Extreme Makeover, Rescue Edition

I was cleaning up a random stack of paper in my office when I came across the flyer I saw online that led me to the little dog formerly known as Gizmo.

Gidget was freshly groomed on Wednesday. This time, we went with a Yorkie puppy cut – a bit shorter than the last style. It really brought out her Yorkie side.

She’s still a shy little princess, though. I need to work on her socialization. She’s a happy and perfectly behaved little princess at home, but outside, she shivers and hides and is absolutely miserable if anyone notices her. She loves to go for walks as long as it’s just us and the squirrels, but any other human is a source of fear and suspicion. My downstairs neighbor talked to her yesterday, and she trembled violently, then dragged me toward our door.

One reason I opted for the shorter puppy cut ‘do this time was so we could get a couple more weeks between the trauma of the groomer.

My groomer is wonderful, I’ve known her for years, she used to groom Murphy. She was very understanding of Gidget’s fears, and let me know as soon as she was done so I could pick her up early.

Hiding in the back of her crate, waiting to be rescued.

I joke about it, that her first family must have lectured her constantly about “stranger danger,” because even the mailman is not to be trusted, but I need to get her out more. Maybe we’ll start going out for coffee, just the two of us. She may always be on the shy side, but I’d like to see her enjoy the world a bit more.

Meet the New Job, Worse than the Old Job.

For reasons I cannot begin to explain, I spent two days last week in FDOT Maintenance of Traffic training. It’s related to my new job; sort of. The instructor was very nice and when I explained what I did, showed me the small amount of stuff actually relevant to my job before the two days of intensive information even began. I still had to sit through the two days of stuff I will never need to know in my actual job, because…I don’t know why.

It was basically like having a high pressure hose of information I never needed to know pumped into my brain at great speed, but the instructor really was great and I’m pretty confident I passed the test. As a side note, I’m also now qualified to stand in the hot sun and work as a flagger on a highway crew, which is of course every 61 year old who spent 30+ years in corporate America’s secret dream! Narrator: No, it’s totally not.

So after a shitty and frustrating week of work and two days of bonus weirdness, the weekend weather was glorious!! What’s a tired, frustrated, pissed off, depressed woman who just wants to be a stay at home dog mommy to do?

I went to Disney World. Specifically, to Animal Kingdom, because it’s one of my two favorite “I don’t need no stinkin’ rides” parks (the other great walking park is Epcot.)

So it was an utterly gorgeous day, and every living soul in Central Florida had the same idea. The park was PACKED. It was also a cheer competition weekend, so there were roaming packs of teenaged girls in matching tee shirts, followed by tired chaperones also in team shirts, everyfreakingwhere.

In case you were wondering, a pack of cheerleaders, when spotting a baby gorilla, emits a simultaneous “Oooh!!” sound that could shatter glass.

My plans of grabbing lunch at Flame Tree or Harambe Market were foiled by the crowds. Yes, both have mobile ordering, which I totally, totally recommend, it’s the best thing Disney has done in a long time, but after getting your food you still have to find a place to eat it. That was going to be a problem. I settled for a huge pretzel.

I only stayed a couple of hours; that’s the great thing about living nearby and being a passholder. The crowds got ever more crowded, and it was actually quite warm for February, so I had no problem with calling it a a day around 2:30 p.m. I’m home doing laundry and trying to get myself psyched for another insane work week.

I really, really REALLY want to be a stay at home dog mom.

Really.

Productive AF.

I woke up today planning to clean the house “a bit.” 6 hours of nearly non-stop labor later, I filled four bags of random trash and also a box and a bag of decent stuff for donation. I swept and mopped the floors, moved a couple of bookcases, and rounded up a herd of dust buffalo (much larger than bunnies) from behind the furniture. I changed the sheets and did all of the laundry. I online shopped for home improvement ideas, and I decided to replace my old, cheap end tables with new cheap (but highly rated) end tables. The ones I have now are battle scarred ::glares at cat:: and were also very cheap; they lasted 10 years but are quite shabby. Time for this small update.

