Friday, January 31, 2014

Drop It

In the yard, I throw a frisbee for Harlow. When it comes to toys and treats and fetch and return, I am trying very hard to not encourage pull toy playing. I am doing this not because I think pull toy is a bad idea, I don't think it is. I do this because it's annoying as hell to me to play fetch and play it wrong.

I throw something to you, you bring it back and I throw it again. That's how it's played don't you know!?  Harlow insists on not releasing the item though, so I have been working hard on getting her to understand that if she doesn't drop it, I won't throw it.  She is getting much better. For me the challenge is to not try and grab it from her because it just feels faster than trainer her to bring it and drop it and I just want to get on the the damn game already. The damn game that she doesn't know how to play right.

When we play frisbee in the yard her favoritest thing in the whole wide world is to get the frisbee, come running back and me and swing wide as she passes, making the frisbee juuuuuust out of my reach.

It's so incredibly annoying and I know that if she had thumbs they'd be in her ears and she'd be wiggling her fingers above her head whilst spitting a razzberry at me.

When I remember that, oh yes, it's actually my job to teach the dog how to not be annoying (by training her properly in the art of fetch), she actually improves quickly.  Case in point; the other morning before work I was stretching. I am trying to remember to do this regularly to help my back and because I am old. One of the stretches has me on all fours. While doing this stretch Harlow trotted over to me and gently placed a toy on my back and then patiently waited in anticipation.

We can play fetch in your small office where there's stuff on the table and clothes drying on a rack and basically no where to move, right Mom? We can play fetch here!

I giggled and then wiggled to get to it and throw it. I wondered if her placement was just a silly fluke, but she came right back and did it again.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hoping She's Not a Sociopath

I received a text while I was in sunny Puerto Rico a few days ago, fortunately on my last day there, that Harlow had made a real mess in my home. The dog walker had arrived to find a "fearful and anxious pup". Fearful no, I would say yes to anxious.

She got a hold of some books from my coffee table which have gone untouched/unnoticed since I got Harlow, and shredded them.

Dad went to check on her in the afternoon to find that she'd found more things to shred. I asked him to crate her and when I returned home late Monday night from a very long day of flying, I found her loose with more damage done. Fortunately, it was all replaceable things, but what a scene to come home to! It was hard to give her a friendly greeting, but I still did, of course. And she was strange about it. Usually when I get home, she is very vocal, but not this time. She wiggled and squiggled to see me, but was quiet as a church mouse.

It was really weird.

Yesterday I got a text from Dad "Just arrived to check on her and everything seems fine".
Then, ten minutes later after he'd looked closer "I just found your yoga mat which she got a hold of".

When I returned home, I found a crushed mechanical pencil and an empty tube of hand moisturizer.

Tasty stuff apparently.

Today I got a call at work from the dog walker about 12:30 reporting to me that Harlow had gotten into my pills and should they be taking her to the vet? My pills are kept in one of those daily compartment type cases and they are mostly calcium, glucosamine, multi-vitamins and the like. There is, however, a depression medication in there.  I told the walker I'd deal with it.

I called my vet who sent me to the local ER (via the phone) who told me they didn't know about the effects of human meds on dogs (um, why not?) and sent me to a poison control hotline which charged $40 to give you their feedback.

Poison Control told me that because of the medication being a slow-release medication, she would need to be supervised overnight by the vet's office.

I headed home to pick up my dog. I knew she would be fine. As it is Wednesday, the most number of pills she could have gotten into was three (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday's). On my way home I called the ER to let them know I'd be coming and what the situation. I hung up and burst into tears at the thought of returning to the place where I last saw Oliver alive.

What? You say. You weren't worried about Harlow?
Yes, I was worried about Harlow, but somehow, I knew she'd be fine.

I arrived home to a hyper puppy, welcoming me at the door with exuberance. Since it was clear she was fine at the moment, I ignored her in frustration and went straight to the pill boxes.  One glucosamine had been bitten into. That's it.

Crisis averted.

I called the ER and let them know we would not be coming after all.  I assessed the other damage. She chewed the corner of my ottoman, chewed my oven mitt, had clearly been sitting on the back of the couch because the curtains were shoved aside. How the fuck did she even get up there?

I cried in frustration. I cleaned up her mess. I packed her into a car, telling her I was taking her to a gulag (she was appropriately unnerved) and went to G-Ma and Grampy's to join Dad and Bootsie for a long walk.

I let her off leash and she ran and ran and ran.

And now she is sleeping in exhaustion as I research animal behaviorists online. Better to drop $500 to deal with this now than have a lifetime with a difficult adult dog.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Puerto Rico Placeholder

I'm really hoping to enter some stories here about my trip to PR with Nirvi and Libby, but until then, you can see some images here...

