Art & Stuff

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to be more consistent with updating and at the risk of sounding like a broken record I made a few decisions that should help with that and I’m really excited about. Specifically, I’m going to utilize the different domains I have that are basically dormant and focus my posting. However, I also just started a new job and so presently most of my time has been spent either working or sleeping with occasional eating thrown in to keep me from keeling over unconscious. So, despite my enthusiasm to do so I’m opting not to fiddle around with websites for the time being.1

Instead, I wanted to share this wonderful drawing Dany Gonzalez did of me and the girls:

Graphic artwork of me practicing yoga with Yara, Uschi and Dolly playfully surrounding me

Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect piece of art to print and hang on my living room wall. The more I look at it the more things I notice. I really dig Dany’s style and I’m impressed by how faithfully each of the girls have been captured. But since this was a collaboration, there’s also a lot of history that’s showcased here from the girls’ reactions to me practicing yoga to Dolly stealing my harness.

  1. Except, of course, the few changes I already have made around here.

Breaking the Routine

Yeah, I know, that whole post daily about stuff hasn’t been happening which I’m sure is no surprise to anyone. This is mostly because I haven’t really had anything worthwhile to report and I find it utterly depressing to post essentially the same status update repeatedly. Also, hunting for a job is a soul-sucking pit of despair that I figure no one wants to be burdened with my constant whinging on about.

Nevertheless, Brooke asked for some Uschi antics and there just so happened to be a funny thing I’ve been meaning to share.

In my experience, guide dogs really thrive on having a solid daily routine.1 It’s actually one of the few things about Uschi that is very shepherd-like because she very often makes it her mission that we stick to the predetermined schedule. Most notably when DST ended she started trying to drag me out of bed an hour earlier much to my chagrin.2

Of course, she wouldn’t be Uschi if she didn’t get distracted by everything so I have a few cues that I use to prod her along in our daily activities. And sometimes when I forget to use them I find her monitoring the neighborhood from her vantage point on the back of the sofa or, more commonly, flouncing around the house with a toy. I hadn’t realized how she had come to expect these things until the other day.

We had taken a short walk around my neighborhood and Uschi had stopped a few times to attempt to relieve herself before finally doing her business. I’d sort of given up prodding her along with the usual guide dog handler cue of “get busy” because clearly it was pointless and I knew she understood this walk was for exactly that anyway. When we returned home I removed her harness and leash and she started to run off in the direction of her crate anticipating her morning breakfast. Usually I prod her on with a cheerful “breakfast time!” as I take off my boots and coat. Instead, I said “get busy” and I probably wouldn’t have caught it if I wasn’t looking at Uschi exactly as it came out of my mouth.

She whipped her head around to look at me, which may have caused her to lose momentum in her bound or she was trying to skid to a stop anyway. But she wiped out on the hardwood floor in the dining room and spun around in a full circle before jumping back up and sitting down in that exact spot. It was truly one of the most hilarious things I have ever witnessed, but rather than immediately collapse into giggles I quickly amended my “command” and sent her running off to her crate again.

I know, you’re probably thinking that dogs don’t understand English so there’s no way Uschi could have thought I wanted her to do her business right there in the middle of the living room. And maybe you’re right, but then you weren’t there to witness the utter bewilderment I caused with a simple slip of the tongue.

Also, and not entirely related, but I was typing this up while Uschi was eating her breakfast this morning and honestly it is really unnerving to witness a dog devouring a bone-in piece of meat. Especially when it’s within earshot. Or, at least, I find it unnerving and I admit this might be in part due to the fact that I don’t eat meat.

  1. Daily routines are a pretty common thing for working dogs of all sorts and even pet owners benefit from having a schedule, especially if they have multiple pets.
  2. At least she isn’t as bad as Yara who pretty much constantly expected me to be five minutes earlier than I was for anything. She’s mellowed a bit in retirement, but she does still try to herd people out the door if she thinks there’s a chance she’s going somewhere.

Snowed In

Had a super fun week at Dad’s. Did the holiday thing with family. Ate lots of yummy food. Was entertained by the dogs playing. Went snowmobiling with Keith. Very belatedly took Keith out for his birthday and saw The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Um, and probably a bunch of other things I’m blanking on. But I’m also glad to be home again, especially given the very wintery weather we’re currently in the midst of.

Anyway, not much to report for my today on my goals. Didn’t bother with yoga today since I got quite a workout with all the shoveling that had to be done. I expect the same will go for tomorrow since it’s currently snowing about quite hard such that it doesn’t even look like there was any shoveling done even though I’ve gone out twice myself and Mom’s also shoveled. Mostly, I spent the day snuggled up under a throw blanket playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf with Uschi curled up beside me doing her best imitation of the most exhausted GSD on the planet.1 Spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to come up with a name for my town. Originally, I was going to go with Mirkwood, since that was my town in the GameCube AC. But eventually I decided on Alastian, which I’ll babble on about another time.

