Gin. Knitting. Monkeys. What more could you ask for?!

27 June 2007

Thinkin Happy Thoughts

I have determined there is an interesting phenomenon that occurs in nearly every subculture (forgive me if I am late to the party - I’m not much for human interaction and avoid it if at all possible). I found this to be true when I first took up knitting.

First of all, I was surprised to find there even *was* a knitting subculture, complete with it’s own gods and gurus, superstitions and common practices, vernacular and vocabulary, and levels of hierarchy, whether real or perceived. Honestly, who knew?! Thank GORE for the innerwebs, or else I would have been terribly ill-prepared.

Who am I kidding? I was terribly ill-prepared.

And I am finding that the microcosm of dog rescue organizations is very similar. There are protocols and procedures, terminology and nomenclature, and levels of acceptance or ridicule, whether warranted or not.

Like yarn stores, there are rescue organizations that make you feel insipid, unknowing and completely unworthy of their assistance. They are the self-appointed, sanctimonious, snobby, smug sh*tholes that really are there to make themselves feel good. Sure, they will sell you the goods, but they are the type that will convince a newbie that what s/he really needs is a $30 silk ribbon skein of yarn and Crystal Palace US19’s - and then mock him or her as s/he walks out of the store. We all have been to a store or two locally that fits that bill, and some of us refuse to go to certain stores because of the way they treat their customers. (As a side note, I’ve found that, like rescues, once someone starts talking about a negative experience, there comes a lot of “me too!!”s.)

There are the stores that let you know that they are there to help, then let you go about your yarn fondling without making you feel as though you are obligated to purchase the most expensive item in the shop. Same with rescues - there are those that say, “Hey, here’s what we have, we’d really like it if you’d consider one of our dogs, and we’re here to answer any questions you might have.” The bulk of yarn stores are like that. Nice and friendly, not stand-offish and snobby. Helpful but not overbearing. Those are the stores I frequent.

And then there are the rescues that make you feel like you’ve come home. They welcome you, give you a hug and ask how you’ve been. They invite you to have a seat, put your feet up, and oh, it’s so hot today, would you like a glass of lemonade? You feel the kindred spirit and you know that even if you walk out with absolutely no purchases, you will be welcomed back the next time you’re there.

I went to one of THOSE kind of stores last weekend.

The timing couldn’t be better - I had braved Hollywood traffic, complete with street closures for a demonstration, to meet some rescue doggies. The experience there was less than enviable. As we were heading toward the yarn store I had heard much about, I turned to the Jman and said, “If this turns out to be one of those bitchy yarn stores, I am going to cry.” Plain and simple.


Driving eastward on Los Feliz, one of my most favoritist streets in LA, my spirits were buoyed somewhat. But I was not going to allow myself to feel hopeful. I had my mapquest directions in hand, and WMG in the backseat, and the sun was shining and traffic was moving and good tunes were on the radio. It could possibly turn out well.

The directions took me off the main street and into the warren of Eagle Rock/Highland Park/East LA. I love the area, it just feels ALIVE with ART and COLOR and VIBRANCY, but I thought the directions were incorrect, or I had missed a turn, because it appeared we were venturing into the convoluted streets of residential housing. But then, I saw it: The Big Red Barn. But, no. That couldn’t be it. . . could it?! To the side of the BRB was a colorful, wild and wonderful day care/pre-school, and I remarked to the Jman that if we had lived on the East Side when WMG was really wee, that was the kind of place I’d like to take her.

So we parked, and slo-o-o-o-o-o-owly made our way to the entrance on the side of the BRB. There were two lovely pups, noisily announcing our arrival. . . There, on the fence, was a picture of the legendary Hissy kitty. PHEW. We were in the right place.


Still feeling like we were maybe invading someone’s private space, we cautiously ventured up the stairs when I spotted - BASKETS OF YARN. Huzzah!! We *were* in the right place. Soon thereafter, I met amiable Annie, who is very well versed in the world of yarn. But first, she offered us (me, the Jman and WMG) a glass of lemonade.

Whilest I shopped, and WMG rested, the Jman was surprisingly entertained by Annie’s BF/SO/Husband/PoolBoy. I say surprisingly, because, having been to a shop or two with me and WMG a few times before, he’d been bored out of his mind (which really isn’t difficult), but this time he had company. MAN company! Then another customer came in, and we all talked about politics (!!!), education, culture and pretty much everything that came to our collective mind. We had such a great time.
You're on the eastside?! You need color. COLOR!!!

