Monday, May 14, 2018

Chance Encounter and the Curse of Mother's Day

Early yesterday morning, (05:55 to be exact) I went out for a run. A few blocks from my house, I spotted a man standing on a street corner. I had to decide if I would change my route to avoid him, or run past - a routine decision that all women have to make when they're alone and are approaching a strange man. This man appeared to be weaving on his feet and I can easily outrun a drunk so I decided to proceed. When I got close, he approached me, indeed without any respect for boundaries so I had to hold up my hand and tell him not to come any closer. I wasn't afraid, but I was annoyed. I asked him to tell me what he wanted. He was wearing a baseball cap, glasses, and clothes that, although rumpled, had probably seen a washing machine recently. In an educated voice, he asked me if I could help him. I cut him off, saying I didn't have any money and then went quickly on my way. He didn't try to follow me.

At first, I felt guilty that I had rebuffed this man so brusquely, although truly, I had no means to help him. I don't carry money with me when I run and I didn't even have my phone. But then I realized: He's a white man. No harm will come to him. Had he been non-white, someone might have called the police about a "suspicious" person. Had he been a woman, there might have been offers of help along the lines of "Hey baby, want a ride?" But he was a white male, secure as King Henry II's proverbial virgin with a bag of gold, perfectly safe to stand on a residential street corner at 6:00 am, accosting random women.

My feelings turned in a different direction entirely and I found myself angry with the man rather than with myself. Honestly, how feeble to find yourself stranded and to just expect someone to rescue you. The man had two legs that worked, he could have used them and walked downtown and found help.

Anyway, screw him. I changed my route on the homeward run and didn't see him again, but the whole incident made me realize that I don't like men. Sorry men, but a lot of you really suck. And even the relatively decent men who don't sexually harass or condescend are still standing around basking in their male privilege in a very irritating way.

It must have been a rough night in Charlottesville on Saturday. Two blocks from the man who accosted me, I saw someone sleeping in their car and I also encountered a man passed out on someone's front yard - something you might see in a student neighborhood, but unusual for my neighborhood. The man who approached me, I suspect was a tourist, lost, drunk, and bewildered in an unfamiliar neighborhood.

Yesterday was Mother's Day, which I try not to acknowledge because it's the most angst-filled day of the year. This year was my first Mother's Day without a single child in the house and I was free to do what I wanted - EXCEPT - on this day of all days, Phoebe got sick. When I took her out for a walk, she refused to go into the park and insisted on standing in the vacant lot, munching on the tall grass. Inside again, her stomach made such ominous noises, we had to go straight back out and my sacred morning routine of tea and a book was upset because I had to stay out with her, waiting for her to puke. Classic Mother's Day - even when your kids are all taking care of themselves, you still can't escape being responsible for someone who's about to puke. Jon, of course, slept like a baby through all the events just described.

In other news, my new website is coming along but isn't quite ready to be launched. offers a bewildering array of tools and it's been scolding me because I suck at SEO. Of course I want readers, but maybe it isn't a super high priority for my blog to land near the top of searches. Also, I installed a new theme which undid much of the work I'd already done with one of Wordpress' standard themes. Maybe in another week or two it will be ready. This may be the last post that I write at this site. I intend to migrate all my content here to the new site.

Monday, April 30, 2018

More Dog Drama

The very best days, in my opinion, are those that are a pleasant mix of work and relaxation. I am happiest when I'm accomplishing something, but my weekend coffee breaks are sacred. These are about an hour and a half each Saturday and Sunday in which I read and knit or embroider and look at decorating or gardening books. Saturday was a glorious mix of work and play, but yesterday morning, our younger dog Phoebe launched an unprovoked attack on our older dog, Sancho. If you've ever seen a real dog fight, you know how distressing they are. To see your sweet and cuddly pet turn into an angry, snarling, wild animal is truly horrifying. Jon pried the two dogs apart, and after we reintroduced them to each other, Phoebe made apologetic gestures to Sancho, nose touching and tail wagging, while Sancho resignedly tolerated her. Sancho wasn't hurt, at least.

More than a year ago, they'd gotten into a fight and I'd read that younger dogs will sometimes try to usurp the older dog's position as pack leader. The book I read said to reinforce the older dog's precedence. So I made a point of always allowing Sancho out the door first, giving him his meals and treats first. That seemed to work for nearly eighteen months until yesterday.  And then, several hours later, they got into another fight, again, unprovoked, as far as we can tell, although the fights always start when we aren't looking. Still, there was no food and no toys in the vicinity. This time, Sancho has some superficial bites to his snout.

So now we have them separated until we decide what to do. Phoebe has the dining room and sun room to herself, where there's a comfortable bed and plenty of windows. Sancho has his usual space in the living room. We have always kept distance between them at meal time.

Jon and I both hardly slept all night, and he is going to call the vet today. We are wondering if Phoebe has an illness or something that's making her lash out.

I don't usually crowd source about problems, but let me know if you've had dog fighting issues in your household. I've read some articles online and one suggests that the attacking dog may be stressed, perhaps by an ear infection. We also had traps set for a ground hog on our property on Friday. The traps are baited with some sort of ground hog sexy times scent and we theorized that Sancho had gotten some of this on himself and smelled irresistibly of ground hog. So I bathed him last night, in case that is the issue.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Dog Shaming

The two pictures below sum up how the washing machine delivery went.

I thought I was so clever, putting a plate of chicken in the sun room with which to lure the dogs so I could lock them in for the delivery. Phoebe fell for it, but Sancho didn't and let me know that if I tried to make him go into the sun room, he would bite me. So I had to build a ridiculous furniture barrier between the living room and the hall. It looked like a child's fort with chairs turned sideways and tables and desks all pushed together to keep Sancho in the living room. And of course when you move furniture, you stir up a lot of dust, so the house became filthy. The delivery men were very nice, but they must have thought I was nuts. Both dogs barked ceaselessly the entire time they were here. It was mortifying.

Hastily constructed furniture barrier
Attempting to console Sancho during the process

When the men were walking to their truck, I followed them out with an envelope for each and asked them to have a beer on me.  After I released Phoebe from the sun room, she went upstairs and liberally decorated the floor in front of the washer with poop, to show me just what she thought about being locked up during its introduction to the household.

But it's lovely having a washing machine again - this time a commercial grade one that blasts through a load in twenty minutes. And now that I'm no longer spending hours each week at the laundromat, I'll have more time to work on my home and gardening projects. Plus, tomorrow I'm starting ballet class at the School of Richmond Ballet.  Oh! And, and, I finally got to the top of the library hold list for Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser. I'm reading it now, but am only a few pages in.