Posts Tagged ‘dog sitting’

What’s up on Thanksgiving

November 28, 2013

I began my Thanksgiving with chilly morning walks for Sadie and Dexter, elegant standard poodles who require separate outings, thank you very much.

Their owners asked that I walk them one at a time, which I strongly prefer anyway. I find that two dogs, two leashes, multiple distractions and however many poop bags I end up with can lead to more confusion than I care to handle.

Also, I discovered during Sadie’s first walk that she enjoys barking and mildly lunging at any dog she encounters along the way. Since Sadie is 13 years old, and since I will be with her for just one week, I harbor no illusions about my ability to break her of this particular habit during our time together.

Fortunately it’s a very quiet neighborhood, and in three days we’ve only seen two dogs, so it’s hardly an issue. Both dogs are very sweet and docile all day long, though Sadie’s mischievous nature extends to a trick I’ve only heard about but never seen up till now—and that is grabbing the end of the toilet paper roll and pulling it out. Actually, I haven’t caught her doing it, though I think that would be funny. I’ve only seen the results, about 12 feet worth of toilet paper laid out across the bathroom floor in a perfect line. It’s pretty hilarious to find when you think you’re alone in a house.

Needless to say, I am thankful to be in the company of two entertaining, four-legged clowns this Thanksgiving. I’m preparing a dish to take to some friends’ home for a big dinner later this afternoon. Although it’s tempting, I won’t load up Sadie and Dexter to bring along, since my friends have a giant mastiff, and although all three dogs are good as gold, I don’t care to take chances that someone will get their nose out of joint.

When last I blogged, Dr. Mo and I were wrestling with the question of whether to sign a contract with a public relations firm to represent “Kiss and Tell.” After nine months, I feel like I’ve done about 75 percent of what I know how to do to market the book, so seeking help makes sense. We researched some other firms and asked dozens of people for their opinion. Honestly, there was a lot of disagreement. Plenty of people said DO NOT DO IT. And lots of people said THIS IS YOUR SHOT; DO IT.

We realized it was going to be a gamble. After much soul-searching, we threw the dice and decided to bet on “Kiss and Tell.” We signed a four-month contract last week with InsiderMedia out of Boca Raton. Already I’ve seen the difference, which is encouraging. A magazine in Fort Lauderdale needs a high-res photo of our cover for an article they want to do about us for Valentine’s Day; I wrote a 1,000-word blog yesterday for a relationship site; we did some fine-tuning on our website and Facebook page; and Dr. Mo wrote some tips on sustaining desire during the holidays for the company to use during marketing. I’m sure there’s much more to come.

The best thing for me is that the momentum of my life seems to have picked up, and that is a definite positive. When the Topamax made me so sick in August, I did pull out of it, but I don’t feel I’ve fully regained my normal energy or motivation. (Faithful blog readers will recall I started the Topamax in late summer as a migraine preventive, and immediately slid into a nasty six-week depression.)

Anyway, having the structure and contact of a relationship with a PR firm seems to be helpful for me at this stage, so that’s another thing to be thankful for on this particular day. I’m thankful as well for a few weeks at home here in sunny West Palm, although I thoroughly enjoyed a three-day trip to Charlotte, N.C. with Dr. Mo earlier this month for a book signing at Park Road Books. While there, I also watched the doctor at her professional best as she taped her live segment for “Charlotte Today,” a spot she does every month for the NBC affiliate.

Also in November I visited my former roommate, who moved to Cleveland about four years ago and took a job in a marketing department of a large law firm. A girlfriend from Austin flew in as well and we made it one of those fabulous girls’ weekends you never want to see end. Wonderful pubs and restaurants, the West End Market, Great Lakes Science Center and shopping at Crocker Park.

And, oh yes, cocktail hour with her parents.

My friend’s parents adhere to this quaint little tradition called cocktail hour. Like you see on “Mad Men.” Something I heard about but never experienced growing up in Richardson, Texas. Complete with ice bucket, olives, delectable snacks, napkins, drinks. Everything else gets put on hold. People sit down. Chat. Sip a drink. Have a little something to eat. Talk over the day’s events. Relax. Think about dinner.

It’s incredibly civilized. I could definitely fall in love with the whole ritual.

My vacation euphoria let my senses override what I know for certain: For me, alcohol equals a migraine. After my first (very moderate) cocktail hour, I woke up with a migraine, so I gave up the practice the day after I started it. I drank ginger ale on subsequent days, along with fancy snacks on cocktail napkins and a bit of sophisticated conversation. I am sad to report it wasn’t the same. I mourn my inability to imbibe, but I assume my long-range health (insert giant yawn here) will benefit. Sigh.

So that’s it. A Thanksgiving report, and a very good one overall as you can see. A bit of complaining in the headache department as I am wont to do, but I am definitely grateful for progress on the book front, good friends to be having dinner with, happy dogs here in the house with me, and loving friends and family all year long.

Plus, the chilly day in West Palm has turned bright and sunny, and it’s blown away the heavy humidity. So it is truly glorious outside. Before long it’ll be time to get Sadie and Dexter out for walks again. Happy days!

Mission accomplished, but it was a sweaty task

June 5, 2010

At the beginning of last week I set some internal deadlines for getting needed work done on my book. I also promised to post here with the results—or lack thereof.

