expressions, funny stories, lessons learned, music, nostalgia

“You really don’t need to put a bow on that load…”

Greetings, blog fans. I decided to take a day off from blogging yesterday. Well, I did post something on the travel blog, but it was short and kind of sweet, because I’m still experiencing our current excursion and I’m not quite ready to write about it yet. So far, it has been an interesting trip, though…

For instance, today’s post title was contributed by Bill. It was inspired by a disgusting song on one of Red Peters’ compilation albums. Bill and I both enjoy off color humor. If it involves body functions, so much the better. Red Peters specializes in that kind of humor, whether it’s in one of his original songs, or a song he puts on one of his compilations, done by another artist.

Some years ago, I went looking for the song “Poo Poo, Pee Pee” on YouTube. No one had uploaded it, so I did, using pictures and video of our recently departed Arran and his old buddy, Zane, who died in 2019. I was probably inspired by one of Arran’s messier indiscretions. By the way, I can play this song on the guitar, now. Maybe I’ll redo it and sing it myself… and play along, too. Why not?

“Poo Poo, Pee Pee” by Bunkum… a classic!

Arran never really did get the hang of housetraining 100 percent. He was about 90 percent reliable. I think he did know better than to go in the house, but for some reason, he just didn’t think it was important enough to avoid having accidents. I had to be very vigilant about making sure he went out and actually did his business. Otherwise, I might get an unpleasant and stinky surprise.

Anyway, the above song has a line that goes “Put a bow on that load…” or something like that. When I was talking to Bill about the post I wrote two days ago, about the high school senior who applied to 70 colleges and got into 54 of them, Bill quipped “Right. You don’t need to put a bow on that load.”

I laughed, because it seemed like sort of a backward way of calling what the young lady did “gilding the lily.” I remember when I was in college, finishing up my bachelor’s degree. I had two minors– one in speech, and the other in communications– and could have taken just one more course for a third, in journalism. My advisor, the wonderful and departed Dr. Massie Stinson, said in his very courtly, gentlemanly, southern accent, “I think that would be ‘gilding the lily.'”

“Gilding the lily” refers to the practice of trying to decorate something that is already beautiful. One doesn’t need to paint a beautiful flower with gold, because it’s already magnificent. Putting gold paint on a beautiful flower would turn it into something garish, tacky, and gaudy. Let the flower’s virtues stand alone…

Of course, if I had wanted to take the journalism class, that would be something else. In retrospect, maybe I should have taken it. If I recall correctly, it was taught by the recently departed Mr. William Woods (although people called him “Doctor”– he didn’t actually have a doctoral degree). I took two classes with Mr. Woods, and found him to be very entertaining. Journalism class with him would have, no doubt, made my GPA a little better. Certainly, it would have helped me with my GPA in English. I was a pretty mediocre English major.

But, at the time, I didn’t want to take that class. I took journalism in high school and was actually pretty good at it. I like writing, as you can see. I think I was put off by the prospect of having to talk to people, especially after a tragedy. Isn’t it funny that a few years later, I would earn a master’s degree in social work? Which… as you can also see… I don’t use. If I had actually launched my career as planned, I probably would have aimed to use the public health degree… and I don’t know how successful I would have been, because it probably would have meant working with scientists or hospital administrators a lot. I likely would have been fired.

Fortunately, I found my husband, who finds it advantageous to keep me around, if only so we can laugh at our many private running jokes and enjoy scatological humor together. Otherwise, I might be living in a van down by the river… or a box under a bridge. And instead of going to our high priced dentist today, I could be sporting “summer teeth” (summer here, summer there… 😉 ). I’m kidding, of course. I have absolutely no doubt that if I needed to survive, I would, and my survival would neither involve homelessness, nor poor oral hygiene.

Sometimes, I just like to stop and muse at the complete absurdity of my life and how it’s turned out. Quite a lot of it is, frankly, ridiculous… Like, for instance, how I met Bill in the first place. It was not the kind of scenario that I’d want to tell my mother the truth about… although his mother knows, and has no issues with it. Bill’s mom isn’t like my mom, though. She’s more of a woman of the world. Actually, my mom is also a woman of the world, but she has much less tolerance and patience for my bent toward vulgarity. Certain topics are off limits. However, she doesn’t mind when I cuss. I think that’s interesting. She will fuss about cursing at my eldest sister, who is 64 years old, but I can drop an f bomb in from of my mom, and she truly doesn’t care. She probably figures it’s a lost cause… “sigh”.

