Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Scout and Me

This post is way overdue. In an attempt to blog more frequently, I think it is time to discuss my dog. If I was a columnist, I would probably write about my dog as much as John Grogan did with Marley. It isn't always easy to think of something to write about all of the time. To avoid becoming one of those "dog freaks" who obsesses over talking about their precious pooch, I have tried to stay away from the discussion of her in general. I know I mention from time to time that she exists, but that is the extent of it.

I got Scout when she was eight weeks old. I picked her out when she was four weeks. She is a golden retriever from Ohio. Her first year started in a "sorority house" in Wooster, Ohio, where I attended school. I was a senior. She became very popular on campus. Most students knew her. Some students knew her name, but not mine. It was fun. And it was very fun for Scout.

We moved to Boston before Scout's first birthday. She used to run with me in the mornings. Her first injury was a running injury when she stepped on some glass and had to have her paw bandaged.

I met my Boston boyfriend shortly after moving to Boston through Scout. She took to his dog at the park. We got together for a play date. (For the dogs, people).

On another note, I will tell you that since I have had Scout, I have never been in better shape. You know what they say about the statistics of dog owners. We are healthier.

Scout has eaten everything in sight, including the following items: (I am debating how inappropriate to get here)

-Christmas ornaments
-the wall
-the tile floor
-a wood chair
-bags and bags of chocolate
-some forms of birth control
-a contact lens case
-most of the pockets out of my fleeces
-the treat pocket out of my Patagonia hiking bag
-all trash that is available to her
-lollipops with the sticks on
-any snacks in a Ziploc, including the Ziploc, itself
-a bag of flour
-a frozen, dead muskrat
-a frozen, dead rabbit
-a blue jay that couldn't fly away
-many, many, many dead deer
(Ok, enough of the dead animals - you get the hint).
this list could go on and on, but then I would never finish this blog.

Most people tell me that my golden retriever is the hungriest golden they have ever seen. Which could be true. A few years ago, she gained some weight and I put her on a diet of 1/2 green beans, 1/2 food. She slimmed down and then some. By the time we moved to Madison and her exercise level increased, the vet told me, "I rarely tell people this, but she needs to gain weight!" I doubled her food. Yesterday, at Scout's annual physical, she is overweight, once again. I cut back her food back to her old diet. Oh well.

Scout and I lived in Boston for two years. There was a park she and I really enjoyed there. In 2004, we moved to Cleveland for four years. I never found a good park for her there. But there were places to take her, no doubt. During that time, she developed a "Bel's palsy." One day, her face looked crooked. I was shaken up and I thought she had had a stroke. The vet took her immediately and said that they have seen this before. Ever since, she has a slight facial paralysis in the left side of her face. They told me it was probably viral. She was so beautiful. Such a stunning dog. She is still pretty. But it's not the same. It doesn't seem to bother her, though. It's sad for me to write this part.

In 2008, we moved to Madison. Scout was then seven. Shortly after we moved here, she was running through some backyards, where she liked to invade all of the composts and she broke her tooth on something. It cost me over $700.00 to have her diagnosed and have the tooth pulled. After she woke up from her surgery, she was the most tired I have ever seen her. The staff who worked on her just loved her. Every vet (all six!) has told me that she is such a sweet dog.

Scout had her annual physical yesterday. My vet evaluated her on a form. With her distemper, they added an "other" box and wrote "super sweet." I am proud that she is sweet, but she will never be the best behaved dog. She likes to eat way too much. She is now a senior. I have noticed some arthritis in her hind legs. She still goes to the park about four days a week. Sometimes, she just sits down and waits for someone to pet her. My park mates love her when it is cold because she is a "feet warmer." She has a slight heart murmur, a gray & crooked face and an "old lady" small wort on her face. Other than that, she is doing well. Oh yeah - she drinks a ton of water. It's so strange. She slurps quite loudly and drips all over the place. It drives my boyfriend (he is very clean) nuts.

I can't imagine life without my girl, Scout. I just try not to think about it. Ever. Because when that day comes, I will probably require lots of sympathy and a week off to grieve. But the vet tells me that it's a long time from now.

And if you are sad reading this, then don't see or read "Marley and Me." And if you are sad reading this, then you probably have a dog (or pet). Otherwise, it's hard to relate to this.