On the job front, I did my usual poking through postings and being totally dejected about the entire process. However, while I was at Dad’s I was alerted to a posting from a local college that interests me very much, so I did get all the necessary paperwork in order to mail off tomorrow.

  1. Interesting how draining a week of nearly nonstop play can be.

A New Year

While I like the concept of personal improvement through self-evaluation and goal-setting, I find New Year’s resolutions to be entirely pointless. But having said that, I have a somewhat lengthy list of goals that I intend to work on throughout this year. And since one of those is essentially to blog more1 I’ll be chronicling all of that right here. Of course, I fully intend to continue my normal posting of whatever strikes my fancy because I’m the first to admit my life is hardly thrilling and a daily account of such is going to be mighty with the boring. Nevertheless, I figure this is as good a venue as any to hold myself accountable for the goals I’ve laid out for myself. Which is not to say I’m going to be rigid about this and expecting to accomplish every darn thing by year’s end. I’m thinking of all this as more a road map for stuff I want to do and, well, I’ll take stock as time goes on.

So, here goes:

Job — I need a new job and that’s all I’m saying on that. :-p

Fitness — Since the pain issues are behind me2 I’ve let my yoga fall by the wayside. I would like to get back to some yoga each day, but for now I’m striving for a few times a week at the very least. Especially on days where Uschi and I don’t get out for our marathon walking.

Photography — I’ve had my shiny red Nikon D3100 for over a year now and even though I’ve learned a lot I still feel like a total newb with it. I’d also like to invest in at least one new lens for it because I’m really lacking in zoom and macro features. Really, I just want to get more comfortable with my camera and continue to improve on my own photography skills (or lack thereof).

Food — Believe it or not I went almost all of last year without baking anything. There were a bunch of reasons for this, but it still surprises me because not only do I really enjoy baking, I find it a great stress reliever and I’m sure that first goal alone will require that in spades. Plus, I have so many cupcake designs I’ve been wanting to make! But even more than that I’d really like to make an effort to make more diverse dishes. Cooking for one tends to lead me to be lazy because it seems like so much effort for just me and since I don’t eat meat I find that I fall back on the same meals again and again even though I can make something else.

Writing — Academic writing is now a thing of the past3 which means from a creative standpoint I should be writing almost nonstop and instead I’ve found myself doing very much the opposite. Even blogging seems beyond me. And I would like this to change.

Books — No school means more reading!

Websites — Enough procrastinating! Either I get the sites updated (or off the ground!) or I’m letting domains expire and making space for hostees. Also, I think this place needs a bit of a facelift.

Gaming — Okay, truth is this is just to ensure my list had some fun in it, but also I got Animal Crossing: New Leaf for Christmas and I figure I’ll be playing that a bit almost every day for quite awhile.

Uschi — In an effort to work more with Uschi on her one major distraction, I’m hoping to get her enrolled in some training classes. I’m thinking eventually we could do rally obedience or even get her certified as a therapy dog. At any rate, I almost always have something to report on the shepherd so she deserves a goal catergory all her own. ;-)

Now this is not an exhaustive list by any means, but these are the big ones I’ve had in mind. I’m sure I’ll tweak this as the year goes, but for now I’ll see how these all pan out.

  1. At the least I hope to blog more than I did last year!
  2. Well, there is still pain, but certainly not as extreme.
  3.   At least not a thing of the foreseeable future!

On the Horizon

It’s dreary out and I feel this post is a good reflection of that. Over the last day we’ve been having the wettest possible snow. It weights an absolute ton. And so I opted to take my hour of shoveling as substitution for today’s daily yoga. You can call it cheating, but frankly I’m too sore and exhausted to give a fig.

All kinds of stuff has been going on over the last two months with regard to work. I keep thinking I’ll have something worthy of announcing, but it’s all complicated and nothing is truly settled so mostly I’ve been vague. I do have a Very Important Test in April that I just spent more money on than I think is adequately fair. I’m really excited about the whole thing, but I’ll be much more excited if something actually comes of it. I’ll be utterly over the moon if that happens quickly, though, these things rarely do.

Tomorrow is my first appointment with my new rheumatologist. It’s actually a good time for this given I’ve been having increased issues with pain the last week. The stiffness and pain is back in my neck — and actually it was bothering me on the opposite side last week, which was a first — and I’m noticing issues in my left leg again. We’ll see what comes of it. In other health news, I’ve had an unpleasant bout with migraines over the last month. I think it might be from a combination of sinus issues and allergies since I tend to get migraines when I’m extremely stuffed up, but the last few have been incredibly bad ones and I’m sad to say I’m seriously thinking I may have to go back on meds.

I completely have forgotten the other things I was going to post because the phone just rang and utterly distracted me.