So: foster fail

gidget

Gidget: splendor in the grass

If you happened to read last Sunday’s post, you might remember that we have a house guest at the Mortroski Mid-century. Or rather, that we had a house guest. You see, Gidget found a great home. A home with other dogs to play with, soft couches to sleep on, yummy food, lots of toys, walks twice a day, and a nice lady named Tracy who visits while the people are at work and enjoys administering belly rubs, throwing the ball, and giving out treats.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, we have a new 40 pound family member.  Stella, aka Gidget, is staying.

Yes, Fransi, Simone, and Joy, you called it days ago. No, it didn’t happen at the same time as the name change on Sunday evening. Actually, Bruce and I talked about it on Tuesday night, after dinner.

Why so soon? Because she was so damn easy and had fit in so well, so fast.

The prize you get for calling it are all the free Gidget kisses and tail wags you could want. You’ll just have to come to the Mortroski Mid-century for their administration. And you don’t have to hurry, because most likely she’ll be here for a good long while (touch wood). Remember she’s probably somewhere around one, give or take a few months.

So Gidget is a foster fail. Or really, Bruce and I are failures.

How did this happen?

We succumbed to a little street dog’s swift adaptation to life in a house. To playing joyfully with toys. To running laps with George and Godiva. To learning how to sit in less than 2 days. To crying when we left. To barking in happiness when we returned. To ears that detected Bruce’s truck as it was driving down the alley to our driveway. To knowing that the garage door going up meant another human was coming home. To barking at bicycles and baby carriages, but not other dogs. To “getting” how to walk on a leash just by following Guinness’ lead. To charming us out of bits of food. To charming George out of most of his food. To snuggles and kisses. To coffee table clearing tail wags. To razor-sharp puppy teeth. To sheer cuteness. To making herself right at home.

In short, we were soft touches, something that I know our friends and family are completely shocked about. It is completely our faults. We were weak. And Gidget knew it. So did the Gs.

When we made the leap from two dogs to three, I worried that we were upsetting the balance of our little pack. Guinness and Godiva were happy together, Mr. Laid Back with Ms. Sensitivity. But George’s goofiness and puppy-like playfulness gave Godiva a friend to romp with so that Guinness could have more naps.

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Making herself comfortable

This week, Gidget gave the Gs a purpose. Their mission: to turn a little street dog into a perfect member of the household so that they’d have another pack member. And they all gave it their all. From Guinness administering discipline to George showing her that sitting even when not asked usually ensures food when the humans are cooking. To Godiva reminding her that she is the alpha and must be shown respect. And all 3Gs played and played and played to wear the little street dog out so that she would be calm for walks and ready to turn in at bedtime.

Yes, we fully understand the folly of having four dogs. Four mouths to feed. Four times the vet bills. Four times the heartworm medication. Four City of Dallas licenses to buy each year. Four as many baths to give. Four leashes to hold. 16 feet to pedicure. More doo-doo to pick up. And lord knows how many toys that George, Gidget and Godiva will go through now.

We’ve talked about and thought about all of those things. And we are fortunate that our budget allows us to bring her into our home permanently. Yes, I said budget because sometimes when people think about pets, they only think with their hearts. That may be the very thing that landed Gidget on the street—someone who loved the cute puppy with all of his or her heart, but couldn’t afford to feed her or take care of her properly (she was not spayed). If we could not afford to adopt her and care for her properly, we would still be fostering and hoping like crazy that she’d find a great home.

The rewards will be priceless. One more four-legged friend that will greet us with tail wags and sweet doggie kisses, not just on the most craptastic of days, but every day. One more four-legged friend who will hang out in the garden. One more four-legged friend to snuggle with on the couch. One more four-legged friend who will make us go for yet another walk on those days when the weather is rainy/cold/hot/buggy and we really don’t want to walk.

Still, our days of fostering are not over. Over brunch with some of the Duck Team 6 crew, as we celebrated our upgrade to 4G, we let them know we’d be available for emergency fostering. One Duck Team 6 member who found her said that after meeting us last Sunday and seeing how happy Gidget was with the Gs, she was wishing for a foster failure. Maybe we all need to wish a little harder for the things we want to happen.

For more information, to volunteer, to foster, or to donate to help get Dallas’ street dogs like Gidget off the street, visit Duck Team 6.

 

Sow: basil bouquets

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More basil bouquets: this time with a cute sticker and a handwritten note

Today I continued spreading a little garden joy: I brought a couple more unexpected basil bouquets to work.

If you have extra basil, I recommend it highly. First, most people like surprises of free stuff.  Second, you get to talk about your garden and maybe you’ll inspire someone to try growing something—or trade tips and hints. Third, basil grows back if you give it a good trim. I swear the stuff I cut down on Sunday is already growing back despite the crazy heat that we have this time of year.

