Birthday Month

There are a number of reasons I don’t celebrate “birthday month” or even acknowledge my birthday at all (it’s the 16th of August – hey there, Madonna, my better birthday sibling). It goes back years, to when I was a tween and my mother, who decided to do nothing special for my birthday that year told me that the only person your birthday will ever matter to is you.

Birthdays themselves have always been pretty miserable affairs for me. My earliest memories of them involve my mother screaming at me that she wished she’d never had children, that my being born had ruined her life.  It was pre-Roe, so I guess I’m lucky to even have a birthday, let alone a birthday month. Elvis died on my birthday. My mom found out she was pregnant with my sister on my birthday; it was unplanned and she spent 3 days sobbing in bed, and I didn’t get a present or a cake and was told to shut up if I mentioned it. I was Murph’s age that year. I mean, I guess it should be some comfort that she never wanted her to be born, either. But it wasn’t. Later, she ceased acknowledging it all unless there was something truly hateful she could do and then let me know on my birthday. If there was a way to make anything hurt, she did it then:

  • cancelling my car insurance without warning,;
  • cutting me off the family’s AAA without warning;
  • disconnecting the cell phone (again a family plan for which I was helping to pay) on that date with no warning;
  • sending me letters filled with all the things she hated about me or that I’d done to offend her that year so they’d arrive on that date;
  • delivering awful news, usually in an email or a letter, on that date;
  • offering me and Murph her house at the beach for a couple of days on my birthday, then reneging with no notice or apology and devastating him;
  • suing me for grandparent’s visitation when I wouldn’t let her very alcoholic, drunk driving friend be around the then 5yo Murph;
  • and then, last year. Murph asked, begged and pleaded with her to send my Vitamix down to Key West because we were really missing our kitchen stuff, and I was sad, and she sent the pitcher without the base. Not even kidding. She sent the damned top part and not the bottom and we sat in the living room and though about how much she must hate us because sending nothing would have been better.

She has since completely refused to return another thing she agreed to keep for us when we moved — even HIS things, even when I’ve offered to have them picked up, even when I’ve offered to pay for shipping them, even, even, even. And she took all of the things that were meaningful to us from our professional Kitchenaid Mixer to our Cuisinart (the kiddo is actually competing in a national baking championship and needs to use these things, and she won’t give us back the thousands of dollars of equipment he needs to compete) to all of my pre-digital photographs. My child literally has not got one photo of me as a child or young person or teen because of her. She’s got the few baby things of my only child that I cherished. And my sister? Oh, the same. She’s got important, meaningful things, too. And they will not return them, if the even have them and haven’t thrown them in the trash. Because yes, that is who they are. I’m going to have to sue them for the money that it will cost to replace them (to which I am entitled by law), and I have a lawyer in place to do it, but it’s hard to sue your family. I mean, for me. Not for my mom. It’s easy for her. Especially on my birthday, or during my birthday week, or during my birthday month.

Wonder why I’ve had a migraine since July 31? Pondering why I get so depressed in the middle of the summer? Growing up with this is not without impact, and while I’ve resolved a lot of it and let it go, birthday month is still really, really bad for me, every year, no matter what it looks like on social media. It’s gotten to where I dread everything about my birthday, my birthday week, and now my birthday month, and then I expect awful things, and am relieved if it’s simply forgotten. It’s a stark reminder that the most important person in my young life wished and still wishes, I had never been born. 

Truly, it’s a fraught and stressful time. Were I alone, I’d ignore it completely and hide because of the dreadful feelings it brings to the surface and all the panic that characterizes August because of August’s past. But there’s this amazing kid I have now, and he wants to make a fuss. Because he’s really glad I was born, and he enjoys a party, and he makes a mean cake, and he loves me. And I tell him that his birthday is my most favorite day because it’s when I met him. And it’s true. So he likes birthdays of all kind for all people and critters and video games.