Every old sock needs an old shoe, though, and I guess I’m Bill’s. He likes me, and he comes up with funny lines, often based on nonsensical things in our lives. And instead of “gilding the lily”, he said “you don’t need to put a bow on that load…” which is sort of like calling what the high school student did “bullshit” and saying that a load of bullshit doesn’t need a big fancy bow on it to make it “prettier”. I don’t know that I would necessarily describe applying to that many schools as “bullshit”. To me, it seems more to indicate issues with compulsion or anxiety… or maybe it’s just a statement that our higher education system is complete bollocks.

The book I’m reading right now kind of addresses the phenomenon that a lot of young people think they HAVE to go to some big name college. They put all their eggs in one basket, and ignore less famous places that can give them a perfectly good education. That means the lesser known, but still excellent (or adequate) schools struggle to stay alive, and the really big ones are inundated with applications from way too many qualified students. And then we have wealthy people paying huge “donations” to athletic departments, falsifying records, faking credentials, and winding up in minimum security prison camps for fraud.

I look forward to reviewing the book, so I think I’ll stop here and finish it. I think I have about 30 percent to go… You can look forward to more of a rant about this subject in the coming days.

Hope you have a good Monday. Ours will be punctuated by a nationwide transportation strike and a date with the dentist. Joy of joys… but we’ll go home tomorrow; I’ll write up this trip; and maybe post a new book review. Ciao!

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dogs, music, obits

An especially good excuse to drink on St. Patrick’s Day…

About twenty-four hours ago, I sent Bill an email letting him know that Arran managed to jump up on our new “tall” mattress. I had just put a new mattress topper on the bed, making it taller than usual. Realizing that Arran, our sweet rescue beagle, who had been battling lymphoma for the past six months, would have trouble navigating the new height, I ordered him some steps from Amazon. They haven’t arrived yet, but Arran won’t be able to use them. We lost him this morning.

Taken yesterday, as I was trying out the new lighting on our higher mattress… It hurts to lose Arran, but he had the longest life and best death of any of our dogs yet…

Last night, after I showed Bill the new lighting I got for our bedroom and my office, we had a very ordinary dinner. Arran begged for some of our burgers and fries. Then he crawled under the table and fell asleep. When he got up awhile later, he was very dazed and moved slowly, as if he’d had some kind of stroke. Arran had experienced some “seizure like” spells in the past. He always got over them very quickly. This time was different, as he wasn’t snapping out of the dazed state he was in. We took him upstairs to bed, and he slept mostly peacefully, with a few panting episodes. Bill spent most of the night being nudged to the edge of the mattress.

This morning, Arran didn’t wake up super early, like he’s been doing since he started his chemo. When I went in to see if he was okay, he gave me a weary look. I immediately realized that the downward spiral I had been anticipating was well in progress. I told Bill I thought Arran might need his help getting off the bed. Bill coaxed him, not wanting to pick him up, because he had a large tumor on his side that was hurting him. He finally jumped off the bed and slowly went downstairs and outside, where he took a long whiz and had some diarrhea. Then he moved very slowly back into the house and turned circles for about forty-five minutes, before he finally relaxed and laid down on his dog bed.

Bill and I had the talk we’ve been dreading… First there was the pragmatic. We have to go out of town next week, and the hotel where we’re going couldn’t accommodate Arran. As of today, the reservation is non-refundable. I didn’t like the idea of boarding Arran, since he had come to hate being boarded. I also didn’t want the staff at pension to have to deal with Arran’s sickness.

Then there was the obvious. He was at least 14 years old, and he’d been enduring chemo treatments since October. You can see from my posts that he did extremely well and fought very hard. And up until the bitter end of his life, he was very much enjoying being with us. He’d even started being nicer to Noyzi. But death is part of life… and I did not want Arran to suffer any more than he had to. He had developed another tumor on his belly, and the lymph node under his jaw had gotten bigger.

