Working Out: The Hilarity Continues

I’ve gone up two clothing sizes.

It’s a problem.  I despise working out.

My doctor’s office believes in torturing patients on principle, as part of careful health monitoring.  They weigh you.  Every. Single. Time.

I got sick, and had to cave in and go to the doctor.  Not breathing has a way of forcing one out of one’s anti-doctor comfort zone.  I dread the scale.  I wore flip flops I could kick off, t-shirt, and t-shirt weight sweat pant shorts.  I couldn’t decide if an underwire bra weighed more than a workout bra or vice versa.  (I’m all about losing the fashion statement when confronted with a scale.) I was tempted to remove my glasses.  I closed my eyes, and quite clearly said “don’t tell me what it says”.

Two clothing sizes?  10 pounds gained, minimum.  I do not want to know.

Is it in the office manual that a patient’s weight must be announced to the waiting room?

Great.  Now I know.  Along with the entire office.  Wait a second.  What?!  I gained…only 2 pounds?  How can that be?

We know pants never lie.  (Not one pair of pants, a closet full of pants, which qualifies as a pants chorus.)  That means…since muscle weighs more than fat…hang on…calculating….I’ve lost 2 clothing sizes worth of muscle.  I try not to figure what the two pounds gained really translate into, in terms of The Pants Law of Physics.

My brain is immediately calculating the ways in which I can lie to myself so I don’t have to consider working out, or forgo food.

My body is sighing.  It’s tired, it’s depressed, it probably needs to go (again) to the sugar-addict equivalent of the Betty Ford clinic..  And I want it to work out?  Couldn’t we listen to the brain for once?  That’s when I know for sure I’m in trouble.  My body and my brain never agree.   Never.

I found a cool workout application  for my smart phone.  I downloaded it, thinking, “Nah, it’ll never have horseback riding on there.”  I’m happy. Now I can tell myself I tried, without actually trying.

It has horseback riding.  Not the kind of riding doctors, family, and co-workers always think you’re talking about: Sofa Riding, but actual levels of riding intensity.  Crap. It has Sport Riding.

I thought I’d better practice using the thing before I got on a horse.  I drove Christmas to his morning walk, parked, and turned the app on in the car.  It would be difficult to turn it on when I hit the sidewalk.  My hands would be way too full.  What with the dog pulling, me trying to hang onto my diet coke, and get the bagel into my mouth.

(I have this theory: if you eat during a workout, your body doesn’t log the calories, because it’s too busy.)

I unload my breakfast to the roof of the car and clip the leash on the dog. Workout program is started, cell phone firmly clipped to my waist.  Okay. I’m lying.  I clip it near the general geography of where my waist used to exist.

I expected CardioTrainer would be a sort of pedometer.

I should have been so lucky.

Continue reading “Working Out: The Hilarity Continues”

Dad Stories

My dad died a  year ago on September 18th.  (History: here, here, and here.)

It doesn’t feel so long.  I don’t want it to be that long ago.  This would baffle him. “I’m dead, it’s over.  Nothing we can do about it.”  He would shake his head and be pained I wasn’t moving right along.

We went to Armstrong Redwoods Saturday, to have a picnic in dad’s honor, and enjoy the warmth, the big trees, and the incredible quiet.  Everything is muffled, the sound absorbed by the thick forest floor and the big trees.  (That little black thing lower left is Christmas!)

The Redwood grove is nothing like the forest in the Sierras (one of his favorite places). But he would have loved it.

What do I know about my dad that made him unique?

He liked sliced ice cream.  He’d open the half-gallon box of ice cream, and slice off neat slabs of ice cream for all of us, an inch thick.

He liked to cook.  Once a week, he’d grind up all the meat we’d need for hamburger or sausage in a meat grinder screwed to a chair back.  He’d have us kids sit on the chair to keep it from tipping.  No one could cook Italian food like my Irish dad.

He was an excellent and imaginative woodworker.

Sharpening knives calmed him.  Every night, I would hear him sharpen a knife in the kitchen before starting dinner.

He was paradoxical.  Raised in a small all-white farm town, he never met a non-white human until he joined the army.  He had to unlearn most of his cultural upbringing. Culturally Baptist, he eventually became Buddhist.  Not hip Buddhist, but quietly, seriously Buddhist.

He was a good son.  Sundays often found him at his mom and dad’s house, painting, trimming, putting in new light bulbs.

Shaun and I walk in silence.

Shaun says, “What are you thinking?”

I reply, “Remember the Chinese restaurant?”

We invited my parents to visit, and asked them to choose the restaurant. We were taking them to dinner.  My mom looked at my dad.  My dad said, “Well, that Chinese restaurant sounded good. “

In this restaurant you could order off the menu, or pile a plate up with the raw food of your choosing, and have it cooked to order on a round grill the size of a bridge pillar, watching the chef deftly grill and stir fry, creating sauces as he went.  It was an inexpensive restaurant, family oriented, with good food.