About half way through this very satisfying rampage, I realized what I was doing. Have you heard of Swedish Death Cleaning?

I believe today I invented American Rage Cleaning. I listened to a few favorite podcasts while I worked: Maddow, of course, and my personal source for both rage and encouragement, The Professional Left podcast. I’ve been reading and then listening to these two since the Bush Administration. I took a timeout from political stuff after my brain thing, and when I caught up with them again, they had met and GOT MARRIED!

I was a bit put out about this, because I had a heavy duty crush on Driftglass throughout the Bush years, but Bluegal is a lovely intelligent woman, and also a knitter! (Not to mention that they both lived in Illinois, so my odds of meeting Driftglass were between slim and none anyway.)

Years ago I fangirled all over Bluegal on Ravelry: “OMG!! You’re THAT Bluegal!!!” And again I feel guilty because I totally owe them a long email about how much I appreciate them. I’ve written to them in my head for years, usually while listening to their podcast and cleaning or walking the dog(s), and never managed to sit my ass down to write for real.

This week’s underlying theme was “Chop wood, carry water.” And I realized that was what I was doing with my cleaning frenzy today, and with my plans for the future.

I am NOT ignoring current events. Even though I don’t really want to get into the weeds and write about it for my health’s sake, I am very much engaged. Bluegal turned me on to Postcards to Voters and I wrote my ass off in 2018. I’m gearing up to do it again. If you’re feeling helpless but can’t go march or door knock or phone bank for whatever reason, you totally can sit down and write a postcard or three in the evening. They DO make a difference, and I think this personal communication will be even more important in November.

Don’t despair. Do some American Rage Cleaning, write a few postcards, you’ll feel better.

My new job is exhausting and stressful.

I’m sleeping about six hours a night, my stomach is frequently upset, and I’m currently sporting a cold sore the size of Mars on my lower lip – my first in about 15 years. Yeah, stress. This is both an explanation/apology for my infrequent posts and what led to Ellie losing the title of Best Cat Ever this morning.

I have had a necklace stand on my dresser for many years. I don’t really wear those items anymore and really should put them on eBay or something, but they don’t take up much space so I don’t think of it often. So this morning at a QUARTER TO FIVE, when the necklace stand suddenly crashed over with lots of dramatic jangling and tinkling noises like a brick thrown through a window, it jolted me from my rare and precious sleep. I instantly knew what had happened, and I knew the only possible cause. I screamed profanities and chased her from the room, where she proceeded to make a huge racket tearing up a cardboard box. I gave up on sleep; my jangling nerves were flooded with adrenaline and there was no way I’d fall asleep again, so I got up to make coffee.

Ellie preceded me to the kitchen and nonchalantly demanded treats. I cursed her again, and sighed and gave in to her demands. Cats.

So I went to the pantry and discovered that I AM OUT OF COFFEE. I am never out of coffee. Every time Publix has my favorite brands on BOGO, I BOGO coffee. I always have a spare bag in the pantry, until today, when I don’t.

This feels like being out of oxygen – I NEED coffee in the morning. I’m not an all day coffee drinker, I don’t think my stomach could tolerate that, but I must have morning coffee.

I had to go with tea, which means I’m both under-rested and under-caffeinated. Today should be interesting, because my plan for the day is my semi-annual pilgrimage to IKEA.

The appliance and carpet work at the rental property is done, it was huge pain but all’s well now. I have a couple of thousand bucks left over for improvements here, and in addition to replacing the disgusting ancient carpet on the balconies,I have plans for my second bedroom/home office/rarely needed guest room. I need a larger desk, better lighting, and lots of storage.

Right now, the room is where pieces that didn’t fit anywhere else went: a bookcase that once lined a living room wall with its two brethren is on one wall, there’s an old, half broken file cabinet that can no longer support actual hanging files, my printer is on a wheeled storage cabinet I plan to repurpose, maybe for the kitchen, an old futon sofa – and we won’t even talk about that back bedroom closet. And for a room makeover on the cheap, it’s hard to beat IKEA.