Scout has given me so much. I have a ton of friends I have met through our dog park trips. There is a great community of dog people here. I have become a real "outdoors woman" because of her.

She's a goofy dog. That is for sure. But, when it really comes down to it - it's just the two of us.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Another night of laziness. I'm afraid I have become quite delinquent in posting. And yet again am not in the mood for a Madison endorsement. A year ago, I was getting myself into a "not so serious" relationship, planning to keep it as casual as possible. In fact, one year ago, November 2008, I was trying to figure out how to end it. Coincidentally, we were in Chicago for the Festival of Lights (we did not know that event was taking place that weekend) and we enjoyed it. After doing it twice, it's a tradition, correct?

In 2008, en route from Chicago back to Madison, (I was reminded by some friends and my boyfriend, himself), that I was hoping to wrap things up with him. Come 2009, and we are making this trip an annual occurrence. Obviously, I didn't end it.

My fearfulness and skepticism of relationships stems from a variety of things. The main being statistics. And I think if you do not have an agenda involving children, then you can put the brakes on.

I met with my financial advisor today. He asked me about my goals, of course. For the first time, I felt that I admitted out loud where I see myself in three years. If you know me, then you wouldn't be surprised with what I said. But this got me thinking quite a bit. And I am sure that I will be there in three years.

But for those who delve into the "seal the deal" game of mating, I just can't relate. Still not afraid of turning thirty without a ring or a baby is perfectly fine with me. What I will have is my pride. And all of this damn gray hair.

And I have grown so much since a year ago, when I was trying so hard to not like my boyfriend. Because I obviously like him a lot. And so do all of my female cousins. Which probably makes me like him even more.

En route from Chicago back to Madison after our "new tradition," I wasn't contemplating the end of us. I was looking forward to spending the rest of the day with him.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

How Did I Get Here?

I can't do it tonight. I cannot blog about something where I have to link sites and data. And I don't always do that. Sometimes I feel the necessity to continue to endorse Madison, but I am feeling too lazy to repeat everything I have said starting seven days ago about how Madison seems so highly populated, even though it isn't. I will save that for my next post.

Most of my postings require a lot of my thoughts as they come to me. On average, none of them take more than one hour. And I enjoy writing very much. I think it is funny when people send me e-mails regarding the posts and tell me to "publish it on my blog" - I guess they don't realize that is what the comments section is for. There is so much more I could do here to market it. Some day I will.

Some of my endorsements have been published in other sites. But, I know my friends love the more personal stories. So it's a real balance at this point.

So why don't I just tell you how I got here and where I am now. At this moment in my twenty nine years.

In 1998, at my private, prestigious, nationally recognized high school (no linking, remember, too lazy), we were asked to fill out a questionnaire that would be read to us at our 25th. I am guessing I am the only one who remembers that we did that. Or what I wrote on it. For example, I remember that I said I would have four kids, married to a much older man, be a real estate agent and an aerobics instructor. How lame is that? And how unsophisticated of a lifestyle, perhaps?

Anyways - I was already a real estate agent, so I can check that off of my list. I have taken aerobics. I dated a much older man. And I don't know what I was thinking regarding the four kids. I would consider four dogs, maybe.

At my twenty-fifth reunion, I can't really guarantee anything, can I? Except that I will remember everything that I wrote on that questionnaire. And I am guessing I will still live here, although who the hell really knows the answer to anything?

I feel like I have had nine lives. Each one of them gets better. On the weekends, I always think that I have a good life. I have a cozy little home. My family is totally normal. Even if we are divorced. I think my boyfriend is hot. Even if we may divorce. I have great friends. I have learned so much. I am dedicated to running. And my work. And my dog. And I have an easy lifestyle that I chose.

And I can't believe what I did. My boyfriend and I were going to our first "gourmet cooking club" dinner the other night, and this thought came through my head of "I have this whole social life and I just up and moved here sixteen months ago. How crazy was I???!! What was I thinking?!" I can tell you this: I don't think I could ever do it again. And when everyone told me how brave I was, I would think they were the crazy ones. I am just realizing how crazy I was. That sounds like a very scary thing. Breaking up/moving 500 miles/leaving your job - alone - all at the same time.

