Viewing posts for the category marbles

marbles kills a tree

Saturday, dec. 16, 2006   |   0 comments

Marbles that cat has suddenly discovered the ever-expanding forest of crochet trees.

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choke collars, shh-ing, and other tails

Thursday, aug. 17, 2006   |   0 comments

Moving in with Marco and his dog has meant that now, zap, I’m an instant dog owner. And since I’ve never had a dog before, not even when I was a kid, the sudden upgrade has left me feeling a little helpless. Like when I’m walking Piggy, and she meets a dog that she for some reason HATE-HATE-HATEs with the heat of a thousand hot lavas, and she hurls herself at the offending animal while unleashing a bowel-loosening crazy train of “ai, ai, ai” screams, apparently it’s not enough to stutter “n-n-noo” and tug wanly at her leash. Clearly there is some sort of authority that needs to be exerted, some line drawn deeply into the sand, but the new-to-me blend of public dog embarrassment + futility just unhinges me.

So I joined Urbanhound, a resource site for city dog owners, currently concentrating on SF, Chicago, and NY — my smart and pretty friend Laura writes for the site, which is why you should join the site, too, and get in on that be-Laura-ed newsletter! I also started watching Cesar Millan, aka The Dog Whisperer, he of the balls-out big-wheel Land Roller blades and the magic “ssshh!” capable of reining in/over all dogs. Marco, however, can not stand the sound Cesar’s voice, so I’ve taken to Tivoing TDW and watching it during the day when Marco’s not home, which has paved the way for some disturbingly long marathon Cesar sessions; if you threw a penny down into the crevasse that is my capacity for watching televised dog training, you would still be waiting for the sound of it hitting bottom. Still. Still. Stilllllll-lll-ll-l.

One of Cesar’s big not-so-secret secrets is that simply walking the dog on a regular basis curbs many behavioral issues. Not just around the block, though…long, tiring walks, forty minutes minimum per day. This leaves the dog too tired to go crazy, and also it reinforces the status of Owner as Alpha Dog. Which makes sense. I can do that! So that’s one thing: Piggy and I have been going for long, sweaty walks every day. One, sometimes two hours (the fact that I keep getting fantastically lost helps prolong things even more). And it seems to be doing good things for her nerves; at least she appears to have taken it down a few notches from her constant state of RED ALERT. (Evany: “I don’t know, maybe the Pig is depressed? She’s just lying there.” Marco: “No, I think we’ve just never actually seen her tired out before.”) Plus I suspect the walking might also be good for me and my ever-thickening layer of breakfast-brown fat, the result of weeks and weeks and also years of fried road foods, yeah.

So the walking is AWESOME cardio, and I’ve browned up a nice farmer’s tan. I’ve also been Cesar “shhhh“ing all over the place. It’s super satisfying and empowering, the “admonishment shhh,” and once you start using it, it’s hard to stop. I even caught myself shhh-ing at a girl who got between me and a really cute firework-splattered kimono top at For(N)ever Twenty-One (Not Ever Again). Though, thankfully, I’m almost sure my shhh-ziness got lost in the mind-scattering blast of neo new wave reheated Sparks that they pump around the clock at that store. (I am very old.)

Unfortunately Piggy is a huge leash-tugger, and all the walking was causing my leash-holding hand to blister in unpleasant ways. So I went to the pet store and, per the recommendation of one of the employees (whose voice Marco also couldn’t stand … Marco may be going crazy? More damning evidence: in the past month, his one surfboard has somehow given immaculate birth to three additional surf boards, all four of which are all stacked out on the landing?), I bought a choke chain.

The first time I tried the choke chain on Piggy, using that corrective “pop” (a fast tug and release), she gave a small, little yelp, and I almost threw up. And then I started to cry. Which was when I finally learned that I don’t really like inflicting pain on innocent animals. Especially animals that I, apparently, am now deeply in love with. PIGGY!

So the scene is this: I’m walking the streets of Oakland, weeping, with a little brown dog at my side, and of course I am also wearing a really weird outfit, with my rolling black orthopedic Masai barefoot technology shoes, drier-tightened sweats, and belly-revealing Neckfire tee, plus orange rain hat. It is, at first glance, the picture of a woman having a very particular strain of breakdown. But then, what? Piggy stops with the pulling! After that one yelp, she settles right in to walking calmly at my side. As in, choke chains really work! But still, all the not-pulling in the world wasn’t worth all the queasy I was feeling. So I raced over to the internet for some guidance, and I immediately found a million militant anti-choke chain sites. And then I found all these people who instead recommend the “pinch collar,” that scary, medieval ring of prongs? I guess the prongs mimic the gentle, guiding nip of a mother dog, versus violently puncturing the dog’s neck like I’ve always suspected. Nonetheless, they still make me feel a little woozy, plus they seem like a big, flowery invitation for exhausting Berkeley types to come a-tsking.