So today’s IKEA trip will be a scouting trip. I have to get rid of/repurpose all the above-mentioned crap before I can put anything new in that room, but I’m bringing a notebook and a tape measure and I’m going to make a plan. I will not leave the store empty handed; I am also on a mission for bath mats and kitchen storage, small items like that. I am a huge fan of IKEA bath mats; the ones I have are like new, even after being used as a rug outside Ellie’s litterbox and getting washed in HOT water frequently, they’re like new.

I may have to stop in their cafe before I start my mission. This calls for more caffeine than is currently in my system.

Speaking of being caffeinated, I’m going to try something different, blog-wise, for February, and write in the morning now and then, while consuming the aforementioned coffee. I may not post every day, but I’m pretty sure that my odds will be better than when I come home from work.

I’m AWOL, so here’s a picture of Gidget

I bought new bed pillows, long overdue, and tossed the old ones onto the couch temporarily. Gidget claimed them immediately. I need new, Gidget approved throw pillows, because bed pillows and three animals on the couch means there’s no room for ME.

My new job is…challenging, like being thrown into the ocean during a major hurricane is…challenging. I’ll surface soon, or drown, or run away screaming. (I threatened that today, and was only half kidding.) I come home too tired to string together sentences.

So I have a plan for February: I will grab the wee MacBook when I wake up and write while I’m becoming fully caffeinated. I do have plans, and ideas, and things, and a purpose for this blog and maybe another, Disney-focused blog is sort of taking shape. Because I REALLY need a damn escape plan.

My poor Sophie really is losing her sight. We finally get her unfortunate intestinal condition under control (Oh fuck, I just said that out loud, didn’t I?) and now, cataracts. She stumbles on the stairs – I have to watch her as she’s going down – she wears a padded harness so when she misses a step it’s like “Whee! Peter Pan!” and I hold her up a bit so she doesn’t crash. She’s taking it in stride, but it makes me so sad. She’ll be 11 in April, and that seems a bit young for this.

Everybody’s fine; I’m just really, really tired.

Happy 2020!

I’m excited to start a fresh decade, especially after the old one turned so spectacularly to shit in the last few years. I’ve avoided getting political here, but as we’re coming into the election of our lifetimes, I may have to change that a bit. But right now I’m focusing on improving my own life – that whole, “put on your own oxygen mask” thing is very real. I need to fix myself before I dare risk my brain again.

And on that note, I have plans! With no further ado, my plans for kicking off 2020:

Yoga with Adriene. I haven’t done yoga regularly for months, and none at all since Gidget came home. (At first it was because of constant mopping to keep up with the appearances of small, stealthy puddles, but that issue appears to be nearly resolved.) Now it’s just me, being lazy. I miss yoga. Yoga makes me feel great, and why I stop doing things that make me feel great is a subject for years of therapy, I’m sure.

Adriene always starts a one month special practice at the start of the year, and this year, I’m all in on Home. AS GAWD IS MAH WITNUSS, I’m going to do the entire program, and complete it within 35 days. I’m giving myself 5 days for the unexpected, but my real goal is to do it in 30, as designed.

Bullet Journaling. I still do it; it’s perhaps the longest running habit, next to drinking wine, that I’ve stuck with in the last decade. I don’t do a fancy, Instagrammable book, but I do have some small things that have worked for me over the years and I’ll have to share them one of these days.

WW Because I need structure to keep me honest, and – I know this is shocking – when I stick to it, it works.

And I need to get started on preparing for the Star Wars 5K in April. Yes, that’s a long way off, but I’ve been on my ass for months so I’m basically starting from zero here. I have a deeply held delusion that I’m still 35 and somehow trapped in this 61 year old body. I treasure this delusion, but yeah, it’s going to bite me in the ass.

And as part of all this healthy diet and exercise, I’m kicking off the year tomorrow with Dryuary. They had me at better sleep; but I also know wine (and stress, insomnia and overall laziness) is not good for me at this stage of my life. I’m 15-ish pounds from my goal weight (still), and that weight is largely in the form of chardonnay calories. A month off wine seems like a good place to start, so before the entire innerwebs and my 12 faithful readers, I do hereby declare January No Wining Month.