This year, I told him that I wanted a rose quartz bracelet with a St. Therese of Lisieux medal (the little flower of Jesus) from PowerBeads by Jen and that was all. We’re not particularly religious, and even less traditionally “Catholic,” but we do love her. We keep her statue with roses wherever we live, and Daniel even found a Pop Vinyl one for travel. She does miracles. And magic.

 

birthday month

 

Murph has gotten me PowerBeads bracelets before for birthdays. They’re truly stunning. I have turquoise one with Ganesha, and a green jade one with a Nepalese medal inscribed with an ancient blessing for health and long life. I wear them a lot. People always ask about them. He wasn’t happy that I was picking this year because he had something else in mind, and he likes to shop for me. But he agreed in a grumpy kind of way.

 

birthday month

 

I reached out to Jen a couple weeks ago to ask if it was possible to do one (her business is growing fast, and I didn’t want to have to stalk all the local shops, and I didn’t know if she was still able to do custom things), and this week, THIS arrived as a gift from her, with her blessing. I’m not a huge believer in crystals or oils or religion, but I can tell you that when I put it on, I could feel the energy in it. I won’t even let the kiddo touch it. It’s exactly what I wanted, and it was so unexpected.

 

birthday month

Birthday Month

 

Thank you, Jen. It’s perfect and powerful and beautiful, and I may never take it off. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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15 Things You Probably Don’t Have in Your Hurricane Kit

Last year, when we were new, not just to Florida, and not just to South Florida, but to Key West, we were told that we needed to get our Hurricane Kit together. What were we supposed to include? The usual suspects like water, flashlights, batteries, a radio, medicines we need, Bandaids, pet food and such. This list pretty much says it all.  But having lived through Hurricane Irma, our Hurricane Kit (aka Doomsday Survival Box) has changed a bit. Once you’ve evacuated your home and then returned to a fair amount of destruction? You have a different perspective. So this year, along with the stuff that’s recommended, this is what you’ll find in our “go tote box” that you might not have thought to include. Whether you decide to shelter in place or evacuate, these are the things that you might not think to have on hand but will glad that you do.

And to make your life easier, you can click on any photo to find out more about the product!

WaterBOB

What on earth is a WaterBOB? It’s the answer to not having 62 cases of water in your trunk because you pick up an extra crate “just in case” every time you go to the store. These are especially useful if you live in an area where your water supply can be contaminated by a water main break or spillage due to storm surge. They’re cheap and a lifesaver if you do end up with a “boil water” alert that lasts forever. These are useful for folks who have harsh winters as well. They fit right into a bathtub, you fill it with water, and you’ve got gallons of potable water right at hand. They do sell out, and they get more expensive as the end of August approaches. I bought one in November for $19.99. Totally worth it for the peace of mind and the convenience!

Extra Gasoline

I have never been a strong proponent of keeping gas in the garage (or anywhere but in the gas tank of my car, really), but after Irma? I strongly advise that you keep at least one extra 5-gallon tank with you (or more than one, or a larger one) even if you fill it right before the storm and then use it right after. On the islands, gas was a huge commodity to evacuate, and once we were off the islands? There was little gas to be found from about 4 days before the storm to until about 4 days after. You do a surprising amount of driving after a hurricane or a natural disaster, and gas is a priority. And remember, even if gas stations have gas, they require electric for the pumps to work and the card readers to take your credit or debit card. So spring for a couple of gas tanks. Worst case? You’ll use them and it won’t be an issue. Also, when news of a storm heading your way gets out, these will skyrocket to about $90 each. Buy when you don’t need one.

Fix a Flat or Slime Tire Repair Kit

This seems odd, right? Telling anyone to put tire stuff in their hurricane kit? But I will tell you from personal experience that the guys who come out to fix your tires after a hurricane are cleaning up, literally and figuratively. Hurricanes are primarily wind storms (the water is storm surge is where the water becomes problematic; it’s not usually the rain). And when you’ve got stuff blowing around in hurricane force winds? You’re driving over broken glass and stray nails and all manner of debris. Unless you want to wait hours for AAA or go broke paying the folks who come out to repair your tires? The $10 or $20 you spend on this will save you time, aggravation and money.

