Thursday, August 30, 2012

My Dog is a Thief

Don't let that cute face fool you. That fuzzy, "ain't I cuddly?" mug is a simply facade. It's a front for a stealthily sinister thief who's becoming more brazen with every passing day.

Take, for example, a few weekends ago when we were having company here at the Picket Fence Post domicile. Seeing as it was a beautiful summer's afternoon and the pressing humidity had lifted, The Spouse and I decided to entertain his folks on our backyard deck. To keep the bugs from gorging on our food, we placed mesh covers over the plates of appetizers that we'd placed on the table, including a platter of hearty Vermont cheddar cheese and tangy slices of pepperoni.

But we'd forgotten that we'd left Max outside. The dog, lured by the aroma of spicy meat and rich cheese, hopped up onto a deck chair, climbed onto the table and removed the mesh covering. (It may stop flies, but not Havanese-Wheaten Terriers apparently.) At this point, we're not really certain about what happened next because we were still inside the house while Max was wilding on the deck.

All we know for sure is that several minutes after leaving him alone outside, The Spouse returned to find the green marble plate empty but for some oily smudges and a sad looking, slightly sullied pepperoni round that was curling up on one side. I was livid because my plans had suddenly been hijacked. All I saw unfurling before me was an afternoon and evening filled with taking care of and cleaning up after a sick dog who I didn't want to let back into the house until his ill gotten gains had passed through his system.

However a short time later, The Eldest Boy discovered a curious mound in our backyard: A pile of cheese and pepperoni slices -- largely unchewed -- covered in tasty combination of saliva, lively ants and grass, a not-so-expert attempt to camouflage the food for snacking later on the down-low. How he got all of that food from the platter to the yard is unclear. He couldn't have fit that large pile of cheese cubes and pepperoni slices into his small mouth, so he had to have taken multiple trips, all executed while The Spouse and I were cluelessly mixing up another pitcher of iced tea in the kitchen.

Although Max's thievery was ultimately foiled -- he kept returning to the spot where he'd left the food and rolled around in the grass so as to drive the pepperoni scent deep into his thick hair so he smelled like a muddy pizza -- it seemed to have whet his appetite for all things sneaky.

Since then, for example, he's developed an unhealthy affinity for a fuzzy gray, white and black stuffed lemur that he keeps stealing from one of the kids' bedrooms. He frequently grabs "Jack" by the neck and races around the house almost like he's advertising the fact that he cleverly got away with stealing the lemur but he just can't afford to hire a skywriter.

He's now figured out how to force my home office door open (it doesn't latch solidly so one push opens the door) and has been going in there, knocking over the trash can, eating the trash and then puking up what he'd consumed. He's stolen hair ties and dragged used tissues throughout the house, which is awesome when you have company over and you unexpectedly find one of those babies (or several of them) lying in the middle of the floor.

The Spouse thinks we need to bring Max back to doggie training school or start re-training him ourselves. I think we need to lock up our trash cans and not let him out on the deck unsupervised. What say you guys?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Notes from Suburbia: Mama's New Job, Insulting the Parents, Olympian Sleep Deprivation

Summertime Madness

It's, nominally, still "summer," a word that brings to mind thoughts of relaxation and restoration, of sipping sun-brewed iced tea with a sprig of fresh mint while lounging in a hammock as you clutch a beach read and soak up the deliciously cool shade of a regal maple tree.

Nothing like that is happening in the Picket Fence Post house these days.

Why? For once, the nuttiness around here has nothing to do with the onslaught of kids' extracurricular activities and national holidays bearing down upon me. You see, yours truly will be starting a new job next month. I'll be a full-time assistant professor at a local university teaching writing and journalism, plus I'm anticipating providing advice to the student newspaper. The gig was only made official a short while ago. I'd been hesitant to start putting in substantial prep work for these classes until it was a sure, signed on the dotted line kind of thing. The result: I've now got an intimidating pile of books to read in order to prepare for writing classes and a new course I'm developing, alongside the assignments and lesson plans I need to create.

Then there's a new book project on which I've been working throughout the summer (the subject is going to be kept under wraps for now) which has had me conducting many interviews over copious amounts of iced coffee -- some of the interviews multiple hours in length -- in coffee shops, restaurants, private homes and over the telephone, plus doing research for the project.

Neither of these new, wonderfully exciting and challenging professional developments leave me with a ton of time for other stuff . . . like sipping that iced tea in the shade.

So I'm guessing that when we finally receive the schedules for the Picket Fence Post kids' teams (two soccer teams, one hockey team, yes hockey . . . again), things'll really get nutty around here.

A Dog & A Diaper

The Spouse and I asked one of our children (who shall remain nameless) to accompany us as we walked Max the dog (he's doing fine, thank you very much for asking) around the block the other day. The kid replied by saying that walking around the block with one's parents, in public, is akin to walking around the block wearing a diaper.

Well, okay then.

The Sleep Deprivation Olympics

Thank God the Olympics are over. I don't think the kids could take it anymore.

The extended, late night NBC broadcasts -- where the much maligned network would needlessly draw out the most popular events, like gymnastics, into the late hours of the evening -- turned my kids into zombies. But the kids had to have their Olympics. They'd wake up with giant bags under their eyes after late night Olympic watching and then repeat the process again, growing more and more charmingly chippy as the Olympic days piled up, one after another and the intramural sibling skirmishes grew in quantity.

The Youngest Boy even started asking me if he could have coffee as he'd lean over my steaming mug and inhale its scent like an addict, like his caffeine-addicted mother. (I did not let him. The last thing that kid needs is caffeine.)

The highlight of the London Olympics: The U.S. women's soccer team capturing gold last week. The Girl hosted an energetic viewing party for several of her fellow soccer playing gals. I went a little Martha Stewart on her with all things patriotic, buying balloons, flag napkins, patriotic cupcakes (Martha would've made them, I just bought them) and placing a giant flag across our mantle. I was greatly relieved when the U.S. team won, not just because I wanted them to win, but because I didn't want The Girl to feel as angry as she did when the U.S. women's team lost the World Cup last year. (She can get pretty pissed off when her team loses. Seriously. Clear the path in front of her and stay far away.)

And, despite being sleep deprived, The Youngest Boy decided to try to impersonate the Olympic swimmers (without the obscenely low-slung swimming attire and the obnoxious Ryan Lochte diamond grill) and swam as though he was being pursued by a Cape Cod shark in search of a snack. I was pleasantly surprised when the kid started to swim lap after lap and wasn't winded at all. Me, I was practically hyperventilating. I may practice yoga and have flexibility, but that doesn't really help stamina. I could sure use some stamina right about now . . . or more coffee.