I don’t plan to stay up to see the new decade arrive, I trust it will start just fine without me. I do plan to get up tomorrow and go for a 5k walk sans dogs, do a dab of yoga, and assess my starting point. Grandma’s fitness kickoff begins January 1.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll blog about it. It could happen!

BUSY, SO BUSY

So the blog is neglected. Apologies again.

I start my new job tomorrow, and decided to sign up for an online class in AutoCAD, because it will be helpful, and while I was at it, I added an Excel class because while I’m fairly comfortable with the basics, I know it can do much more than I know. So, yeah, this is me overscheduling myself yet again, but at the same time it’s kind of cool to be a 61 year old grandmother of three and get hired to work with a bunch of young engineers and get to mess around in AutoCAD. My new boss is around my son’s age, I think, and he’s very, very nice. I think it’s going to be a great fit.

Speaking of great fits, Gidget is absolutely fabulous, dahlinks. She’s fit into the household as if she’s always been here, and I couldn’t be happier. I confess I was a bit nervous about adopting an adult dog, it’s a bit of a leap of faith, but OMG, she’s just adorable and even the cat has conceded she’s okay. Everybody sleeps on the couch together.

And walking her is just so delightful! She’s so excited by OUTSIDE! She goes up and down the stairs like a champ now, and everything in the big wide world is just so AMAZING! SQUIRRELS! BIRDS! A man delivering newspapers! She trots along with her tail waving and her head just swiveling around, taking it all in. I’m guessing that in her old life she didn’t get a lot of leash time, though she has had some training.

But she loves her home – if I’m in my home office she’s on the couch. I keep saying I’m going to get rid of it, but like the living room throw pillows, she’s claimed it as her spot.

She follows me everywhere.

And of course it’s the holidays so planning time off and trying to squeeze in a trip to Epcot for the International Festival of the Holidays is challenging, but we just have to do it. It’s not Christmas if we don’t see La Befana!

And I’ve been spending money a bit like a drunken sailor, but I’m done now. My life is one big “deferred maintenance” situation; my wardrobe is tragic, I wear the same jeans to work damn near every day. Yay for being able to wear jeans to work damn near every day, but still. I needed clothes, so I did more than a bit of Black Friday sale shopping, and bought jeans in colors at half price, cute boots at OMG, like 66% off, and oh, yeah, a TV for my bedroom.

I couldn’t help it, it was SO cheap! A 43″ 4K UHD fancy Samsung for $229 and free delivery?? Merry Freaking Christmas to ME, and Thank You Costco! TV in bed with tea and the dogs is our new evening indulgence. And of course I have Disney Plus, I was “invited” to sign up ahead of time as a certified Disnerd. I love it, and it’s going to take me forever to get through all the content, between all the other things going on in my life.

I was not watching The Simpsons, that just happened to be on the splash screen for Disney +

The drunken sailor spending on myself is definitely done, from here on all spending will be on the deferred home maintenance issues, like the moldy carpet on my balcony and the decrepit appliances in the rental house. Fun spending is over, but honestly, there’s nothing else I need. I truly feel blessed to be where I am.

Validation. It feels so good.

So, I’m going to try to tell this story without being too specific as to the parties/business involved, while sharing enough that it makes sense.

I work in an industry that employs tons of contractors in all sorts of roles; I am one. A contractor is not the same as a temp; I’ve been in my present position for over 4 years now with no end in sight. We work side-by-side with employees, often performing exactly the same jobs (without the corporate demands, but also the corporate perks). I contract through a very nice company that gives me decent benefits and an hourly rate that equals a good, though not spectacular, annual salary. It’s fine, and in 4 years no employee slot for my job was ever available. I was okay with being a contractor, and I’ve had nothing but positive-to-glowing feedback about my job performance.