So I took Piggy down to a (different) pet store, and we spent an hour trying out a bunch of different collars. I didn’t test the Gentle Leader, which is a huge favorite among many dog owners if my informal polling is any indication, because Marco has already tried it with her, and reportedly it makes her scrape her head along the sidewalk. But I did try out the pinch collar as well as a few different sizes of choke chains, but Piggy responded best to a “European” leash, which is basically the same choke-loop setup but made out of soft, nylon-wrapped rope.

The new leash seems to be working okay, but Piggy still pulls against it when she gets super excited — squirrels, cats, dogs that reminder her of squirrels and cats — and then I feel queasy all over again. Anyway. (I just fell asleep typing this, it’s all so very boring and boring and boring…I guess my all-consuming obsessions are just as snorable as everyone else’s? And no I’m not getting any writing done these days, thank you.) ANYWAY! has apparently had success with the Sense-ible harness, so I think I’m going totrythatnexttheend.

In other news (not really), Piggy has a new habit of lunging at Marbles the Cat whenever she, the Cat, tries to sharpen her claws on the furniture. Apparently, with all our clapping and yelling at Marbles to stop her from destroying the living room, we’ve accidentally trained Piggy to become a furniture narc! Which pleases and amazes Marco and me to no end, but leaves Marbles feeling very, very wary.

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a dog, a cat, and other signs of life

Tuesday, may. 9, 2006   |   0 comments

Marbles and Piggy, caught in bed, together!

I think the spring sunshine, and its capacity to completely de-bone animals, is shaving weeks off the dog-and-cat-getting-to-know-you phase. Not only are they bedding down together(ish), they’re also making great strides in the “play not slay” realm. This morning, Marbles got herself what I call a “case of the runs” (and what my mother calls “a herd of elephants”), i.e., that cat thing where they just tear from one end of the house to the other for no visible reason. From the kitchen, where Marco, Piggy, and I stood, we could hear her thunder, but we could only actually see a small sliver of her route. And from our point of view, the display was awesomely Benny Hill-like: we’d see her run past the narrow slice of doorway full-tilt this way, then we’d see her spring past going the opposite direction. Piggy tried to take chase, and who could blame her, but we called her back and she totally returned to our side without hesitation. Last week, we would have had to grab her trembling excitement by the collar and physically restrain her. It is what Boy George calls “a miracle.”

Also, lest you think my life is nothing but dog and cat, I managed to get surprise-tipsy off of two specialty cocktails at The Slanted Door last night, where I met up with the amazing AB (of AB Chao fame), who’s in town all the way from Louisiana for some sort of mysterious “training.” I haven’t seen AB since Pam’s wedding, which we both agreed was a criminally long stretch of apart-time, especially since AB is like some kind of performance-enhancing drug that makes everything slightly more glamorous and thrilling than usual, like you’re in the middle of a 30s picture, what with all the machine-gun banter and pretty hair. I also had the distinct pleasure of finally meeting Stephanie (of Keckler fame), who it turns out is the kind of girl who somehow knows the meaning of words like “falernum” and also has really cute legs? It’s a one-two punch that I’m pretty sure makes her a super hero. Plus she has an in at Cowgirl Creamery, oh my god?

And that’s not all! After drinking myself Slanted (and somehow not paying for my bar tab, I am a monster), I raced over for my six-weekly “hair dinner”* at the delicious Panchita Number 3 with Adam and Julia and Marco , where I had good wine and amazing enchiladas and talked about many horrifying things, including Battlefield Earth, tampon applicators mistakenly used as pot pipes, and Ashlee Simpson’s new nose. I laughed so hard, I broke my glasses with my ass!

*A new and totally awesome tradition where we meet for dinner every six weeks after Adam’s regular hair cut.

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Tuesday, may. 2, 2006   |   0 comments

I’m all moved! And oh my holy big wow did it suck. Somehow I thought that since I already did a big Goodwill sort after I got laid off (both times!), and since I was getting rid of so much cat-scratch furniture before I left, and since I hired three big, nice, burly movers, and since I bought a whole roll of bubble wrap, that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. But surprise, it was heinous: seven solid days and nights of old-person back pain, foot soreness, and that packing tape sound. I think I remember this happening the last time I moved: I thought it was going to be relatively painless that time too, but it turned out to be the same kind of exhausting, last-minute scramble, combined with insane maneuvering to remove a stain in the rug so I could get back the whopping $2100 deposit (I rented a steam cleaner and that didn’t work, so I actually cut the stain out of the rug and patched it with a section I snipped from some surplus rug laying in the back of one of the closets, then I spent days trying to glue the patch into the hole using a wide variety of glues…superglue finally did the trick, superglue plus some artful vacuuming around the hole to make it blend in). Though I guess I’m not really surprised by my surprise: PMS blindsides me each and every month. Why am I swollen, sore, sweaty, and so very mad at this retarded slippery satiny shirt that keeps falling off the hanger, grr, grr, grr??? Oh right it’s LADY TIME, god.

