Wednesday, July 29, 2009

As A Person

Ohhhh hello, blog. Funny how you just hang out here waiting for me while I go busily about my life in the real world. You knows, interactions that don't involve a tweet, a status update or a g-chat...

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Dinner for two on the patio.
We love appetizers-for-dinners. And wine.

My mom was here this week - WEEK - and it was just lovely. It was an exceedingly well-timed visit, as Matt was right into the thick of trauma surgery month and has basically just been sleeping and working, sleeping and working, lather, rinse, repeat. It was nice to have company and break up a long month where I was starting to hold philosophical discussion with my pooch, and I know Mom always feels like she's stepping on our toes to visit (YOU AREN'T) so I think it was easy for her knowing Matt was MIA and she wasn't imposing on our quality time together, budding new marriage and all. (2 years, in 2 weeks, yall!)

We went for walks (lots of walks), we drank lattes (lots of lattes), we drank wine (even more wine), and we talked and talked and talked and talked. My aunt left me a message on my fbook wall asking if her kids will ever MISS her as I posted that I lamented my mother turning left to go north on 52 as I turned right to go south (and go to werk. Meh.) It made me ponder the direction our relationship has turned in, and how it has grown and changed from teenager-hood to semi-adulthood.

I mean, I always LIKED my mom (I mean, loved, duh, but I mean like-like-as-a-person, yanoo?) We never really went through that like, moooommmmmmmm get out of my roooooom stage in high school and I think pretty much immediately upon leaving the nest, I pretty quickly became a thrice-to-cuatro times a week phone caller. This was even when long distance rates still existed! Lurve, right? Well, I have to confess that probably for a good chunk of college I used my mom as my own personal sounding board. I can't recall that I ever asked her about her day, her job, her worries, her passions, her life.

I guess that's what being a mom and a kid is all about - the balance is never fully equalized, and I suppose that's how it's supposed to be. This morning I was getting ready for work, and my mom noticed my hem needed sewing. As I sat in my undies eating my oatmeal while my mom stitched my skirt back together, I wondered if I was 27 or 7. (Note: semi-adulthood.) But I didn't care. Taking care of me (all her kids, nay everyone) is what makes my mom the person she is.

But the joy I've discovered in having a friendship with her - wanting to know who she IS, not just as a mom, has really brought a new amazing aspect to our relationship. I looked as forward to her visit as I would a week with one of my best girl friends. Maybe even more, because I love mah girls but none have ever stocked my fridge when they visit. Come to think of it, they usually empty ... well, never mind.

As much as I still went about my life while she was here - went to work, walked the dog, wiped pee out of the crate, grilled chicken, went running, tweeted, ya know, the basics of life - it felt like a vacation to come home from work every day and just hang out with one of my favorite people. Although I always loved being with my mom, I can see now it was much more selfish in my teen/early 20s - I loved being with my mom because my mom was already there to be with me. To shift things just every so slightly has really just been one of the most wonderful things in my life.

So to my aunt, whose children right now might be door-slammers, or busy themselves with texting when you're driving them all over the g.forsaken town.... will they come to miss you? Yes, immensely. The secret is they already do, it just takes a few tries of turning your white load pink or figuring out how to cook a pork chop on your own before the gratitude for what you did for them for 18 (erm, 27) years really whaps them upside the head. And once they start realizing that you made pork chops (or spaghetti, or hamburgers, or tuna rice casserole) for five people EVERY SINGLE DAY for LOTS and LOTS of years... then they start wondering how you did it.

And that's when they start wondering who you are.

Way cool.

Thanks for coming Mom... safe travels!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Reynolda Farm Market

When I lived in Capitol Hill, one of my favorite Saturday morning excursions was to Eastern Market. Before green-bags were even remotely adorable and trendy, I would go with all my ugly canvas bags gleaned from 5k races and pharmacy techs and load up on my week's worth of produce - gorgeous ears of corns, blueberries that still had a little bit of farm dirt on them, and zucchini that would roast to such perfection you could cry. I may or may not have a love affair with vegetables. The cheese vendor - oh the cheese vendor. I could have married him for his sage spiked cheese. (If you are reading this and live in DC, GO NOW and get you a hunk.)

I have always been a Farmer's Market girl. There's something that just feels right about handing over your money to the person whose hands may have actually been responsible for planting the seed or turning the soil where your broccoli came forth. Call me a agro-romantic if you will, and I'm sure every Farmer's Market vendor isn't the bushel and peck stand I'm picturing but HEY. I like to eat off the land my zip code is remotely close to, what can I say?