These are begging to be felted slippers, doncha think?!

I think I'll make something Autummummy.

I can’t stress enough how nice the BRB is. It is well stocked with all the necessary yarns and quite a few of the extravagant ones. There are books galore, and a few needles, notions and whatnot. Although it is quite a ways from our every day path, it is worth the drive, especially if there is a weekend class you are interested in. (For example, the celebrated Charle Lee will be doing some dying classes there soon, and they have a clapotis class and many more classes to come.) Annie is extremely knowledgeable and helpful and entertaining, and it’s a beautiful property. When you go, be sure to check out the amazing floormats that were made by Annie and her son and the “pagan alter”, formerly known as her grandfather’s desk.

[Annecdotally, when Annie was showing us one of her beautiful cabinets, I remarked, "Nice Nobs," because I am 12. And do you know what she did?? She LAUGHED! You don't get that kind of reaction (if any at all) in those snobbery snores, er, I mean, STORES.]
HEMP yarn (at 1/2 price). I'm thinking something for the Grandmother, you know, for when she goes through the airport security checks with the drug-sniffing dogs. . .

Even le WMG did a little "stash enhancement"

After a very entertaining 1.5 hours, good conversation and excellent company, I was lucky to leave with change in my pocket (Annie has a *great* sale going on) and a spring in my step. She definitely resuscitated an otherwise crushing day.

Oh, and the daycare center? Turns out that’s Annie’s superpower - she’s a daycare provider by week day, and a superior yarn shop proprietor by evening and weekends.

19 June 2007

Crrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrazy House Guest!

We have a house guest. I picked her up last nite in Venice, where she had traveled to from Valencia, and previously from Las Vegas. Jman and WMG are taking her to San Diego tomorrow. Girl gets around!

Her name is (now) Pockets.

She's a happy gurl.

She's kinda crazy.

Pockets is a rescued doggie from a construction site in Las Vegas. She is the sweetest, goofiest, most amusing little dynamo. She's going to her "forever" home in San Diego, which, fortunately, is the home of Baby O! and Steven, so we'll get to visit her. WMG is already enamored, but Pockets is a little too "high energy" for our family. To quote her original rescuer, "This little girl is a solid bundle of energy, who has NO problem jumping 4ft straight up!!" True dat - she tried to get at my salad last nite!!! AND SHE EATS VEGETABLES (or at least, lettuce and cucumber). How weird is that?!

When I brought her home last nite, WMG had her heart set on sleeping with her, so after I read WMG a story (and Pockets settled down), I waited for WMG to fall asleep. Jman came to WMG's room to tell me he was going somewhere, and Pockets totally protected her - barking at him like a maddog from the bed. Which, of course, woke the WMG up, so I had to lie down with her a little while longer. After she was asleep again, I snuck out of the bed. It wasn't until I was opening the door that Pockets got up. She scratched at the door a little bit, but then went back to bed with WMG. An hour or so later, I decided I should let her out, so I came and got her. Took her to the yard, she did her business, then came back to the door and scratched. Like, "I'm done!" So I put her back in WMG's room. She wanted to be with us so she whined once. I shushed her. She whined one more time. I shushed her again. And that was the last I heard from her. When I went in this a.m., she was sleeping in bed with the WMG. And I know WMG got up at least once to turn down the fan in her room, so she had NO problem with Pockets.

Jman and MEWP took her to the bus stop, which I know THRILLED WMG, and then when she came back, she was all hyped up (she LOVES herself some chillinz). She found an empty water bottle, and was running it all over the place like a dervish. It would slip from her jaws, so she'd kick it, attack it, then run again. I ended up taking it away only b/c I was afraid she chew it up (and eat some of it) when I was in the shower. When I was getting ready in the bathroom, she'd run from WMG's room to my room, to WMG's room, to the kitchen - it was like The Pockets & Pockets Show. :)

Her only "thing" (other than being on crack) is she tends to be a little aggressive with other doggies. Of course, the several that we met on our walk were aggressive toward her, so it was not untoward.