I’m happy to report I did indeed get an outline completed and have a much clearer mental picture of what the book will look like. I survived and even flourished during long periods of no face-to-face human contact; my most productive times were the most solitary, not surprisingly. (Although my phone interviews were nice excursions into lively interaction.)

I set up shop in the den of the house where I was dog sitting, and made myself comfortable, despite the annoyance of a recurring migraine during the first of my days here. So far, so good.

But life has a funny way of taking you down the side roads. Around lunchtime on Memorial Day, I looked up from my absorbing work with the realization that I was pretty darn warm. The thermostat told me it was 81, despite the 76-degree setting. I called the number of the service company the homeowners left me, and naturally no one arrived till 5:30. By that time, it was 87 in the house and I was cranky.

The serviceman diagnosed a bad breaker, which he declared himself unable to fix because of liability issues. So I packed up my canine charge for a night in a cooler clime, and returned the next day to meet the electrician I’d finally managed to corral late the evening before. You will perhaps have already guessed that my hot environs were NOT due to something as simple as that bad breaker. No, it was the AC compressor.

So now we’re deep into a second visit from the service company, a new diagnosis, estimates of repairs, overseas calls to the homeowners, ordering of the new units, day-long installation processes—oh yeah, it was all that and more. The process took three more (very hot) days. Did I get much book work done during this time? No I did not. Do I feel guilty about it? Yes I do.

But a lot of life seems to happen on the side trips, so during these inevitable off-road excursions, I try to manage my expectations and not let my irritation take over for too long. But it was hard this past week. I’m juggling myriad management problems involving my property in Texas (it needs repairs before I can rent it out again), and so combined with the unexpected issues during house sitting, I became overwhelmed by the sheer number of projects I was responsible for shepherding to completion.

But you know what? I realized even in the midst of it all, that it was a phase. That it felt really bad, but that it wasn’t going to last; one way or another it would pass. And I was right. Today, Dusty and I are enjoying the efficient air-conditioning of a new unit, and two days ago I found a handyman to tackle three of the most pressing issues I was worried about on my Texas property.

It’s all good. With the sweat of my brow, I got through the worst of it.

And now. If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some book work to get back to!

Deadlines: Who needs them?

May 24, 2010

Since my working life was spent as a journalist, I have no experience living a deadline-free existence.

Always, when I was awake, I carried a detailed, internal list of which story was due when, what needed to be done to complete each story and in what sequence they needed to be completed. Attached to this psychic list was the requisite guilt, which—while painful—was a good thing, in that it enabled me to actually finish stories (frequently on time) for publication in the newspaper.

I mention this to illustrate my complete and ongoing delight at NOT having said list lurking in my psyche any longer. It’s a revelation and a constant source of joy.

However, I DO have guilt about not working more hours daily on my book, but I’m learning that without deadlines, it’s hard to develop the knack for when to finish what. And a book is so unformed compared to a newspaper article. Giant swaths of research time are required; statistics have to be corralled; outlines must be created; agents wooed; publishers contacted. It’s a far cry from interviewing sources and sharing their stories.

Still, I love what I’m doing. The research has turned me into a semi-expert, the interviews are engaging and I’m getting a good feel for the shape of one of the first chapters I’ve dug into. However, I still need to create a more detailed outline for the book, and now that I’ve seriously studied the 1100 surveys we’ve collected so far, I think that’s feasible. But WHEN will I do that? And how will I hold myself to getting it done? That’s what I struggle with.

It’s not like I can’t set deadlines for myself. I can. But I’d know they were fake deadlines and I’d know I could push them. After a lifetime, I can tell the difference.

And it’s not like I’m undisciplined in general. Dishes never sit in the sink overnight, bills don’t go unpaid, friends’ birthdays are acknowledged. I’m able to harness my productive energy for small stuff pretty consistently. It’s the big tasks that I tend to put off, in favor of those more manageable ones.

Also to consider: I’m much better about keeping a commitment to another than one to myself. This is why having a trainer works so well for me. Without an appointment, I can find 17 good reasons why today isn’t a good day to go to the gym, and 11 reasons why exercising tomorrow actually makes more sense. And, naturally, I can do the same thing the next day. That inked commitment on my calendar to trainer Chris is another matter entirely. I work around it, guard it, keep it. Result: I’ve been at my optimum weight for almost 4 years now. Not a bad result at all.

So. How to transfer that knowledge about myself to the book project?

I’ve been giving this some thought. I have no shortage of smart, editor-type friends I could ask to play the role of deadline-enforcer for me. I could create a calendar of “due dates” for chapters and commit to having it done for “my editor” by those times. And it may come to that. But with my work history, I find it’s such a relief to not have looming deadlines that I am unwilling to take that step.

Instead, I’ve earmarked the next two weeks as a time to dig in and see what I can get done outline-wise without an external boss. I’m dog sitting for some friends in my former neighborhood, which means I’ll be spending lots of hours in a comfortable setting with an elderly dog—an ideal environment for concentration, methinks. I visited their house yesterday for orientation and found a spot in their nice den to hook up my computer. I’m thinking it’s going to be a friendly little work retreat. Bonus: Comforting presence of sweet pup in the same room!

So. That’s my deadline solution—for the moment. We’ll see if it works. And I’ll try to be accountable to you blog readers at least, and let you know how it’s going a week from now.

So check back! And please send good thoughts.

Thank you, thank you.