I confess this photo is staged. But I still love it. I loved the artwork on this building.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Puerto Rico Day Tres!

Saturday morning we were around the corner to the cafe and ordered egg sandwiches to go. Once we rented our car and got on the road we ate the sandwiches, their heavy Cuban-like bread making them a bit of a disappointment.
Before leaving the city, we pulled into a Chili’s restaurant parking lot so that Nirvi could call the airline and let them know that one of our passenger’s name’s was not “Libby” as I had ordered the tickets under, but “Elizabeth”.  The airline didn’t care a lick.
Nirvi gets to work...
In the parking lot with us were some humongous lizards and a few chickens “This is the best Chili’s parking lot ever!” Nirvi decided.

It took us only about 40 minutes to get to Loquillo beach which was a shame. Not only were we there much earlier than we planned but we were also way too full from our mediocre egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches to partake in food form the relatively creepy street of kiosks we’d read about being must-visit places for lunch. We made our way to Loquillo Beach and simply wandered it. The colors were so vibrant and there were again lots of sea glass and coral.

From there we did go to the kiosks where we only had eyes for the fresh cold coconut water. While being surrounded by weird tourist gifts like hammocks and swings and tiny figurines of ET in a hammock.
fresh coconut water!

E.T. in a hammock?

Nirvi attempts to dig out the flesh in her coconut.

We arrives at the airport in Ceiba very early, so we passed the time chatting in the empty, tiny airport, sharing peanut M&Ms and trying not to eat all the other crap food we’d bought to bring along.

To get onto the tiny plane for our brief ten minute (at most) flight to Vieques, we had to walk out onto the tarmac and enter the plane almost as if it were a car. The pilot basically told us not to do dumb shit and we were on our way. I have never had a smoother flight that that one!  There was only one other passenger on the plane - he seemed like a local who also had a slight air of perpetual eye rolling at the tittering girls he was stuck in the plane with.
We look so adventurous!

Here is your flight safety demonstration

Thumbs up for the fun and the not crashing!

Our hotel, Trade Winds, was in Esperenza, in the south side of the island. The room we rented was strange, with terrible artwork and a random tapestry on the one window which had no similarity to the rest of the concrete room at all. Random murals were everywhere. But it would do for a night.
weird guest house room

Weird guest house room with crappy art!

Next was the bioluminescence tour at 6:30. We gathered up ourselves and headed to a gazebo nearby where we were met by the tour guide Carlito, along with others joining the tour. We rode for quite a while in a bus that reminded me a bit of an old VW bus. The seats were covered with plastic (because we’d likely be wet on the return trip).
(I'll point out that the next few photos were taken with me phone with a special waterproof case on it. I had hoped to try and shoot the bioluminescence but it was a lost cause. Separately from that though, I think the dreamy effect that resulted is kind of neat!)
waiting for the ride to the bio bay tour

Horsies you should not pet

We stopped in a field where there were horses a few paces away. Apparently the horses all have owners, but the owners let them roam free to graze. One moron from the tour walked over to one to pet it and I thought “I really don’t want to miss out on my tour because some moron tried to pet a wild animal and got kicked in the face”. The tour guide warned her that it was a bad idea.
Once other groups joined us from other vans, we signed our lives away and got fitted into life jackets, or as Nirvi called them “hugging bustiers”, before piling back into the vans for the bumpiest ride I have ever experienced in my life!  It took probably a solid ten minutes to get to the kayaks on the shore, and the van had to drive over a dirt road riddled with potholes to China.
Rockin' the hugging bustiers

I was paired with a guy named...I don’t remember his name, but he was nice and kayaking with a stranger earned me a Mulligan with the ladies so I was cool with that.
We kayaked out into the darkness. Our tour guide wore a blinking light on his head so we all sort of followed him and tried not to hit each other in the dark. I had read poor reviews about there being hundreds of kayakers out and not much bioluminescence, but that was not the case for us!  There were probably ten to fifteen other kayaks, all park of our tour alone, the moon was nowhere to be found, and the bio was out big time! 
At first it was minimal, but as we paddled farther out into the bay it was amazing. You could stick your hand in the water and sparks would fly! Pull your hand out and they disappear like an illusion. I’ve never seen so many stars in the sky as I did that night either. There was much ooing and ahing and we were so grateful we came to Vieques for this purpose!

Puerto Rico Day Dios!

Friday morning, we rose for our next adventure, noting that we were now one hour ahead of US time. Such a strange little time warp!  
The day was hot; hotter than we expected it to be in the dead of winter, but there always seemed to be some kind of breeze, and there was always cool shade to walk in.   We were off that morning to the next restaurant on our list; Waffle-Era Tea Room.  The waffle joint was like no other waffle joint I have ever been to. This was no IHOP!
Boasting many different types of teas and coffees, both hot and cold, we ordered some refreshing drinks while we poured over the fascination menu; savory waffles with ingredients like rosemary, egg, manchego cheese, pesto, tomato, ham and more, and sweet waffles with choices like guava paste, whipped cream, honey, chocolate sauce, and tamarind jelly!

