Miz Shoes

Miss Congeniality

Miss JoJo graduated from puppy school last night, and although she was smart enough to carry her biscuit back to her place in line before she ate it, she was hardly the valedictorian. True to herself, though, she was voted Friendliest Dog, or, as I like to call her, Miss Congeniality.

What a hoot.
In other bubbles of non-information that are rumbling around in my head, today is my cousin's birthday. He's a still photographer for major motion pictures, and thanks to him, I am three degrees of Kevin Bacon. This is good bar conversation fodder.

The Bob has signed a contract with XM Radio to host a show starting in March 06. This means I now have to get xm radio in my car or house or some damn place.

I have yet another new addiction now that ANTM is over for the season, (NIK WUZ ROBBED!!) and that is Project Runway. I somehow missed it last year, so I don't understand why I'm supposed to hate Daniel so much. Since he seems to be a neurotic mess with sloppy hair and meticulous tailoring skills, I, of course, love him and want him to win. And, seriously, what's up with the bitch who won't share her closest space?
Miz Shoes


It's been a busy few days here at the Casita de Zapatos. The RLA put up a ceiling fan/light fixture in my studio, and for the first time in 12 years I can work after dark or work during the day without fainting from the heat.
I have accepted a new job, working as the personal assistant to a man I've worked for twice before in the past 15 years. This means no more mall stories (thank the gods) but it also means a return to public transit, a mixed blessing at best. On the one hand, there will be plenty of "overheard on the train" stories. On the other hand, there will be more photos of women putting on makeup and doing other things best done in private.

An aside: I think that "on the one hand, on the other hand" has to be the phrase I speak most often... well, that and "what the fuck are you looking at?" I always considered putting the latter on my tombstone, but maybe something could be done with the former, as in "On the one hand, I'm dead. On the other hand, I don't have to listen to politicians anymore."

Anyway. I also finished all three thousand pages of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle. What a great read. A hard read, and a dense one, but also brilliantly written and wonderfully funny. I've now moved on to a Harry Flashman knock-off series about a cad in the US military during the turn of the last century. It isn't nearly as well written as either Fraser or Stephenson, but it's a breeze to read, and keeps me busy until I can find the next ten-pounder to slog through.

The RLA reads constantly, but mostly sci-fi, not that there's anything wrong with that. I have read about a bajillion sci-fi books my own self, it's just that I'm on an historical novel kick that seems to have started several years ago with my finally making it through Marcel Proust's Rememberance of Things Past (all million plus words of it.)

There is just something magical about being able to be transported to another time and place through the power of imagination.

Yesterday, Miss Jojo learned to swim. She is a veritable merdog. She'd been watching the Noble Dog Nails as he did laps and chased the tennis ball around the pool, but was loathe to actually get more than a paw in the water. All of a sudden yesterday, she put first one front paw, and then the other on the top step of the pool. Then her whole head went under water and she snapped away at the wet. Then, without warning, she launched herself off the steps and proceeded to do doggie laps. She can do the side stroke, the dog paddle and something that could be a backstroke. We had to bribe her with cookies to get her out of the pool. We've got a monster on our hands.

Finally, to George in Tennessee, the rumblings on my horizon which you found ominous, were merely the sounds of the job coming to fruition and my increased hours at the gym with the Marquis de Steve.
I spent the day with the RLA yesterday, and most of it went along these lines: I'd watch him doing something and think, hmmm, that would make a great entry for my blog... if I wanted a divorce.
No, really. I mean, we're walking the dogs in the dead of night, and first one dog pees, then the other dog pees, and then the RLA takes a piss in the trees.

Just marking his territory, he says. But. We live in the suburbs, for chrissakes. With lights and stuff. And people driving by. Granted, not at eleven at night, and we were in a particularly dark part of the street, but just the same, I have to ask you: Does your man piss on trees to mark his territory?

For whatever it's worth, the dogs in the neighborhood seem to respect it, because the really big dogs do not poop on our lawn over by that particular tree, so maybe he has a point. But. It's the twenty-first century. We are (allegedly) civilized people. Pissing in the bushes?

On another note, living with two dogs of such disparate breeds is like having my own private Westminster Show on a daily basis. There is the noble dog Nails, a Jack Russell Terrier, not AKC, but Jack Russell Terrier Club of America registered, which means he's from before the AKC accepted and standardized the breed. He is a dog's dog. He barks at squirrels. He chases things. He is (for a Jack) Very Well Behaved. He goes for a swim in the pool after every walk. (His choice, by the way. He does doggies laps, too. He jumps off the steps and swims in 4-foot circles, then goes back to the steps and sits down, like a little old man at the hotel pool.) He plays with gravity by pushing balls off the couch, or into the pool so he can chase them. He will watch the ball floating in the pool and wait until it gets close to the edge, then paw it in to within mouth distance. You can watch him calculate the time it will take to float to him. If he doesn't like the distance, he will bark at me or the RLA to push the ball closer to him. For a dog, the animal is a genius.

