Things that happened

by Lorin Michel Thursday, December 31, 2015 3:09 PM

It seems like just a year ago it was snowing. I ran to the window every 15 minutes or so, like a kid, watching and waiting for the flakes to begin. When they did, I squealed with delight. Yes, squealed. It set the tone for 2015 and I was ready. 

We started the snowy year filled with anxiety and anticipation. Our house was nearing completion and Roy’s gallery opening was looming. We had hoped to be in by the end of January but we were still finishing, still tiling, still shopping for lights and mirrors and accoutrements. Cooper started to get sick and the vet kept insisting it was Valley Fever when it wasn’t. He put him on prednisone and it seemed to perk him right up. But it would be short lived. 

February came and went and we began to worry. We booked movers. We had Roy’s show coming up and we needed a house for the party we were throwing. We pressured Mike and he gave a date that was soon moved back. We simply weren’t finished. We paid a point and a half on our loan because we hadn’t converted from construction to residential. Tick tock went the clock.

Finally March, a move in, a show, a party and the loss of our beloved Cooper. I’ll never forget how sick he was just a week before the move. How he seemed to get better and then how he went completely down hill. I remember being frustrated with him and hating myself for it. There was so much going on and I needed him to be better because I didn’t have time to worry. But I did worry. And then he died on March 29, the day after Roy’s opening. 

We were in the house. Now came the task of putting it all together, and then the realization that a new house didn’t actually mean there was nothing to do. Quite the contrary. Project after project materialized. Some were completed; most were not. Works in progress. Projects in progress. 

Riley arrived on April 27 because I simply could not fathom living here without a dog. It was always supposed to be for the three of us. Our beautiful boy, whose name is still attached to the area on the side of the house where Riley pees and poops. The Cooper area. He never got to use it but Riley makes up for that every day. 

We experienced our first monsoon up here, watching the sky turn green and fly toward us at breakneck speed. Torrential rain, fierce winds. One day, a microburst that hurled our furniture across the deck, breaking one of our Adirondack chairs. 

Visitors came, two by two. Kevin’s brother and sister-in-law, people I’d never spent any time with in the 20 years he and I have been together. What fun we had. Roy and Bobbi. Diane and Gene. Justin, who walked in and stood in the foyer. “Holy shit.” My sister came in July; my mother and aunt in November. We made new friends and missed our old ones. Wished they could always be here with us.

There was travel to Los Angeles, a road trip to Paso Robles. Wine tasting, cooking. Volunteer work and work work.

Birthdays, anniversaries, phone calls and Face Time, face time and emails, text messages. New iPhones, new iPads, a new computer for me.

Tick tock goes the clock. Ever forward.

Older, wiser. Some days happier, some days curious. Other days wondering did we do the right thing? So much change, so much. 

We end the year with high clouds and cold temperatures. No snow, not even rain in the forecast. We’ll light a fire and sit near the glow of the Christmas tree on this last night of the year. We’ll remember all we’ve accomplished, all we’ve celebrated, and what we’ve lost, what we’ve had to give up, the people we always miss, and we’ll toast to each. Happy 2015. And welcome a brand spankin’ new 2016. Let’s take it out for a ride and see what it can do.

So it's mani pedi day

by Lorin Michel Saturday, September 12, 2015 7:20 PM

I am not a girly girl. Never have been. I don't spend a lot of time on my hair; I go days without makeup. The last time I wore a dress was when I got married nearly 17 years ago. I live in shorts, tanks and flip flops in the summer; jeans, long sleeve tees and boots in the winter; leather coats. I never get my nails done.

I do however get Riley's nails done. We have just returned from his mani pedi. Or is it mani mani? Maybe pedi pedi? Whatever. The point is that the nails on all four feet have been trimmed and he's good for another couple of months.

When we had Maguire, we'd trim his nails ourselves. I would hold a flashlight behind the nail so that I could see the vein. Kevin would maneuver the trimmer until I said stop. Clip. Done. We were pretty successful.

With Cooper, because his nails were darker, we couldn't see the vein even with a flashlight, and I am horribly paranoid about trimming nails to close and causing the dog to bleed. Freaks me out. We took him to the vet.

Riley's nails are sort of in between Maguire's and Cooper's which makes sense since he looks a little like Cooper but he has the smarts of Maguire. He is also most definitely his own dog, with more personality than he knows what to do with.

I made his appointment the other day. The new vet we have is wonderful. It’s the vet the rescue group uses. In fact, every time we've been there at least one other rescue is also there, having dogs checked out. Today it was a greyhound rescue, there with Mindy a 10-year-old who was first rescued from the race track and then rescued again when her owners took her to the shelter to have her euthanized.

People suck. I hate people.

