Hello, My Name Is The Food Lady

And I inhale paint fumes.

No, not because this is THE SCANDAL you’ve all been waiting for these past 11 years of blogging, but because I spent the day starting to finally fix up this old new house o’mine.  I’ve been here nearly three weeks, but as I work, like, 10 or more hours a day, there’s not been a lot of time to do stuff. And also, first it needed to be cleaned.  If ever I meet the old tenant of this house, I am going to offer her my condolences on being allergic to cleaning products, sponges, cloths and scrubbing implements, because there is NO other reason for a house to be this gross.  I have found dirt caked into places I did not know dirt could even find.  It’s almost remarkable.  I am the first to admit that my fastidiousness only extends to things I can see and I cannot guarantee that anything is sparkling behind furniture or appliances I can’t move easily, like my stove (actually I can guarantee that it ISN’T), but dear doG in heaven, how do you get dirt INSIDE your medicine cabinet?

We are on well water here too, and the water is hard, and very high in iron.  My landlord installed a very expensive filtration system on both houses when he bought the place, but former tenant failed to maintain her system (it’s, umm, super easy to maintain incidentally) so it no longer works.  The water smells like it tastes when you bite your lip.  It also stains everything it sits in.  The other morning I was waiting for my toast and *idly* took an SOS pad to the kitchen sink because the entire thing was stained orange.  I assumed I was fighting a losing battle but guess what – 5 minutes later I had a stainless steel coloured sink again.  The bathtub is another story – it’s coming off, slowly, but I am using SOS pads at an alarming rate (and WTF does CLR even do?  Not clean rust off your bathtub, that’s for sure!).  Seriously – had she taken 5 minutes even once a week to give it a quick pass with an SOS pad, it would not be taking me days and days to try and make the bathtub not look like someone murdered pennies in it.  Ugh.

So I woke up this morning and had a lie-in because I was feeling sorry for myself.  I knew starting a new business would be tough, but I guess I didn’t know how tough.  Once I land a client they absolutely love me and their dogs do as well, but I need more of them; I’m not making enough money to survive yet.  I work from 7AM – noonish for my other job, which I can fortunately do from home, but it doesn’t pay very well.  Then I leave around 12:30 and walk dogs, and get home around 5:30PM, if traffic and such favours me.  The nice part of not having many clients yet is that all or almost all of my dogs can come with me, so I don’t need to then exercise dogs when I get home, but the downside is that between gas and bridge tolls, I’m earning almost nothing.  I know it will come – I have a full time client, and one part time client that is going full time soon, and one sporadic part time client.  Not enough yet.  I advertise online wherever I can, and I know it will take time, but at the end of the day, it’s just not enough yet.

My landlord is great and basically will pay for anything I want to do, as long as he himself doesn’t have to do the work as he has own very large farm to run and take care of.  So that’s fine, I buy what I need and take it off the rent.  But my morning job covers my rent, car insurance and car payments and that’s it, so if I spend too much money on stuff before the end of the month, one of those car payments or whatever will bounce.  So that’s frustrating.  I also still have not gotten my security deposit back from my previous landlord, which is supposed to be my hydro payment because I have no other spare money.  I’m living on tomato soup and toast at the moment and I count every penny before I spend it.  It’s kinda of exhausting.  Nope, it’s super exhausting actually, and sometimes it’s so scary I can’t sleep at night.

So anyway, I lay in bed this morning feeling sad, and decided that laying around feeling sad wasn’t going to change anything, so I got out of bed and went for a short drive and dropped business cards off at all the local pet related businesses in the area.  And I picked up some primer and got to work in the bathroom.  Because the bathroom was green.  And I don’t mean a happy apple green, I mean an institutional green like it’s the 1940s and my house is a hospital for mental patients and the nation is at war and there’s no money for nice coloured paint for a class of society we want to pretend is invisible anyway.  It was mental hospital green and DIRTY.  And for some reason, full of nail holes and screw holes.  So I filled them all in, and primed the hell out of it.  Note: “Second coat in just 1 hour!” is LIES DAMN LIES.  It’s bed time and it’s still wet.  But now that the bathroom is white(ish) it looks about 3 times bigger than it did this morning.  It’s going to look pretty okay when it’s painted a) white and b) not with flat paint.  And I am just going to assume that all of the other rooms are going to look bigger when painted too, because most them are ALSO green of some kind, or else some really depressing bargain-bin beige, or – like the room that is going to become my photo studio – an acid trip of insane psychedelic swirls (not.even.kidding).  Oh primer, we are going to become very good friends for a long time, I think.