I feel good about having Pockets visit, because I can love her and not feel like I'm betraying the memory of Jaggers. They are *completely* different personalities, and love of one doesn't affect the other. I know, this may seem obvious, but it took actually experiencing it to make it real for me.

I think I might actually make it through this.

We'll be puppy-sitting for the next two weeks, but that doesn't really count as "recovery" because she's family.

15 June 2007

Welcome to The Family


After nearly a year, the adoption is final. Wa-wa-nessa is OFFICIALLY a part of the family.

Best Pal #2 Ellie and her husband, Lou-Lou, unable to have kids of their own, finally decided to go the adoption route. Man, it was painful. And long. And difficult. Because if there is a more prepared person to become a mom, I haven't met her. Ellie's undergrad degree is in child development. She started her own company that now employs 33 people, including her husband. She comes from a large, loving, very close family. As a matter of fact, her parents finally made the move from Ohio (Iowa? Indiana?) and live a block away (that's Pops in the background). But all that didn't make the process any easier.

Like most couples, they *thought* they would adopt a baby, and they wanted a biracial child (Ellie's Puerto Rican, Lou-Lou's Black). She had the "room" all made up with crib, changing table, murals, etc., but its funny how life sometimes takes a turn. They met Wa-Wa (my nickname for her). That child has the same sense of humor and personality and . . . presence as both Ellie and Lou-Lou. Of course, it was love at first sight.

Early into the process, Wa-Wa was introduced to the inner sanctum (Ellie, Doug, Andrea and I) and our respective families. She fit in like she had been raised by us.

I love Wa-Wa. She has been through some sh*t in her life, but she finally found her forever family and knows it. Sometimes it takes a little longer - I didn't meet mine until I was in my 30's. :) But they are *so* worth the wait!

And, speaking of families, THANK YOU to all my wonderful friends that have expressed their sympathy, empathy and understanding about everything that's happened in the last month. It's been a rough patch, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel (which is probably a freight train racing toward me), and I really appreciate the support I've gotten. Even if the forum is virtual, the comfort is real.

13 June 2007

Gotta Love the Monkeyz

Speaking of being a smarty-farty, did I mention WeeMonkeyGurl is spending TWO MONTHS in Hawaii?! I swear, that child will be some sort of elected official. She's not particularly book smart, but she is pretty savvy for an 8-year old.

When going to her guitar recital last Monday night, accompanied by the Grandparents and the Jman (Momma Monkey was too worn out by the festivities of the weekend to attend), she asked the G-rents, "So. . . when are you going back to Hawaii? Can I come?"

Of course, the G-rents were all over that in a heartbeat. As the only g-child in existence and likely the only one ever, they are more than ever devoted to her. The Jman had to step in and say that Momma first had to be consulted.

Well, given my reacquaintance with the notion that "life is short" and "know when to let go", I said, "What the heck." They love her, they will take care of her, and maybe even arrange for some things I can't afford, like a tutor or specialty classes she can't get from her summer camp. Since they were agreeable to all that (they have secured the services of a 3rd/4th grade teacher to tutor her and enrolled her in both hula and ukelele (ELLEN!) lessons), I was agreeable to letting her stay for a longer period of time. Turns out two months is not unreasonable.

Hey, if I was able to choose between spending the nastiest, grimiest months in Smellay or in Hawaii, I know which one I'd choose.

Speaking of cute little monkeys, here are some obligatory pix of this past weekend. Steven turned 5 and had his Star Wars-themed birthday party on Saturday.
Birthday Vader with wee sister Olivia as Princess Leia

My beautiful Baby O with a suitably-costumed Gus-Gus

WMG with Baby O as "twin" Princess Leias

Leia v. Tank Gurl (Can you believe the barbie in the background was on her cell phone the *entire* time?!) (and yes, I know Tank Girl is a different movie, but I *love* Tank Girl, and it's set in the future and I had the makings of the costume in my closet, and. . .)

Bday Vader's BFF and *SINGLE* father

I guess the grown-ups weren't supposed to dress up. . .Ooops.

Another Leia who desperately wants to be Bday Vader's girl friend, but. . .

How can she compete with Bday Vader's *real* girlfriend?!

Obligatory Cute Baby shot

And it's true -

The Nice Gurls *always* love the BAD BOYZ.

In the words of CAP,

Tank Gurl rockin' the Mini.

