Lazy Video Day

I have an edit I need to finish today, which doesn’t leave me much time to work on a blog post, but I hate missing days. So you get a couple of short videos of the Direwolves and a quick knit update.

First, here’s where I am on the scarf I started. I wasn’t going to do another scarf, wanting to do something more substantial, but the Mandala yarn I wanted to use is a light 3 weight and would take me forever to make even a small throw.

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I can’t wait until I get out of the yellow and orange, my two least favorite colors. Next is pink, purple, green, then blue.

And now, on to the Direwolves. Mozzie likes to play “boop,” rolling the tennis ball to me so I’ll roll it back. Also, this is how every game ends, when Oliver gets involved.

This is a bit of what my every day is like, fending off the puppies while trying to work or relax. Not a bad life, if you ask me.

Time to get back to work. Good thing I love my job!

Pups Grow Up

I absolutely, positively did not want a puppy. In November 2016, when Brody died and we’d already lost Darwin to cancer in June, I desperately needed a dog. I hadn’t been dogless in my life. I’m not cut out to not have a dog. But I didn’t want a puppy. I’m too old to be dealing with puppy shenanigans.

Then I found Mozzie, and two months later, Oliver.

Yesterday, Mozzie turned 19 months old, and Oliver turned 17 months.

Here they were a year ago, at 7 and 5 months.

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Mozzie, top; Oliver, bottom

Now they’re so grown up. They might grow a little more, and fill out, but Mozzie was 62 pounds at his vet check last month, and Oliver was 57, and I don’t think either of them will gain much more than maybe five pounds. Just look at these faces!

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Oliver, left; Mozzie, right

They wake me up early, follow me everywhere, observe my every move, destroy the yard, bark and tear for the front window at every sound, terrorize squirrels, drag their toys all over the house, and generally behave like hyperactive heathens.

But they play and run and snuggle and make me laugh and keep me company. I didn’t want a puppy–much less two–but it turns out they were exactly what I needed.

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Did you know if you do an image search for “grumpy golden retriever” or “golden retriever in a bad mood” you won’t find much? This shouldn’t surprise me. Goldens are almost pathologically cheerful. They can pull off sad, or disappointed, or bored, or play-snarling, but it’s not easy to find a grouchy golden.

Why was I looking for a picture of a grouchy-golden? Because I’m in a vile mood today and wanted a photo representation, preferably in dog form. After extensive research (three or four minutes trying various combinations of bad/vile/grouchy dog in a Google image search), this guy is the clear winner and accurately depicts my current outlook.

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“Whatever you’re thinking of saying or doing…don’t. Just. Don’t.”

But why? Nothing really unusual here at Furwood Forest today. Awoke to customary puppy-snuggles, it’s not raining, internet is working. Some non-standard and disturbing stuff in the work inbox, I guess, and routine tasks that have a few extra-fun complications involved.

Mainly this, though:

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My to-do list is significantly heftier than my motivation, which does present a problem. I find that on days like this, it’s best to unplug, disengage, and do something mindless. Sadly, this is not an option today.

The only plan I can devise is to fire up the brain-focus and get work done so I can then shift into mindless mode and work on my scarf, which is growing quite a bit. It needs to be at least a foot longer, because I want to wrap it around and still have lots of knitted goodness draped down over my front when I wear it.

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A better solution would be to follow the dream I had last night–no, not that kind of dream, so get your mind out of the gutter–and go to England to visit my longtime author friend, where we will go shopping and buy pear vodka (which it turns out is really a thing) while I try to figure out if dollars work in the UK.

That sounds like a lot more fun than what I need to do. But alas, England is far-far away across a vast ocean, and a check of air fares for flights leaving today tells me it would cost about $3,000 to hop a plane to London, and that’s before I factor in the price of the pear vodka, which I can assume would be substantial, because I feel like I want a lot of it.

And this concludes the whining portion of the day, or the whinging portion, as they say in the UK–a word I love for some reason, and also I’m working on my British English so I’m prepared when I finally decide to get a passport and go there.

Actually, there’s likely to be a lot more whinging (see what I did there?) but the only ones who will hear it are Mozzie and Oliver, and when they get sick of listening to me, I might finally get a photo of a grumpy golden, and also a standard poodle, filling a definite void in the meme universe.

Classic: Brody The Mouse-Barker

Some of you might remember Brody, our dearly departed Great Pyrenees, patroller of the yard and guardian of all the things. These classic posts took place ten years ago at our house in Minnesota.