And now we have Miss JoJo. She's a flopsy puppy. She never barks, except when Nails is barking at another dog, and then she'll add her two cents, and stop. Nails will bark until the other dog has passed beyond his sight.

JoJo is a digger. I have gopher holes all over the yard, now. She chews on all the toys that Nails disdained. She loves her Frisbee, where Nails is afraid of them. She digs. All. The. Time. She never makes any noise. If she needs to go out, she pokes me with her nose.

Watching them play together yesterday was a hoot. Nails is clever, stealthy and plots ahead. JoJo is a gonif, and will wait until Nails is distracted, and then steal his toys. Nails, knowing that JoJo doesn't go in the pool, kept dropping his ball in the pool to keep it away from her. Then he'd pull it out, and tease her with it.

There should be a groove in the pool deck by now, from the number of laps they ran around it. Fist JoJo in the lead with Nails' toy, and then Nails playing keep away with her.

This is why I got a puppy. I laughed until my cheeks hurt.
Miz Shoes

How DARE You

To the marketing geniuses at Burger King:

How DARE you give out free hand cleaner with every order (even just coffee) that disolves nail polish? Are you people mad? Do you know how much a manicure costs?
And here in Miami, home of the shallow and the vain, do you know how much it means to keep your manicure maintained?

So, yesterday, while the RLA and I were running around doing errands, I noticed that I had puppy schmutz under my nails. Knowing that I had those free BK hand wipes in the car, I opened one up and used it.

What a surprise to discover that my two-day-old manicure had the top coat dissolved right off, leaving me with pitted, matte nails on a few, but not all fingers.

I was livid.

But not so livid that I was unable to make the following observations about the drivers and driving rules in Miami.

  • The far left lane is now the designated "slow" lane. Where in my youth, I was taught it was the fast lane or the passing lane, it now seems to be where you drive if you are lost, unsure, under the influence of drugs, or simply can't bear to go above 25MPH.

  • The word "merge" in the merge lane means that the people in the lane you are trying to merge into are trying to make you merge into the guard rail.

  • Holiday spirit has come to mean a viciousness and meaness of spirit only dreamed of by Mr. Scrooge. People are ugly, irritated and irrational to degrees heretofor unseen in city known for its crabiness and bad driving.

  • But I have a puppy, and that makes everything better.
    Miz Shoes

    This Little Girl Is Mine

    It's been a long six months of waking the RLA up in the middle of the night to say "I want a PUPPY". Or, in the middle of a conversation about something, anything else, asking "Can I have a puppy?" Sometimes I've even chanted it, like Bart Simpson asking "Are we there yet?"
    But the universe unfolds the way the universe will unfold, and so, on my birthday I received an e-mail from a breeder who had no puppies, but had found one up in Port St. Lucie that she thought was a good, sound little girl.

    A couple of phone calls later and the force of nature that is your narrator had made arrangements with the breeder, and finally broken down the RLA's resistance.

    I present to you the newest member of the Shoes family: Miss Josephine Baker, or as she has now figured out, and comes to: JoJo.


    Miz Shoes

    Fafhrd Firefoot

    Fafhrd is my flame-point siamese. He used to be so fat, I called him a siamoose. Now he is skin and bones. We have had a great weekend together. In twenty minutes, I will take him to the vet for his final visit. My vet will let me hold him as we open the door to the always-sunny meadow, where the mice are fat and slow.

    This sucks. And the alternative sucks worse.

    Thanks for listening.
    Miz Shoes

    Desolation Row

    I was nine or ten when my father's mother died. I remember that he was upset because he'd taken her a bathrobe to the hospital, and what ever color he'd taken, she'd preferred another. He was terribly upset because he felt that he should have known that she would have liked pink more than blue. Or blue more than pink. Whatever.

    I think of that often, these days.

    This morning I started out at the vet's trying to negotiate when we would put down my cat. Is it too soon? Is it too late? Is he suffering? Is there more I can do? My cat and my father are both dying of leukemia. What I would do for my cat the government will not let me do for my father.

    I told my dad about the cat, and he said, don't let it suffer. I know what suffering is.

    I ended my day with a phone call from my cousin, telling me that my father needs another transfusion, but refused it because it might have kept him from being home when my mother came back from her day of cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy is the politically correct term for what you do with someone suffering from end-stage Alzheimer's Disease. It means that she spends her days doing flash cards so that she can remember her name, remember what two plus two is.

    Years ago I saw a cartoon that I thought summed up my life. It was a solitary person sitting in an auditorium under a banner that said "Adult Children of Normal Parents." My brother, the therapist, doesn't agree. He says that what ever you grow up with is normal, even if it's not.

    But he's wrong. They were normal. They loved us. They cared for us. They cared for their parents. We belonged to a country club and took summer vacations to a family home. They worked. Our mother cooked meals. Our father mowed the lawn. We were the archetypical 1950s family living in a small town. I grew up -- we grew up, in a Norman Rockwell painting. That is, if Norman Rockwell had painted Cisley, Alaska.