We walked in, were greeted by the owner, shown to a table, and given menus.  I excused myself to wash my hands.  When I came back, mom was flipping back and forth through the menu, trying to decide, Shaun was frozen in place, and my dad and the owner were deep in animated conversation.

In Chinese.

I was nearly 40.  I had never heard my dad speak Chinese in my life.  My dad speaks Chinese??  We ended up eating dinner with the owner ‘s family after the restaurant closed early. On the surface, he was a giant, conservative, white man, with all that implies. Inside, he was a labyrinth of hidden chambers and big surprises.

The owner wanted to know where he learned to speak Chinese so well, without an accent.

“Oh I don’t know”, he said, “I picked it up here and there.”

Shaun and I had looked at each other.  Speaking a latin based language, you might pick up a bit of Spanish, French, or Italian.

But Chinese…?

Dad, If you happen to see a big black draft horse, his name is Tiny, and the two of you would totally hit it off.

Because it’s been a year, we’ll wish you this, with one of your own creations, now hanging in my brother’s house:

We love you.  Miss you too.

TCP Here: My Ruined Holiday, and Mom’s Happiness


That’s me.  ‘The Christmas Present’.  I’m writing the blog today.  You probably know me as “Christmas” but I hate that name.  I am not a holiday.  All the other dogs call me TC. I’m trying to train my pack of bipeds to do the same thing.

I stayed at this dog sleep-away camp.  It’s HUGE.  There are lots of toys and other dogs and games.  They assign a biped to each ‘play group’ (What’s wrong with the word “pack”?).  We have sprinklers to run through and our own swimming pool.  We get to bring our own beds too.  Nice.  It’s not gender separated.  I got to hang out with two Papillon sisters.  How great is that? And the smells?  KILLER.

I was having a perfectly wonderful holiday, then tall mom came and made me leave.

Tall mom talked out loud to bipeds I couldn’t smell…Brian, Steve, Thelma, Louise, and Harvey Fierstein…? No clue.  She squeezed me to death and dripped water on my head.

Then she sat on my couch and fell asleep.

(BTW, tall mom you need to take a shower.  Seriously.)

I sniffed. Aunt Daisy was here. My nose told me short mom was here now, but she smelled wrong. Like the stuff tall mom uses to clean my private tub. Ew.  Hurt my nose. Short mom was asleep in the pack bed.  I woke up tall mom and led her to the pack bed (took forever…have you noticed bipeds are rather dense?) and politely asked to get up. Once up, I went to find out what happened to short mom.  Whoa.  She’s PURPLE. I think she got into a pack fight.  She has a lot of bite marks.  Yow, that musta hurt.  I licked them all.

I tried to remove all the burrs stuck to her, but that made her yelp, so I quit.

All they want to do is sleep.  Pretty boring, but (yawn) maybe I am a little tired from camp.  Someone has to…protect and serve….ZZzzzzzzzzzz

Christmas Decorating

Not too long ago, that round  yellow thing suddenly appeared in the sky, and the temperature went from 40 to 70. I threw open all the windows.  I wanted that intoxicating, sun warmed air to waft through our house.  I hate air-fresheners.  Nothing comes close to the real thing.  Shaun and I were getting her ready to travel.  We were doing laundry, packing, making lists, checking bill due dates, and itemizing stuff we needed to pick up from a big box store.

With the windows open, the normal Saturday sounds wafted in as well, kids screaming and skateboarding, dogs barking when they met on the street, friends walking together and chatting.  Our house is on a corner, there are no sidewalks, and our yard is on the corner as well.  We’re in the far back corner of the development, on the way to the lake, and frequently wave at small groups of retired women who power walk the lake route by passing our house.  It’s all very friendly. If I’m out grilling ribs, neighbors jokingly invite themselves to dinner, or ask what kind of barbeque sauce we use. (Exquisite chef that I am, I eyeball it and say “Brown?”)

We have a potted Japanese maple, with delicate red leaves: it has to be 20 years old now.  Christmas has claimed the tree: leaping up into the pot, then curling around the trunk of the tree to survey his kingdom and his subjects as they walk by.

The kids are off with friends, I’m folding shirts and Shaun is checking items off her packing list.  I’d lugged the suitcase in earlier, when Shaun was out picking up supplies.  I unzipped it and cleaned out the flotsam from the last trip.  Where do the extra buttons and bobby pins come from?  Who uses bobby pins anymore?  I picture some disgruntled, underpaid, airport security personnel who is sick to death of rifling through everyone’s underwear.  She’s probably tossing in a few bobby pins, a sewing kit, and a couple of sticks of gum from time to time.

I forgot our dog has developed a strong dislike of suitcases.  He knows it means Shaun is leaving.  I stagger back into the bedroom with a pile of laundry fresh out of the dryer.  Christmas is curled up in an impossibly tiny ball at the bottom of the suitcase, trying to look invisible.  I yell casually to Shaun ( in the office printing out her boarding pass): “Crisis in bedroom #1.”  I dump the laundry on the bed.  Shaun walks in: “What’s the prob…” She looks down at the black dog fading into the black lining of the black suitcase.  “Oh”, she says. “We forgot and got it out too early again?”