 

Bug Spray

I don’t just mean a little Off or Skin So Soft. I mean, a hurricane will stir up insects the likes of which you’ve never seen, and they’ll be pretty angry about it and looking for revenge against you. Yes, you need to keep yourself and your kids sprayed. But I would recommend washing your post-hurricane clothes (before the storm, of course) in permethrin and then putting them in Ziploc bags so that when you venture out after the storm, you’ll already be keeping the bugs away. Don’t know about that? Check this. I’ve used it for Murph’s camp shoes and socks for years, but we use it a lot more living in paradise. And while you’re at it, get some good house spray to repel insects, too. I’m as environmentally-friendly as the next person, and I like essential oils, too. Peppermint will repel ants. But post-storm bugs call for DDT and Napalm, not some lavender in a diffuser lit by candles. You will only be sorry if you don’t plan ahead because after the storm? This stuff will be gone.


Rat Poison or Humane Traps

One of the fun facts about hurricanes and tornadoes and other natural disasters is that the vermin come out of everywhere after them. Last year, when we returned to Key West, Prince Nedward at first artfully arranged the roof rats he was killing on the kitchen floor or near the door and sat watching as we saw his contributions to our common survival and waiting for praise.

hurricane kit hurricane kit

 

But that got old, and pretty soon he was leaving them wherever he killed them, and then he got really annoyed about having to work for a living and bitched at us more than usual because in his mind the mess was all our fault. Also, he got worms and an intestinal infection that cost a small fortune to treat, but that’s not what this is about. What I’m telling you is that when the ecosystem gets stirred up, you get critters in your house that you don’t mind nearly as much when they live outdoors. Be prepared. Personally, I don’t mind seeing them dead because they carry bacteria and germs. But pick one and be prepared in advance because even if you don’t have much damage, they’re still going to be a pest.

 

Gorilla Tape

Any Hurricane Kit should include duck tape. It’s on most county lists, and it’s on the FEMA list. But don’t go for cheap when you buy it. If you haven’t gotten Gorilla Tape yet, go get a couple of rolls. This is terrific for sealing windows and doors before the storm, for temporarily repairing broken windows if they break during a storm and for all manner of quick-but-urgent fixes after a storm. It will withstand rain, water and wind. If you end up needing to have a tarp over something, this will likely secure it. It’s not just useful for natural disasters; you should keep it in your house. Bonus!  It comes in clear and black. I haven’t tried the clear, but I plan to. I have a roll of the black in my car and in my hurricane kit.

Thick Working Gloves and Rubber Boots

After the storm, you’ll want to go out and size up the damage, and at the very least, you’ll be clearing some storm debris. A pair of thick gloves made for construction work will be a lifesaver. You need to protect your hands and arms (read: wear a long-sleeved work shirt that you’ve previously washed in the aforementioned permethrin). It’s no joke that MRSA is a real problem in any area after a storm (and so are other nasty infections). Cuts and abrasions are common as clean-up occurs, and all manner of bacteria and viruses are milling about in standing water and in the debris. Don’t take unnecessary chances with your health. Adults should at least be wearing rubber boots if not construction ones, and be sure to pack sneakers for your kids (and socks washed in permethrin). We were morons and fled the islands with flip-flops and a single pair of Crocs. Don’t be us.

Industrial Ear Protection or Ear Plugs

Ear protection is especially important if you are going to shelter in place or ride out the storm. What no one will tell you is that hurricanes are insanely loud. Like ear-splitting. Even in new construction, with impact glass and storm shutters. They are LOUD. The concussion of the shutters rattling against the windows can be deafening and headache-inducing. And with hurricanes come tornadoes, and with tornadoes come tornado sirens. And they last for pretty much the duration of the entire storm. For Irma that was about 36 straight hours. I have a kid who is sensory about loud sounds anyway, so I had headphones on hand. And I do not recommend getting any that are Bluetooth connected to your devices or fancy or “noise cancelling” because if the power goes out? You’re going to want to save those batteries. Have some of the plain old earcovers for everyone. You don’t need to have a blinding headache or a screaming child in the middle of being trapped indoors with no ability to control the noise.