So the vet is great but Riley does not agree. None of our dogs have been good at the vet. Maguire used to do everything he could do to make himself the size of teacup terrier. He was 85 pounds at his biggest. Cooper was probably the best of the bunch. He'd whine a bit but he stood his ground and willingly went with the vet techs, wagging his tail. Riley channels Maguire. He whines and whines and whines in the car. When we get into the vet office, he turns up the whine-volume so that it's close to a howl. It is not pretty, or melodic. The vet tech took him back and he went, looking back over his shoulder the whole time. Mom? Aren't you coming? Mom?! MOM!! How can you do this to me?! Haven't I been a good boy? I'll be better. I promise! MMMOOMMMMMmmmmmm


When he came back this morning, he was overjoyed that I was still there. He hopped into the car, relieved as can be. Settled right down. We stopped at Walgreens to pick up Kevin's prescription. They have a drive thru. The pharmacist keeps a box of milk bones at the window. Riley got two just for being "so good."

Ha. I wanted to say "you shudda seen him 15 minutes ago when he was doing his impersonation of a chihuahua." But I didn't. I smiled and thanked her. Riley gobbled his cookies.

Now we're back home. Riley is positively stealthy with his mani pedi. My nails are a little ragged. Last week I dropped a steel bar on the tip of my middle finger on my right hand. Half of the nail is now black. I have a similar situation on the middle toe of my left foot. Even if I got manicures or pedicures, I doubt it would help. But maybe.

I'll call the vet and see if they can fit me in.

Sometimes things don’t go the way you planned

by Lorin Michel Sunday, June 14, 2015 8:15 PM

We make plans and dog laughs, or in my case, bites.

I am by nature a planner. I suspect it’s because I am also a control freak. I need to know what’s going to happen at any given time. I don’t do well with spontaneity, though I try. Last Sunday, I was spontaneous when I said to Kevin let’s go get a newspaper and we ended up at Bookman’s instead, shopping for used books. I had a great time; one of the best in a while. I don’t remember when I was spontaneous before that. I’ve always wished I could be a little more carefree, but it’s just not in my nature and I’ve also come to accept that. Some of us foot loose, others have our feet encased.

Whenever we set off on a motorcycle ride, I need to know where we’re going. I have no trouble going, I have no trouble with detours. But I need to know the ultimate destination. The plan.

When we were big into bicycling, we’d often start off on a ride and I’d ask the inevitable question: where are we going? Kevin used to get very irritated. Can’t you just enjoy the ride? I informed him that I needed to know because depending on the distance, I needed to plan. 10 miles meant I could ride more aggressively. 30 miles meant that I needed to ride smarter and conserve energy. He still got irritated with me but seemed to better understand my control issues.

The plan for today was for Riley and I to make our debut at a Petsmart Meet ‘n Greet with the rescue group from whence he came. They do a lot of these things evidently and I’ve been wanting to get more involved. Several weeks ago there was a pool party and we were planning to go but they thought it might be too much for our poor little guy since he was still getting acclimated, and there were supposed to be 53 dogs there. (!) It made sense, so I changed the plans.

Yesterday Mr. Riley Boo got a bath so he’d look sparkly for his entrance. This morning I brushed him before we got in the car. Drove to Petsmart which is about 15 minutes or so away. Just before the turn into the parking lot, an idiot three cars ahead slammed on his brakes which made everyone else slam on theirs, including me. Now we were on a surface street so we were only going about 40ish, but a nearly 6000 pound SUV does not stop on a proverbial dime (a saying I’ve never quite understood). I got it stopped but not before dumping Riley who had been lying down, stretched out on his rug in the back seat, down onto the floor. He sat there looking at me as if I was trying to kill him.

This should have been a clue that perhaps my plan for the day might not be a good one.

We walked into Petsmart right at 11, but none of the other peeps were there. I asked someone where the rescue group was and was told they usually set up outside. It was already 93º. Not a good idea. I walked back outside, with my dog straining and pulling at the leash. Do you know how many good things there are to play with and eat at Petsmart? Do you see how many people to sniff?

Outside, I found the rescue group, just arriving. They also agreed it was too hot so we trekked back inside. There were only three of us, and two dogs. One of the ladies, a woman named Sue, had brought her six year old rescue Travis. He barked the entire time. I’m not exaggerating. The entire time. Riley simply whined and squirmed and sniffed Travis’ butt.

We got the table set up, Riley got a “donation dog” vest to wear and people started coming up. The object of the game is to talk to people about the rescue group and to get donations. It’s a non-profit and any monies can help keep the place running and the lights on. My friend Jenny arrived and we started to chat. She put $10 into Riley’s vest. He was official.

A woman and her daughter stopped by. We told her about the group and about Riley. They gave him $5. Another lady stopped by. A woman with another dog came by. Another with two little boys. They were petting Riley and he was wagging his tail. They left and came back. I was talking to Jenny. The next thing I know Riley is nipping and biting one of the little boys.

I was mortified. The little boy was more scared than hurt. The mother was very understanding, much more so than I might have been. The manager of Petsmart asked us to leave (just me and Riley). In a very nice way, and even put a dollar in Riley’s vest. I wanted to dig a hole and pull the sand up over my head.

We were there a grand total of 35 minutes. Jenny said “let’s go get a Starbucks,” and I whined “please!”

The moral of the story: Rescue dogs are unpredictable, Riley needs therapy (I’ve already called a trainer) and sometimes things don’t go the way you planned. But at least there is Starbucks.

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