We were served by a petite woman dressed all in black with fifties-style glasses which turned-up slightly at the corners and painted on eyebrows (later that night I spotted her on the street drinking and smoking with friends). She was great. 

The area we sat in opened up to the sky above us (not sure how they handle rain), and the restaurant was bright and white with tall archways between rooms, a rod iron door which allowed light to flow in and interesting art on the walls (including random posters of parrots in the bathroom accompanied by a sign which read in spanish “It’s dangerous to drink when you’re pregnant!”  Got it).

Of course we had to document before we enjoyed!

Libby shoots

Libby and I both went for the "wafflito" (a mini waffle) called The Big Breakfast, with a poached egg, manchego cheese, ham, rosemary oil and maple syrup. It was to die for!  Nirvi was very happy with her wafflito of guava paste and manchego cheese.

With our bellies full of goodness and fresh cold tea, we ventured we ventured out into the heat to explore the city. First, we headed out to the outer wall of the city and followed it around for a bit, admiring the views and the ancient beauty of it all.
The Roots Fountain. The Raíces (Roots) Fountain was commissioned to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the discovery of America and also to celebrate Puerto Rican culture. This allegorical fountain has a large grouping of sculptures on a raised pedestal in the center of the basin of a fountain. The basin represents the sea and the pedestal the island of Puerto Rico. Each sculpture represents an aspect of Puerto Rican history, culture, or character.

the City Gate. This is the only remaining city gate. It was one of six original massive wooden doors that, centuries ago, were closed at sundown to protect the residents. This pretty red-painted Puerta de San Juan or San Juan Gate is where you re-enter the city. Above the gate is inscribed “Benedictus qui venit in nomine domini”- Latin for “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”. As you walk through, notice how the wall is about 15 feet thick. Go straight through the gate and up the hill. You are following the same path many sailors took after a long voyage – straight up the street, to the cathedral, to thank God for a safe journey.

We did a lot of meandering on this trip and it worked fine for all of us. We ended up at the Fort San Felipe del Morro fortress near the water, which was also next to a park very popular for kite flying.

We explored the Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery, nearby wondering if the cemetery operated like those in NOLA; stacking of bodies in the tombs.
Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery is a colonial-era cemetery. Apparently they built the cemetery to overlook the Atlantic Ocean to symbolize the spirit's journey to cross over to the afterlife.

From there it was time for a break, so we ended up at a nice place for smoothies (and a super chocolaty chocolate frappe for me) and where I was introduced to quesitos; delicious pastries which were light and flaky and filled with a slightly sweet cheese (and sometimes mango or guava - ack!)
After a nap in the apartment, we sat down to make plans for the next day. We decided that rather than drive to Fajardo and wait in line to hop the ferry, which would be a 90 minute ride and had very questionable reviews, we would fly on a small plane from Ceiba airport to Vieques. It would allow us a bit more time to get to Ceiba in the morning, and allow more time at the other end too. We were satisfied.

Our transportation for the next day settled, we took a long walk to the beach across the street from the capitol building - a beautiful building made of marble. On the opposite side of the building from where we were, there stood statues of all the American presidents who had ever visited the city. One of our cab drivers would later tell us when we passed by "The little girls, they sit on the lap of the man in the chair (Roosevelt), and the women? They hold Obama's hand!" It was the one spot I wish we’d seen close up but missed.
heading to the beach (though we might not have known that at the time)

One thing we learned about was the abundance of sea glass in PR, so we took advantage and collected a ton!  There was lots of coral too, which looked like an eerie combination of turds and bones. Of course I collected some of those too. As the sun sank lower and we headed back, a heavy, mist-like shower started and a huge double rainbow streaked across the sky.
We had a long trek back and enjoyed the look of the city in the fading light.

the bricks paving the streets were blue from age and moisture

Friday night we ate at Mesa Verde where we had one if the best meals ever! With the hanging mason jar lighting, white iron gate details and general garden feel, the space looked like it could be inhabited by fairies (but fortunately we're not run by them). The restaurant boasted a vegetarian menu - but did serve fish.

I drank ginger and pomegranate martini (in a mason glass of course!) which was so interesting with it’s peppery bite.

The beautiful meal started with bruscetta with olive tapinade, mango chutney, manchego cheese. To die for!
I was beyond content with my main meal of couscous with raisins and some other perfect spice, little spheres of goat cheese, tomatoes, asparagus and seared tuna.

I have no idea what Libby and Nirvi had because I only had eyes for my own plate.

I’m loyal like that.