And finally, we just realized that he was very, very tired… and there was nothing we could do to make him better. Anything the vet might do today would only prolong what we all knew was coming. So we called her and brought Arran in… I had to carry him into the office, although he managed to walk out of the house on his own. He didn’t protest when I put him in or took him out of the car, and he was very patient as the vet took a look at him and agreed that it was time to let him go to the Rainbow Bridge.

Still, even up to the very end, he was fighting. The vet gave him anesthetic and remarked that he was a very strong dog. It took a long time for him to get sleepy, and like his fierce predecessor Flea (RIP 2009), he took some time leaving us. He did NOT want to die. Or maybe, he just didn’t want to leave Bill, who was his very favorite person. We stayed with him until he was on his way to see Zane… Zane died in the very same room on August 31, 2019.

We thanked our wonderful vet, who really did her very best for Arran. And then I gave him a teary kiss on the top of his head and said, “Goodbye…” Somehow it seems especially fitting that our unique and amazing dog Arran, named after a gorgeous island in Scotland after we lost his predecessor, MacGregor, should die on St. Patrick’s Day…

Below are some photos from our ten fantastic years together… This dog, born of humble origins, and meant to be a hunting dog in North Carolina, got to move to Germany and visited France, Italy, Austria, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and Belgium. He loved every minute of being Bill’s very best friend… besides me, of course.

An amazing, wonderful, special dog... Special thanks to Beth Nielsen Chapman and Annie Roboff for writing “Godspeed”. Those are my vocals, which I recorded last fall, when we first found out about Arran’s cancer.

I think Arran has already given us a sign that he’s okay. As we were driving down the road to our house, R.E.M.’s song, “Shiny, Happy People” came on the radio. Yes, it’s kind of a sarcastic take on Utopia, but somehow, it kind of fits. If you knew Arran, you could easily understand why.

We’re going to miss him so much. There’s already a massive hole in our hearts… and our home.

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dogs, music, YouTube

Shirley Horn and Paulina Porizkova are both inspiring me today…

Today’s featured photo is of the new Toilight I got for Bill as a stocking stuffer. It lights the toilet at night, which we both find very handy… it also makes the water look really cool as it gets flushed. We gotta have our fun wherever we can find it.

Yesterday’s post was surprisingly popular, for my blog, anyway. I think sometimes people love a good rant, even if it’s petty and kind of stupid. I actually had fun writing that post. It gave me a lot to think about. I ended up doing a few edits after the initial posting, because I spotted some things that needed clarification, along with the usual typos. But anyway… I do love it when someone gives me a topic for my blog by way of inspiration.

This morning, I’m somewhat less inspired. Yes, I could write about how Donald Trump’s legal woes are getting worse by the day, and he’s being exposed as the crook that he is. But I don’t feel like writing about that today. The end of the year is looming, and that means it’ll soon be 2023. I realize I’m getting older and certain things just don’t matter the way they used to.

I just started reading Paulina Porizkova’s latest book. So far, it’s kind of a page turner. I liked her when she was on America’s Next Top Model and was annoyed when Tyra Banks fired her from the show. That was about when it became unwatchable for me. I think I hung in there for a couple more “cycles”, but soon gave up on it. I though Paulina was awesome on that show. In fact, I think she should have her own show. She’s very intelligent, and I like how plain spoken she is… but not in an obnoxious, narcissistic way, like Tyra is. Tyra Banks, I’m afraid, went from being a relatively pleasant host to an over-the-top nightmare.

I woke up at about 3:00 AM, thanks to Arran’s need for a potty break and demands for food. Bill took care of that, while I took a bathroom break myself. By the time I got back in the bed, I was wide awake. My stomach was annoying me, too. So, since I wasn’t going back to sleep for at least another hour or so, I opened Paulina’s book and started reading. I predict (but can’t promise) I’ll finish it quickly, and will be ready to review it by the end of the week.