Then over the summer, an employee position became available. When the job was posted, it very precisely described what I do, what I had been doing for 4 years. I even asked my supervisor if the position she was planning to fill was for what I did, and was told yes. So I applied. And waited. And waited.

I finally interviewed for the position, aka the job I’d been doing for FOUR years, and it was an uncomfortable interview. Three people who had worked with me for 4 years conducted it, and treated me like they had no idea who I was, and it all just felt “off” and uncomfortable. I left the interview feeling off balance, like something weird just happened.

Weeks passed, I heard nothing. Then my supervisor finally called me into a conference room, where I learned that the job was given to an inside applicant who was (as my supervisor expressed it to ME) “A paralegal!” Um, so am I, with a degree from a legit university and 25+ years of serious experience, which she does not have.

Okay, so…”She’s working on her master’s degree in something!” Well good on her, but it has nothing to do with the skill set for THIS job.

Then, the deciding factor: “She’s so warm and bubbly!” WHAT THE ACTUAL CHICKEN FRIED FUCK??? Is this a job skill for this technical position now? And I’m also WARM, goddammit! People like me!! I’ve had nothing but positive feedback for the last four years. Apparently I lack the bubble? Something….

So, New Girl started in the job, and she is indeed tall, pretty, warm, bubbly, a natural connector and corporate type, and I really do like her as a person. And the other participants in the interview came to me privately and said that this wasn’t right. Then I started getting unsolicited feedback from damn near everybody in our group that, yeah, she’s warm, bubbly, and doesn’t know the first thing about the job, and is basically being trained from scratch.

She has had more intensive training than anyone on this team ever received in the years I’ve been sitting here. (I got two days of training from a chick who I swear was high, she’s gone now.) But she is 20 years younger than I am, so there is that. And before you say EEOC, let me remind you this is Florida. Yes, I may have had a valid case, but yeah, because I’m actually a paralegal with 25 years of experience, I can write the rebuttal to a complaint for them: We prioritize candidates from within as many companies do, she’s (barely) over 40 too, so no discrimination. Yeah, not worth fighting that.

But, PLOT TWIST!! A woman who worked in our group as a contractor and found an escape to another team, after interviewing six or eight times for a job in this group, told me there was an opening in this other group. She hounded the living shit out of me until I sent my resume to the manager. I interviewed last Tuesday. I was offered the position on Friday. He’s already said that when the current hiring freeze is lifted, if we still like each other the position will become permanent.

And the icing on the schadenfreudelicious cake? The supervisor who didn’t give me the job I’d done for four years is on vacation out of the country. She’ll find out about this when she returns next week. I can’t wait for the screams from the other groups we work with, because I’m actually kinda a go-to person. She’ll find that out when I’m not here just quietly taking care of shit.

Announcement:

The extremely cute little Yorkie mix formerly known as Gizmo is now:

GIDGET!!

I tried with the Gizmo, y’all. It just wouldn’t come out of my mouth – I’d be walking her and honestly have to pause: what the hell was that name?

And every. single. person. who heard her name tilted their head in puzzlement and repeated “Gizmo??” And I’d explain that I didn’t name her, that was her old name…and why the hell should she keep that name going into her new life?

So the search was on for a name that sounded a bit like Gizmo, because she answered to her name and I didn’t want to confuse her further by changing it to something with no similar sounds. She’s adjusting to her new life, but it’s not entirely without issues. We considered shaping Gizmo to Izzy, but naah. I’m not sure why Gidget popped into my head, but she likes it and answers to it already.

Sophie’s birth name was Smooch. Same issue – it just didn’t “feel” right. I tested names with her, asking her, “Are you….?” and when I hit on Sophie, she jumped up and danced! That was 9 years ago, and she never looked back.

Ellie is the only one who kept her shelter name, and that’s because it fit my criteria for a call name: Two syllables, and a clean sound. Of course she has a backstory now; her full name is Lady Eleanor of Fluffybutt, and it’s a privilege for her humble lady’s maid to be able to call her Ellie.

So, the issues: Gidget is terrified of new people. I really do think she was meant to be mine, because when the rescue handed her to me in Petsmart she trembled a bit, but got over it and became relaxed and confident.

