My favorite year.

Today marks one year of THOR goodness in our lives. Pets Landing has oodles of irresistable puppies, but there was something about baby THOR that melted by heart into a worthless puddle on the floor. Cody would tell you that every puppy did that to me; and that's most likely, probably entirely, completely true. But I had an even softer spot for our little one, probably because when we got him, he was the very picture of an underdog, and I'm a sucker for underdogs.

It was one year ago that Cody and I had taken a walk through the neighborhood after an afternoon at our then-favorite Bean and decided to make a stop in our still-favorite pet store. What we loved most about this place is that you can go in and play with the puppies without having to bother with the sales people first. They rotate their pups between the cage wall and about 12 fenced-in kiddie pools filled with shredded paper and two puppies each, so you can just walk in and pick up any one you want. We loved to go in there from time to time and see them, because puppies are pretty much my favorite thing in the world.

THOR was four months old when we took him home, an almost unheard of age for a puppy in a pet store. He was bigger than the other dogs and had a very sad, lonely air about him, and I just couldn't stand it for one more second. When I picked him up out of his little kiddie pool, he nuzzled right up into my neck, like he was trying to smuggle himself out of there by crawling into my shirt. There was no doubt in my mind that while Pets Landing is a great pet store, he was just sick of being there, sick of watching all his friends leave him for homes of their own. I inquired about his breed and how much he costs, and how is he still here, he's so sweet! The girls at the store said that he was their favorite, and they had a name for him: Rupert.

So Cody and I went into a little private room, then we took him outside, and he was very... mellow. He wasn't playful like the other puppies. Granted, he was older and by default a little more calm, but Cody couldn't help but think there was something wrong with him. Even though I was secretly wondering the same thing, I just told Cody to stop being ridiculous, there is nothing wrong with this little guy. I mean, after all, look at that face!

We took him back inside and Cody convinced me to part with him for the night. I HATED IT. We walked back to the car, arguing about whether or not it made sense to get a dog right now, and we came to a compromise: if we went back the next day and he was still there, we would get him.

So we went back the next day. And the second we walked in, I saw him- in the arms of another woman (that bitch!). I looked at Cody with what I'm sure translated as sheer desperation, and he just gave me a hug and said, "I'm sure he is going to a good home." (Translation: "Thank God someone else bought that dog." Although now Cody would kick himself for ever thinking such a thing.) So we stayed for a little while longer, played with a tiny shih tzu, and just as we were getting ready to head out the door, I saw the same lady standing at the counter gushing over a different puppy that apparently was in the back, getting ready to go home with her (bitch comment retracted). I peered around the corner and, sure enough, there was the little man, sitting all alone amongst the paper shreds in his kiddie pool.

So off we went, armed with a brand-new Cavachon and a carload of puppy necessities. We cooked dinner and then I almost had a nervous breakdown. Cody remembers me sitting at the table, apparently in shock based on the look of absolute terror on my face, staring at the little white fluffball relieving himself on the carpet, frozen in the realization that I am now responsible for another life, and what-the-crap-did-I-just-get-myself-into? OMG OMG OMG. He told me to breathe. The thought of that helpless, un-loved little guy living another night without a family completely disarmed my reasoning. Even if he didn't keep me awake with his incessant barking and yelping and whining ALL NIGHT LONG, I still don't think I would have slept a wink.

But sometimes what may appear to be the dumbest decisions turn out to be the best decisions. Baby THOR is certainly no exception, and I would do it all over again if I had to. I know that moms are always biased, but after we took him home, he blossomed with the most perfect doggie personality I have yet to encounter. Everyone who meets him says so. My dad was visibly annoyed when I showed up on their doorstep, puppy in tow, but now he loves him like his own. And oh my gosh. My mom. She actually refers to him as her grandson. And she is THOR's absolute favorite. Amber calls him her favorite nephew. Even the most macho manly men think THOR is the coolest little dog. I'm such a proud mom.

A couple of months after we got him, I got a picture message from Cody. The caption said that it was taken sometime in February of 07. Here is the picture:

It was about two months before we took him home. I had no idea. Looks like he had kept everyone else fooled long enough to come home with the family he had been waiting for all along.

I love you, Little Man.


