Diary, 11/10/2008

Parents all worry about how well they're raising their kids; how they will behave; what kind of people they will grow up to be. Well, tonight I discovered a sad truth about our youngest daughter, Sunny. She likes to hang out in gutters. You heard me. Gutters! Oh, the shame of it all!

Sunny is a cat, in case you didn't know. She was apparently hanging out down the street and around the corner from our house when the pugs and I walked by tonight. I wasn't aware she ever wandered that far from home. When she spotted us, she came trotting (way too slowly) across the street toward us. I had stopped to let her catch up when a car came along. I called to her repeatedly to come to me and get out of the street. She didn't. The car was then upon us and Sunny was still in the street, though at least mostly out of the way.

She wasn't going to do what I said, no matter what, so I just watched to see how she handled an oncoming car. Was she smart enough to get out of the way? Was she going to be killed right in front of me?

She decided to get killed, apparently, because she bolted back out into the middle of the street. Luckily, the car wanted to turn into the driveway where I was crouching with the pugs, so there was no way he was going to hit Sunny. I did have to drag the pugs out of the way, though.

Out of harm's way now, I crouched down and again called to the cat. She came back over … mostly. Just like a cat. She was now directly in front of the storm drain. Daisy, already in the habit of trying to kill Sunny every time the cat goes through the cat door, then growled and lunged at her. Naturally, Sunny took cover down into the drain. I'm now thinking I'll have to fish her out of there … after the dogs' walk.

On the walks, each dog has his own routine. Chandler, the black one and our oldest, almost always walks behind and to the left. He must've been an Asian courtesan in a past life. Daisy and Joey are usually tugging on the leashes, with Daisy on Joey's left. After Joey has stopped to sniff something, he will usually try and circle around from behind and wrap me up in his leash. I caught on to him early on, though, so he almost never trips me up.

Chandler or Joey will almost always be the first one to poop. Daisy likes to wait as long as possible, usually only giving in and doing that particular function on the way back. By the time we were on our way back tonight, Sunny was once again above ground but still crisscrossing the street. I hope I don't have to scrape her carcass off the street someday, but there's no way we can keep her strictly inside now. We'll just have to take our chances.

Daisy wrestling with Sunny (as a kitten, shortly after first joining the family)

Walking the Dogs

It's something I do every night. I actually stopped for several months starting in May, I guess, when my back problems flared up. Then came my knee surgery, which kept me from walking much. Then I got to where I enjoyed not having to walk the dogs every freakin' night of my life. 🙂 But then they started doing their business in the house way too often, and Tara asked me to start walking them again. Actually, her words were, “We need to start walking them again,” meaning, of course, that I had to do it. Whenever she says “we” she means me. I think that's standard for women.

Anyway, it all starts after dinner with the dogs … well, Joey, following me everywhere I go. When I open the closet door where we keep the leashes, Joey's right there and Daisy hurries over. Joey spins around once or twice, and I have to catch him right then, otherwise he runs away and makes me chase him down. Daisy's usually easy to corral. Chandler never moves. I almost always have to drag him off the couch where he's been sleeping in between naps.

Once outside, Daisy is the leader, pulling on her leash the hardest. Joey's right next to her, but Daisy usually stays just a little bit in front. Joey will fairly often take the lead, but Daisy only allows that for a few seconds before retaking the lead. Chandler brings up the rear, and that's fine with him. He has no need to be leader of the pack. He does, however, feel the need to stay on my left. Chandler is always behind and to my left. Joey — usually on my left, too, but not obsessive about it — likes to stop, sniff things, maybe pee, then circle back around behind me, coming out on my right. He can really tangle you up in his leash if you're not careful, but I've gotten pretty nimble with the leashes over the years.

Chandler makes a point of peeing on whatever Joey has just peed on. It's a guy thing. Joey is bigger and more “aggressive” than Chandler — if any pug can be called aggressive — but he came into our family last, so that puts him at the bottom of the totem pole. That's just how it usually works in the dog world. Daisy is the least obsessive of the pugs, at least on their walks. She's also the most aggressive. She's the one I have to hang onto the tightest when another dog comes along, because she will try to attack … until it gets right up to her, at which point she will either hide behind me or roll onto her back and be submissive, probably saying in dog-speak, “Please don't kill me!” Still, she's got a pretty fierce growl and bark from a distance.

