Chili Today, Clean Tomorrow

First sock of the season!

I have on socks AND a sweatshirt.

There are rain puddles, as well as leaves and acorns, on the patio.

I have closed all the windows and doors. Put the fans away.

The remains of chili and cornbread litter the kitchen counter.

I am happy.

After the horrible winter last, I vowed not to complain of summer’s heat. I made it about 6 weeks before that vow was trashed. In my defense, it was one of the hottest Junes on record. The rest of the summer didn’t relent. Oh how I have whined.

I never complain about spring or fall lest they’re too wet. I love both seasons – one for it’s advent of outdoor living; the other for domestic nesting.

Years ago I read somewhere that it’s more efficient to do heavy cleaning in the fall rather than the traditional spring cleaning. The reason centered on the fact that most of us spend a great deal of time outside in the summer and track in dirt and sand followed by pressing our sweaty bodies into the upholstery. That is certainly true of me. Couple that with window fans, a dirt road, and my general disdain for cleaning, and one might understand how flippin’ grimy my house is.

This is especially disheartening given the work I did last fall and spring to clean. Except for the kitchen, the house was cleaner than it had been since before the car accident. All summer I have tried to summon the gumption to tackle the kitchen. It’s just been too hot to attack cupboards, walls, and appliances with bleach and caustic substances. Hell, it’s been too hot to do damn near anything.

Besides the filth, there was the invasion of the spiders. An arachnophobe would need a straitjacket should he or she wander into my home. While all the varieties common to this area are represented, Daddy Longlegs have had a population explosion.

I have giant Daddy Longlegs and baby Daddy Longlegs and teenagers, old folks and middle-agers. It’s the cat’s opinion that they were imported for her amusement.

Periodically, I suck some of them into the vacuum cleaner, but my ethnic cleansing did little to stem the tide of uninvited immigration. Since they don’t bother me and they do keep the other insect population down, I adopted a principle of peaceful coexistence provided webs weren’t built in doorways. (Nobody likes a face full of spider web.)

Today would have been a good day for fall cleaning other than the fact it was a perfect day to snuggle in blankets and read a trashy novel. The day was cool and rainy; and Babette was cuddly. I should have slung bleach around, vacuumed spiders, put the summer clothes away, and so on and so forth ad nauseam infinitus. But I didn’t. And I’m not sorry.

I’ve got on socks and a sweatshirt. It’s chill in this house and I’m fixin’ to make hot chocolate. Viva la Fall.

The Beautiful Babette

The Beautiful Babette

The heat and humidity of this summer is fading. It’s been rough on all of us – all of us being me and the three dogs.

What I thought was just heat-induced malaise turned out to be my incorrigible thyroid further torturing me. And if that wasn’t enough, the monthly shots that have kept my pernicious anemia under control for years became insufficient. It’s a double whammy – both disorders provoke exhaustion.

Like most areas of my life, the puppies were neglected while I slept away every nonworking hour. A routine visit to the doctor led to some blood work and – voila! – I was prescribed an increased dose of synthroid and my monthly B12 shots are now weekly.

I’m beginning to feel like myself again. This is a good thing, because the health department was getting ready to condemn my house and the dogs were fixin’ to run away from home. Indeed, two of them did.

The Traveling Toddlers

Chef Boy ‘R Mine called last spring and broached the subject of whether or not Terrific Trudy and Wonderful Willy could go live with him. Hell, yes, I said.

The three dogs have been a huge part of my life, but I’ve been a terrible dog owner for some time. My work schedule (and malaise) meant that walks in the park and cuddling on the couch came to a complete stop. The puppies spent a lot of time alone. I consoled myself with the fact that they do entertain one another, but it was clear they were puzzled and saddened by my neglect.

The Familiar Boy and the New Yard

Labor Day weekend, my mom and I did a shotgun trip to Charlotte to deliver the two youngest dogs to my son who had just moved into a dog-friendly house. Again, I felt guilty – this time because leaving them produced little sorrow, probably because I know my son will adore them and they now have a huge fenced yard to frolic in. Still, I wonder at the ease with which I gave them up.

So, it’s just Babette, the shih tzu, and I these days – two old grand dames enjoying one another’s company. She was a rescue dog and I’m not certain of her age. The vet guesses she’s about 14.

The vet and I are also baffled by her skin disorder. Babette scratches near constantly which provokes hot spots, lesions and whatnot. All sorts of remedies, prescription and otherwise, have been tried. The only one that works is puppy steroids and her kidneys are too ancient for a daily dose.

Checking out the new yard.

My mother, bless her heart, worried about Babette rattling around alone in the house while I’m at work. Babette was often disgusted by the antics of The Toddlers, but she also was accustomed to sleeping with Trudy and Willy, and, some times, playing with them. Mom is now operating Doggy Daycare. Each morning, Babette and I get in the car, drive the few yards down the hill to Mom’s house and drop her off.

Babette loves going to Grandma’s house. After just a few days of the new routine, she dances and prances, eager to get going, as soon as she sees me pour coffee in my car mug.

Pitiful, I tell you. Pitiful!

Mom is an optimist. She is convinced that with proper care, various lotions, etc. etc. Babette will stop scratching. When her care had no effect, Mom got really serious about it. I arrived home one day to find a pitiful little dog. So pitiful that being the terrible Puppy Mama I am, I burst into laughter.

Mom had shaved every square inch of Babette except for her face. The Beautiful Babette looks like some sort of mutant rat. It’s just pitiful.

And Mom did this when the temps started dropping and nighttime in this house is downright cold. For the first time in her life, Babette shivers. For years, she has refused to get under the dog blankets preferring to sleep on top of them. Both of us now cocoon deep in the down comforter – something else Babette adores about her new life, sleeping with Mom.

Shaving Babette has had no effect on the scratching, but we’re both adapting quite well to life without The Toddlers. Her fur grows fast and I’m afeared that after re-growth, she’ll quit burrowing deep into the covers with me.

We’re both glad to see this long, hot summer come to an end. It’s been a trial, but things are looking up. I can stay awake and Babette is getting lots of attention. It’s all good.