Plus, we still have tons of basil which is absolutely fine with me.  I still plan to make some pesto and dehydrate even more.

Fransi over at Three Hundred Sixty-Five and I did a little brainstorming the other day and we’re both convinced that herb bouquets would make terrific little gifts when someone invites you over for dinner. If you invite me over for dinner, this time of year your bouquet would be made of rosemary, basil, sage, thyme, oregano, and chives. I killed my lavender some how, but it would have looked pretty in the bouquet.

I’d probably tie it up with garden twine then wrap the whole thing in brown paper so I could write something on the outside and close it with a Mortroski Midcentury sticker. And they’d change with the seasons of course. Fall would bring cilantro and dill. And I now realize that I could use some Italian parsley. That would look pretty in a herb bouquet.

Imagine receiving an Italian herb bouquet: Italian parsley, oregano, thyme, basil. It would smell amazing. And you could chop it all up and make some sauce. Don’t worry, I’d bring some wine too. Or maybe dessert. Or some fancy chocolate. Or some okra (it seems to be very well received down here).

From a practicality standpoint, these bouquets could be great for people with small households or single people. A little of this, a little of that and you’d have a lovely centerpiece that you could use in your recipes all week. Maybe you could even pick and choose what you’d like. I could see the yuppie-hippie grocery store making them, although they’d be exquisitely lovely, but tiny and $20 a pop. Wouldn’t surprise me at all when small packets of even non-organic fresh herbs are $2.50 each.

So, if you saw a herb bouquet at a farmers’ market, would you pick one up?

 

So: oh Canada

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Bienvenue au Canada!

Last night I was so happy to finally arrive at Toronto’s Pearson Airport (YYZ), that I actually got a bit misty. Customs and Immigration only took minutes since being a Canadian passport holder let me skip to the automated machines. Whoooohoooo! The super nice officer said, “Welcome home, ma’am”  as he barely glanced at my passport. The taxi driver who drove me to my hotel was happy to tell me all about what has been built, torn down or is currently under construction since I’ve been here last. And when I got to my hotel, I received an upgrade to a nicer room. There was room service to be had and it was delicious. A fine welcome back all around.

After a great night’s sleep, a productive breakfast meeting with my colleagues, and a successful (and fun) work meeting, I headed out to meet up with Fransi Weinstein from Three Hundred Sixty-Five (seems to be a week for bloggers to meet up with each other). It was just a short walk down Bloor Street to meet at her favorite Starbucks, one with big windows, bright light, and lots of academic energy from all the University of Toronto students filling the cafe.

view from the Starbucks where I met Fransi

view from the Starbucks where I met up with Fransi—yes, that is the CN Tower

A couple of details that might help our meeting make more sense: Fransi and I were introduced to each other years ago, but when I lived in Toronto, we never met or worked together. We do know a lot of people in common. And we both work in the same business. We had a lovely chat, filled each other in on a lot of stories, shared details (like which hotel I stayed at in NYC), answered each other’s questions, and made a pact to meet up when Bruce and I come back to town at the end of May for a wedding. I even managed to get a bit of excellent advice. It’s pretty darn cool that I’ve made a friend who I’ve admired from a far for a long time.

After that I went back to my hotel to collect my stored bag and went to the nearest TTC (Toronto’s subway) station to head out to the western edge of Toronto and get picked up by my favorite five year old, my godson Ben, and his wonderful momma.

Bay station in Toronto's Yorkville neighborhood

Bay station in Toronto’s Yorkville neighborhood (I also love the Hays X-Case with all the Canadiana on it)

It’s pretty sweet  to hold hands with a five year old, especially when you know that someday soon he will be too cool show much affection to his old Auntie Julie. (Well, until he turns 19 when his momma says I can take him out for his first beer in a bar.) Once we reached his momma’s car, we zoomed to their house and he decorated my sunglasses case with stickers of fancy fish and characters from the movie Cars. It is now a one-of-a-kind work of art and a very special souvenir of my trip to Toronto.

I’m lucky to be working from their house tomorrow. I have reviews to write and conference calls to do, a meeting on Monday to prep for, as well as whatever else comes my way in the course of the day. I’m lucky to have a job that allows me to be able to work from pretty much anywhere, even a friend’s dining room table in another country. And I am thankful for wifi, cell phones, and many other modern conveniences that allow me to set up shop and be productive.

Being here until Sunday (and then leaving directly for a meeting in NC) will give me the opportunity to catch up with old friends, visit places that I love to go, and have a proper girls’ day on Saturday with a ladies’ lunch and shopping. As grueling and chaotic as business travel can be sometimes, it’s opportunities like these that make me very grateful to do it. And as nice as staying in a hotel can sometimes be, give me a guest room or sofa in a friend’s home any day. Especially if their five year old promises to provide a personal Rooster-style (can’t wait to hear it) wake up call in the morning.

