Albany Outing

Today was another excellent example for the little shepherd in how things really are here for a guide dog; it was a very long, busy and full day. I think I wore her out rather thoroughly because by about lunch time she was slowing down considerably.

We started our day with a trip into Albany for a doctor’s appointment because among the many stupid requirements for this damn prerequisite class I need to have an immunization form filled out and as luck would serve my doctor’s new move to a paperless office has netted a loss of my shot records. Ugh. So, I had to have my blood drawn today to determine what the status of my immunizations were and if I required anything for this form’s completion. Good times.

Uschi, in harness, lying on the bridge over Washington Park LakeFrom there we walked over to Washington Park and I proceeded to march Uschi over practically every square inch of the park. We walked through the tulips again and we walked around the lake and then we just walked around randomly. And then Alice called to let me know she was all set for lunch so we walked over to meet her and then headed back the way we came to the Iron Gate Cafe for a yummy lunch out in their little courtyard.

Uschi did extremely well today and I am very proud of her. I think if she could talk she’d say she was being unduly tortured today what with all the work and the great amount of walking, but other than showing a bit of fatigue she did phenomenally well. She was only mildly distracted throughout the day, including in the park, and most of that was while I was trying to take her picture. (She’s such a brat.) As for the fatigue, I think she just needs to buck it up and realize that this lazy lifestyle she’s grown accustomed to over the winter is not the norm around here. And, really, she’s only two; I don’t see any reason she should be acting like a senior citizen in harness.

Uschi, in harness, lying by one of the fountain pools at the Empire State Plaza with the Capitol in the backgroundAnyway, after lunch we accompanied Alice back to the Plaza and then Uschi and I strolled around the fountains, which haven’t been turned on yet, and I snapped this lovely shot (to the right) of her in front of the back of the Capitol. It may possibly be my most favorite photo I’ve taken of her yet and I’m rather astounded at the reflection in the pool because in person all you can see is black water.

Of course, that was hardly the end of our day as we headed back towards home and went to the library. I exchanged some books and picked up some others and then we parked ourselves at a table for a bit so I could work on my never ending dissertation. Josh met us a bit later and we made a quick pit stop at Price Chopper before heading to his house for our bi-weekly Write-In wherein I wrote an astonishing 1,833 words in my guide dog book. Go me. Or rather go word sprints because only 166 of that was written outside of sprints. Stupid inner-editor.

Now we are home and we are both mighty tired. But there are some additional flower and shepherd photos on this gallery page if you wish to see them. G’night!

Random

My computer is running like ass today. Not sure what’s up with that. But the sluggishness is very annoying.

Anyway, last night’s turkey dinner was quite yummy. The carrot cake came out perfectly, which impressed me greatly since it was my first attempt at making not just that flavor of cake but a layer cake in general. As I’ve said I’m not much into sweets, so I don’t really do pies and cakes because they’d just be a waste. And on that rare occasion I do want to nibble a confection, it would be rather odd to try and give away a cake with a missing piece. Cream cheese frosting still is the bane of my existence which says a lot since all I did was ice the cake and it was still quite drama laden. Oh, well.

Had our bi-weekly SWAG Write-In last night. We were at Flavour Cafe again and the staff there all immediately recognized Uschi from the last time. I haven’t been giving her name out publicly because she’s so aware of her name and a might more solicitous than Yara.1 So they’ve taken to calling her Lady, which cracks me up because all I can think of is the Disney movie. Anyway, I managed to write a bit more in my demons and angels story and even flesh out an outline. And by “outline” I mean I have a document that very probably resembles the inside of my brain in that when I was typing it all it made complete sense to me, but I think when I revisit it I’ll be completely baffled with the jumble of thoughts and plot points I jotted down. I have at least made two Big Decisions on it: (a.) I’m fairly certain it’ll be a young adult book and (b.) I really need to re-read Paradise Lost because looking up scripture is making me slightly crazy. Also, it’s a good poem and it’s been awhile since I’ve read it.

I’ve made an odd observation about my dogs’ behavior when I go to the bathroom. For reasons I’ve never figured out, when I enter the bathroom for any reason this seems to trigger a rather random response in both my present and past guides. Yara used to take this action in the same vein as if I said “crate” with great authority; while Uschi seems to think it means she should go into the kitchen and drink her entire bowl of water. Not sure where either of these stemmed from, but it’s somewhat amusing. If a bit confounding.