 

Cheap Camera

Yes, I am fully aware that your smartphone can take fabulous photos. I’m also aware that it’s operated by a battery that can die for about 1000 reasons and might choose to do that right when you need it. I probably do not need to tell you to walk through your house before you evacuate, or before the storm, and take photos of literally every single thing you own. Everything. The stuff under your kitchen sink. The crap in your bathroom closet. Whatever you have in your junk drawer (yes, we all have a junk drawer). All of it. Close up and far away. That’s the before. What you need the cheap camera for is the after. As in the immediately after. If your phone is not functional, and even as a back up to your phone, take photos immediately after the storm as soon as you can. Document the damage photographically before you even begin to clean up. Why? Because FEMA and your insurance company are about to become your worst nightmare, and you want as much evidence as possible. And handing them some undeveloped photos in the form of disposable cameras is a great way to let them know that you did not screw with the photos to make things look worse. Document, document, document from the moment you start preparations through sheltering in place or evacuating through getting back home and starting to get back to normal. Keep receipts, keep photos, keep everything in a box.

USB and/or Solar Battery Chargers

These are not even optional; you need to have them. A solar one is great because it will continually recharge if it takes a while for the electric to return. I keep a couple of the Anker ones charged at all times. There’s one in the car; there’s one in my handbag. In the event that your electric goes out for a while — after Irma we went almost 5 days in West Palm Beach — you will need to charge your devices. And don’t think for a minute that businesses will get power back any faster than you do. You’re not going to the local Starbucks to charge up. Ever been shopping in a completely darkened Target with a flashlight and cash? I have. It’s not as fun as it sounds. That phone will become your lifeline, and for whatever reason, post-storm battery life is about 1/3 less than it normally is. Keep these handy, and keep them charged!

 


A Grill (propane or charcoal)

Maybe you have a grill in your yard or on your deck, and you’ve secured it. Hopefully, you’ve brought the propane tank inside because in a hurricane, they can become really fun exploding projectiles or in a flood, they can explode when they hit something, like your neighbor’s car. Oh, the things you learn. Who knew that they were weapons of mass destruction in storms? Even if you have a grill, assume that it might be damaged or in need of a thorough cleaning. If it’s not, that’s great, and you’ll have an extra for tailgating or to give as a gift at a wedding shower or take to the beach. In the event that you do need one, though, you want to have one, and you want to have dry charcoal that will light. Hand to God, last year when we were told that we were under a boil water alert, I did not understand how to do that because my appliances were all electric and we didn’t have power. If you’re like me, you would not think of that until it was too late, either.  If you’ve gotten a WaterBOB (see above) boiling water won’t be your biggest problem, but feeding yourselves will be. And if you like hot coffee? Starbucks doesn’t have electric, so no latte for you. You can spend as much or as little as you’d like. But have one on hand.

MapsActual Old Time Paper Ones

I know, I know. You have Google or Wayz or your car has GPS built in that connects to a satellite. And that’s great. Until you don’t. And having been in a position where you don’t? It’s not fun. Get paper maps of your area or go for the whole US. It cannot hurt, and hey, if you get bored or your kids decide that without screens they’re going to kill one another, you can make a game out of finding things on them. In an emergency, though, you’ll be glad that you have a new, up-to-date map so you can find alternative routes if you run into road closures because of downed wires and trees. Seriously, it’s been a long time since we’ve actually needed these, so grab a current one if you haven’t already. Life without electric and cell service feels a lot like roughing it, and you’re going to need to know how to get to where you’re heading.