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Rodent Rescue Part One:

I’m not at my most mentally acute at 5:25 a.m. Or at 6:25. Or, truthfully, 7:25. This morning at 5:25 I was in the shower when I heard Brody barking outside. Admittedly, Brody does bark outside a lot. Every day. Until I go outside and chase his fluffy Pyr-butt into the house before the neighbors call Animal Control.

But this was not his usual guardian-type “Brrrrrrrr-ROO-ROO-ROO!” It was a constant series of short, staccato, emphatic yips, and he sounded a bit agitated. The last I’d seen him, he was near the pool, an area in which he doesn’t tend to spend a lot of time due to the risk of accidentally dampening his paws. Brody isn’t a fan of anything moist, unless it is frozen and piled in drifts in the yard.

I told myself I’d just quickly finish my shower, and then go see what his problem was. Then I got thinking, “What if the big idiot fell in the pool?” He’s never been in there, so he isn’t aware of the stairs at the shallow end as a means of exiting the dreaded aquatic death trap. I began picturing a 100-pound, soaking wet, massively furry, coat-blowing, freaked-out, pissed-off Great Pyrenees who would take until September to dry and decided I’d better get out of the shower and see what was going on.

I wrapped a towel around myself and ventured out to the sliding glass doors, where I observed Brody lying by the pool, front paws draped over the edge, staring intently at something in the water, and barking like a broken record. Clearly, further investigation was in order. I hopped back in the shower to rinse off, then threw on some clothes and headed outside.

It wasn’t hard to figure out what was inspiring Brody’s bark-fest. There was a mouse (or possibly a vole; I don’t really know the difference) swimming in the pool. Actually, he was drowning in the pool. He’d paddle frantically for a few seconds, slip beneath the surface, then fight his way back up. I had to help him!

I’m an animal-lover, obviously. I go out of my way not to kill things, at least as long as they stay in the Great Outdoors where they belong. If this mouse (or possibly vole) were pooping in my silverware drawer, I would immediately set a death-inducing trap to put an end to his intrusion once and for all.

I looked around for the pool net and didn’t see it. I did see the pole on which the net belongs, but the net was nowhere to be found. I stuck the pole in the water, and Mr. Mouse tried to climb up on it, but it was too narrow and slippery, and he kept falling off.

Next, I grabbed a beach towel that was lying near one of the Adirondack chairs, and tossed that onto the surface of the water, thinking he could scurry up onto that and I could pull him out, without having to risk actual hand-to-mouse contact. He did not see the carefully thought-out logic and refused to approach the floating towel.

Finally, I picked up a stainless steel bowl, waited for drowny-mouse to get close to the side, and scooped him to safety. I deposited him in the mulch near the fence, hoping Brody didn’t pounce and eat him. That would have been bitterly ironic after my heroic efforts to keep the little rodent alive. Brody continued to monitor the pool for wildlife, and I watched the mouse (or vole) huddle by the fence and begin to groom himself back into composure.

This was a lot for me to accomplish by just after 5:30 in the morning! Plus, it totally blew my morning routine, and we all know how I thrive on routine, especially in the early morning hours when independent thought is far more difficult than it is later in the day.

I hope Mr. Mouse (or Vole) returns my good deed by staying out of my pantry and silverware drawer. If he is foolish enough to pack up his entire rodent family and move in, I will have no qualms about smushing all their little heads in my decidedly not humane mousetraps. I have rules. Just stay out of my house, and we’ll get along fine.

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Rodent Rescue Repeat:

Something suspicious is going on in the rodent world. Once again, before 5:30 a.m., Brody discovered a mouse swimming in the pool. I’m pretty sure it’s a mouse now, because I think voles have shorter tails. I probably need to research that. But if these guys would just stay the hell out of my pool, I’d be spared the necessity of answering this crucial question, which would be fantastic because I really don’t have the time.

This mouse was in much better shape than the one yesterday (if, in fact, it is a different mouse at all), apparently having gone into the drink not too long before he was discovered. Tom had returned the pool net to the patio area, since yesterday it had been downstairs somewhere so he could repair some tears in it.

I scooped mousey-boy into the net and began raising him out of the water. You’d think he’d be grateful, but was he? No, he leaped out of the net and back into the water (which made Brody eight different kinds of crazy) several times before I basically dipped and flung him in the general direction of the fence, where he rustled through the grape vines.

Now I have serious questions. What is going on with these mice? I haven’t fished a mouse out of the pool all summer, and now I’ve done so two days in a row. I have several theories.

  1. This was the same mouse, and he either has suicidal tendencies or was brain damaged in his near-drowning yesterday and returned to the pool as the result of a post-traumatic episode.
  2. These mice were contestants in some kind of rodent reality show, the object of which is to last the longest in the giant, chlorinated ocean. 5:00-5:30 a.m. is prime time for mouse television viewing.
  3. These are teenage male mice, and this is their version of Jackass.