She's also the best at reading my mind. When we have a choice of directions at an intersection, all I have to do is decide which way to go, and she's right there with me. Ahead of me, but instinctively knowing which way I intended to go … usually. Not Joey. He will always try to go whichever way we went last time. Daisy can also sense my emotions about cars going too fast or coming too close. I used to get angry at people driving these quiet neighborhood streets at almost twice the speed limit. Sensing this, Daisy would then start lunging at oncoming cars. It wasn't until I controlled my own anger that Daisy also stopped lunging. Of course, I also got to where I could sense one of her impending lunges, so I would tell her “no,” and she'd be cool. You probably think I'm crazy, but I know what I know. Apparently, so does Daisy. 🙂

They're all good dogs, especially Chandler, my “biggest” and best puppy. Then again, Daisy is my “best little girl pug.” That used to be “best little girl,” period, until Elizabeth came along and I had to add “pug” to the end of it. And then there's Joey, my lap dog. Actually the biggest, even though I tell Chandler that he is, Joey loves being on my lap, asleep, while I'm at the computer. But then my butt will fall asleep from all that weight and I have to get up and walk around. And that seems a good place to end this story.

See also diary-

Diary, 11/7/2008

Well, I had a hell of a day. It started off normally enough, though it was raining, which is increasingly rare around here. I dropped Elizabeth off at school on my way to work, and from there my day took a wrong turn.

I took side streets the rest of the way to work instead of the main Old Hickory Blvd route. The side streets are just faster, usually. On Nolensville Road across from a new-ish development combining houses, condos and businesses, Lenox Village, there's this no-name gas station that just happened to have gas for a relatively cheap $2.33 per gallon. I pulled in. I went to use the debit card and it was denied. Crap. This happened Wednesday night at OfficeDepot, too.

The problem was that our main checking account had gotten overdrawn because of the automatic mortgage payment going through. Overdraft protection covered the mortgage payment and several others that hit on that same day, but there was suddenly a negative balance on the account. I transferred money from other accounts as soon as I discovered it and there was a positive balance again. Anyway, I aborted my attempt to buy gas, and continued on my way to work.

I was admiring the beauty of the changing and falling leaves in the gently falling rain, trying not to let it bother me that the girl in the car behind me was following too closely. I just hate that. At least there was no one in front of me as I came down a hill on a small road that dumps out into a more heavily-travelled but still small road. Edmondson Pike south of Old Hickory, for those of you familiar. When I touched the brakes in preparation to stop, the brakes locked up.

I'm thinking, “Shit!” So, I let off the brake for a second, then touched them again. Not hard at all, just the normal gradual pressure. They locked up again and I started sliding on the rain-slick road. That idiot girl behind me is still following too closely, and I'm now getting flashbacks of my accident last February on an icy road where I rear-ended some poor innocent girl who wasn't following anyone too closely. No one was hurt in that accident, by the way.

Anyway, I'm now cursing loudly as the stop sign gets closer and closer. I'm alternating between pressing the brake and letting off, with no luck either way, now convinced that I'm going to cream someone with my Pathfinder SUV as I fly across the road into the church lawn on the other side at the bottom of the hill.

Now just a few feet from the stop sign, I look to my left to see who I'm about to kill. I'm just curious. I can't see anything to the right, really. Coming from the left is a dark grey SUV of some sort. At least it's a man driving alone. I'd hate to kill a young woman or a car full of kids. I had reached the stop sign now and had to do something besides screaming “f***k” at the top of my lungs. Luckily, there was a grassy patch to the right of me right there at the stop sign. I was able to turn into the mud prior to the street itself and give the oncoming SUV a chance to get past while I wallowed there for a second. Also lucky, there was not the usual never-ending line of cars behind the SUV, so I was able to just get right back onto Edmondson Pike and keep on going like nothing had happened.

