Tag Archives: shitpaws

Motherf*ing housework

This, I’m sure, is why my friend calls her online home “This D*mn House.”

Always something to do, usually something I don’t quite know how to do until I botch it once. I know that every home project I tackle (i.e. every one that involves a less than 30% chance of maiming or death), I can learn to do it right. In fact, I even like learning stuff. Problem is, an old house like ours gives you plenty of things you only need to have done once a decade or so — and the mistakes that come with the learning process happen during that once.

And by the time they come due again, I’ve forgotten what those lessons were — I just have the vague recollection of, “I’m pretty sure there was something non-intuitive about this, something that made sense only after I screwed up, something I really wanted to remember for next time, something I can’t fucking remember now.”

By virtue of choosing the careers and life that makes us happiest, we don’t have the budget to pay “a guy” (as in, “I know a guy…”) to do every little thing on this ol’ house, so there’s no choice but to teach myself. And humble myself. I mean, can you say Professor’s Son? That is me. The biggest mechanical fix my dad ever did was to unjam my Hot Wheels cars when a wheel got stuck. And that repair — which he would accomplish with the same tobacco-stinky knife he used to clean out his cigarette holder — always cost me a quarter.

Somehow the turn of the weather always brings this crap to the front of mind. Like all summer long, there are weekend parties and trips and weddings and hangovers that make easy excuses: “Oh, I couldn’t possibly do it this weekend, not with the party and the need to nap in this lovely weather.” But now when the air gets that fall chill, I get seasonally agitated, and it’s time to pay the piper.

… Which is why I’m finally replacing the screen in the screen door that Shitpaws tore through while trying to tackle a squirrel that was 200 yards away. Except I want to repaint or stain that crappy door while I’m at it — which was another ready-made excuse for delay. But I want to use an enviro-friendly stripper that also doesn’t melt your brain cells upon inhalation. Which means the stripper is really slow, and harder to scrape off.

… Which is why in the down time waiting for the stripper to work (boy, shouldn’t they spell “stripper” differently for this purpose?), I decide to finish up the final pieces of trim in the sunroom that were always hidden behind the couch. Except those were the pieces I was going to experiment with, and now I have two different styles of molding with no recollection of where I got them. And instead of “measure twice, cut once,” I seem to be prone to “measure thrice, fuck up once.” Which will happen when three different measurements produce three different numbers.

… Which is why I get frustrated and forget — or absent-mindedly forget to register — which direction my 45-degree cut was supposed to go. So the one time I make a nails — and I mean nails-perfect, if I do say so — measure and cut, I come back upstairs to realize that it would be one fine cut … if I hadn’t oriented the angles backwards.

Motherfucking housework. Who needs it?

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Twice the dog breath

Yikes. A month of abject blog neglect. As I first realized when I worked for a writer in college (who, incidentally, passed away suddenly last week), writing for your main job is nice if that’s your passion. But it’s also tough* in that your passion becomes your job and acquires flavors of tedium.

*”tough” being quite relative, in the Grand Scheme.

Sometimes the act of writing for work makes me too mentally fatigued to do it for fun. I get home with big aspirations that are quickly extinguished by dog-walking, self-feeding, a glass of Irish whiskey, and the day’s Champions League soccer match. Then I get a backlog of thoughts and links (a backblog?) that I never feel are adequately digested.

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“Hey worthless, shouldn’t you be writing? Or else, like, walking us?”

Anyway, one other distraction lately was the act of acquiring and pretending to be able to train a new dog. We found one, a 4- to 5-month old rescue, to be a current companion and future successor to our resident canine, Willa.

If nothing else, the two of them made our recent snowfalls that much more fun. Really, watching a dog frolic in its first snow is probably even more enjoyable than watching a kid do it. With a toddler, there’s often some hesitation or lack of understanding unless they’re old enough to know to covet it. With a dog, it’s like watching Nature’s fun gene switch on right in front of your eyes: “Something is different. I must run in this. It’s written in my blood.”

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Dogs on Canvas, black and white

The rescue is part Newfoundland (those big, black literally human-rescue dogs with webbed paws for swimming), part we-don’t-know-what. Presumably the we-don’t-know part is why she was left behind: The first night, when we finally plopped ourselves down to bed after careful introductions and exhaustive bladder monitoring, she predictably started to whine from separation anxiety. After warming up with a range of barks, she went into a distinctive, mournful howl. In the dark of the bedroom, I could feel our eyes open in unison: dammit, she’s part hound dog.

The way she reacts to the sight of squirrels, rabbits and any other independently mobile body as if she’s just done a line of canine coke, supports our suspicions about her other breed. She’s hyper, inquisitive, bolder than Willa, and she’s wearing us out at the moment.

After four months in a vet’s rescue shelter — and perhaps because she’s part hound, which are supposedly resistant to housebreaking — she is not adequately turned off by crapping where she sleeps. Nor by dancing in it. We call her Shitpaws.

But please, it’s “Wanda” in formal settings … we toyed with more author names like Harper and Flannery (and Willa Who Is Called Simon), but none fit her rambunctiousness. Ww-w-w-wanda, as in A Fish Called, and “To Wanda!” as in Fried Green Tomatoes, sounded just right.

At least Willa and Shitpaws, er, Wanda are getting along fine now after a rocky introduction. And we humans, we’re wondering what the hell we’ve done. Which, I believe, is a common human response once the “I’ve got an idea” gene has been expressed.