September 1, 2007

Wow!  It's so hard to believe it is already the first of September!  It seems as if summer just began.  But then, in a way, it did, since we had such an extended "spring" with all the rain through July.  Maybe that's why it seems as if it can't possibly be Labor Day weekend already!

It's amazing how much cooler the weather has been the last couple of days.  Temperatures have only been in the high 80's and in the mornings, it has been in the low 70's.  It's supposed to be 55 degrees tomorrow morning!!!!!  The high 90's and low 100's temperatures have disappeared just as quickly as they came.  Poof!  Fall is almost here.

Zoe will turn 1 year old on September 11th.  That will also be the 4th anniversary of my divorce.  Not to mention the anniversary of the World Trade Center terrorist attack. Weird.  It's a date that holds a lot of bad memories of sad and horrible events with one little blip of goodness...Zoe.  She's a MESS and a little stinker, but she's a joy too.  Even if she DOES eat earthworms.

Wishing you and your families a very happy and relaxing Labor Day weekend! 


September 3, 2007

You have not truly lived until you have given a Schnauzer a hair cut.  The body itself is a piece of cake.  The head isn't too bad...except for that quick shave up the nose and between the eyes.  The belly doesn't cause much consternation.  But the tail!  Oh my!  And the ears!  SHUDDER!!!!!  NOT THE EARS!!!!!  Forbidden territory...especially with a CLIPPER!!!!  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I gave Zoe a cut today.  I almost finished.  Like I said, the body isn't a problem.  She doesn't even flinch; guess it feels like she's getting petted, which is ALWAYS permissible and welcome.  The tail, for as little as it is and for as little as there is left of it, can be a challenge.  It's a strong little appendage!  It tucks mightily, adhering to the butt with great tenacity.  And if you do happen to get a good enough grip on it to pry it away and hold it up, the next logical move on the dog's part is to...sit.  Down.  On.  The.  Butt.  Have you ever tried to keep a Schnauzer standing up by hanging on to her tail?  Didn't think so.  YOU try it and see how hard you laugh!  You have to become a contortionist to clip the butt and tail.  That's all there is to it.  You have to get one arm under the dog and wrap it under enough that you can still come out the other side, then grip the tail and hold it up while you clip away at the speed of light before she crawls over your arm and escapes your tenuous grip.  It usually takes three or four wrestling matches of this kind before the entire tail and butt have successfully been shaved. 

Then you're left with the ears.  Sometimes I am brave and I do them first.  Today I started with the head and I got a few swipes in at Zoe's ears before she started climbing me and trying to adhere to my face.  Being a realistic person, I backed off and started clipping her body.  Nice gentle strokes that feel good.  Calm her down.  Then the tail.  It's a battle, but I'm still strong!  Until I realize I'm left with those darned ears.  Ugh! I'm tempted to forget them, but she looks like of like Yoda.  Not a good look for a Schnauzer.  Sigh.  I have to do it.

I have two clippers.  I have some Arco cordless clippers that I use to clip everything except the strip between the eyes and her ears.  It's quieter and not having a cord is nice because either Zoe or I can get a bit tangled up in a cord if I'm not careful.  Unfortunately, the Arco clippers don't have a small blade that can be attached to them and you need a small blade for the ears.  So to finish her up, I have to pull out the old faithful Oster clippers, the ones with the cord, that make a ton of noise, blow a lot of air around and that have the small blade.  Zoe HATES the Oster clippers.  Robin kind of hates them too, because of what they represent.  The battle of the ears.  Get ready.  FIRE!!!!

The moment I turn them on, the noise puts Zoe on alert.  She immediately starts twitching her ears...a learned response.  I grip the beard with all of my might.  She shakes free.  I grip her beard again and move in for the first clip.  She shakes free.  I grab her beard AGAIN, trying to talk pleasantly to her to distract her and make her think we are having fun!  HA!  She isn't fooled.  But I managed to get a quick swoop between the eyes.  I only need to do that about 3 or 4 more times to make her look nice.  The battle continues.

I place her in a headlock...which, by the way, is totally ineffective with a Schnauzer.  Totally.  Ineffective.  She squirms, She uses her feet.  She pries herself free.  I move in for round 563.  All this time, I'm talking to her.  Well, maybe I'm begging.  Depends on your perspective.  I prefer to think of it as talking.  By this time, my face is covered with soft fur, which tickles like crazy and is making me sneeze.  I get her in a headlock again, flatten an ear on my finger and am almost there with the clippers...DARN!  She got away AGAIN!!!!  Are you getting the picture?  I get a little swipe here, a small clip there, just before she breaks free again.  We do it again...she breaks free again. This goes on and on FOREVER!!!  O.K.  Maybe not forever.  But it FEELS like forever.  I'm up to round 2673 now and the ears still look ridiculous.