And that idiot girl got right in behind me. Wouldn't you think if you saw the guy in front of you go sliding off into the mud instead of making a normal stop, you would want to keep your distance? Not this girl.

Right after that is a fairly sharp left turn. If you miss the turn, you end up in a deep ditch in front of Music City Kennels. I gently pressed my brakes going into that turn and they worked fine. And from that point on, although I was keeping a good 100 yards between me and the car in front of me, my brakes worked fine.

Is it possible a leaf got into my brakes and caused all this? Maybe my brakes are just faulty and once they lock up, they just keep locking up for a few seconds. Not long, just long enough to kill me. In hindsight, what happened today is probably what happened when I rear-ended that girl in February because I always felt that I wasn't following her too closely that day. I'm getting my brakes checked next week.

Anyway, I made it to work. But that wasn't the end of my stressful day. Up until lunch everything was fine, but I HAD to get my and Tara's debit cards cleared up before the weekend. For lunch, I had nothing in the office fridge and had to go to Kroger (grocery store) for something for lunch. I can't eat fast food anymore now that I'm a vegetarian. There's just nothing available in that vein. Of course, my debit card didn't work at the self-checkout so I had to use a credit card. My bank, Suntrust, actually has a branch in that Kroger. I had thought about talking to the dorky but seemingly intelligent teller I usually deal with there, but he wasn't around. All I saw was some young blonde guy who I assumed would be useless like most people behind most counters. 🙂

After I ate lunch in the office break room with the usual gang from work (Terry, Keith, Amy, Darlene, Paula and Wendy), I went back out to a different bank branch. The Brentwood branch in Maryland Farms, the one where I thought I had made it clear to the manager that if my mortgage payment was going to overdraw the account, DON'T make that payment, make the mortgage company call me, I'd said. I had done this after they'd charge me $256 in overdraft charges! Bastards! Pardon me.

It had taken several minutes of repeated explanation that day before the bank manager claimed to understand and assure me that it had been taken care of. At one point during that conversation, I actually had to ask, “What part of this don't you understand?” I wasn't trying to be an ass, he was just being so stupid. He apparently came up with a “solution” on the spot just to get rid of me, and it didn't work.

Anyway, I went back there again today and explained my troubles to some woman behind a desk. She said she didn't think what I had asked her manager to do was possible. I said maybe not, but he assured me it had been done. The manager himself then came over and looked up the actual note in their computer system from 7 months ago, the one he'd said would take care of it. I was nice to him today and said, “Well, you did your part, but the system didn't work.”

Anyway, they called another branch manager (because my account is technically still “owned” by the Green Hills branch where I'd originally opened it 15 years ago). He'd been in a meeting when they called, but he called back after I'd returned to work. He explained that the Brentwood branch manager never should have told me it was taken care of because, like the woman in the Brentwod office tried to tell me, what I had requested was impossible. According to them, anyway.

If it wasn't for the fact that they LIVE off overdraft fees and such, they could easily have programmed their computer system to NOT take out payments if there were insufficient funds, because the mortgage is also held by Suntrust. I explained this to this latest branch manager. He probably knew I was right, but never let on, and never waived the main $175 fee as I had requested, but did at least waive a subsequent $35 fee. I've got an email into their corporate customer service via the web site, however, so I haven't totally given up on those fees being waived. I'm not holding my breath, either.

Anyway, I'm now back home. Tara and Elizabeth are at Elizabeth's 6-year-old twin cousins' birthday party an hour north of here in White House, TN. I'm relaxing writing this, drinking wine (some Australian brand Merlot) with the pug Joey on my lap, listening to, well, Chopin at the moment, although it was Bruce Springsteen before that and the Cowboy Junkies before that. iTunes. Gotta love it. I have eclectic taste. Now here's the Crash Test Dummies, and I'm tired of typing.


Elizabeth’s First Video

Elizabeth's directorial debut. A probing, provocative, sometimes introspective look at a typical weekend around the house with Mama and Papa and the pugs.


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