Speaking of the cute and squishy one, she’s back to being marginally odd about the kitchen. I thought we were making progress. She hadn’t gotten back into eating meals in there, which I had pretty much resigned myself to. I’m almost used to the extra step of crating her to eat. But she was at least entering the kitchen and taking treats and not acting like it was all some sophisticated torture session I’d devised. Then, yesterday she just squatted and peed on the floor. So it seems any progress has taken a sharp backward turn. Though, she did lay down at my feet while I did dishes at one point yesterday, I didn’t even bother calling her in this morning.

I didn’t go to SWAG on Sunday, so I can’t blame it on cat trauma, not that there would have been any. We’ll be at my father’s for the weekend, so she’ll not only get to meet Yara but also get some doggy playtime. I think that can only help her at this point. Oh, and I’m hoping that she and Tally will get some time together next week, too.

  1. Though, I doubt I’ll ever have a guide to rival Dolly on that one.

April 15, 2011

Yesterday’s SWAG meeting went quite well. I actually wrote some stuff. I even won a word sprint, much to my own surprise. It was nice to take a break from academic writing. I feel like I’ve been neglecting that creativity outlet for too long.

As for Uschi, she was relatively fine. There was a bit of nervousness around the cats, but nothing major and at least some of it could be considered her wanting to play. For the most part the cats and Uschi mutually ignored each other. We did have Uschi go up close to Risu while she was lying on the sofa and all was calm.And other than a quick moment when Risu jumped down off the window seat by my chair and Uschi made a small lunge to chase her, it was a non-event.

As for me, I think I have cold. I’m a bit stuffed up and my head has been funky all day. It’s not a migraine — at least not yet — so I guess there’s a blessing in that. So, I spent the day at home not really doing much of anything. I read some, I tried to get my computer to cooperate with burning an audiobook I borrowed from Alice (and didn’t succeed), and I horsed around with the dog. I did catch this announcement when catching up on my blog reads, which caused some alarm. Security is always an issue with the Inernet, no matter how tight it is there’s always some jerk at a computer working to muck things up. Alas.

April 14, 2011

So remember all that stress I’ve been nattering on about lately? Well, it seems to be just fine now.

As if she were channeling a broken down car going to a mechanic, Uschi was totally and completely unfazed by everything today while in Becky’s presence. We even took a quick trip to Josh’s to see if his cats would affect her and she was anything but agitated. If anything, she was normal to the point of wanting to play with them — she even whined at them like she does with Jenn’s cat! I’m relieved, I guess, but I sort of feel like maybe I made a mountain out of a molehill? Or at the very least that everyone else thinks I’m embellishing how odd Uschi has been. I mean, she isn’t even having her random freakouts at home about nothing. I’m not complaining, but it would have been nice to not seem like I was overreacting about the situation. At the very least, I was glad to have a cat encounter under our belt and not have Uschi flip out. And if she had, it was good to have someone there who may have been able to help.

The calming cap is essentially useless, but it did give Becky and me a few good laughs trying to figure out how the contraption works. Uschi minds it to the extent that she’s aware there’s this stupid thing on her face, but she isn’t bothered by it and I think if I left it in reach she’d probably lick it to death like everything else.

I’m planning to take it with me to SWAG, since it’s at Josh’s, and I anticipate the only use it will serve is as an odd conversation piece to distract us from writing. We’re good at the distraction thing. Maybe even more than we are at writing.

Stuff and Nonsense

Yesterday Uschi and I had our first follow-up with our instructor, Jay. His timing, I must say, was rather perfect because we’ve been incredibly busy the last several days. So, Jay accompanied us as we ran around downtown Schenectady checking off my long list of errands. We even stopped by the antique shop that we wandered through during training — wherein I picked up a perfect birthday gift for a certain patriarch. Mostly, we walked and walked and walked. And other than the fact that she decided randomly to defecate whilst in harness and working, Uschi did flawlessly. Not really sure why she ended up having that accident, especially since I’d given her the opportunity to go before we’d left the house and she seemed quite convinced that she only had to tinkle. Oh, well.