Phone Numbers

Yep, I’m serious. Either screenshot your contacts in your phone and then print them out on paper or jot down important numbers in a notebook you keep with you and safe. Family and friends who you need to check on or with whom you need to check in, your doctor and pediatrician, your mechanic, your landscaper, your neighbors, your car, homeowners and/or renter’s  insurance company or agent, and the hotline number for FEMA. Figure out which numbers you might need in the event of a cell phone outage or your phone dying, and have them in your hands. You want to call for a FEMA number the minute the line opens which is typically about 6 hours after the storm blows its last gust. You don’t have to use it if you have no damage or needs, but you’ll be glad that you did if you do need help. Do not wait until you see if your house is standing if you evacuated. You can always forget about it. Get your birth certificates, passports, insurance cards, car title, boat title, and whatever other important papers together and keep them together. Bring them with you if you evacuate. Put them in a box in your washing machine or dryer if you are sheltering in place. They’ll stay dry.

A Good, Large Cooler

If you live in a hurricane zone, I’m betting that you have a cooler already because most of us who live in year-round summer need one. But if you don’t have a solild, good one, invest in it. Keep your hurricane kit in it if you aren’t using it regularly. A few days before the storm, start stocking ice. It will go fast from stores and places that sell it. Keep it in your freezer until you evacuate or the storm hits, then move it to the cooler and fill the cooler with food. I have a Yeti, and that thing kept that ice frozen and the food good for 5 days in Florida early September heat. And that was a saving grace because we had no electric, and we had no restaurants because they had no electric, and we had no grocery stores because they had no electric. It was like the olden days we’re glad are gone. In all seriousness, though? There was nowhere to go but the kitchen and you can only eat so many pre-packaged hurricane snacks before you get stabby or want a sammich.

Weird Random Stuff

  1. You are going to need CASH. Like all the cash you can withdraw from your account. I was lucky that I had smart people who told me when I arrived in the Conch Republic that if a storm looked imminent I was to fill my gas tank and empty my bank account. And I listened. Murph and I were lucky that we had friends who had room for us on the mainland, but we went through the storm. And after? Before power and circuits were restored? It was a total cash economy because everything runs on electric. So have as much cash as you can before the storm hits. I will never forget the lines of people waiting for gas and at ATMS when drove out of the keys before the storm.
  2. If you can, start a hurricane slush fund right now. Evacuating is expensive. As soon as it was clear that there was going to be an evacuation, every airline raised prices for flights by 500% for flights out of Florida. JetBlue was the only one who didn’t. Hotels and motels from Orlando north raised rates and sold out. Car rentals became non-existent; there were simply not enough vehicles.
  3. In a pinch, if you get sick, you can take fish antibiotics. I know, right? But they are human grade, and most aquatic fish and marine stores have generators so that they don’t lose all of their stock. So if you get cut or injured and can’t get to your doctor, or if you just want to be safe? You don’t need a prescription for them, and they are the same and a lot cheaper. Keep topical antibiotics ointment and Hibiclens on hand before the storm.
  4. Make sure that your Tetanus shot is no more than 6 years old. They tell you 10, but I’ll tell you about how I caught Whooping Cough (same shot). Get them updated. There will be all kinds of crap on the ground, and you don’t want to take chances.You can get them at the Minute Clinic or at your local health department.
  5. Wear closed toe shoes for a while. Boots to clear debris, sneakers to do other stuff. See #3 up there. I swore when I moved that my toes would never be enclosed again. For the most part, they have not suffered in such a way. But after a storm? You want thickly soled bottoms on your shoes and you want your feet covered. Spray them with permethrin.
  6. Plan for your pets. When I asked my mom for assistance when we needed to evacuate, she told me to lock our cats in the bathroom with some food and go to Orlando cause there were lots of motels. *Insert Eyeroll Here* First, it’s a felony in Florida to abandon your pets during a mandatory evacuation. And we were gone for almost a month, so I don’t think they would have fared too well in the bathroom. The local ASPCA might be able to help you out in a pinch, but you cannot leave them if you’re going somewhere that won’t allow them. Plan for that accordingly. Have food for them, litter, travel cages, puppy papers, vaccination records, etc. Most shelters were told to allow them in, and there were separate shelters set up for them. Don’t leave them, and don’t “hope” you’ll find a hotel that will allow them in a pinch. If your plan is to fly away, find a friend who will take care of your critters.
  7. That whole thing about “Hurricane Parties” is bullshit. I was not invited to any, and I don’t think it’s because of my lack of sociability. People were literally battening down hatches and running for their lives. And let me tell you, as much as I’d have loved to drink my way through the 48 hours we were locked down during Irma? I needed my wits about me in case something happened.  So stock up on the adult beverages, but keep thy wits about thee. You don’t want to be sloshed when a tree crashes through your roof. Or maybe you do?