    A couple of years ago I offered to bake a cake for my dad for his birthday. I asked him what his favorite cake was. He couldn't tell me. This is a man who has lived his entire life in the service of family. He hadn't a clue what his favorite was. I made an old-fashioned coconut cake. He loved it.

    His birthday is coming around again. I have no idea what cake I'll bake for him this year. I have no doubt, however, that whatever comes out of my kitchen will be, for that day, his favorite.

    There are no words to tell him how much I love him. There is no end to the pain I feel. Why don't they tell you how hard it is to lose a parent? Why don't they tell you that there is a hole that will never be filled?

    I think because if we knew, none of us could go on. And yet, we must. I pour through my book of Bartlett's Quotations, looking for the verses I'll read at their funerals. For my mother, I have chosen Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night." Do you know it? It's required reading in almost every English Lit class.

    "Do not go gentle into that good night
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

    But for my father, I need something else. Something that will make clear what he is/was to me. For my father, I have chosen W. H. Auden's "Funeral Blues."

    "Funeral Blues

    Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
    Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
    Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
    Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

    Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
    Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
    Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
    Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

    He was my North, my South, my East and West,
    My working week and my Sunday rest,
    My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
    I thought that love would last for ever; I was wrong.

    The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
    Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
    Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood,
    For nothing now can ever come to any good."
    Miz Shoes

    Day Off

    Working for the county has its advantages, now and then. Today I had off in honor of the generic presidential birthday celebration known as "President's Day." I took a nap.

    Not just a nap, but the hallowed, mid-afternoon, workday couch nap.

    There are just no words.

    I also worked on a new quilt top and took the old cat to the vet to make sure he's just old and not old and sick. Old and sick seems to be a theme in my life, at least as far as the humans in it goes, so I was worried about the cat. He's 15 and a half. In cat years, that's um, 108.

    The vet's prognosis: just old and he doesn't like his food.

    There's only 24-ish hours left to vote in Blog Madness, Round Four. What are you waiting for? Follow the link, and vote for your favorite. That would be me, right? Right? RIGHT?!

    Thank you. I promise to go back to my regular bitching and moaning tomorrow. But now, I'm going to bake chocolate chip cookies. With pecans. For the guy at the pharmacy who doesn't suck. He can rub it in and show them to the Insufferable Mr. Pimple, but no sharing.

    And if you vote for me, maybe, just maybe, I'll bake some for you too.
    Miz Shoes

    Spring Fever, Round 1

    Yesterday was my Siamese cat, Ming's widdle birthday. He was 9. I gave him as much catnip as he wanted. I hope he enjoyed his birthday. I did. I like watching my cat do drugs. Did you know that catnip is more like kitty acid than kitty reefer? Most people don't know that.

    That was stimulating, wasn't it? Made you glad you surfed over to Today's Shoes. OK, then, let's change the subject. Let's talk about the weather.

    Here in Miami the storm clouds are starting to build up over the Everglades in the late afternoon. The rains haven't started just yet, but it's only a matter of weeks before we have afternoon showers every day. The oranges are just about done with their season, and we had just enough cold weather to set the sugar in the fruit. There are Hong Kong orchid trees in full, purple bloom and dryed up lawns. Every mango tree south of Orlando is in bloom. The wet season is almost upon us. And that means it is springtime.

    And that means I have spring fever. I start the work week all chipper and eager and on time, and by Friday, the alarm goes for three snooze button resets. My hair is up, rather than loose, because I have to wash it and mousse it for down, and up doesn't require anything other than a rubber band. My wardrobe has made the transition from a business dress to khakis and a sweater. Hey, at least I took a shower and put on make up.

    But I am just itching to go to the beach. To skip work and loiter aimlessly on Ocean Drive with the ladies who lunch. To drink Cosmos early and often. To read cheesy novels while idling in a hammock near the koi pond. Well, it is Thursday, so I only have to look busy for another day and then I can get in touch with my inner sloth.
    Miz Shoes

    In Memorium: Fluffy

    Fluffy was my beta fish. But he was a beta fish among beta fish. He was magnificent and he lived for 3 years in a spacious bowl with a plastic replica of a small, decaying log. He was rose colored with turquoise flash, like a really nice hot rod flame job. Fluffy loved little ants. He'd lunge at them like a bonzai version of Jaws. He passed in November. Moment of silence.

    I missed Fluffy immediately and sought the solace of another beta. Now I have an inky cobalt blue beta named Rover, and frankly, he's a whiner. He's not fit to hold Fluffy's fins. Granted, Rover is a handsome devil, but he just annoys the hell out of me.

    When the weather dipped down into the 50s last week, I had to put his bowl outside in the sunshine, because he "looked chilled". He won't eat. He's a fucking finicky eater. He won't eat the fish kibbles that Fluffy ate. He won't eat the more expensive, fancy beta food. He won't even eat fresh ants.

    Now, I have a terrier, a pair of siamese cats and a husband. They are all male and they are all finicky eaters. Every one of them likes my cooking. But I will be damned if I'm going to deal with a finicky fish. There are limits, even for me.

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