We even managed to find a dog to walk by a few times to show Uschi’s improvement with her animal distraction. In fact, other than an initial startled jump at the fact the other dog was barking its head off at her, she was pretty much nonplussed by his presence. Jay seemed pleased with us as a team, which I am hardly surprised about as I’m pretty pleased with us, too.

And in continuing with our frenzied and active schedules of late, we headed off to a SWAG Write-In a few hours after Jay left. Last night’s was at Flavour’s Cafe in downtown Troy and it was the very first time I had been there. Actually, that’s only partially true as I did step all the way inside the doorway when we were at the Victorian Stroll last December, but it was completely full so we ended up going elsewhere. It’s a wonderful cafe and we were able to nab a large table in the side room to spread out our laptops, books and food. I was very impressed with the food, which was incredibly yummy! Their portion sizes are ridiculously huge, too. Quite a rarity on both counts in my cafe-going experience where usually I find I only marginally enjoy the food and/or I’m still hungry afterward because I only had enough to nibble on.

The Write-In itself was kind of a non-event for me in terms of writing since my head decided it was the prime time to be annoying. This particular migraine came with some random nausea that seemed to be directly correlated to the amount of light I was exposed to thus making it impossible to look at my laptop screen. So, I spent the majority of the night reading Rage and I don’t regret that choice at all. Actually, I’m hoping to get my copy of it and/or Hunger signed by the author tomorrow at the Empire State Book Festival, which is happening for the second year and I am beyond thrilled!

On a somewhat related topic, the other day I gave my stats a casual glance and very nearly fell out of my desk chair. I tend to ignore my stats as a whole other than to give a passing look at how traffic arrives here. Generally I check my referrers often and usually peek at my search terms. The former has led to many an interesting read and the latter tends to give me a good laugh. But what caught my eye the other day was a substantial spike in traffic. I did some investigating and discovered some chatter on the ‘net about my experiences with a certain author. Honestly, it amazes me the longevity that whole thing has had. There hasn’t been a day go by since that incident that at least one person hasn’t come to this site through some mention of the entire event and usually it’s a good deal more than one visitor. Personally, I’ve put it all behind me. Though, a few months back I had some rather disturbing confirmation that the author has not, which is a shame for her and had she not had the audacity to call me such vile things I would probably have some concern about her mental stability. But from the cursory search back it seems there are more than enough replacements for her to keep Internet drama alive and well.

I was asked recently if the whole thing had left me wishing to avoid writing reviews, especially those that aren’t glowing. Honestly, it hasn’t. For all the crazy that occurred and the slanderous things said about me and spread about the ends of the intarwebs, I have had an exponentially greater number of wonderful experiences with authors. Both those I know quite well personally and strangers alike. I think, for me, the thing that was the most difficult to get over was that small personal connection that I had with the author because there had been a dialogue there between us, albeit formal and short, which led to her sending me the a copy of the book for free. Thus I was obligated to read it and give my thoughts, which was exactly the reason for my gentle tactfulness in what I wrote, as it was only expected she would read them. So, having that blow up in my face was kind of astounding. And I’m not naive enough to think it couldn’t happen again, though, if it ever did I do hope it isn’t such a wide-scale event!

However, completely ceasing sharing my thoughts on books I’ve read (or for that matter anything else) is a disservice to those that are looking for such insights.1 There are many things in my life — especially books — that I’ve only decided to try because of the reviews that were written about them. In the end I may not agree with those reviews, but they were still an asset. As for shying away from negative reviews, I think such a thing is completely pointless and am the first to avoid sites and specific reviewers who will only do so. I find that without that comparison of things that did not appeal to the reviewer, it’s impossible to know how much their viewpoint truly meshes with mine. Basically, it’s a skewed image. So, in case you haven’t been following my sporadic reviews enough to gather, I don’t plan to cease reviewing or censor myself and only publicize the things I strenuously adore. I plan to do exactly what I’ve always done: write about things that I feel passionately about as it strikes my fancy.

  1. While I am always thrilled if something I’ve written proves useful to someone else it is worth noting that essentially this website is for me. It will forever astound me that anyone has even a passing interest in anything I write here.