I have laughingly told people that I’ll take 3 Category 5 hurricanes every year if it means I don’t have to shovel snow or scrape ice from a car window. And I mean it. When you’ve done this once, you do kind of get an attitude about it. But being prepared for it is vital, and it’s a lot more than having 193 cases of water and batteries for your flashlight. When they reopened the keys after the storm, we were told to prepare for a month of “pack in pack out” camping. A month. I was bewildered. What does that even include? I still don’t know. I prefer glamping to camping, and a month is a little long even for that. These are the things I wish I’d had, or wish I’d thought about having, before the storm. They are things that are sitting ready in a large tote from Target so we can just toss them in the car if we need to go again. They are things that had vanished from the shelves of stores by the time we realized we needed them. Next time, there won’t be frantic grabbing of stuff we think we want or need next time. And yeah, there will be a next time.

 

*I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Please see Affiliate Disclaimer page for details. I will never, ever recommend a product I haven’t tried or wouldn’t buy for myself.

If you’d like, and if you can, and oh please, make a donation to The Kraken Fund to help us keep #tazoteausmc in dog food, help us keep our Hurricane Slush Fund intact
and pay for this website!

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Baking: Bells, Whistles and Fire Alarms

It is 12:37 AM. 11.nevergoingtosee75 is baking for reasons [you may know soon] with Google because I’m in bed and not talking to him anymore. We don’t have the right ingredients for anything he actually wanted to make, and we had the argument that even though the Target across the street is open until 11, we were not going to be its last patrons of the day. So he was basically just throwing crap together in a bowl making a lot of noise and occasionally cursing the oven gods for not bestowing upon him a Viking 6-burner, top-broiler, dual oven.

The product of this insanity? For context, so you know what all of this is about?

baking

The fire alarm in the spendy, swanky high-rise went off 48 minutes ago. The 115 lb.dog went berserk (ever seen a German Shepherd lose his shit?), and dragging him along with two cats down 6 flights of stairs on leashes (because cats don’t walk on leashes, they lay on their sides howling while you drag them until that side is bald) with a screaming parrot while pretending to NOT know what loons (aka MY spawn and his Google Assistant) set off a fire alarm in the middle of a weeknight should have gotten me an Oscar. I wonder if Alexa would have told him to quit and go to bed?

We got back upstairs and I gave the spawn the maternal stare of death, and then he followed me into the bedroom caterwauling louder than than the actual cats who started beating the crap out of Drama Dog because they’d decided the whole thing with the public leash humiliation was somehow his fault. I can’t wait for the Revenge of Sir Pees A Lot.

So I put this on:  https://youtu.be/Udj-o2m39NA  to help passive aggressively communicate to the offspring that his position was tenuous at best.

And that’s when the real fight started because clearly no good mother would ever tell a child to go the fuck to sleep and who even listens to that and what’s wrong with me? So I put a luggage lock on the plug to his Xbox and threw the key in the garbage disposal and then he started screaming, “Mommy, please stop beating me!” at the top of his lungs. And that’s about when the dog, who couldn’t decide who was on the side of the angels just ate the goddamned mess on the cookie sheet in three slobbery bites. Cause he’s helpful that way.