I hate to admit it, but she still has a bit of a Yoda look.  I finally gave up, somewhere around round number 10,235.  I flat wore out!  I'll try again next weekend.  Can't bear to think of it any sooner.  I turned off the clippers and grabbed the scissors.  Time to tackle the paws and eyebrows.  Whoopee.

You're supposed to pick up a paw to keep the dog from lifting their other paw.  This allows you to take the scissors, place them against the surface the dog is standing on and cut the hair around the foot.  This may work for every other dog in the universe.  In fact, it worked for my last two Schnauzers.  But Zoe has found a way to raise that other paw by performing a strange little hop dance.  So with her, I have to raise the paw I'm going to cut and clip around the outer edge of the foot.  It's harder to do this in mid-air, but it's easier than trying to trim the hair while the dog performs some kind of ritual "you will not cut my hair" dance on the table.  The advantage is, I already have her paw lifted to cut the hair that grows between the pads of her feet.  I'm looking for the good in this.  I'm taking what I can get, so don't chide me.  It's a small thing, but it makes me feel better.

Next, the eyebrows.  This requires a strong grip on the beard.  I'm convinced the only reason Schnauzers have beards is so their owners who are foolish enough to groom them can have some kind of a handle to grasp as they are trying to perform various grooming maneuvers.   Unfortunately, it's not much help, due to the agility and stubbornness of the dog!  But it's better than nothing (those small good things...I'm still grasping for them, O.K.?).  With the scissors held away from the eye (try this while clipping eyebrows), I strike!  It takes a few attempts, but I finally get them cut back enough for me to see eyeballs.  Success!

Then, holding the scissors straight up along the side of her face, I grasp the beard...again...and cut up toward the eyebrows.  This makes the sides nice and neat...snicker!  Well, not really nice and neat, but she doesn't look like an unmowed lawn any more.  Except for the ears.  They still need mowing.

She still needs to be brushed too.  But that means even MORE battles and I'm completely battled out at this point.

She's sleeping peacefully at my feet right now.  Maybe I wore her out too.  It's hard to believe this angelic little dog is the same contortionist escape-wizard I was just attempting to groom.  She looks so sweet and innocent.  Well, except for the ears... 


September 7, 2007

Last Saturday, a friend and his son were at my house because they mow my yard for me (yes, I'm a WIMP, I admit it, so let's move on because I'm too old and tired and un-motivated to mow my lawn).  The son, who has VERY sharp eyes, noticed a lot of wasps flying around in one corner of my yard and discovered a 5 star hotel located on one of my fence posts.  There were FOUR large nests on the post.  Actually, there are STILL four nests on the post, but they are no longer an active, prospering, commercial property in wasp-ville.  They are, in fact, now abandoned real estate, though the bodies remain as a warning for all stinging insects in the neighborhood.  Here are a few pictures of the upper nests.  They are located on both sides of the post...they may even hook together, but I haven't felt like getting close enough to tell.  There are two more nests that aren't quite as large located a little lower down the post.  Shudder!

Bodies litter the ground below the nest and the surrounding area.  YUCK!


September 11, 2007

This is a sad day...for several reasons.  Six years ago, some cowardly terrorists flew commercial airplanes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and some brave Americans prevented an additional attack when they purposefully downed United Flight 93.  The cowards mainly attacked civilians who were unarmed.  They were simply going about their lives, headed to work so they could pay bills and carve out a life.   They did nothing to deserve the attack or what happened to them.  And thousands more who came to rescue survivors were killed when the after the other...collapsed in a pile of steel and dust.  Our nation watched, shocked, stunned, wounded.  We will never forget what happened on September 11, 2001.

Four years ago, my divorce was granted.  I had been married for 22 years, but my husband decided he was in love with another woman and he didn't want to even try to salvage our marriage.  It seemed fitting it should end on this day.  It broke my heart.  My life collapsed and I found myself wondering if I even cared if I survived.

One year ago, Zoe was born.  My silly little Schnauzer.  She brought life back into my home...much needed after the death of Maddie.  Zoe continues to bring me joy (mostly - except for haircuts, eating bugs and worms and other gross things of that nature).   She is a delightful and sweet little dog and I treasure her.

Life is a roller coaster.  You go up, you come down.  Sometimes you come way, way down.  Sometimes the trip is fast; sometimes it's slow.  September 11th has had more than its share of pain.  But it has given me a little spark of happiness too.  I'll never forget the tragedy.  But I'm thankful for that spark of joy.   Happy birthday, Zoe!