 

PS: Bruce assures me that the Gs and the urban farm are doing fine despite none of the Gs really wanting to go outside in the rain this morning and the temperatures dipping to 38° F tonight (whole farm operation is covered). He tells me that he is writing the blog on Saturday so please stay tuned.

 

 

Sow: spring forward

According to my Facebook feed, it would appear that Daylight Savings Time is universally loathed in North America*. I actually like it a lot, despite accidentally oversleeping today (I blame my new super duper pharmaceutical strength allergy drugs and the fact that I haven’t slept well for about 3 weeks) and having a pile of work that has filled my conscious and subconscious thoughts for the past week or so.

Here are the top 10 reasons why I love to spring forward:

1. Goodbye to Headlamp Harvests. And headlamp watering. And headlamp yard cleaning up after the 3G Network on Garbage Night Eve. Since I get home from work after 6 pm on a good night, I’m often out mucking about in the Urban Farm when it’s dark. The solar lighting helps somewhat (thanks, Bruce!), but it’s still not as nice as being able to see what’s going on until 9 pm or so.

2. Happier plants. Longer days equal more sunlight. More sunlight equals better, faster growth so that when the temperatures turn North Texas into the surface of the sun (July through September), the spring crops should be harvested and I’ll only be stressing about keeping the fall transplants alive.

3. Better visibility for the 3G Network. Guinness, Godiva, and George prefer days with two long walks. Guinness usually insists upon them. I, on the other hand, am afraid we’ll all die if we do our walks much past dusk, despite light colors and a flashlight to show oncoming traffic where we are. A lot of our walk route does not have sidewalks (our street for example) so I fear the happy hour revelers, the soccer moms, the late for dinner parents, and the senior citizens returning from early bird dining. I’m a much happier walker when it’s light (or when no one is awake at 5:30 am).

4. Patio action. Until North Texas becomes the surface of the sun, it’s awesome to gather up friends, sit outside, and sip something refreshing. Sometimes this also involves a swimming pool if the gathering isn’t at our house. If it does, it’s better to have a longer day so the water is warmer and more people will get in. (I don’t mind what the water temperature is as long as there’s a towel waiting for me. Neither does Godiva.) If it’s at our house, there will be lots of dogs running around since our visitors know to BYOD (bring your own dogs) because the backyard minus the Urban Farm is a dog park. And “Uncle” Bruce usually is planning to smoke/deep-fry/grill something dog-friendly.

5. Flowers galore. I’ve stopped buying cut flowers even though I love them. When it gets warm here they just do not last. And I like flowering plants because they usually keep giving you more flowers if you remember to water them. But in spring about this time of year, everything that flowers is. The only parts of me that minds this are my nose, eyes, head. Damn you allergies.

6. Trees with leaves. There’s nothing uglier than a crape myrtle without leaves. It looks like a pile of bones standing upright on the grass. It looks dead and uninviting. And then the local landscapers decide to decapitate it and it looks like an awkwardly trimmed pile of bones.

poor crape myrtle

poor crape myrtle!

crape myrtle in spring at our first texas house

crape myrtle in spring at our first texas house

I’m glad to see leaves popping out on trees of all kinds, but especially crape myrtles.

7. Green grass. Although it doesn’t get all that cold here and only snows on important days like Christmas Day or when the Super Bowl’s being played in town, our grass goes dormant. It looks like straw from November until now. By the time I get back from my business trip this week, I’m hoping all the grass will be Ireland-green.

8. Rain. It’s a problem around here. We don’t get enough and when we do get some, it’s like God’s just pouring a bucket on the whole area and it just runs off. So I look forward to this time of year to fill the rain barrels, decrease the chances of drought, and make my friends with boats happy. Because you know what they say about boats: the best thing about boating is having a friend with a boat.

9. Happiness. Despite it never really staying dark, gray and gloomy around here for long, when it does, my coworkers aren’t as fun to be around. Everyone gets a bit down in the dumps. I think it’s because most people after living here for a while don’t like wearing socks. Last night at dinner one of my friends who is a native Texan explained how he feels happiest when he is wearing flip flops and shorts so even if it means being a little cold or wearing a sweatshirt when it’s windy or cold, he does it.

10. Pedicures and sandals. Open toe shoe season means that feet need to look pretty says the gal who desperately needs to head to the nearest nail salon. Even if you’re a dude. It doesn’t make you metrosexual, men friends, it just means that your feet will be presentable and clean. Ladies, even if you don’t let your feet experience a professional’s touch, lotion and polish will make your sandal wardrobe look even better. And as you dust off your sandals, be sure to be ruthless. Even if you love them, worn out shoes don’t do your body any favors.