Butch: Hey, Ralphie, bet you can’t swim across that pool, bite the dog on the nose, and then swim back.

Ralphie: Sure I can, Butch, just watch me!

(Splash, paddle-paddle-paddle, gasp, sputter, glug)

Ralphie: Hey, Butch, little help here?

Butch: (Coming from the bushes) Snicker, snort. What a moron.

  1. For some reason, Brody has become the nemesis of all the neighborhood mice, and this is an assassination attempt. They are trying to lure him to a watery death, and the Suicide Swimmer is bait.
  2. They are not mice at all. They are lemmings.

I suppose it could also be a well-planned diversionary tactic, keeping me focused on the back yard while hordes of mice are moving into our laundry room. I hope that’s not it, because I really don’t enjoy tracking mouse-trap casualties on the whiteboard in the kitchen (much). At one point a few years ago it read: “Lori, 11: Mice, 0.”

Ultimately, I just hope Brody’s bladder doesn’t explode. He’s so focused on patrolling the pool for mice that I think he’s forgetting to go out in the yard to take care of necessities. Which, of course, could also be part of the mice’s global dog-destruction plan.

I would feel a lot better if I could decide if these mice are really smart or really dumb. That would help me narrow down the possibilities.

 

 

 

 

Direwolf Grooming Day

Oliver is a standard poodle, which means a trip to the groomer every 6-8 weeks. Mozzie is a golden retriever, which would usually mean grooming also, because I’m old and brittle and out of shape and lazy and happily pay someone to blow out all that dense golden undercoat, but Mozzie has a very light coat for a golden. I take him for a nail trim and bathe and brush him at home. Which is good, because he’s an anxious, twitchy dog, and being left for 5-6 hours in a busy pet resort would freak him out.

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Not Mozzie, obviously, because my bathroom is purple, not pink, and my tub is much bigger. Also, Mozzie would probably be afraid of the rubber ducky.

All I want is to get Nutball 1 and Nutball 2 into the car and to Jill’s Pet Resort with a minimum of chaos, but it never works out that way. The moment I begin laying out my clothes, they know. Bra, jeans, shoes. All things they never see unless there’s an outing in my immediate future.

I get the leashes out while they’re outside, but they still know. I get my purse out of the kitchen drawer…dead giveaway. Putting a harness and leash on two panting, whirling, over-excited, highly suspicious 60ish-pound puppies is challenging, to say the least.

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A couple of groomings ago, I didn’t realize I’d hooked Oliver’s leash through his tag ring instead of the leash ring on his collar. Trying to get two insane dogs from the car to the groomer resulted in ring-failure. I had to grab his collar, while Mozzie was in full fight-or-flight mode, trying to slip his collar and depart for the nearest horizon at speed. Luckily, the staff at Jill’s saw what was happening and came to our rescue.

Which is why they now always wear their harnesses when we go out, and why I schedule grooming for Tom’s day off so he can assist with dog-wrangling. Even with his help today, though, while I was bent over putting on Oliver’s harness, Mozzie came cannonballing through the kitchen and head-butted me at full speed. I don’t know how neither of us is unconscious.

As you know if you’ve followed my dog posts, Oliver and Mozzie are great brothers. They get along better than any two dogs I’ve ever had, and have been raised together since they were four and six months old. They very rarely fight. With one exception. When Oliver comes home from grooming, he’s either over-stimulated or annoyed, and he immediately wants to fight. We’ve been working on sorting this out. Today, Oliver started growling the second he came in the door. They’ll keep their distance for a while, and I’m trying to keep things low-key.

Tom and I disagree about Oliver’s grooming. Neither of us wants a “fussy looking” poodle with poms and rosettes and topknots. But I still want him to clearly be a poodle. So he gets a moderate head-puff, short-trimmed feet and face, natural tail, and short clip on the body.

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This will never happen. EVER.

Tom sort of likes Oliver right before grooming, when he looks like a homeless Muppet. He’s cute, regardless, but eventually you have to clip them back into poodle-shape. Never fear, he’ll be Muppety again in no time.

But what you really want to see is before and after photos, right? Yeah, me too.

Okay, Oliver before. Still mind-bogglingly cute, but getting a bit disheveled-looking, and starting to want to tangle.

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And now after. I’m not totally nuts about the full-on, freshly-groomed poodle clip, but you have to reset the poodlemeter from time to time. I’ll like his look best in about two weeks. I’ll like that for a couple of weeks, then start whining that he needs to be groomed again.