Vegetarian Challenge: Update 1

Well... It's officially been three days since my random decision to be a vegetarian (for the month of April, anyway), and I must admit that it's much easier than I expected. Believe it or not, this once self-professed carnivore can actually see herself doing this long-term, although I can't say I will be perfect at it (I do, after all, have some of my-favorite-food-on-the-planet that made its annual journey from Iceland sitting in the freezer waiting for me to devour it. You may want to vomit right now, but I think it's pretty irresistible. Doing everything I can to hold myself back until May 1).

I've started reading all kinds of vegetarian know-how books, and I've been a lot more conscious of what I'm eating. The thought of eating meat catches me a bit off guard now, and buying eggs and drinking milk that are not labeled "hormone-free" or "free-range" just doesn't feel right anymore. These particular items are a little more costly than one on a normal coupon-binge would hope, but in light of this test, it is worth it to me now. And yes, it is in the name of compassion for animals. How non-ultra-conservative and uber-hippie of me (don't panic, Dad. I have not gone off the deep end).

I've learned a couple of things about cheese, my more acceptable other-favorite-food-on-the-planet, and that is that it is not always vegetarian. Apparently some cheese makers use rennet to coagulate the cheese, and it is not often clearly labeled for those of us who don't want to eat animal products. The good news is that some rennet is animal and some is not, and though it may be one or the other, sometimes it is not specified as one or the other. For instance, tonight we are going to our dear friends Jason and Jessica's house for a fondue night in celebration of their baby news, and the swiss fondue we are bringing has... drumroll please... RENNET in it. Despite this knowledge, I am going to feign ignorance and pretend like it is VEGETABLE RENNET and not the other kind.

I think you should pretend that too.

Friday's Find: Week 3

The other day I was thinking about what to feature for my next Find, when I realized how much I LOVE my shower head, and how sad I would be if it gets stuck or impossible to remove in one piece when we move, and I need to profess my love for it to the world, because it's pretty much the best thing that has ever happened to my shower. This thing is so magical that it will take a dribbling faucet and make the spray so highly pressurized, you wouldn't even want to turn the faucet on full speed, because it starts to resemble a fire hose more than a shower head. But if you're like me, and can't stand showers lacking water pressure, this is a find you will thank me for later. And if you're a water conservationist, you'd best head out and get one of these STAT... otherwise the tables might turn and I'll be the one giving you a hard time for running more water than I do in the shower.


THOR on the beach.

I was so glad that we went to California before Memorial Day, the cutoff before the beach police kick you out if you bring your canine companion along. If you have seen THOR in public, it is needless to say that he was terrified the entire time we were at Laguna, but there was also probably a tiny part of him that loved it too, because he got to meet a lot of new people. That is more or less the highlight of his entire existence.

His Auntie Amber took him out to the waves and kicked around in the sand a bit. It would have been fun if we had picked him up and held him above the water so he could doggie paddle in the air. That's pretty much the best thing ever.

On his way back from a totally unexpected, unwanted, and no doubt traumatizing dip in the ocean.

Giving Auntie Amber kisses.

This was taken as he chaotically tried to run away from the wave, but because he was on a leash, he just ended up running in a circle straight into the water. Mom and Dad got a good laugh.

"I hate you both."

Notice the pulling away from the water. THOR no likey.

Amber calls this our "US Mag Body Language" shot. The experts would say we don't like each other AT ALL and our relationship is doomed.

This is his safe place. Between Mom and Dad. He's the sweetest :)


The O.C.

The Codeman and I took THOR on a little trip to San Clemente to stay with our dear friends, Nate and Adria, and their one-year-old, Jude, i.e. THE-CUTEST-BABY-ON-THE-PLANET. We left on Friday afternoon and made the drive complete with a terrified dog curled up in my lap, eyes darting around, wild and alert, every time we passed a big rig. He is inexplicably terrified of those things.

Anyway, the weekend in pictures:

Taken at the Montage at Laguna Beach.

Family portrait.

Amber and me and our Asian dog.

THOR's first time seeing the ocean!

Apparently it was a little bright out for him. Someone needs some Doggles!

We were at a poverty party. I wish there were pictures of this apartment, because it was amazingly cute.