Also familiarly awful: the big Deposit Clean. I spent all day Friday, eight long hours, cleaning my old apartment, scrubbing down the stove, fridge, sinks, tub, walls, and floors. There was so much dirty! I kept finding new, heretofore unseen splatters of coffee and…soup? Frosting? It was amazing and gross. I kept thinking how sad it is that my apartment is really, finally sparkling, but I won’t get to enjoy it. I actually caught myself vowing that in my new place, I’m going to schedule regular insane clean-a-thons, so I can actually reap the benefits of my bleach-pan hands. But mid-vow I dimly remembered promising myself something eerily similar after the last move. But this time I mean it! Yes I say it with the rueful, self-experienced doubt of a drastically hungover person’s promise to never drink again, but still I vow to clean this new house with white-flower-sale regularity. I do, I do, I do!

So yes, boxes, boxes, boxes, and lots of puffing and growling from Marbles the cat, who is less than thrilled to be rooming with PIGGY the dog. After spending all afternoon hiding behind the toilet, Marbles finally let me coax her out to the area near the tub, where she and I napped together for a few hours Wednesday afternoon, and then again Thursday morning. Finally on Saturday we put Piggy in the laundry room (there is a laundry room! AND a dishwasher!) and let Marbles sniff around the rest of the house for a few hours. Then we put her way up high on a shelf and let Piggy out. Piggy, who is half whippet and half boxer (half crazy, half crazy), can jump about five feet straight up in the air. It really is a sight; when she gets going — which she does whenever she wants her bone, or wants to go out, or wants come in, or hears your keys jangle — it really looks as though she’s on a trampoline. Her shadow, viewed from the sliver underneath the door, looks wide and dark, then gone, wide and dark, then gone. So Piggy managed to propel herself up to Marbles’ eye level, over and over and over, while Marbles just sat there watching, looking almost bored with nothing moving but her head yo-yo-ing up and down in concert with Piggy’s leaping. We tried to get Piggy to calm down, but it was pretty clear that this was the very best thing that had ever happened to her, this black and white squirrel-thing inside her own house! So then we tried to make a movie of it, but of course the camera got them all distracted (animals never do anything right). Today we had one or two bouts of howling and puffing, but in between they did manage to fall asleep on the very same couch, with me sandwiched in the middle. Things are looking up!

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Elsewhere: the latest issue of lit-magazine Swivel is now out and about, and it is so good and funny and perfectly sized for in-bath enjoyment! (Also it features a smattering of excerpts from the sleep book, which turned out really nice.) I’m doing a guest stint over at Mighty Goods, which has been all kinds of fun (stuff, stuff, for you to buy (me)). And yes Desperate Housewives is still happening, it is relentless that way!

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urine business

Thursday, feb. 3, 2005   |   0 comments

I am just now getting over the world’s worst cold-flu, a solid week of sweating and coughing and one-hundred-and-one degrees of separation, plus hurling. I spent the bulk of the week shivering in a sweat-wet sleeping bag on a bare, bare mattress because on day ONE of my horrible and gross illness, Marbles the Cat decided to pee all over a water-repellant puffy vest that I had made the grave error of leaving on the bed next to me. When the first whiffs of urine assaulted my sick nose, I groaningly scrambled the Marbles-enraging vest away from the safety of my bed, thereby prompting a veritable FLOOD of urine, a kiddypool sized puddle, to roll off the vest and onto my comforter, sheets, and pillow. Sick as I was, I managed to vaguely get my urine-soaked bedding stuffed into a garbage bag, which I placed in the bathtub (with hopes of keeping it clear of Marbles re-markable urges?). And then, with my last half-ounce of strength, I pulled my hulking brown check-luggage bag down from its ridiculous perch in my hall closet, pulled out the chinchilla bag stored within, unstuffed from it the sleeping bag with the broken zipper, and wrapped it around my aching body. When I awoke hours later to the sound of my phone, which rings the tauntingly inspirational theme from Rocky, I discovered that the flood of urine had extended so far as to include my phone. I tried washing it in the sink, but all that did was fritz out the wiring (for two days, every number pushed produced two separate beeps and one freaky @-sign character in the caller-ID window) — the distinct sniff of urine continued to linger no matter how I rinsed and scrubbed. Ring, ring, go away, it’s the urine phone, the urine phone, the URINE PHONE! Actually, now the urine phone suddenly smells not at all that bad? Rather it smells kind of good, like a subtle and possibly even expensive sort of lotion? Wow, and I don’t really know how this happened, but somehow lemonade has magically been made out of urine, here in the magic house of sickness and sleeping bags.

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