Monday, January 26, 2009

To Schnorg Or Not To Schnorg

A couple of months ago, I had to take Judah to the vet. He was wearing his prong collar so I could control him - a prong collar is like a choke collar except it has wide prongs that spread out the pressure so it's not too strong in any one place. Now, I can control Judah with that collar, but the vet couldn't. He suggested I get something called "The Gentle Leader" which is kind of like a horse halter, but you fit it to your dog so that he can still open his mouth to eat, drink and pant. The collar works by putting pressure at the base of the skull instead of on the throat (like the prong did) and the vet said it's a good collar for a dog as large as Judah. However, I managed to amaze the vet by getting Judah to sit and stay while I put my gloves on. Basically, I gave the leash a yank and said, "Judah, I need to put my gloves on. Once they're on, then we can go, not before!" And he sat there until I had my gloves on, then he lunged for the door. The vet was shocked: "If you'd have told me mid-afternoon that he'd behave like that I wouldn't have believed you!" "That's because you're not Mommy!" I said we tumbled out the door.

But I really didn't like the way the prong collar make Judah hack and choke, so for Christmas I bought him a red Gentle Leader collar, and tonight I fit it on him. He didn't like it at first, but after I took him around the house a few times he seemed to get used to it. Of course, I bribed him with a few treats to make things easier. I still need to work with him on that lead, but by spring we should be ready for long walks outdoors.

The cats were none too amused with Judah romping around the house. Even on a leash, he romps. But then they realized that Mom was giving That Dog treats, and they gathered around the pantry door looking for their handout. They're like little kids - you can't give one something without giving the same to all the rest. And they know that Mom is a sucker for a furry begging face. All four of them have the old soulful eye routine down pat.

I really want it to warm up soon. I want to get outside and walk, with or without the dog. Carl wants it to warm up so he can re-banish Judah to the backyard "where he belongs". It's been so cold this winter that Judah's taken up residence in our dining room, and at night he occupies our furnace room in the basement. The cats want it to warm up, too, so Judah will get out of their house and they can stare at him through the back door, giving him little kitty sneers and sticking their tongues out at him. You know they do that - they're spiteful little monsters with innocent looking faces.

I wonder what the "cat language" word is for "Neener!".

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Snow Job

I'm sitting here, blogging and listening to Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" CD because I can't go anywhere. Once again, just like last year, the weather has me pinned down at home. I'd hoped to take the girls shopping in Williamsburg today, but the wind is strong from the northwest and the roads out here are drifting shut. AGAIN. Arg!!!! I know how bad the roads are because I had to pick Hannah up from the high school at 1:00 (jazz band contest) and I had to use four-wheel drive twice trying to get home. The plan had been for me and Mary to get Hannah from the school, go out to lunch, then drive down to the Tanger Outlet Mall, but nnnooooooo.....

Most people are comparing last year's winter to this year's - a very valid comparison. Last year at this time we'd had a little over 23" of snow. So far this year we've had 25". The difference, though, is last year it was consistently cold and we never had any thaws. The drifts piled up and you couldn't see the fence posts on the west side of the road. This year we've had at least one major thaw, and although the drifts alongside the roads are high, they're not as high as last year - you can see the fence posts above the snowline. We're supposed to have another thaw this week, which will be nice because last week it was so drat blasted cold that Cedar Rapids set a new record for low temperature. Not just for a particular day, but for all time! The previous record had been -28 degrees, and we bottomed out at -29. We had windchills at -51 degrees. Between that and the snow we had (3+ inches Monday night and 7" Tuesday into Wednesday) the girls ended up with three snow days. And, to add insult to injury, we are temporarily without the services of our little garden tractor and its snow thrower attachment. A pulley (either the drive or the clutch) fell off when I tried to start the tractor Wednesday night, and Carl can't get the bolt that holds it on to stay tight. But I called the place in Keystone that sells and services little tractors like ours, and they're coming Monday to take a look at our problem. If they can fix it on site, they will, but if they can't they'll haul it back to their shop. They have a trailer that they can haul the tractor/snow thrower combo on. Yeah, it'll probably cost me an arm and a leg, but it will be worth the money not to have to shovel out the driveway like I had to do Wednesday night in the subzero weather.

So, needless to say I'm already sick of winter. Not so much that I'd want to trade in blizzards for hurricanes, but enough to make me doubt the forecast of "light and brief flurries". I mean, I can hear the wind pounding against the side of the house even though I have ear-buds in. (By the way, I've switched from NGDB to Mannheim Steamroller.) At least the temperatures are going up. It's warmed all the way to 26 degrees above zero! Wahooooo!!!

Now, everyone sing....."We're having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave....."