I also got an alert from my favorite backing tracks Web site that Shirley Horn’s luminous version of “Here’s to Life” was available for download. I love that song, and to date, have recorded it three times. I don’t expect people to know it, but I fell in love with it in 2005, just after Hurricane Katrina. The Jordan Family did a very poignant version of the song for a fundraiser. At the time of their performance, they were still missing their father from the storm. I would actually love to record their version of the song– with the same key and arrangement. Shirley Horn’s comes closer to that than either Barbra Streisand’s and Bob Stewart’s versions do. So that’s why I decided to do the song one more time, but in a different manner. I prefer the jazzier style to the more Broadway interpretations I did before.

I couldn’t think of a pressing topic for this morning, So I spent about two hours recording Shirley Horn’s “Here’s to Life” in two different keys. I tried her original key, then went a step up. I think the higher key is better for me, so that’s the one I put on YouTube. I think both turned out pretty well, although it’s kind of a challenge to get the video right. I’m struggling with coughing, a runny nose, and an itch, too… not from a viral illness, but probably more from allergies or my lack of attention to dusting.

I’m glad I don’t look like I’m climaxing in this still.

When I last sang “Here’s to Life”, I wrote a post about it on this blog. I wrote a bit about who composed the song, as well as some personal philosophies and other assorted stuff. It’s not a super exciting post, because I also wrote about a Facebook argument I had some time back with a cop friend of mine, and Amy Duggar King, who had just given birth at the time. And I wrote about sweet Zane, who had, at that writing, been gone from our lives for a matter of weeks. I was missing him a lot then. I still miss him, especially when I see old pictures and videos that remind me of what a sweet soul he was. I truly do hope the Rainbow Bridge is a real thing, and I can see him again someday after I’ve departed the mortal coil myself. I noticed that I wrote that post on October 10, 2019, which also happened to be the 16th anniversary of the loss of our first rescue beagle mix, CuCullain, who had bright blue eyes. He was a special soul, too. Sometimes, he seems to visit us through Noyzi.

Our very first beagle rescue, CuCullain (C.C.)… He was a really cool dog.

I don’t even have those things to write about today. My dogs are impatiently waiting for me to finish up and take them for a walk. They’ve learned that when I quit doing music, it’s walk time. Usually, I play guitar before we walk, but today it was singing… which I tend to do much better. I did learn to play the rhythm version of “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart yesterday. It was surprisingly easy, with open chords that are fairly easy to tease out, even with fingers as unpracticed as mine are.

I suppose I could write about the cop videos I watched yesterday, which were surprisingly outrageous. I never understand people who get loud and belligerent with cops and expect them to cut them a break. I’ve also noticed that American cops aren’t as professional as German cops appear to be. Here, you can get a huge fine if you cuss at the cops. In the United States, people say whatever… even threaten cops and their families. The lady in yesterday’s video told one cop she hoped his wife got raped. Horrible! And then she moaned and cried because she was in handcuffs and about to be charged with a felony.

Um… you shouldn’t involve yourself in things that are none of your business…

The other video involved a very bellicose drunk driver who cussed non-stop. He actually made ME blush… and I cuss like a sailor! I feel sorry for the people in this man’s life. He’s a mess. He’s got a very foul mouth, too… and if I’m saying that, it means something.

“What are you talking about, dude?” Enjoy your Christmas in the jug, guy.

But really, I think I just want to walk the dogs before they have a fit… and then maybe go back to reading my latest book. I wish I felt more inspired to write something compelling, but I think recording a song kind of took it out of me. Maybe I’ll be back later… but I probably won’t. So have a happy hump day.

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Bill, love, marriage

Every day is a gift with my Bill…

I just wrote a piece for my travel blog, that details our Christmas morning. So far, it’s been a nice holiday. I asked for a new vacuum cleaner, and Bill delivered a cordless Dyson. I hope it will be less cumbersome and annoying to use than the canister vacuum I’ve had for the past seven years. I just tried it out, although it’s not yet quite fully charged. All I gotta say about that is that our carpets are pretty disgusting. A new vacuum was definitely needed and appreciated, even though one of my former bosses once told me that no one should get appliances for Christmas. She criticized me for giving my mom a new hand mixer. That boss and I didn’t get along, as you might have imagined. I’m one of those people that other folks tend to love or hate. 😉