Whilst waiting (futilely as it turned out) for the primer to dry in the bathroom so I could apply a second coat, I decided to paint the dog room.  But first I had to prime the door, because all the doors in the place are ALSO filthy.  And the dog room walls were covered in what looks suspiciously like snot, so they needed to be cleaned.  And then I started painting with a can of orange paint that is supposed to be terracotta with a kick, but looked alarmingly like a pumpkin on ecstasy at a rave when I first slapped it on. I’m hoping it calms the fuck down when it dries!  I did two walls and then decided I was just plain old done with painting for the day, because it was almost dinner time.  And I grabbed my camera and took the dogs outside in the sun.  And this is where you come in :)

“Look Simba, everything the light touches is our kingdom.”

(and yes, I recycled that from my personal facebook page, so here’s my preemptive shut UP to my FB friends)

We started out playing ball in my front field, but that field is ringed with old blackberry bushes (although they are not bushy, just huge tangles of dead and thorniness) but RABBITS hang out in the thorny and RABBITS cause Spring to go berserk.  Even the thought, hint or suspicion of RABBITS cause her to go berserk.

And when Springs goes berserk, all the other bastardogs lose their collective minds and then this happens:

And when that happens, it cannot happen quietly.  It has to be accompanied by as much barking as possible, as well as the ungodly sounds of Wootie barkscreaming.  And since we live next door to, and share a fence with lots of these:

And those are guarded by a couple of – okay I don’t have a photo of them, but let’s just say REALLY BIG DOGS.  And I don’t want my new neighbours to hate me right out of the gate.  So I have to put a stop to the RABBIT insanity as soon as it starts.  So we moved to the pasture between my house and my landlord’s house to play.  Because the turkey won’t let us play in my actual yard.  Ever since we moved here, the turkey and the roosters have become crazy territorial.  They don’t f*ck with me, because I schooled them from the get go (with a shovel), but last weekend Tyrone the rooster attacked my friend Michelle!  It was a cheap ass sneak attack from behind too, the asshole.

Anyway, Terrence the turkey scares the little dogs, and also Dexter.  Because Dexter’s body is large, but his brain is little.

So we just decided to play in the field.  It has a couple of little ponds that my ducks were not using at the moment, and kindly let the dogs splash around in it.

And they raced up and down the hill, because the pasture is … well, pastoral and full of gently rolling hills and other The Sound Of Music shit.

(last weekend my landlord took me and Michelle on a tour of the rest of the 18 acres.  Dudes, there’s a LAKE at the back, like a trout lake. where my dogs can swim!  And there are cows.  And I met my baby goats.  This one many of you have seen already; I named him Harvey.  He thought my coffee cup was his milk bottle and he was REAL happy to meet me as a result.  So I named him Harvey Milk)

harvey

Anyhoo.  There was much gallumping and gleeful running around after frisbees and toys to be done, border collie style.

Look at this ole lady dog!  14.5, still tough as nails.  She comes hiking almost every day, and though she has to be lifted over logs, and  she goes up hills sideways because neither her front end nor her back end has the power to propel her up an incline, she’s determined to do it!

And still the non-border collies found tangles of thorniness to hunt RABBITS in.

They didn’t find any RABBITS though, so at least they came back when I called them.

I really have to get on the fencing and keep them from reaching that side of the field though, because it borders a path that lots of horse riders use, and as my dogs are both OBNOXIOUS and not used to horses, they tend to race over en masses and scare the bejesus out of the horses and riders both.  I really don’t want to inadvertently kill some horse rider when it gets chucked off its 1000 lb mount, so I am double fencing, so they can’t reach that fence.  Also, I want the poultry to live between those two fences, as when they are in my yard they take disgusting liberties like pooping in my porch.  And a while ago I had my kitchen door open while I was doing stuff and came into the house to get something and found like 7 chickens IN MY LIVING ROOM.  Impertinent assholes.

Anyway, that was our first real playtime on the property and I think everyone had fun, because they are all now passed out cold, about 80% of them in my office here with me now.  Piper favours the closet, while Dexter and Gemma argue over the bed under my desk (Gemma usually wins because she can’t hear or see Dexter’s ugly faces and sounds, and he’s all teeth and no trousers that one).

I think I like it here.  I think the dogs do too :)

I will like it just a teensy bit better when the wood stove finally goes in though, because when it’s cold outside, it’s COLD in here.  When the temperature drops, I can see my breath in my house.