Fortunately, no pictures exist of the a-dolts partaking of the Jedi-Juice - equal parts lemonade and vodka, which WMG pronounces "WAHD-ka". I think she's been exposed to too many cocktail hours. . .

11 June 2007

Ah, The Week's End

Well, it's been a bit over a week, and although the uncontrollable, heaving, body-wracking sobs have subsided, I still sometimes feel socked in the stomach and an unbearable ache of sadness. Really. This has been harder than ANY break up or death or anything I've ever experienced, and I've been through a LOT.

However, lest you think me morose beyond repair, let me share with you an annecdote of the Wee Monkeygurrl. Jag went down on friday, early afternoon. Jman and I decided not to mention anything to WMG because she had a big weekend - four performances of her school play, culminating with a big dinner celebrating her grandfather's birthday. The Gparents, my 3 brothers, Jman and one sister-in-law were to attend the final performace of the play. 2 brothers and the sister-in-law weenied-out of the play at the last minute, but the fabulous Uncle Douggles stepped up to the plate, driving up from San Diego on Sunday to watch the show. He's the best.

Anyway, WMG did not mention Jag for the entirety of the weekend. Not unusual, as she's mostly focused on herself. Monday night was her guitar recital, which the grandparents were attending. G-mutha asked about Jag whilst WMG was getting ready, but I told her we weren't talking about it in front of WMG yet.

Cut to Tuesday morning, everything's chaotic as I get her packed for school. She asked her dad something, and he went into the kitchen, bawling, mumbling "Ask your mom." Wuss. She looked directly at me and asked, "Where is Jag?"

I sat her down; I patiently explained how Jag was hurt and old and there wasn't anything the vet could do to make her better, so we put her to sleep. My heart was breaking; Jman was snivelling in the back of the house; the tension was so thick you could feel it.

WMG responded, "Oh." Small pout. "Well, can we get a new little doggie - you know, to make YOU feel better?"

That's my girl. So resilient. So strong, so psychotic. She was hitting me up for a little purse pooch before Jag even got sick, there was an opportunity, and she took it. You gotta admire panache like that!

05 June 2007

My Angel Baby

I remember the first time I set eyes on Jag. Jman and I had been dating for a few weeks, and he mentioned his brother’s dog had puppies. We were "just going to visit" them. After a nearly 2 hour drive (they live in the COUNTRY), we were glad to be out of the car. Eight rambunctious tan and brown pups came tumbling over each other to meet us. They were all paws and tummies and wiggly butts. One pup stood back, surveying the scene, a slight disdain registering on her face. Like her mom, she was solid black. The only one. She was smaller than her brothers and sisters, but she had wisdom they would never understand. It was love at first sight.

Although she didn’t run away from us, neither did she make herself readily available. She was always just a few steps away. When it came time for us to leave, knowing I would take her home with me, we tried everything to capture her. Coaxing with food, sneaking up from opposite sides, pretending like we didn’t care if she came near. Ultimately, Jman had to climb under his brother’s house to the den her mom had made and hand her up to me. She taught me that if there is something worth having, it’s worth working for.

For the first six months, as I waited for my current lease to expire, she was “fostered” at Jman’s mom’s house during the week, where she learned to cha-cha and appreciate good food. She taught me that you can love your caregiver, but still love your mom the most.

After I moved to a pet-friendly place, we started training in earnest. She was so smart and learned so quickly. She behaved like a dream on leash and off. We loved to walk to the dog park, where she would run around like the fastest animal on earth, and always come when I called. She loved meeting new doggies and would always be considerate of those smaller than her. We were inseparable - anywhere I could be found, she would be right there with me. I was single, living alone, and she was the best friend a girl could have. She didn’t hog the bed. And I never left her alone overnight. She taught me it was okay to be obligated to someone other than yourself.

I went on vacation and the Jman stayed with her. She was not happy with me. She managed to pull all the stuffing out of my couch cushions through the zippers she had opened. She taught me that you can be angry with someone you love, express that anger, but not let it destroy the relationship. Or the furniture.

I always wanted a LARGE dog, but everyone said she'd barely clear 40 lbs. She had been the runt of the litter and her mom wasn't more than 60. My gurl grew to be 105lbs, fighting weight. She taught me to never underestimate the runt.

I got her a cat to keep her company. She still loved me.