I’m better at Christmas shopping than Bill is, because I know what he likes and needs, and he’s easy to please. I’m a lot harder to shop for, because I have a tendency to get what I want when I want it. The vacuum cleaner was an outlier. I’ve been eyeing the Dyson cordless vacuums for ages, but never pulled the trigger. One of the reasons I hate vacuuming is because it feels futile. The vacuums never seem to do a good job– even other Dysons I’ve had have not been very useful. But downgrading isn’t the answer, either. I used a Dirt Devil when we first got back to Germany, and it lasted about a year before it started dropping parts. Our dogs shed a lot, and Noyzi, in particular, leaves tons of hair. So I needed something lightweight and portable. We’ll see how long I like the new vacuum, but I suspect we’ll get a couple of good cleanings from it.

As usual, I bought a lot more stuff for Bill than he did for me… although he did get some higher dollar items for me. And a few of the things he got were kind of surprising. Like, he bought me a weighted blanket, even though I just bought two new duvets for the bed. But maybe the blanket will turn out to be something I didn’t know I needed. And he bought me three shawls in different colors, but with the same patterns and in colors I probably wouldn’t necessarily choose. I do wear a lot of shawls on the rare occasions when we go out. He also got me a new chair for my office, which has heating and massage capabilities. I do need a new chair! I wear mine out pretty regularly.

As I watched Bill put the new cover on the weighted blanket, it occurred to me… every day is a gift with Bill. I smiled, and blurted “You don’t really have to buy me anything for Christmas. You have already given me the best life.”

It doesn’t matter what we’re doing or where we are. Some places are better than others are, of course. I remember when we lived in our first slummy apartment in Fredericksburg, Virginia on Christmas day, back in 2002. It was just weeks after our wedding, and we were pretty broke. We still had a nice celebration, with a tree and cheap ornaments from Rose’s, which was a discount store in the nearby strip mall. We had a nice meal and listened to music on the cheap CD player I owned that I had to weigh down with a jewelry box, because the lid wouldn’t stay down on its own.

The following year was full of challenges, as we lost our first rescue dog, CuCullain (C.C.) to a rare mycobacterial infection, my car got broken into, and Ex went on the warpath to try to get me under her thumb. We moved to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, into a Craftsman house that was meant to be “temporary” and came from a kit from Sears. I actually loved that house, even though it had its maintenance issues. We were there for three years, until we moved into a “brand new” house a mile away, where I mostly lived alone while Bill was in Iraq. We left that house after about eight months, as Bill finally rotated out of Virginia and into Germany. We had Flea and MacGregor, rescue beagles from BREW, a beagle rescue in northern Virginia.

Then, in 2007, we moved to a town near Stuttgart, Germany the first time as a couple, and we both fell in love with living here. We hoped to get three years, which is standard, but had to come back to the States a year early. We moved into a huge rental house in Fayetteville, Georgia, where we lost Flea to cancer, and added Zane to our family. Bill learned to brew beer. We spent two Christmases there, out in the woods with a family of deer, some black snakes, at least one armadillo, and chimney swifts who chirped incessantly for a month. I remember one of those Christmases was when I experienced my very first “White Christmas”.

Then, the post in Georgia where Bill worked closed down, so we had to move again. In 2011, we moved to North Carolina, where we had two more Christmases in different woods– one of those years, we visited my sister, who lives in Chapel Hill, not that far from Sanford, the town where we were living. We lost our sweet beagle, MacGregor, and adopted Arran, who is still with us.

In 2013, we moved to Converse, Texas, a San Antonio suburb, where I assumed we’d end up staying… but no jobs were forthcoming in 2014, when Bill retired. We moved back to another town near Stuttgart, where we spent four years, and now we live near Wiesbaden, and have been here for four years. Half our stuff is in storage in America. It’s hard to feel rooted, since Germany isn’t our official place of origin. And yet, as long as Bill is with me, I’m home and happy. And I can’t believe we’ve been in Germany for eight years. We lost Zane in 2019, but now we have our first non beagle rescue, Noyzi the Kosovar street dog!