Today I took my mom and my sister to Winston's newest spot for locals who like locals, and I was in produce paradise. I started getting twitchy the moment we walked up and there were just piles of big ol' honeydews stacked outside.

The Reynolda Farm Market is open in the space that used to be Pink Mink (Reynolda Rd, across from The Children's Home) right in front of the Krankie's Airstream. (The airstream should be a pretty good reference point - there aren't many retro-rv's-turned-coffee-shops are there?) They just opened this weekend, but the goods were plentiful already.

I walked out with a big bushel of peaches, a bag full of teeny mac apples (I love little apples), and a huge bunch of broccoli. I know my husband is super excited about that last one. They also had tons of bread and granola from Ollie's Bakery, fresh coffee from Krankie's, goat cheese and chicken from a nearby farm. And even, get this, 5 cent candy pieces. I mean, come on. Play on my nostaglia a LITTLE more.

I dare you to click on this picture and make it full screen.

Tonight's dinner menu: 2 mini apples, a hunk of broccoli with cilantro-lime ranch (that I made, not from RFM), a peach and a big chewy slice of olive oil & sea salt bread from Ollie's Bakery.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sharebear Visit

My mom is here! My sister is here! I'm at work!

Which one of those (!) don't belong? My mom and sister drove down yesterday, arriving at about 6 pm last night. Mom was very excited to meet her grand-doggy and has already decided that she gets to spoil him and give him us much affection as she wants, Cesar's exercise-discipline-affection structure be damned! (She's now going to be in charge of cleaning out the pee in the crate then.)

Once I got home from work yesterday (yes, Sad Story but I'm taking Friday off in exchange), I whipped up a delicious, healthy dinner for the road weary travelers who apparently had subsisted their 600 mile journey on Tootsie Rolls and caramels. I made roasted zucchini, a delicious salad with blueberries, apples and almonds, cold rice salad with cilantro and feta and grilled chicken with a marinade of white wine and soy sauce. (Hope my poor husband isn't reading this who has had a lovely diet of Lean Cuisine, packed lunch or hospital cafeteria meal for nearly 4 weeks!) Promise, honey, it wasn't that good.

After dinner, we took Budster for a long walk and then we polished off a few glasses of wine just sitting around chatting. I love how easy it is to just curl up in a comfy place and talk to both my mom and my sister, and how the hours disappear as the sunsets with a wine glass in our hand or rises with a coffee mug in our hands, a la 5:30 am this morning. Mom was kind enough to accompany me on Buddy walk #1 of the day.

I am sure this week will fly by, so I'm trying to soak up every minute with my two favorite girls.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Another Check Off the HIP List

Add another check to the Home Improvement Project List. Hip, hip!

On Saturday, our neighbor came over with a whole mess of power tools and helped Matt de- and reconstruct the stoops leading into our garage. Said stoops stuck about 1" too far to allow our garage to be a two-car. Fine now, but believe me, when both parties are leaving around 5:30 am no one wants to be stuck with the driveway parking spot, scraping us at the crack o' dawn. The reconstruction was successful and seemed to go pretty quickly, in my non-helping opinion.

Which is sayin' alot, cos guess what I was doing while the HIP went on? Baby-sitting.

Don't get me wrong: I love little kids, and I was a tried and true member of the baby-sitting circuit from about 1994 right up through grad school. (Even post grad school when I first moved to Winston which made my parents proud. Look, Ma, I'm putting that Master's degree to great use!) I consider myself someone with a well of patience and a vast tolerance for the peppering of questions that all children over the age of 3 seem to dole out.

But ya'll, I wasn't exactly expecting to baby-sit. I had a touch of a wine headache and plans to make my hardwood floors shiny and my laundry folded.

Enter stage left: Neighbor, age 7. "Boy, your house sure smells like a dog."

"You look fifteen. Are you fifteen?"

"Do you have anything to eat?" "I have carrots or apples." "YUUUUUUCK."

"Your socks smell. Do you know how to do laundry?"

"Do you have water balloons? I have a hundred. Let's fill them."

All I can say is, Thank goodness for Spongebob. Whew. Good thing I'm warming up with a canine - trouble as he may be, he has never rejected my food OR asked me a single question. Wonder what happened to that vast well of patience....

Friday, July 17, 2009

North of Marshall

It's 10:38 pm, the sun has set on the city. The crowd is well-dressed, martini glasses or Pilsner glasses in hand. Dates lean over Anthropologie-esque oil candles on two-top tables while a bachlorette party collects on a leather couch, stacking up one empty shot glass after another. The crowd is noisy but not overbearing, and the music a perfect complement. Photographs of the city reflected in windows and caught by the eye of the artist adorn the walls, but the rest of the decor is sparse, urban and clean.