When the Jman and I decided (quite on a whim) to get married, she stood up for me. She was the only witness and the only one who bothered to get dressed up. She taught me that Las Vegas wasn’t ALL bad.

We moved to LA. She was the only friend I had here, and she kept me from going crazy. I started a new job in a new city with no friends, and I wasn’t even sure I wanted to stay married. The next thing we knew, I was pregnant. My life was in complete and absolute turmoil. The one constant was the J-Dawg, who could be counted on to welcome me home, act as if I were the only thing in the world that mattered, and love me regardless. Long walks and trips to the dog park helped me learn the city, make some friends and clear my head. She taught me that LA wasn’t ALL bad.

As my belly expanded, she was relegated to the floor or couch. She could no longer share my bed. And when the baby came, she wasn’t even allowed in the bedroom, given my hyper paranoia about the newborn and my lack of any kind of support. She never gave me a hard time about it. She taught me that sometimes you have to let the ones you love make mistakes.

Finding housing with a dog is hard. Finding housing with a large dog in LA is extremely difficult. But it is not impossible. Three times since then we have had to move, and each time she went through it without being underfoot, insecure or clingy. I couldn’t imagine being one of those people who look to “re-home” their pets because the new place won’t take them. She taught me that commitment is permanent, not just when it’s convenient.

As we both grew older and more out-of-shape, she was content with shorter walks and less frequent visits to the dog park. She wasn’t as excited to meet new doggies, although she never got aggressive. She still would welcome me home, every day, with the helicopter tail wag (patented - it would go around in a complete circle) and a monologue of how her day went, what she and her cat did (sleep), and how much she loved me. She would do things just to amuse me, and when she knew there was little she could do, she would just be there for me. When the monkeychild got in trouble, Jaggers would slink away, to her time-out place, hoping that would satisfy me. When the Jman was being yelled at, she would do the same thing. She taught me that harsh words can hurt more than the intended recipient.

The most recent move was difficult; it was near impossible to find a place we could afford that would accept a large dog and wasn’t a complete dump. We were turned down twice (the second time *right* before we were to sign the lease), but it all turned out okay, because we found a place that had a little yard out front. Jaggers could lie in the grass and get a suntan (one of her favorite things to do). There are some privacy hedges, and a gate, so I didn’t have to be with her constantly to make sure she didn’t bother anybody, and that nobody bothered her. Yet, we did have a few good afternoons together; she would sun herself while I sat on the patio and knitted. In the heart of the ‘hood, she taught me the meaning of “idyllic”.

Although she had occasionally had a limp in the past, it usually would go away without much trouble. The vet never found anything and just attributed it to old age, and the occasional tweak of a ligament or tendon. Since I’ve suffered from similar ailments, I didn’t worry too much about it. Perhaps I should have. This time, her injury didn’t heal. And her face and head became hyper sensitive. Several trips to the vet, pain meds and anti-inflammatory meds weren’t helping. As much as she wanted to go lie in the grass, she had difficulty managing the three little steps to our house. She couldn’t even eat without crying in pain. She taught me that someone else’s pain can break your heart.

The final trip to the vet was distressing; she had lost 20 pounds in one month and could barely get up from lying down. I had always sworn I would not be “one of those people” who unnecessarily extend my life just because I could. It is my personal believe that people are living a lot longer and in much more dire circumstances that we should, and that we just aren’t designed to live that long. With the few exceptions of 100 year olds that are in perfect physical and mental health, 70 is a good age. 80 is great, if you can swing it. But I personally don’t want to be kept alive by drugs and machines. And I certainly didn't want my beautiful angel to go through that just because I couldn't bear to let her go. She taught me that sometimes, you have to act on your beliefs.

When it was time for her to go, it was just me and the vet. Jaggers was ready, and she accepted it with the grace and dignity I’ve come to expect from her. She has taught me that you can hurt more than you have ever hurt before and still continue to function.

I miss my girl. I miss her big brown eyes and her velvet ears. I miss her silly eyebrow expressions. I miss the white patch of ultra-soft fur on the back of her paw that reminds me of the filling of an oreo cookie. I miss her smell and warmth. I miss her welcoming me home and begging for treats. I can’t imagine ever not missing her, but I can imagine her teaching me that she’s chasing bunnies and dancing with Nana and nothing hurts, and that’s a good thing. But I expect it will take a while before I really believe that.