We have worked together to make a great life, and we have succeeded, in spite of all the kvetching I do on my blog posts. I really do feel so fortunate for all we have, and the incredible man with whom I get to share my life. But honestly, we could be in a tent somewhere, and I think I’d be happy on some level, just because I’m with the right person… and he’s with me. I am amazed by all of the great stuff we’ve managed to do together, in spite of the pettiest of annoyances. And today, I was just reminded of that and just feeling so grateful… even to Ex, who divorced Bill. If she hadn’t done that, who knows where I would be? We make each other laugh, teach each other new things, and make life better for each other every day. I need to remember this feeling for when the going gets tough, as I know it will.

I know 2023 will have its challenges. I expect we’ll be losing Arran in 2023, because he has cancer. But we are lucky to live in a country where we can enjoy him for a little bit longer without going bankrupt. And there’s always the threat of something bad happening… but as long as I’ve got “my Bill”, it all seems bearable. No matter where we are, it “feels like home…” Today, I’m feeling really grateful, and I just wanted to share.

I recorded this a couple of years ago. It has 25 hits as of this writing, but I’m reminded of it today… even though it’s from Randy Newman’s Faust, and the character who sang it wasn’t one for true love. Ironically, it’s become quite a wedding staple. The lyrics are lovely, in spite of the character who sang it in Faust. The video contains photos of some of the incredible places we’ve been.

I might redo this song… maybe even today. Why not?

Younger daughter sent a video the other day while she was holding her newest baby. He was obviously hungry and was trying to get to her boobs, but he was so cute and good natured about it. I feel very grateful that she shares him with us, as well as her other two adorable kids. It’s so nice to have her and her husband back in our lives. It just goes to show that, in the long run, love always wins.

I hope you’re having a good holiday, if you celebrate. If you don’t, I hope you have a good day. Now, back to the festivities.

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Bill, dogs, family, first world problems

When Bill is away, steroid mad Arran drives me CRAZ-AY!

Holy crap. Tomorrow, we’ll be halfway through December already. I haven’t even gotten to a proper Christmas market yet, although we did get a little snow the other day. They’re calling for some today, but we’ll see if it happens. It’s certainly cold enough!

Bill has been “TDY” this week– that is “temporary duty yonder”, for those of you who aren’t up with typical military jargon. Bill had to go to Bavaria again, as he did for two weeks in October. He used to go on more interesting temporary duty assignments when he worked for AFRICOM and EUCOM down in Stuttgart, but his current job mostly takes him to Bavaria or Poland, with rare exceptions. He has gone to Vegas a couple of times, too. Sometimes I go with him on his trips, but I haven’t done one with Bill since 2019, just before COVID became a global nightmare.

In October, when Bill was last at “Graf”, I was very worried about our old dog, Arran, who was diagnosed with lymphoma. I was actually very concerned that Arran might die while Bill was gone, as untreated lymphoma can kill quite efficiently. But we decided to do chemo for Arran, and in many ways, that has been a miraculous decision. Some long time readers might recall that our dog, Zane, died in 2019 of a type of lymphoma that I think was much more aggressive than what Arran has. It came up while we were on vacation and killed Zane a mere week after he was diagnosed. Arran is our fourth dog to get cancer, and the first one we’ve been able to treat in any meaningful way, other than giving painkillers. Treating him has definitely been educational on many levels.

I am not usually one to want to do extreme treatments. I thought of chemo for a 14 year old dog as “extreme”. I don’t anymore. Arran’s treatment has been pretty minimal, when it comes down to it. For the past eight weeks, he’s gotten weekly IV Vincristine infusions at the vet’s office. He got Prednisolone and Endoxan (pill twice a week), and not even every day. So far, we’ve spent about 1000 euros for everything– vet visits, meds, and consultations. The IV appointments take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. The rest of the time, he eats, sleeps, takes walks, poops, pees, snuggles, jumps, and even plays a bit. He still stands guard at the door when someone comes with a package or wakes me from my naps, wanting me to sign up for a service. 😉

I’m starting to think of his lymphoma as more of a chronic disease than a death sentence, as we ease Arran into his final golden days. For his ten years of love and companionship, we think it’s worth it. And starting this week, he doesn’t have to go to the vet weekly for IV drugs. Now, we’re in phase two, which means he only goes every other week, and takes the Endoxan (pills) every other week, and takes Prednisolone every other day. I know the cancer will eventually kill him, but we still have him for now. We’re going to enjoy him for as long as possible… even though that means putting up with some annoyances and inconveniences. That’s what I’ve been dealing with this week.

