Saturday, September 23, 2006

Incident 475

The Day Fire, so called because it started on Labor Day, burns to the north. It's already cooked 130,000, whoops, make that 150,000 acres of California real estate. A realtor started it to ease the 'housing bubble.' Too much land on the market - let's just barbeque some - that'll drive the price back up, right? Actually it was started by somebody burning Paris Hilton dvds. Let that be a lesson - on holidays that honor the everyday worker, never, ever get off the couch.

I grew up in snow country. Sometimes late on a school night I'd sneak downstairs and turn on the porch light, hoping to see little flurries floating down, giving me hope for a 'snow day' and no school. Now ash was falling like snow, swirling in the porch light like so many SoCal snowflakes. My sons hoped for a 'soot day.' A tradition, although warped, continues.

Gotta go prepare the subterranean guest rooms. The Bunny family in the backyard is expecting about 327 extended family members, displaced by the fire, to arrive soon. This happened two years ago when a smaller, closer fire occurred. All kinds of critters moved in. "Smoking or non-smoking?" I would ask. Forest animals don't laugh much, and some lacked proper manners. The raccoons were the worst. They'd leave wet towels on the bathroom floor and get fur in the bathsoap. They would wash everything! I think they had OCD.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Josie Speaks

Hi - it's me, Josie, the dog, the one Annie didn't write about. I figured it was only fair to let you know I'm here too. I'm a very nice, well-mannered labrador retriever/border collie cross. I'm very smart. I spell better than most people. Whoops, I meant I smell better than most people. Annie's been very busy watching the Yankees march toward the playoffs, so I thought I'd sneak in here while she was gone. (Pardon my french poodle, but if you thought typing was a b!tch, try it sometime without opposable thumbs.)

Did I mention I was smart? I'm also very attentive and thoughtful. If you were here, I'd fetch you something. Anything! Over and over and over again. Because I'm a caring canine. And because obsessive compulsive disorders in border collies are well, obsessive. If you ever need someone to worry about you, I'm your dog.

Apparently this is not a character trait of some other dog in this house, while we won't mention names, but his rhymes with 'take' and 'snake,' and 'break.' And yes, he's good at all that stuff.

Who chewed up the legos?
Who stole Josie's squeaky toy...again?
Who doesn't know how to fetch?
Who uses his outside voice in the house?

You get the idea. Anyway, that stupid Scottie is trying to swipe my tennis ball again, so I gotta run.

Monday, September 4, 2006

Ode to Jake

There is something gluttonous, yet enviable, about being able to walk into a room or a life and immediately locate the most pleasant, comfortable place to recline. Whether it's the coziest corner of a sofa or a soul, there's a rare art form to finding it.

My nine-year-old son wanted a cat for his birthday. He's allergic to them, and I don't do litter boxes, so he opted for a "cat-sized dog." He thought a Scottish Terrier would be nice, so off I went to troll for his birthday present. I found a Scottie named "Jake," but no picture, so I requested a photo. A week went by before I got a response, explaining that all they had available was an old photo in which they had shaved him completely to keep him cool, so he looked a bit odd. In the photo, he looked like a naked but smiling rat. With a birthday fast approaching, it was at least a happy rat.

After Jake sent one of his animal rescue minions to review our house to see if it was up to his standards (it was), we were instructed to bring in our current dog, Josie - an over-achieving border collie/labrador cross, for a 'compatibility check.' On the way to her interview, I prepped Josie on proper Scottish traditions, and warned her, at least for the day, not to diss haggis, kilts or the Queen. She aced the test, even the verbal essay question about ending world hunger.

When we first met Jake, he was trolling the buffet at PetSmart, the other end of his leash attached to a young animal rescue volunteer. He must have been familiar with the food there because he was waddling his way about the spilled treats to find the best ones. I was expecting a cute little Scottie, like Jock from "Lady and the Tramp." Jake could have eaten Jock for dinner. He resembled "Citizen Kane" more than "Lady and the Tramp," his portly gentleman's style cloaked a "I'll-have-my-bacon-now" attitude.

Nonetheless, we took him home. He sat quietly between my sons in the back seat of the car, like a funny-looking friend with a unibrow. Upon arriving home, he promptly took up residence in Josie's doggie bed. No growling, no fighting - he did it by conveniently forgetting over and over that the bed did indeed belong to Josie. I would remind him of this fact, and he'd look at me like it was a glorious revelation. "Really," he seemed to say, "So sorry - I had no idea." Ten minutes later, he'd attempt another assault on poor Josie's bed. This continued until we all gave up.

Jake is here to stay, although we may have to leave just to get some peace and quiet. He's a furry, forty-pound trotting sausage who greets guests warmly by body-slamming their shins and howling in the finest of Scottish traditions. He has sauntered into our hearts and curled up next to the fire. And we wouldn't have it any other way.