“My bad”, I say.

Continue reading “Christmas Decorating”

Today’s Ridiculous Moment Brought to You by Tidy Dog

Have I mentioned it’s been pouring here?  Endless drenching sheets of rain.

I need to digress for a moment.  When we adopted Christmas, he was newly neutered, had never lived in a house, and he was not house trained.  He must be a Virgo.   We never had one problem.  Granted, the first week he had 300 walks a day.  But he never went in the house, ever.  He likes to be clean, and he’s proud of keeping his den clean.  If Christmas feels he is too dirty, he will go into the bathroom and sit next to the tub and stare at it until  you cave and give him a bath.  This happens at least once a week.  You could say he’s a little OCD about cleanliness.  But this is good in a dog, right? Having a hairdryer trained on him is his idea of bliss.  After he started to adjust to people (he’d never been around them) and realized this was his home too, he became even prouder and more meticulous.

Translation: He now refuses to do his business in the yard.  It’s part of his house, and he will not soil it.  Every morning, Jane pulls on sweat pants over her pjs, stuffs herself into her barn jacket and walks the dog at 7 am before she has a chance to become conscious of how she looks.  Christmas has broadened his home area to include our neighborhood, and will now hold it until we get outside the “park” as we call our housing development.  I asked Shaun to stop walking him right outside the park, or soon we’d be have to drive him to another town to poop.  We chauffeur our dog to his walks.  How ridiculous is that?

Okay.  End digression.  This morning it was pouring, I let him out in the yard (hope springs eternal), which he proudly surveyed before coming inside and looking at me pleadingly: Mom.  I gotta go.  The yard’s looking good though. I stuff myself into old sweats, barn jacket, mismatched socks, and rubber gardening shoes.  Then I put him in his car seat and drive him to a place he will poop, a real park conveniently located near a Starbucks.  Except for the jacket, by the time I get in the car, I’m soaked to the skin through sweats and pjs.  He’s also soaked.

I’m going to Starbucks: if I have to walk in a downpour I’m going to do so with a skinny vanilla latte in hand.

While I’m waiting for my ridiculously expensive, shouldn’t-take-so-long-to-pronounce, 4-drinks-ahead-of-mine coffee, I read the community bulletin board Starbucks put in each franchise, to make it feel less chain-like.

You could not, in a million years, mistake this Starbucks for one in, say, Minnesota.

uh, caution on hitting the read more button, not for children…

Continue reading “Today’s Ridiculous Moment Brought to You by Tidy Dog”

Holiday Horses Parade: AareneX

I was clearing my email inbox of the tons of fan mail I receive.  (How strange that all my fans fall into two groups: those that think I have an appendage that needs to be enlarged, and those who wish to inform me I have a lottery pot waiting to be claimed in the UK.  But at least they write?)

In the middle of: delete delete delete, I saw an unopened email from AareneX.  No!  How did that happen?? I missed  – sob – the Holiday Horse parade entry from Haiku Farm. And it’s adorable.  Dang it!

But wait!  This is TLH.  Valentine’s day is a whole month away, therefore…Christmas is still on!  Happy Holidays!!

Many thanks to AareneX and Haiku Farm: fabulous entry.  AareneX, my apologies!

Aarene I want to knit your hat.  It all knocks me out, but the goats are fantastic!  How cute are they?

The Walgreens Chickens

I need to stop at the drugstore, Walgreens, to get a diet Coke and some dog cookies.  I’m picking Christmas up from a terrifying day at the vet’s, and want to have his favorite cookies.  I’m tense and worried.  I don’t know what the vet is going to say about the x-rays or his possible ligament tear.

And then I see the chickens.

I’m 100 feet from a busy freeway in the middle of a city, and there are chickens.

In this moment, I become okay again.  Nothing has changed.  But life feels a little brighter, more solid.  A world in which a chain drugstore lets chickens live in it’s parking lot is a good world.

Maybe the vet has good news.

(She did.  Christmas is okay!)

Are We Merry Yet?

Just checking.
In case you lost “Merry” under piles of torn wrapping paper, ribbon, a sink full of sticky pots, and scrubbing red wine out of the carpet, we have a little something that might tickle it back into existence.

Many thanks to Terri and Tim in Oregon for sending this in!

This video dedicated to Daisy….who talked me down from a shopping meltdown and is refraining from throwing her heels at employees even as we speak.


You can identify our fur ball by annoying jingle collar, since I can rarely get him to face the camera. To everyone who wrote apologizing about not getting horse parade pictures in, don’t even worry about it! Next year we will start more than five days before Christmas. Say, September. Thank you to Funder and Wendy, and everyone who came and enjoyed. My your holidays, whatever they are, be full of joy, family, love, and of course: HORSES.

We’re Christmas, so the loud ripping of paper, and happy screaming you hear at 4 am on December 25th is from our house!

(Sorry we woke you, but now that you’re up…have some hot cocoa and extra Santa cookies!)