Tag Archives: home alone

Project Look! Loooook! Look!

I had this bright idea that with all my free time, I could do some sort of terribly fascinating project and write about it.  I would learn something wonderful, develop some fantastic skills, and have accomplished something, and you all would be glued to your computer screens, so entranced that you could hardly peel your eyes away from my retelling of my daily experience with this project…

Let’s just say that Day 1 of the project will not live up to that goal.

Here’s the idea: I am working my way through a dog training book with Daphne. Post-practice, I will regale you with the ups and downs of this amazingly interesting adventure. And, of course, by “regale you with… this amazingly interesting adventure” I mean “try to make it sound interesting that I taught my dog to look me in the eye for 1.5 seconds.”

the beautiful beast herself

Okay, but seriously: our dog is super smart.  Really.  I know I’ve talked about how high-maintenance she is, how she’s got a few issues and may or may not have nipped a child (one time! Just one time!), and how I for sure know what it’s like to have a dog who is reactive on leash. But. In spite of her being a little unpredictable in strange environments, she is actually pretty awesome and very smart: she knows at least 20 commands (I made a list and counted!) and can do at least 4 of them with 95% accuracy.

That said, she is still a bit neurotic, and she also has at least 16 commands that she does with accuracy that ranges from 60% to… well, let’s say that she’s capable of doing some of them, but not always willing.  Or ever willing.  Minor detail.

Daph and I demonstrate "touch" (my facial expression here is awesome, in case you hadn't noticed).

So the idea is that by working our way through this book, we can strengthen and reinforce skills she has, develop some new skills, give her a good mental workout, and help us bond and learn to communicate better.  The more she trusts me in the house, the more she’ll trust me out in the world, and – fingers crossed – the less reactive she’ll be.

The book we’re working with is Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog by Emma Parsons.  I originally noticed the book at a small local bookstore a few years ago because it was the only book that utilized clicker training; I ended up buying it after recognizing some of Daphne’s reactive tendencies and realizing that Turtle was no longer comfortable walking her without me there.  We read through it and boosted our own confidence, but didn’t do much beyond that at the time.

Now, I plan to go through the book and practice every single thing that Daphne hasn’t already nailed.  For example, she has “sit” down pat.  She sits for everything: before eating, before going through doorways, before getting in or out of the car.  Nothing in life is free, but it’s all easily purchased for the low, low price of Sit.

Anyway, as I mentioned at the beginning of the post, today we worked on “look,” which is a command to make eye contact.  It’s much more useful than it sounds, but it also sounds pretty boring.  Suffice it to say that she is now pretty good at making eye contact for 1.5 seconds.  Hopefully the tricks get more exciting, the progress gets more worth talking about, and you are fascinated by me talking about my dog.  Because I’m unemployed, I think I want to do this for a living, and the internet is my playground.


This is almost definitely never ever going to turn into a mommy blog or a food blog… but it seems it might turn into some version of a dog blog.  I hope you stick around.  In the meantime, who wants to talk dog training? Are you in?

*Note: all photos by our amazing and talented wedding photographer and fabulous friend Ellie Leonardsmith.  She obviously takes wonderful photos, and has recently started doing pet portraits; if you’re in the Boston area, check her out!
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It’s far too late to unlove each other

Happy Thanksgiving!

And hi to the 49 of you who checked my blog already today.  You make me feel extra special.

I’m in a bit of a food coma and have cuddled with about five million cats today, all but two and a half of which did not belong to me.  The half is for Truman, who (still) may or may not be staying with us; regardless, he lives with us now.  Truman Fact of the Day: his purr button definitely works.  This kitten purrs at the drop of a hat! Second fact: he is very sharp and pointy.

For you on this Thanksgiving, I have two things.  First: a poem that we considered but did not read at our wedding.  I have always found truth and inspiration in it.  Second: a picture of us, last Thanksgiving, on the first of what I hope becomes a regular tradition – a pre-Thanksgiving walk in the woods.

I hope you all had a day that was what you hoped it would be.

Misgivings
“Perhaps you’ll tire of me,” muses
my love, although she’s like a great city
to me, or a park that finds new
ways to wear each flounce of light
and investiture of weather.
Soil doesn’t tire of rain, I think,

but I know what she fears: plans warp,
planes explode, topsoil gets peeled away
by floods. And worse than what we can’t
control is what we could; those drab
scuttled marriages we shed so
gratefully may auger we’re on our owns

for good reason. “Hi, honey,” chirps Dread
when I come through the door; “you’re home.”
Experience is a great teacher
of the value of experience,
its claustrophobic prudence,
its gloomy name-the-disasters-

in-advance charisma. Listen,
my wary one, it’s far too late
to unlove each other. Instead let’s cook
something elaborate and not
invite anyone to share it but eat it
all up very very slowly.

-William Matthews

(If you are wondering why I appear to be pointing my finger in this picture, it is because my finger was gravely injured, and wrapped up in a serious bandaid contraption?  How did I injure it?  Well, I’m sure you recall my mention of Pear and Fingernail Pie.  Lesson of the day: use caution while peeling pears.)