The Prednisolone Arran takes is lifesaving, and has had some miraculously beneficial effects on his well-being. It also has some annoying side effects. It gives him some really rancid farts that would easily a clear a room of the unindoctrinated. It makes him need to pee a lot, so that has resulted in some household accidents. Arran has never been 100 percent reliable when it comes to his housetraining, anyway. For some reason, he never has learned to tell us when he needs to go outside. He has, though, learned very well how to tell us when he wants to eat. And Prednisolone makes him want to eat a LOT and more often. He’s already mostly beagle and almost all hound, so eating has always been one of his favorite things to do, anyway.

Arran has also become unreliable at home alone, so I’ve found myself spending more time at home, just to keep him from tearing up anything that smells like food. Twice, he’s broken into our makeshift pantry in the basement and made messes (most German homes don’t have built in pantries). He also gets up several times during the night to pee and demand food. Bill often finds himself feeding him at 3:30 AM, just so he can sleep a couple of hours. Today, I made him wait until 4, after he’d already gotten me up at 1:45 for a potty break.

If we were in the States, I might keep Arran in a crate when he can’t be supervised. But we left our crate in Texas, and haven’t seen too many of them for sale over here. Germans don’t tend to leave their dogs at home alone a lot… not that I would need to do that, since I mostly stay at home, anyway. Arran also tends to howl a lot when we aren’t home, and that could be worse in a crate… although it’s also likely that he’d see it as his den and calm down.

If you’re reading this and wondering how Arran gets into the basement to raid it, here’s my answer. Like most German basements I’ve seen, the basement in our house doesn’t have a door. There are just steps that go down to the lowest floor. We bought a pet gate when we lived at our former house, which was originally a communal home. The steps to the basement in that house weren’t conducive for using a spring-loaded gate, because there was a wall and just a metal bannister with no wall to brace against. I also didn’t want to do any “construction” in that house, because our landlady was extremely anal retentive and always looking for a reason to be critical of me, in particular. And, as we found out when we moved, she also looked for every reason to charge us.

The stand alone pet gate worked for a long time. Until very recently, Arran mostly respected the gate and stayed out of the basement. But the steroids make him a demon from Hell, when it comes to wanting and pursuing food. Fortunately, this house has two walls at the basement stairs, so we will probably invest in a more secure gate to thwart his attempts to steal food. The benefit to having such a gate is that it can be open and shut, so I won’t have to step over the gate anymore in the mornings, when my muscles are stiff and unreliable. Even if we lose Arran very soon, the sturdier gate will still come in handy if and when we get another dog. Noyzi is, seriously, a perfect gentleman, so we worry a lot less about him. He didn’t even need to be potty trained when we got him! Can’t believe he was born on the streets of Kosovo!

Needless to say, taking care of Arran has been more challenging than usual. But other than looking after his increased needs for food, potty breaks, and supervision, I’ve found myself kind of bored as I wait for Bill to come home from his latest TDY. I spent a lot of years living alone, so it’s not like I can’t cope with it. I miss him when he’s gone, though… even though I tend to eat and drink less when he’s not home. I’ve mostly passed the time by watching movies. I was thinking I’d like to add my thoughts on the movies to this post, but now I think maybe they should get their own posts. I have a lot to write about them, and this post has gone on long enough… And it’s mostly about Arran, so my thoughts on made for TV movies are out of place here. I could probably write an entire book about Arran!

So, I think I’ll start a new post… write that, practice guitar, put fresh sheets on the bed, and if I’m lucky, maybe even score a nap. I think I could use one, after all these nocturnal disturbances.

As you can see from the featured photo, Arran is worth it, in spite of being a little shit sometimes. That photo was taken the other day, as Arran copied his deceased beagle brother, Zane, and tucked himself into bed. He almost never does that, so I wonder if Zane was paying us a visit. I’m weird like that.

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