I will also like it a little better when I can afford it.  So please, be sure to tell your friends about The Walking Dog so I can round up some more clients to walk.  We walk in some really amazing places with tons of stuff to explore, rivers to splash through, logs to leap over and stuff.  The dogs are so pooped when they get home.  It’s really awesome!  They just love it, and so do I … and I really want to keep doing it!  Even if some weirdo sent me a huge long email in response to one of CL ads that accused me and all dogwalkers of destroying wildlife habitat (I don’t EVER take dogs to areas where there is wildlife habitat risk!) and wrapped up her insane rant by suggesting I should want to kill myself for being such a horrible person.  Like, wow.  Whacko.

Also, you can really help me out by booking a photo shoot, or purchasing a print or two from me.  I have a few 18X24 prints ready to go already – if you’re interested in seeing them, contact me and I’ll send photos.  if there’s anything I’ve photographed that you’d like to have a print of, please let me know and I can make that happen too.  Soon I hope to have my photo studio IN MY HOUSE ready to roll, and can do studio sessions right here at home, which saves you the cost of me renting studio space.

Hopefully tomorrow that blasted primer will be dry enough to apply the second coat, and I can finish painting the dog room, and then get rid of the acid trip in the photo studio room.  *shudder*

Then Monday it’s back to work.  I have all three clients to walk on Monday, so TWooie gets to stay home because otherwise he beats up the 100lb Lab.  Because TWooie is small, but his ego is enormous.

Much love to you all from our slowly-being-improved stixier house in the stix (now with RABBITS)

Weird Week

TWooie went out hinting* rabbits yesterday (*not a typo: he does not “hunt” so much as he races through the bush barking like he saw something, when we all know he saw nothing at all) and came back like this:

“This,” in case it is not clear, is his leg stuck through his martingale collar. (And in the background, his siblings are laughing at him).  I have no idea how he gets himself into predicaments like this.

Pssst … wanna know a secret?  Come closer … it’s cuz he’s DUMB.

Well Wootie, I wouldn’t be flappin’ my yap about dumb, if I were you.  You are not exactly the pictorial dictionary definition of poise yourself, Pumpkin.

Who sits like that?  And who drools mud down their chest hair?

Ooh!  OOH!  I know, I know!

(^in process of swallowing a walrus, rhinoceros or other really big creature that would require the ability to unhinge his jaw)

In honour of Talk Like A Pirate Day, Dexter wants to tell you the bone-chilling tale of Blacktongue.  It’s a story used by parents* the world over to frighten their children**
(*parents= dog owners.  **Children = BAD DIGGING DOGS).
It goes like this:
If you insist on digging ankle sized holes in the yard with your itty bitty little feet and pointy little teeth
Your tongue will TURN BLACK AND STAY THAT WAY!
What?
The end.
Is that really for true?
Oh bless Tweed.  He was much sharper before age robbed him of his wisdom.
Not that the young ‘uns are all that smart either.  If the younger generation were smarter than their elders, then this would not have happened:
squirrelking1
Right about now you’re scratching your head and saying in your best Marty Hart voice “I just want you to stop posting odd shit.”
Odd shit indeed.  As part of Weird Week, these five sibling adolescent squirrels fell out of the nest like this … with their tails knotted, matted and tangled together.  The Hydra of Squirrels, if you will.  SCATTER THIS, BITCH!
An ACO tried to solve the Chinese Squirrel Puzzle in the field but didn’t have enough hands.  Or gloves.  Squirrels bite like fury.  So he brought them to us at work.
Where we all grabbed a squirrel and let the Health Tech do her thang.
squirrelking2
Free at last, free at last.  Oh lordy, we’re free at last!
squirrelking3
Took a good 20 minutes.  My job is so WEIRD.
Ender is weird too.  He looks like someone lit a firecracker under Mr. Burns.
And Dexter is just, you know, Dexter.
What can you do.  And anyway, he keeps Tweed young :)

Let’s Play “What’s In Your Tree?”

For example, what’s in this tree at the back of my property?

I haven’t been to the back of the property in ages and ages – the blackberries have all but taken over our trail that connects the property to the dikes and we couldn’t use it all last summer.  Tweed, in his old age and wisdom, fears the pokey retribution of trod-upon blackberries.  I’ve been working at hacking away at them with a machete from time to time, and have made progress on about 2/3rds of the trail, but as I am not particularly skilled with the machete, it’s kind of dicey (yuk yuk).

We haven’t  gone the other way around, through the Long Grass, because it’s full of spiders and things of that nature that violently disagree with me.  But when Mother Nature dumped snow on us last week, it flattened all the long grasses so we have been tromping through there to walk along the dikes in the mornings.  And it was on one of these mornings that I noticed this stupid box – which is now driving me OUT OF MY MIND with curiosity – wired into a tree where the end of our property line meets up with the dike.