This is THE-CUTEST-BABY-ON-THE-PLANET... and THOR. They're tight like that.

"If you're nice I might give you this bone."

The gang.

I wish I had this view out of my house! They're so blessed.

Baby THOR wasn't feeling so hot on the long drive home.

Pretty sure that poor Little Man had a fever- he was like a fireball when I held him in my lap!

...Of course, the second we got home, he started running around in typical dog-on-crack style. Back to his old self in no time. 


When a Carnivore Contemplates Vegetarianism.

I have always considered myself to be a full-fledged carnivore. A meat-and-potatoes girl, if you will. I grew up eating hot dogs, ribs, dried fish (an Icelandic delicacy... and my favorite food on the planet. Go ahead. Gag. I'm used to it.), filet mignon, super crispy bacon... pretty much everything, with the exception of chicken. We only ate that once in a blue moon. And I have an uncanny aversion to chicken because every time I eat it, I have yellow, slimy chicken fat, or cartilage, or veins, or some other nast-a-rama on my plate that I have no desire to put in my mouth, but usually do when it's too late. This usually results in chewed-up meat spit out on my plate that I'm sure no one wants to look at, and me running to the nearest toilet, gagging the same way you would if your nose ever encountered my-favorite-food-on-the-planet.

On the flip side, I never, ever liked salads. Ever. Lettuce bored me to tears. If you set a salad in front of me (maybe with the exception of a Cobb or a taco salad) and expected me to eat it for lunch or dinner, I would silently contemplate in my mind if you were crazy, and if you actually expect that to satisfy my current appetite for breaded Icelandic cod and carmelized potatoes, or a BBQ beef sandwich, or a gyro. If I'm in a good mood and feel like being nice to you, I'll eat it, and then secretly eat something else later. If not, I'll scoff at the absurdity of salad for dinner, and then tell you that I'm gonna go eat some real food. (Hi Mom! I love you! And your salads!)

But lately, my cravings have been taking a very strange turn. I think I have had so many bad meat experiences that extend even beyond my run-ins with chicken that I'm starting to fear eating meat, period. You have to admit, there is nothing worse than eating a piece of savory brisket, biting down and discovering that ALAS! That was not meat, but pure, unadulterated fat that is squishing around in your mouth, and who the hell doesn't cut this #$&%! off the meat before they serve it to humans?! THERE IS NOTHING WORSE THAN THIS.

Of course, my husband would tell you that he is married to the pickiest eater alive (who also eats dried fish). He deliberately refuses to make choices on what we eat, even if I explicitly tell him to go ahead and make the decision, because there is a 95.78% chance that I will either not like it or want something else. If confronted with a plain ol' piece of meat, I will trim every miniscule trace of fat or anything strange-looking from it, no matter how long it takes, an inherited trait that is consistently attributed to my dad by my mom (watching the two of us eat together can be quite entertaining). But oh, man, the looks Cody gets when I watch some of the things he voluntarily puts in his mouth. I have a zero-tolerance policy for such madness.

So on that note, recently when I go out, I find myself ordering things like tofu, or veggie sandwiches, or anything with beans and cheese (there are no words to describe my everlasting love for cheese). And I start to wonder if I am unconsciously becoming a vegetarian. Like if it's happening to me and I have no control over it. Then I start to think about things like well-done bacon, or my beloved dried fish, or Ruth's Chris Steak House, and I think, "No... no, no, no. That could never happen to me. I am a self-professed carnivore." But then I think about how much I love animals, and how sometimes when I eat ground beef there are bones or cartilage in it, and I get grossed out. That thought is usually followed by a ponderance of whether it is easy to eat entirely vegetarian when in restaurants, or planning a menu, or eating at the home of a friend or family member. My BFF Amber is a vegetarian, and the brilliance otherwise known as Stacy recently made the switch, so I know that it's a bit of a lifestyle overhaul. Could I really make those kinds of adjustments?

Amber suggested that I try it for a month. So I'm gonna attempt it. I don't know how long I will last given that I have not won any awards lately for self-discipline, but for the month of April, I will make a noble effort to eat meat-free meals. If anyone can make any good recommendations for vegetarian cookbooks, shoot them my way.

I'll be reporting on my progress, successes and failures over the next month. No. 2, over and out.