Noma, thank you for coming to Winston. You make Fridays a little bit more lovely.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Progress Notes

I've been feeling really frustrated and glum about the whole Buddy-crate system (see: past entries, react: no DUH). But I got to thinking yesterday, about how much I talk to my clients about energy and expectations, and how often what you think you're going to get is what you get, for better or for worse. Then, last night I was reading Cesar Milan's "Cesar Way" passed on to me from the lovely doggy-veteran momma Jamie, and I realized with a start that Cesar is a big-time subscriber to all these universal concepts that coaches love. He even cited some of MY role models, including Wayne Dwyer, Deepak Chopra and Dr. Phil. I was all okay Megs, let's put your coaching hat on and get out of your own way. YOU CAN DO THEES.

I don't know... I don't think I wanna...

Regardless of whether or not we're seeing progress I have also simultaneously declared myself on a Venting Fast for 1 week, based on a cranky, complaintfest I had on Friday and how ugly I felt about it. I'm choosing not to complain OUT LOUD for one whole week (mark my words and feel free to hold me too it) and if I MUST let out some steam, I'm going to try and keep it to written word. To myself. (Possibly to be posted later should they be entertaining.)

So let me tell you about my day with Buddy and you can help me decide whether or not he's progressing. And I apologize for the current theme of this blog of late, but hey if mommybloggers are such a force to be reckoned with, why not doggybloggers? (Are you listening, PetSmart? I will happily put an ad upon the side of this blog in exchange for compensation in the form of monies and/or lifetime supply of puparonis.)

One thing the Doggy Behaviorist guy recommended was that we move Buddy's crate into our living room and that we spend some time with him in it while we were in the room. I guess the idea here was to start to diminish the association between crate = GONE GONE OMG THEY'RE ALL GONE MELTDOWN that seemed to occur everytime the latch on that crate swung shut.

The other thing I learned from my Cesar reading was that wearing your dog out, then feeding him was the key to getting him sleepy enough to chill out in the crate (or left out.) If you saw my dog shakin like a polaroid picture, you'd know that I've pretty much research separation anxiety up and down, and this is like tip numero uno. So I've definitely attempted to employ this strategy. However, my version of a walk was a 10-15 minute stroll that ended pretty much as soon as bodily functions were taken care of.

Today, I have walked/run 14,915 steps. THAT'S SEVEN MILES, PEOPLE. (In other news: that's seven hundred extra calories which I intend to make up in these here tall glass of vino. Thank you furry personal trainer.)

So today, Operation Rehab went into full effect and I was all about some calm-assertive energy. I found myself chanting on our walks "you can do this, you can do this, you can do this." I'm not sure if I was talking to Buddy or me.

After our first 3 mile walk, we worked on small periods in the crate. I started with ten, then twenty, then thirty, then fourty-five with anywhere from fifteen to thirty minutes in between each session. I mostly stayed in his view, and corrected him anytime he started to whine or paw the crate door. He actually laid down for the FIRST time ever in his crate. This is big. Although the panting/shaking did indicate he wasn't exactly relaxed.

Since the trainer did recommend that Buddy get him some Xanax or the like, I thought maybe tonight I'd try some Benadryl. (Don't worry, I made Dr. C google the appropriate dosage amount. I didn't want to try and do CPR after he'd been drooling in his crate.) After an afternoon of crate training, I took B to work where we took a mile walk around campus and then he passed out on my office floor. After a few hours, we packed up and came home. Another 2 mile walk, and I slipped him the Benny in some peanut butter.

As I write this, he's been in the crate for 20 minutes. He's laying down, but still shaking and panting. Not entirely sure the Benny has had any effect. In fact, I think he could still operate heavy machinery. (Me on the other hand, I'm buzzed from 4 sips of Pinot. Maybe Buddy prefers his drugs in liquid form? I'M KIDDING, PETA.)

Is it progress? Maybe. He's in his crate without any of the usual behaviors: whining, drooling, BARKING, or peeing. He is panting, but he's laying down. And truth be told, he's still shaking.

But, it's still early. I'm choosing to believe that this dog can be rehabbed. If not, well, no loss. I paid for the Benadryl out of my FSA.