I am proud of myself. And I am aware of this now. I hope to go to my 25th reunion. But who knows where I will be then?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

End of Fall (?) in Madison

For all of the critics who complain about the long winter in Madison, I will say this: As someone who prefers running outside versus inside, I have been doing outdoor running for the past eight months (since March 9, to be exact). So, I ask you how is it possible that we have "winter for six months" when I have been running, for eight months, outside? With no snow. I think in the past eight months, I may have run on a treadmill five times. Two of those times were in hotels. The other three were probably due to inclement weather. I can easily track our weather, since I know my morning routine, as it applies to the state of the Madison atmosphere.

I have said to many people that I am excited for the first big snowfall. It is still exciting. Even as an adult.

And although I experienced the last "outdoor" farmers market of the season, (sad), I am excited for the winter. Yesterday, as we walked around the final outdoor market, I would estimate that most people were not wearing jackets. The sky was cloudless and the temperature was probably already 60 degrees. It was beautiful. Tables were outside at my favorite brunch place.

Being accused of a "delinquent blogger," by one of my sisters (I only have two), I am overdue for this. I hate the "I am so busy" excuse. Always have. Since labor day weekend, I have been booked, up until this current weekend - November 6th through the 8th.

What is going on? Three weekends, I had work related events. Two weekends, I had weddings out of town. Two weekends, I had family visiting here from out of state. And in the next two weekends, I have a large work event, then a weekend trip, then most of my family is coming here for Thanksgiving, then I leave for my vacation. So, if you want to try to make some plans with me on the weekend, we are looking at the weekend after Christmas. Which is why I STILL have not been back to Cleveland, Ohio since I moved here.

Having nothing on my agenda this weekend has felt incredibly strange. I certainly don't want to take any spontaneous day trips. My boyfriend and I took advantage of the free film festival on campus and saw "Ghost Bird." (Some of my friends were distributing materials at the farmer's market, marketing the free film festival. One, in a carrot suit.)

Although I am not a birder, I must admit that the movie was very interesting. I hesitated to go with him, but thought it would be a good experience. In 2005, the "thought to be extinct" Ivory Billed Woodpecker was spotted in a very small town in Arkansas. What it did for this town, alone, economically enhanced it. Think "the middle of nowhere." Suddenly, all of these people are flocking there, with the hopes of a sighting.

The usual happens: Freaking politics, every time. Yes, you guessed it - the government got involved. They make the formal announcement that they have validated the sighting. And the most frustrating thing happens. The search team gets federal funding to continue this highly expensive and potentially useless exploration!

Why is it useless? You may have guessed it again. Ornithologists start to think that this discovery may have not been the "possibly extinct" ivory bill, but its look alike, the pileated woodpecker.

The story tells the controversy of the "who spotted Elvis" tail (that was a pun) on the ivory bill woodpecker, government, and the scientists (mainly ornithologists) who support the sighting and the skeptics who don't.

I wish I could feel so much passion towards birding. I can't relate to it at all. Like I can't relate to looking forward to a Packers game. And one Ornithologist, when describing his hopes of spotting one of these birds, admitted, somewhat modestly, that he has "wept" when listening to other people's sightings of this rare bird. I just can't relate. As much as I would love to have that enormous sense of emotion about such a small piece of life.

In other doings around town, as the fall carries on - I highly recommend the Coen brother's latest, "A Serious Man." They are so incredibly creative. They did it again. A movie that makes you think and discuss a lot afterwards. So many loose ends.

I was introduced to another hiking trail in Middleton. Pheasant Branch is a family friendly preservation that I am pretty sure is featured in a picture in "Money Magazine." The article is in their annual "best places to live" issue from this past summer. As Madison's famous blogger, Penelope Trunk tweeted, regarding Middleton's rating: (It is rated four out of one hundred!)

"Untold truth: No foreign cars, no foreign films, and lox is a foreign word."

As I said, I am staying in Madison proper. But as my boyfriend says (and doesn't follow), "live and let live."

My state pass was well used this season. I finally selected my favorite bars down town. Dined at the new Porta Alba location. Known for their stone oven pizza, (the oven was built from lava stone,) my boyfriend thinks they have one of the best pizzas in town. I had the Gorgonzola gnocchi, which was pretty good. Although, the portion was small. I didn't finish it, but it is unusual that I ever finish anything I order from a restaurant. And I think the price is right. Attended a couple of concerts. The music scene is pretty good in this small town.

And when the snow falls, I can finally convince myself that is ok to stay inside for a few hours. Until then - I am heading out.