P.S. I wasn’t going to talk about things I am grateful for, because the list is long and more important for me than it is for you. But! You guys! While I was writing this, grumpy One-Eyed Jake started WASHING TRUMAN’S FACE! I am thankful for cats who love each other and are adorable.

P.P.S. It was short-lived. Now they are fighting and Jake is hissing and growling a lot.  Moral of the story (and the poem, IMHO)? Enjoy it while you have it.

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Filed under Home, Marriage/Wedding/Engagement, Relationships

Pretty pretty pictures

We had our “official” engagement shoot with our amazing photographer last night.  I can’t talk enough about how awesome Ellie is, and how anyone needing a photographer in/near Boston/Providence should probably use her.  Awesome.

Anyway, I have my first day by myself in a long time (Turtle is in Maine) and I promised myself I wouldn’t spend a lot of it on the internets, so no more comments/deep insights, just some pretty pictures for you!

Photo by Ellie Leonardsmith

Photo by Ellie Leonardsmith

Photo by Ellie Leonardsmith

I kind of can’t believe how amazing these pictures are. I’m not sure what we’ll be doing with them all yet, so I don’t want to share many – I’m feeling protective of them, but they are too beautiful not to share a couple!

I had a read in a few different places that doing an engagement photo session can really help get you comfortable with your photographer and with having your picture taken, and I didn’t think much of that until I experienced it.  It took us a little while to settle in, but then it was so fun.  It was especially nice because Ellie is a good friend of ours, and we got to have amazing pizza and beer afterward.  That, my friends, is a good photo shoot.

Some more of Ellie’s awesome skills:

Okay, so much for sharing just a couple of pictures.  But omg, pretty!!!

So here’s what this felt like: getting dressed up in things we felt attractive in (for me, of course, one dress, one dykey shorts-and-collared-shirt outfit) and walking around our favorite, important places being affectionate.  Things are hard off and on these days – something I’ve talked about before – and we just walked and talked about those things and how we love each other and do want to get married and will do the work.  It was wonderful to have a space where we were just supposed to be affectionate: no talking about the hard things or the piles.  And then, as I mentioned before, we got amazing pizza, beer, and time with good friends.

And now I’m home alone with two dogs, two cats, and a big apartment.  Not feeling motivated to do much of anything, which is silly now that I have all this time and space to myself!  Maybe the afternoon has big things in store for me… or maybe just a book and a glass of wine.

What are you doing this weekend? Want to hang out with me? Did I already mention two dogs, big apartment, and wine? What more do you need?

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I love you, now leave me alone

Back when I was single, I occasionally wished I wasn’t.  And by occasionally, I mean there were lots of times that I just wanted someone special in my life.  I left the house (way, way) more often than I do now – I saw possibility in an interesting looking stranger on the train, in going to a fundraiser with a friend, in every single roller derby practice I went to.  I may have browsed some online dating sites and even kept my eye on Craigslist a little (ew).

But I loved it.  It took me awhile over the course of my life to really embrace being single, but I did.  Even as I kept my eye out for someone, I was so happy being on my own.  Yes, it was fun to go out, interact with the world, and find hope and excitement in pretty much every activity outside my apartment… but, guys? I spent so many nights doing exactly what I wanted to do.

Often, I admit, “exactly what I wanted to do” was drinking a glass of wine (or three), cleaning my apartment, and drawing or painting or making some sort of little art project.  I went to bed feeling so accomplished, and ready for the next day and everything it might or might not hold for me.

This is something that I often forget to miss.  It’s such a little thing that provided such low-key comfort.  It’s not as important as exercise or spending time with friends – things I know make me feel good and that I need to be intentional about.

So here is a letter I wrote to myself:

Dear Bird –

What you need is some time with yourself.  You need to remember who you are on your own and how to enjoy your own company and your self.  You need to reconnect with your friends alone, sometimes – you need to do the same thing with yourself.  And! You need to do the same thing with your pets and with your apartment.  And sometimes you need Turtle to leave so that you can miss her a little.  Trust me – you’ll be really, really happy to see her when she comes back.

Love always,

Bird

P.S. It’s been nice spending this evening, just the two (er, one?) of us.

Here’s where the subject comes in: it is hard to do these things when you have someone in your life.  It’s hard to not fall back on “let’s watch a movie,” or “let’s go for a walk,” or “let’s play a game,” or even, “argh, I’m so frustrated and I don’t know what I need!” which is what has been the most common refrain as of late.

So, I asked Turtle to leave for the evening.  I came home from work, and she wasn’t here.  And for a minute, I felt a little aimless.  What do I do when step one isn’t kiss my fiancee hello?  What do I do when I have to make the decision by myself?

The answer is make something delicious for dinner.  The answer is play with the dog, clean the counters, read some stuff online, and write her a nice letter.  The answer is water the plants and feel grateful for our new apartment.  The answer is not something thrilling or crazy, but the answer is calming, grounding, and I am grateful for this evening.

To those of you who are single: I know parts of it suck, but parts of it are awesome, too, and you might miss them – take note of what they are.  You don’t have to give them up.  To those of you who are not: what parts of your self or your past do you have trouble hanging on to?  How do you make sure to nurture your *self*?