Goal: Achieve this mental state,
but within crate so as to ensure safety of curtains and/or dry-wall.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

From Townie to Tourist

About two weeks ago, all the new interns arrived in town and we've been having lots of get to know you activities. Last Tuesday, one of the new interns emailed the group to invite us to get together at Filling Station. Apparently every Tuesday night, FS has a Shrimp Boil and features a cosmo and coronitas special and beach music.

Now I'm no stranger to Filling Station's special: every Wednesday night my senior year of college my five girlfriends and I would get together for dinner at Filling Station and HALF-PRICED WINE BOTTLES. I know, right? By mid-year, we'd arrive to find our table set and two chilled bottles of Kendall Jackson ready for us. (This is where the name "winos" had originated from.)

But I had never known about their Tuesday night Shrimp Boil, and we were excited to try it out. Three things we love: seafood, beach music and cosmos. Or coronas, if Matt was writing this entry. A trio of happy things.

Nothing disappointed, except perhaps the choice of table location (right underneath the speakers) and we had a great time getting to know the new interns. It's funny how people brand new to your town can introduce you to things you've never known was right under your nose, perhaps because you just start to become so comfy in your own town you stop seeking out new things.

Low-Country Boil: Shrimp, Sausage, Corn, Potatoes, YUM.

Have you ever felt like a tourist in your own town? It makes me inclined to seek out some new experiences in our town - I'm sure there's many other nooks and crannies in Winston I have yet to discover! It makes me even more excited to know that we're here for the next three years of residency, because I'm sure there's much more in this town I have yet to find.

Friday, July 10, 2009

On Sleep

I had a huge scare yesterday. I have been kind of cutting corners on my sleep (which is actually scheduled in my Outlook calendar). I usually get up now at 4:30 to walk Buddy, because I typically leave the house at 5:30. And USUALLY I'm in bed by 9:30, but for some reason this week and the week before I've been pushing it to 10:30 and even on Wednesday night stayed up past 11:00. At first I was thinking "well, heyyyy look who's functioning okay on 5, 6 hours" and I was kind of proud of myself, because everyone's always sort of teased me about my claim to need 7-8 to function (and to tell you the truth, I am legit worried about the sleep deprivation that will accompany the having of little people in my life one day.) So each day I felt a little progressively tired, but I sort of felt okay and I was like "Maybe I don't need as much sleep as I think I do and I really have just been making myself THINK I need that much sleep."

WELLLLLLLLL. Famous last thoughts, right? Yesterday I was doing a coaching session at a Sbux across town - 30 mins from my house. On my way home, I was feeling really warm and started to get really sleepy. I was about 1 mile from my house when my head bopped and my eyes closed, and I nearly swerved right into a mailbox. It scared the crap out of me. I know I drove the rest of the way home shaking on adrenaline. MOM STOP PANICKING, I AM OKAY. But, definitely no more cutting corners on sleep. I'm still kind of shook up by it, but thankful that nothing happened. I actually slept on the couch yesterday from 5-7, then got up and walked Buddy, made dinner, and got back in bed at 9. I slept til 5:30 this morning and I'm starting to feel half-way normal again. You better believe next week I'm getting back on my regular 9:30 schedule.

In other news: I saw my husband a total of 15 minutes this week. Three 5 minute periods either when he got home at 6 am or I got home at 4:30 pm. So happy that he has the next 2 days off. We're having dinner with one of the new EM interns and his wife - who both went to Wake tonight, and no plans on Saturday except the Resident Spouse Association brunch for me. Sunday the crazy work schedule starts up again and my official week of Sleeping Normal Amounts resumes.

OH, must also update you all on Buddy, as I had a nice talk with a doggy behavioral expert here in Winston. (Like Winston's very own Cesar Milan!) Good News! Buddy is the worst case he's heard of in 20 years! I was like, hows about you just don't share that tidbit of info with me? He did give me a few more pointers but basically everything I told him I'm doing he said is what you're supposed to do for a dog with separation anxiety. He also said that he would recommend Buddy get on an anti-anxiety meds, and he also said that's the first time he's recommended medicine to a client ever. But he thought while I was doing the behavior modification, that would help him relax enough to be reconditioned. He basically said instead of 2-3 months like most dogs would need to get over this, Buddy will probably take 6-12 months. In a way, I'm glad to know I'm doing the right thing and it's just been too short a time to see a difference but I was sort of hoping he'd tell me I was doing something wrong and if I just did xyz this would get better. Oh well. He was super wonderful to take a half an hour just to TALK me, and share all his wisdom and experience. I know if this doesn't get better soon, at least I have an expert in my back pocket to call in for reinforcements! I told God this morning that since he gave me a difficult dog, I better have an easy baby. Either He said okay, or the voices in my head just agreed with that statement.