Now, she’s been outdoors and meeting my neighbors, one at a time. I’m not parading her around; we just bump into people. This neighborhood is full of dogs and dog walkers, so of course a new dog gets a welcome. My neighbors, well, they’re trying to be nice, but a couple of them got into her face too quickly. She didn’t snap or growl, it’s worse (for her): she shook so hard she may have rattled some teeth loose. (Poor baby has already lost some teeth and had a dental before she was put up for adoption, because she was raised on garbage food.) She was absolutely terrified, and the shaking didn’t stop until the new person was 10 ft. away.

She’s confident and cheerful inside the house, but new people outdoors are terrifying. I think her backstory is perhaps worse than we knew.

And I’m so grateful for my super easy care flooring, because yeah, we’ll need some potty re-education. I really don’t want to crate her while I’m at work unless I must, but right now I describe her as “free range guinea pig.” Tiny, tiny puddles (like a tablespoon of pee) appear at random. I’ve put out extra potty pads, hoping Sophie’s demos would help her figure it out, and the Swiffer is getting a workout. (Yay for the new Mr. Clean insert!!)

She will go potty outside, but she’s still nervous in her new neighborhood and I don’t think she’s comfortable with asking to go out there yet. We will get there. She’s going to my vet on Wednesday for an intro, and we’ll talk about how to deal with her adustment.

But we had another huge thing today – she is now climbing the stairs on her own!! I’m pretty sure it’s because she sees her new house as her safe space, and after meeting the tall kinda loud man next door, she couldn’t freaking wait to get back inside – bring on those stairs! She climbed them twice this evening; they’re not so scary now.

I’m still carrying her down, because down is scarier than up and she’s dealing with enough. We’ll work on that over Thanksgiving, when I have a few days off. She’s doing really, really well.

It’s a Girl! (And her name is Gizmo.)

GIZMO! Pay no attention to the dark spots under her chin, she just had a drink of water.

Third…er…fifth time is the charm! I sent in an application for Miss Gizmo on Thursday, and got a call that I could come meet her at Petsmart on Saturday at 1. Petsmart is not the ideal place to meet an animal; it’s busy and noisy and stressful. The rescue had an x-pen set up near the register for visiting a potential adoptee, which is all they can do there, but again, less than optimal.

Gizmo was a trembling little bundle when I first took her to the pen, but after a few minutes of talking and petting, she relaxed and her personality began to emerge. She’s a friendly, confident little dog. She’s 7 lbs., 4 years old, and a Yorkie/Chihuahua mix. (Allegedly some schnauzer in there too, but I question that.)

Once we got out of the chaos and noise of the store, she relaxed immediately. She insisted on riding home (a very short trip) on my lap, which we will have to work on because that’s not safe, but just this once….

Sophie was delighted with her immediately, and got on her nerves following her around sniffing – Gizmo actually had to show her tiny teeth and growl a bit to get her to knock it off. Ellie just gave me a look like “Really, Mom?? WHY?” and otherwise doesn’t care. Gizmo went right up to her and sniffed her face and Ellie just held still and let her; they’re already politely ignoring each other.

We had a good first night; she decided she didn’t want to sleep in the big bed but was very happy on an old down throw on the floor. We did have an accident overnight, but that’s to be expected as she learns the rhythm of the household. She doesn’t appear to have walked on a leash much so that’s a bit of a learning curve, but she’s catching on fast.

It’s cold here today, lower 50s and damp and gray. We had to break out the sweaters last night. Murphy’s old red sweater, the first one I ever made him, fits Gizmo perfectly. And she’s claimed Murphy’s favorite spot on the couch. I’m glad I never got rid of those nasty old pillows; they’re actually filled with feathers and mold themselves perfectly to a Yorkie’s little butt.

And for whatever reason, the last updates to either the Mac OS or WordPress has led to annoying issues with both, so it’s taking me way longer to get a post out than it should. I am going to go to the store and pick up a few new dog needs, like more treats and a proper bed.

More later!