Happy spring, y’all!

*Except for Fransi at Three-Hundred Sixty-Five. She actually used the word “Hallelujah!” in today’s post referencing Daylight Savings Time. I agree with her 100% as you can see.

So: encouragement matters

After a long hiatus from blogging (and non-work writing of almost every kind, except letters/cards/notes), I decided to come back and write daily, inspired by Fransi Weinstein and her wonderful blog Three Hundred Sixty-Five. A former creative partner introduced me to Fransi’s blog at some point last fall because she thought I would really enjoy reading it. Not only did I enjoy reading it, I also connected with Fransi via Facebook.

All of this might sound relatively unremarkable in the social media world. It’s easy to connect with people if they want you to. But Fransi is someone that I always wanted to know in “real life” and a writer/creative director I wanted to work with when I lived in Toronto. We knew lots of people in common and we probably spoke at an industry party or two, but life being what it is, we never worked together. But through the magic of the internet, I’ve gotten to know her—and relearn blogging from her. She’s been a great help and answers my silly questions quickly and graciously. I appreciate her—and her encouragement—so much.

And then today, Three Hundred Sixty-Five was nominated for the REALITY Blog award. Yay, Fransi! And then, something completely unexpected happened: Fransi mentioned SowSewSo among the blogs she’d like to share her award with. Even though it’s only been around for such a short time (um, 6 days, people). And she said I am a great writer. Wow!

I am humbled.

I asked her what I needed to do, when someone shares an award with you. Fransi said there are no ‘rules’ that go along with this one.  There are some questions to answer, so here goes (and if I do this incorrectly, please let me know):

1.  If you could change something about your life what would you change?

I would change nothing. I am fortunate to have had a very extraordinary life so far. As a child I lived in many different places (Arizona, 3 cities in Indiana, Georgia, Southern California, Northern California). Many of my dreams have come true (where I went to college, agencies where I wanted to work, trips I’ve taken). I met my husband Bruce through a mutual friend and our relationship blossomed despite living in two different countries, 3 time zones apart. He and I have had many adventures together including our current one deep in the heart of Texas. Hopefully you all will find my life entertaining enough to keep reading about it.

2.  If you could repeat an age, what age would it be?

This is a funny question for a 40-something. My 20s were interesting times and I am fortunate to get to witness what life is like in your 20s every work day. Same goes for my 30s. I’m actually pretty happy with how those decades turned out for me, but I see why having the perspective I have now would be helpful, especially at work. It really helps with understanding how to pick your battles.

3.  What one thing really scares you?

As an American who has lived in Canada and is now back in the US, the ignorance and intolerance I have witnessed in the past several years scares me. I worry that the American public is forgetting how to be human and loving. Even though the tv news feeds my worry daily, I am often surprised (and delighted) by unexpected kindnesses and tiny demonstrations of love.

4.  What one dream have you not completed yet and do you think you will be able to complete it?

I dared to speak of this dream with a friend yesterday: I would like to get my already written children’s book published. I don’t think I’ll be able to complete it; I KNOW I WILL. I’ve done many things lately that I never thought I could do, so why not complete this dream I’ve had since I was a kid?

5.  If you could be someone else for the day, who would you be?

President Obama. Without getting too political, I’d like to see first hand the chaos that he has to deal with on a daily basis. I’m sure it would make any troubles I have at work look completely ridiculous.

If you keep reading this blog, I have a feeling that some of the above answers will get fleshed out as posts. But enough about me. Thank you again, Fransi, for believing in me and believing in this writing experiment.

I believe I also need to say who I would share this share with. So here are some of the other blogs that have inspired me to start again:

The Grammar Belle is written by my friend and colleague Brandy Slater. A born and raised Southern belle who speaks three languages (English, Spanish and Russian), this life-long lover of all things grammatical has made it her life’s mission to help the English-speaking/writing world fix up their cringe-worthy and erroneous ways. Her grammar lessons are practical, educational, and funny as hell. She also peppers her posts with original cocktail recipes.

DirtyHandsCleanSoul is a blog I stumbled upon when looking for advice for my gardening adventures and made me think that my experiences might be post-worthy. Seana and Colleen are college students who started a blog to record their adventures in gardening. But they write about other things including their foodie travels. Yesterday’s post was a special favorite since it was a reflection on the Central Market in York, Pennsylvania, a wonderful farmers market located in the heart of the town where my mom grew up and my 98 year old grandma still lives.

Finally, I’d like to thank all of the blogs that I’ve discovered through friends and friends of friends. Over the past week, I have found so many interesting blogs and it’s exciting to think that I always have cool stuff to read whenever the mood strikes me. Thank you! Now, I must back away from the computer: today is my first SEWING lesson.