Mozzie got a nail trim and a good brushing, which was all he needed. So no before…but when I was taking pictures of Oliver, he didn’t want to be left out. That golden smile!

Freshly groomed or shaggy and rumply, they’re adorable and totally our boys. Just don’t tell Oliver that Mozzie got to go for a walk in the park and play ball with Dad in the back yard while he was gone.

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Promise To My Dogs

I wrote this last year, when Mozzie was a puppy and just before we adopted Oliver. Now, Mozzie is 18 1/2 months old, and Oliver is 16 1/2 months, and these words are truer than ever.

First Friend Mozziver
I will teach you all you need to know to be able to enjoy the world around you but still allow you to be a dog. We will work on the specifics of obedience, but you will always have fun.
I will never touch you in anger. If I ever handle you harshly, it will only be to keep you from harm.
I will never allow anyone, human or animal, to cause you physical or emotional discomfort.
You will never be cold, hungry, or lonely a day in your life if it is within my power. I will always have time for you.
I will maintain your grooming so you are always comfortable and presentable.
I will make sure you have the veterinary care you need, but I will educate myself and not blindly follow protocols. I won’t over-vaccinate or over-medicate you, ever.
I will feed you natural, species-appropriate food in the appropriate amount, and safe, healthy treats.
You are my love, my life, my heart. You are not an accessory or a notion. You are a vital part of my family and my world, and I will make sure you know that every day of your life.

Dogs And Books And Yarn

I haven’t missed a day of posting since I started Furwood Forest a little over a month ago, but I was stumped what to write about today. I have over 500 posts archived from the old Fermented Fur blog, but nothing was catching my attention as something I wanted to post.

Mozzie and Oliver, AKA The Direwolves, weren’t cooperating, which was downright inconsiderate. They’re made of cuteness and shenanigans, and the least they can do is provide blog fodder. I’m their mama, nurse, activity director, chef, concierge, stylist, entertainment committee, teacher, referee, jungle gym, therapist, and maid. All I ask is for them to pull their weight.

Fine. I guess their snuggles are payment enough.

In desperation, I went outside and captured some video of them playing with their Romp-N-Roll Jolly Ball. Luckily for all of us, they’re adorable no matter what they’re doing.

 

While many of you are enjoying something I’m told is called a “weekend,” Tom is at work, and I am about to do the same. If you weren’t aware, I’m the managing editor for Limitless Publishing–and our new imprint, Crave–so I work at home with my Direwolf assistants.

I’ve already conquered Mount Email, and will continue to do so, but aside from managing the editing and proofreading staff, working with designers to assign our book covers, overseeing the creation of cover blurbs, overseeing all stages of production of our horror and romance anthologies, and a bunch of other publishing-related chainsaw juggling, I also edit, both for Limitless and select independent (indie) authors, and that’s what’s on the agenda today. I need to finish a first round of an edit and get it to the author for revisions.

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True story.

Once I achieve the day’s work goals, it’s on to the reward portion of the day, doing what I want. Currently, this means watching Doctor Who–which I’ve never watched before–and working on my knitting.

I’ve crocheted since I was a kid, but knitting is a new challenge. I’ve only been at it about two weeks, and have only worked on swatches of different stitch combinations so far. This is the most recent swatch, a “seersucker” diamond pattern, which came out fairly well.

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I still have a hell of a time casting off at the end of a piece, which makes no sense, because it’s insanely easy. Do two stitches, pull the first loop over the second and off the needle. Yet I can’t get that first loop off in one piece without losing the second one. I resorted to just sliding both stitches off the needle and using a crochet hook to pull the second stitch through the first, then putting it back on the needle. I’ve concluded I knit too tightly, and am trying to adjust my technique.

Last night, I started what might be my first “real” project, though it’s still just practice of basic skills before I move on to more complex stitches. Technically, it will be a dishcloth with a dog on it, though I am still befuddled why anyone would spend time making something pretty and then use it to scrub barbecue sauce off a plate. I have no idea what I’ll do with it, but washing dishes isn’t on the list of options.

It should look something like this:

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And this is what I have so far:

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See? The bottoms of the little puppy paws are beginning to appear.

Thrilling day? Maybe not, but I like quiet and peaceful creativity. Yes, I have some household chores to do, and puppy interaction, dinner to make, and tonight I’ll have my customary bedtime adult beverages because the brain-train has to be derailed at least a little or I’ll never get to sleep.

Some people pack their (for me, theoretical) weekends with activities, but that’s not my life. I like it calm and tranquil and quietly satisfying.

Having said that, The Direwolves will probably stage an insurrection this afternoon or commit some other act of chaos. But until then, I have a steamy mafia princess story to edit.

And probably a snack.