Now Dark Lord Cheeto and Ned and I are hiding in the bedroom while the dog vomits questionable cake on the spawn, and I’m asking Jesus and the angels and the great Cthulhu what the fuck they’re all thinking encouraging this shit show.

And then I went back to sleep until all hell broke loose, again.

It is now 5:15AM and the entire building is awake and rushing through the halls with hockey sticks and golf clubs and tennis rackets (we don’t have pitchforks) looking for whomever set off the wailing siren song of a thousand dying mermaids around 4:45. It didn’t sound like the fire alarm, so they must have thought burglars. Unwilling to repeat the cat dragging adventure and thinking they should have at least one side left with fur, I stayed in bed.

When the police and fire department showed up, though, I decided to go see if the cacaphony had anything to with the kid chef’s midnight adventures, at which point, I realized the deafening blare was from INside our apartment, and I started checking things.

 

drinkwell

And lo and behold there was the angry Dark Lord, little orange feet soaked from where he’d deliberately splashed all the water out of his fancy cat water fountain onto the kitchen floor. The dried fountain was dying of thirst as the special water filter filtered air instead of liquid at an ungodly decibel level. They did not mention it would do this is in the product safety booklet, and I need to amend my highly favorable albeit funny review of it. I also did not know that it makes for a wonderful bird bath.

Anyway, Cheeto took off in a blur of orange rage when I chased him with the child’s Zombie Killer Nerf water gun and is now in my box spring taking turns growling and grooming the side of his body that still has fur. I have a grudging respect for his ingenuity; I was expecting Sir Pees A Lot to go in the laundry or on the bed. He’s the epitome of asshole revenge peeing.

So, I unplugged the offending technological wonder, and I went out and shrugged indifferently at the panicked neighbors like I was clueless, too, because I wasn’t taking the blame for the encore. I took the kiddo’s baseball bat with me for good measure because everyone else was armed with sports equipment, and I didn’t want to seem out of place. I don’t know what the noise was or why it stopped. And that’s going to be my story.

And it’s only Tuesday. And in his defense, the spawn is an incredible young chef, and if you’re following us on Instagram or Facebook or YouTube, you will be amazed. I mean, the next day, he produced this:

baking Florida Orange Grove Pie

 

We all have a bad batch of something. Usually, though, it doesn’t involve 500 other angry people in the middle of the night.

*I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Please see Affiliate Disclaimer page for details. I will never, ever recommend a product I haven’t tried or wouldn’t buy for myself.

If you’d like, and if you can, and oh please, make a donation to The Kraken Fund to help us keep Murph in baking supplies and pay for this website!

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Retirement Day 100 #tazoteausmc

My name is Taz, and this is the story of my retirement from active duty to civilian life as a service dog. My hashtag is #tazoteausmc and this is Day 100.

Mom says I’m an incorrigible moron and that if I was ever trained to do anything it didn’t stick. I have new friends, though. Leave That Leave That Leave That and Goddamit Zeus meet me at the park to run and play. We race around and catch frisbees and we love to find fleas and ticks and bring them home.

#tazoteausmc

On Tuesday I ate everything in the big can in the kitchen while the humans were asleep, and now they’re mad at me and all they let me eat is boiled chicken and rice with pumpkin. It’s gross. The stuff in the big can is so much better. Please send me taco. They’re starving me. We drive past Taco Bell all the time and Mom won’t stop the car even when I howl. 

I want to go back to the beach. Mom says soon. Very soon. She promises.

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Retirement Day 49 #tazoteausmc

My name is Taz, and this is the story of my retirement from active duty to civilian life as a service dog. My hashtag is #tazoteausmc and this Day 49.

I’m so confused. Please send help. And taco.

Mom told us we were going to ride in the car. She didn’t tell me where, or I would have run away. When we got out, the beach was gone, and there were mountains everywhere. And it was cold. The closest Taco Bell was 40 miles away. What was she thinking?