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Crafty? Perhaps. Resourceful? I think yes.

I do not know how to sew.  I tried to sew a hole closed on my vest once, and it worked for the purposes of keeping the stuffing from coming out, but it did NOT look nice.  I am not one to hem, alter, or create anything with fabric.  I even messed up one of those ironing-glue-hem things.

Also, I do not have photoshop.  I do know how to use it, but I can’t get my hands on it and I can’t make pretty little pictures with all our person information taken out like you might see on other wedding websites.  I can’t make beautiful inspiration boards that are easy to adjust.

That said, I know how to get very creative with PowerPoint.  I know all of the image adjustments, how to line things up, how to bring things to front or back or group them or take a bunch of images and chop them up and turn them into a new image.

Today I was cleaning out a box that I should have unpacked a long time ago (this is pretty unheard of for me, but I occasionally do it, especially when I’m bored and no one is around to comment on such behavior) and found some of those DIY address labels.  With some dragging and dropping and cutting and pasting, and of course the magical Powerpoint, I made this!

It has the tree from our stamp, with our actual names and current address on it.  I’m so excited about these!  Look, we really live together! I think this is adorable.

So for those of you who are interested and program-atically challenged, as I am, here is what I did:

1. Open Microsoft Powerpoint and insert the image that you want to take a piece of.

2. Click on the image to highlight it, then make sure to insert the picture toolbar.

3. With image still highlighted, click on the crop button on the picture toolbar.

4. Your cursor will change if you hold it over one of the little squares on your image.  Click and drag to move the lines and cut out portions of the image.

5. Insert a rectangle, and make sure that it has no fill.  I measured the address labels and then used the ruler in powerpoint to make the rectangle the appropriate size.  Once I knew how big the box should be, I adjusted the tree and the font to fit.  To line up, highlight everything on the screen by dragging over it.  Then go to “Align or Distribute” and “Align middle” to center the images appropriately.

6. Insert a text box within your box, and then highlight and select a font.

I couldn’t get the template for the labels to work online, so again I had to turn to my handy dandy Microsoft Office.  Once all this image stuff was done, I counted the number of labels per sheet and inserted a box into Word with the appropriate number of rows and columns, and adjusted the width and height to the measurements of the labels (given on the package).  Then I copied and pasted my final image into each box.

After I printed one, I had to adjust the margins a bit so that the image fell within the boundaries of the actual labels.

Um, this is one of the most boring posts I’ve ever written.  Is this stuff interesting to you?  Did I leave out obvious stuff?  Please tell me what to do better. Even if it’s “never write a how-to post again”.  Kthx.

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Day 4 of being all alone, or I don’t know how to act like a real person

I’ve been living alone, so alone (read that last part in a dramatic voice and fling your hands into the air) for 4 days! FOUR days!

What this means:

Day 1, the house was really clean.  I wiped counters, I swept floors, and I even cleaned the toilet.  I let the dog sleep with me and I ate real food.

Day 2, I took the dog for multiple walks and continued to behave like a responsible adult.

Day 3, I bathed the dog, visited a friend, went to work.

Day 4, this morning, I realized that since Day 1 I have not cleaned a thing!  There are piles everywhere!  There is mess everywhere!  To be completely honest and to overshare a bit, there is even cat poop on the floor in the study.  How do I live like this?

So I wake up, panic mildly at the chaos, and then realize that I have almost four full days until another human being is going to see it.  I can totally start acting like a normal and clean human being over the course of four days, I swear.

And for your entertainment, an example of the kinds of conversations that happen when no other human beings are around:

Me: You smell like butt, Daphne.
Daphne: *Stares at me.*
Me: Smelly butt.

sometimes you run out of things to eat... but there are always kittens for that.

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Filed under Menagerie, other

Day 1 of being all alone

no one is here to cuddle with me except this dumb dog. and the cats. yeah, so maybe i'm not ALL alone.

Turtle went to Florida for a week, because when you don’t have job-ligations, you can go anywhere!  Well, really she went to visit her BF, and she went for a week because tickets for a week were cheaper than tickets for less than a week.  And, come on, who doesn’t want to go to Florida for a week in the middle of March?

So I am home all alone with the menagerie, responsible for feeding everyone, taking Daph out for every single one of her walks, cleaning the litter box every day, and, perhaps most challenging, feeding myself.

When Turtle is here, I usually feed us both.  I cook a pretty good dinner!  And even since we’ve been buckling down on money stuff and only buying “necessary” groceries (I mean, potato chips and cereal are necessary, right?), I’ve been pretty good at getting creative and feeding us both something yummy.

But now that I’m home alone… well, Cinnamon Toast Crunch is a pretty good dinner, no?

So lovely readers, please come over and eat with me sometime this week – I’ll cook! – or tell me yummy things to make that are worth the work it takes to make them.  Otherwise I’m going to go through the cereal cabinet awfully fast, and that will be embarrassing.  Though not too embarrassing for me to tell you about it on my blog.

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