Friday, July 3, 2009

It Ain't Easy Bein' Green

Clearly my proclivity to dry cleaning and hair dye should be a dead give away that I'm not exactly a poster girl for Green Living, but I have been trying to figure out little ways here and there to start being a little more kind to the environment. From a selfish perspective, I totally believe that the amount of chemicals and fakey-fake stuff we use in our lives (and our foods) has to negatively impact our health, so I'm all for trying out products with friendlier ingredients.

Note: This may be one of the dorkiest entrees I've ever written, but the best part of writing a blog is I'm author, editor and publisher. Woo.

The good thing about shopping at Wally-world is that it makes going green affordable - many of the regular cleaning products I buy now offer "green" products that are negligible in their price differences. Are they really better for the environment? I don't know. As adamant as I am about food label reading, the whole "factual" realm of green products vs. the "you're a big fat sucker for marketing" realm still eludes me. But, it makes the ego feel good to use them, doesn't it?

WELL. Not if the end result is crappy. I bought Palmolive Eco dishwasher soap and was all "woohoo, I'm nice to the Earth." HARUMPH. My warmnfuzzy feelings were short lived.

See that label? Cleans to A Sparkly Shine?

For weeks, I kept pulling spotty glasses and silverware out of my dishwasher, and couldn't figure out why. I finally realized it had started when I bought the new cleaner. I was home in Rochester and watched my mom pull a less than sparkly cup out of the dishwasher and lament over how their water seemed to be dirty... I looked under her sink and TA DA! Eco friendly dish cleaner letting her down too. A quick google search proves I'm not crazy - by and large, a healthy dose of white film seems to be the norm for other Palmolive Eco users out there.

Oh, hey house guests, welcome.
Don't mind our gross dinnerware.

So, I'm going back to the Cascade that pollutes our oceans and streams, until someone can point me in the direction of a dishwasher soap that is nice to Mother Earth AND makes my dishes sparkly clean. Yea, I said it. COME AND GET ME, EPA. Ok, really, please don't? But, is it too much to ask that a product that is eco-kind also works really good? Green homemaking FAIL.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bud and Crate Plus Eight

I kind of felt like we were making good progress with the Budster - we had him up to about 4 hours in the crate, although I wouldn't say it was by any means a HAPPY four hours. Unless panting, drooling and excessive barking are signs of a happy dog... last I checked...umm, NOPE. But, he wasn't acting like a drunk toddler when we released him, so we figured that we were getting somewhere.

Then came Tuesday. Tuesday Matt had to be at orientation from 7:30-4:00 and I had to work from 5:30-2:00... so one way or the other, Bud was going to be flying solo from about 7:00-2:30. A leap from four hours to almost eight.... we thought, you know, if he can do four, he can TOTALLY do eight.

You know that rule about increasing your running mileage and how you should go up by 10% each week?

What is true for shin splits must also be true for anxious doggles. Holy Backslide, Cesar. So, Tuesday I got home from work at 2:30 and lo and behold, found a soggy, smelly, miserable dog in his crate. I scooped him up and into the bath he went - chalking it up to too long a day and a bladder that just wasn't ready for that.

Over the next two days though, we realized it was his mind, not his bladder, that wasn't quiiiiite ready for the long day in the little box. Wednesday he was only in for two hours, and I was totally dismayed to come home to find yesterday's scenario repeated. Two hours! He can definitely keep his little legs crossed for two hours.

Thursday morning, we had just come in our from our walk when Matt arrived home from work. I was fixing my coffee, chatting with the new doctor fresh off his first overnight shift, when our sweet little adorable Sheltie looked up at both of us, and lifted his leg and treated our brand new fridge like his very own fire hydrant.


Not sure if this is regression or if he's pissed at us (pun intend), buuuut whatever the reason, it ain't fun.

So we're back to basics, and back to crating in increments of minutes. It's frustrating, but I also recongize that it's not his fault and he's ours now and we have to figure out how to help him. We've started putting his food in his crate, hoping that YAY EATING will make the crate seem like a tiny bit of a happier place? He'll now go in there to eat but as soon as that bowl is empty, he's out of there in a flash. I'm sure he'll get there, and I'm looking forward to the day I can write the blog entry that says simply: BUDDY! IN THE CRATE! NOT BARKING! and we'll know we've helped him become a happier, well-adjusted pup.

In the meantime, it's just one fun, bark-filled day at a time.