he said something that made everything click in place:

“I’m 55 years old. My father died when he was 75. If that’s any indicator, I’ve got 20 years left. I’m not about to spend that time waiting, watching life pass me by.”

That slapped me hard. Suddenly, 20 years doesn’t seem that long.

Granted, it’s a somewhat fatalistic view of life, but I suppose there’s a lot of truth in it. We talk about going here, doing that, writing more, traveling, doing things that make us happy. So what am I doing? What am I waiting for? I want to spend more time with my husband, doing things together, having fun. And not just because he may only have “20 years left” (truth be told, he’ll outlive me!), but because I don’t want life to pass me by. I don’t want to wake up when I’m 80 and wonder what I did all my life. Because as much as I love my Tivo, it’s not what I’m going to remember when I’m sitting in my rocking chair at the old folks’ home.

I’m not going to live my life like a game of Beat the Clock, but I will definitely say “Yes” more. I will try to get out more and burrow in my house less.

What have I got to lose?

Heavy Breather

Gracie is a heavy breather. Her favorite thing to do is get about an inch from my face in the middle of the night and just breathe on me. She’s like that crank caller that just breathes into the phone.

Grace Face

There are few things in life that Gracie loves more than her soccer ball. She sleeps with it, she plays with it, she chases it and she squeeks it until it makes my eyes bleed. It’s funny to watch her play because she drop kicks, dribbles and does headers better than David Beckham (seriously, have you seen him play lately? Hawt, but totally losing his edge). She’ll chase and fetch this ball for hours—with our without us. And sometimes at random times—um, 3:00 a.m., really? This is a rare photo of her not in motion with her beloved ball.

Look at this sweet smushy face

Look at this sweet smushy face