At first I thought it was a bat house, which seemed pretty cool, but it doesn’t really look like a bat house.  Someone else suggested it might be an owl box, which is almost as awesome (who doesn’t love a box full of owls?)  I am rather hoping it’s a box full of old coins worth $10 million  but high up in a tree seems a strangely visible place to store such a thing.

Anyway, the dogs are pleased at being able to run along the dikes again, and hunt in the Long Grasses.

And tromping through the snow and grass is better for my health than standing around in the dark throwing a ball.  I hate Winter (season, not dog) so much … endless days of almost never seeing my dogs in the daylight and it being too dark out to walk on the property.  Standing outside in the dark and freezing cold sideways rain, chucking the ball for an hour twice a day is brutally boring; I am so glad it’s staying light out later and in just a few months we will be past the Time Of The Great Mud and the outdoors will be fun again!

I guess I could always be like other hoarders and just not engage with my dogs at all (*insert eyeroll here*) and stay warm and dry all winter long.  I just gotta say, it was awfully nice to see all your comments and emails supporting my, errm, unconventional (though clean and cared for) way of life.  It’s not that the opinion of said accuser is meaningful to me in any way, because really, if someone I have so little regard for wants to think poorly of me, it doesn’t much matter to me, but making it a public opinion is just vitriolic.  This is where social media is teh fail … it makes very unimportant people think their snide, empty-headed opinions have some credibility.

Anyway, it’s nice to know that the people that matter have my back.  Which is a good thing, because my back is in danger of being kicked to death by ITALIAN GREYHOUNDS.  Did you know that Italian Greyhound owners have a term for the particular activity these little wieners engage in called “The Butt Punch?”  Here I thought I just had two fairly ill mannered little dogs, when in fact they are doing is The Dance of Their Tribe, which involves jumping on their owner from behind and – literally – kicking them in the ass.  Over and over and over again.  Particularly at meal preparation time, but any moment of intense excitement causes them to break into dance.

Ender is starting to settle in a little bit better, though I still think he has a death wish.  At agility practice he tried to hump TEMPUS.  That’s exactly the same as trying to seduce the Devil.  The humping wouldn’t be so bad if he would just back off when told, but he takes exception to any dog rejecting his amorous advances and this is how he causes fights.  He doesn’t do any damage to anyone, but it’s pretty stressful for all parties, including me.  As he gets used to my own crew, he is doing this less and less, but the damage has been done and they aren’t really sure what to make of him.

Of course, what border collie would be able to understand a dog that wears pajamas outside?

In case the HILARITY of the jammies is not immediately apparent in that sort of shitty photo, here’s another view:

He manages to be handsome even in silly pajamas.

But not *quite* as awesome as this shelter cat in a top hat.

 

This is my new favouritest cat of all time.  Partly because he is very handsome and very sweet, but also because he will wear a top hat.

Whenever I am photographing shelter animals in my “studio” I try to sneak in a few of my own guys here and there.  Addy is becoming a pro at posing, but no matter how you take her picture, she’s still a Miggy (midget IG)

Gemma didn’t bite me once during this photo session!  That’s pretty miraculous.  That she is still alive and biting is also pretty miraculous.

Even though it’s been warm and sunny with snow on the ground, in many places, I have almost no outdoor photos to post today.  That’s because the telephoto lens I spent my birthday money on, a new-to-me replacement lens (a Canon f/3.5-5.6 is) for my dead 70-200mm zoom, HAS STOPPED AUTO-FOCUSING!  I have had the thing for like, a month.  It was inexpensive, as it’s a discontinued lens, but it’s a good substitute and was all I could afford, and now it doesn’t work, unless I focus manually.  And I don’t know if you have any idea how hard it is to focus on sighthounds and crazy border collies manually, but trust me … it’s a nightmare!

I did manage a couple of decent shots after spending an hour trying to photograph the dogs:

 

But by and large I was mostly just totally unsuccessful.  And my guess is that fixing it would be more expensive than it’s worth.  Although I spent all my money buying it so probably couldn’t afford to fix it any way.  And definitely cannot afford another.  That’s kind of a bummer, as without a good zoom or telephoto, outdoorsy/action shots are pretty well impossible to achieve.

I guess if I book outdoorsy/action sessions, I can always rent a lens, but now I am paranoid about ever using zooms and telephoto lenses ever again!

Why?  WHY CRUEL WORLD?

AND STOP LAUGHING AT ME GEMMA!!

I better go climb that tree and check and see if there is $10 million in that box.