There are more of those feathered things living in cages in the house here. They’re insane and bite the humans, and they scream all day long every day. Nothing makes them shut up except the food dude, but he’s at work all day. It hurts my ears so much. I tried to make friends with them because they throw food at me, but it was a cruel trick to get me close enough to bite me. I still fall for it every time. Because food. And friends. I can’t wait for the day the humans cook them and we eat them. That’s the ONLY reason to keep them. When they’re fat enough, they’ll put them in the oven. Then we’ll have food and quiet.

I don’t have any friends here. The furry terrorists called Ned and Cheeto hate it here, too, and they act like it’s all my fault even though I’m as confused as they are. They wait until it’s dark and I’m sleeping to attack me. Mom says I wake up the whole house when I howl, but what else can I do? Their attacks are relentless and stealthy. I miss my friends at the dog beach so much. Toby and Come Back Here and Stop That probably wonder what happened to me. I want to play with other dogs so badly, but there aren’t any around except the stupid one who can’t hear and doesn’t do anything, and there are no dog parks.

The good news is that I’ve got the humans almost trained. All it took was consistency and focus. Oh, they resisted and yelled and tried to do what they wanted. But I’ve been single-minded. They now feed me whenever I want, let me out when I want, let me in when I want and give me their food when I want it. I’m pretty much in charge of all the things that matter. Given the fact that Mom came up with this escapade, I think that’s best for all of us. Maybe she needs a rest? She says she’s afraid that I’m going to going to throw a food dish at her head if I don’t get what I want. I hope it doesn’t come to that. Human training is an arduous process.

There’s a lot of room for me to run as fast as I want here. I race all the way around the house and through the trees and across the fields, and it feels so good. Not like the beach felt. But good, I guess. And there are lots of huge beasts who smell like dinner and make funny noises in the fields. I try to play with them every day, but the humans yell at me. Mom asked me if I’m trying to commit “suicide by cow.” I don’t know what that is, but if it means I can play chase and run with the dog sized ones who just arrived, I’m all in.

This morning, I took off like the wind, and my boy ran after me, and Mom’s friend ran after us, and then the farm guy came, too. Mom stood on the porch. Mom says she doesn’t doesn’t run unless she’s the one who’s being chased. It was glorious; all of us were running so fast early in the morning, and we were barking and yelling. I finally felt free.

But then I ran into the barn and immediately collided with a big machine. I howled at the top of my lungs to get the murderous thing away from me. Panicked, I backed up into a big pile of rakes and shovels and knocked them over. The noise scared me even more, and I whined and took off out the back to escape the dark death chamber. That’s when I came face to face with the biggest black dinner camel I’ve ever seen.

Mom yelled, “Yo, Taz. Dude. I get it. Want taco?” And I ran to her. Because I love taco, and I love Mom.

Here, they make me wear an ugly orange vest so hunters don’t shoot me because I look like a wolf. Seriously? How stupid are the hunters here? And people are allowed to shoot me if I go near the dinner camels, too. Mom says I have to leave them alone. I’m telling you, she brought me to hell.

My boy is sad all the time now. At first, I think he was trying to get used to things, but it was too hard. He cries almost every day, and he doesn’t even want to play with his computer friends. Mom and I try to make him feel better, but it doesn’t help much. I hear her on the phone telling people how worried she is about him. He has migraines almost every day, and he never feels good anymore. He always feels sick or tired. Mom says it was like this for him before we lived at the beach.

Why did we have to leave the beach? I snuggle with him when I can, and I watch over him. Sometimes we sit together and play, and sometimes he hugs me and falls asleep on me. Mom is so sad, too. She tries to hide it, but I remember her happy smell. It’s gone. I think she left it at the beach. She cries at night after the boy goes to sleep. I hate that they are so sad. I hate this place.

Mom says we’ll be back at the beach soon. I hope that’s the truth. I’m really worried about them, but I think we’ll be okay as long as we have taco.

— Excerpt from the Diary of Taz, a Retired Military Service Dog

#tazoteausmc

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