Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Why I haven't had time to post in awhile

Some of you know that for years, I had a retired racing greyhound named Tango. He was my first dog, and I loved him dearly. He died in my arms, of respiratory failure, a little over six years ago. I still miss him.

Go ahead. Get a tissue. I'll wait.

Mr. Bean contends that a first dog is like a first boyfriend -- nobody else quite measures up to your first. I'm not so sure about the boyfriend thing, actually. My first boyfriend was Dan Duffy, who dated me in high school because he was trying to make my friend, Sandy, jealous. She had broken up with him. He was a pretty good kisser, actually, but it was still a really crappy reason to ask a gal out, you know?

Anyway, the fact is that Tango was the best, most wonderful dog in the world. I'd swear to it before a judge. I know this, because our next dog was a Kerry Blue Terrier, which I think we bought because Kerrys were the talk of Westminster for a few years in there. He's a total moron. And he barks pretty much all the time. So no; as sweet as he is, in his moronic way, he totally lacks the poetic soul and self-conscious gawkiness of my greyhound.

Where am I going with this? Well, here you go: When I had Tango, I encountered, at the local Highland Games, a Scottish Deerhound. Deerhounds are large, fuzzy greyhounds. Just as gawky. Just as quietly poetic. Just as gentle and sweet. I fell in love. I wanted one. Trouble is, there are only about 1000 Deerhounds in the whole freakin country. A puppy will run you about $3000. My chances of ever having one were pretty slim.

So about three years ago, unbeknownst to me, Mr. Bean signed us up for the National Scottish Deerhound Rescue.

And about two weeks ago, they called us. They had not one, but two deerhounds who had been orphaned as a result of a nasty divorce. They were raised together, very dependent on each other, and very traumatized by losing their family. They wanted to place them together. They were six years old -- almost geriatric by large dog standards.

Did we want them?

Of course we did.

So here are our newest "kids":

Meet Max. He'll be seven in September.

and Blue. She'll be six in a couple weeks. That's also the lower half of Mr. Bean. He's 6'4" tall and wears a 34" inseam. See how tall Blue is? She's the little one, by almost 40 pounds.

Together, they are 195 pounds of fuzzy love.

A few challenges: They'd never seen cats before. (I should learn to ask these questions). Cats are VERY interesting. Like, VERY. They might be tasty too, but Mom won't let us taste them.

They have seen deer before. They're even more interesting. And by a weird cosmic coincidence, a small herd of whitetail moved into our woods the day they moved in. Yes, 6 am walks are a VERY special time now.

Walking them is rather like driving a team of draft horses. Except draft horses don't head off in two different directions at once.

But on the positive side, the Moron Kerry is much more relaxed than he was before we got the bigger dogs. I actually like him better than before.

And they are big sweethearts. Even if they can clear the coffee table with their tails.

I'm a happy girl. It's like being in love all over again.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Garbage Can Rant

Yes; you read that correctly. Garbage cans.

“Why rant about garbage cans?” You may ask.

My good friend, Joyce, once gave me a very wise and useful piece of advice: Always be good to your garbage man. It doesn’t matter how rich and powerful you are; if the garbage man doesn’t show up for work and take your garbage away, you will be unhappy.

It is an irony that Joyce never extended this metaphor to being good to wait staff at restaurants. She was notorious for badgering servers, even for whistling to get attention. As a result, I went for a period of about 8 years once, when anytime I had dinner out with her, it was a sure thing that I would end up eating the wrong dinner order. Cold. We cook at home now. It works out better for everyone..

But I’m getting off topic here.

As I have mentioned previously, I live in the far outskirts of North Coast Metroland. We have no sidewalks, no streetlights. We have a septic tank, which is the subject of mild and intermittent floating anxiety for me, I will admit.

We also have a private company haul away trash. There is one. It’s Allied Waste Management. They are a ginormous company with landfills scattered hither and yon across the country. If you want your trash gone, you have to contract with these guys. They own the landfill, so you can’t show up with your own garbage. There is no alternative. They are a monopoly. Got the picture? They have the entire county by a sizeable handful of short hairs.

Earlier this week, a large blue trash receptacle on wheels arrived in my driveway. By “Large” I mean it’s about half-again as big as each of the two wheelie garbage cans we’ve been allowed to have until now. It’s also about twice as heavy as a standard garbage can, and it’s nearly 4 ft tall. So it’s big, but not big enough to give us as much volume as the two cans we’ve used to date at Camp Beanie

It and its compatriots were all just there, lined up at the end of every driveway in the neighborhood, when I got home from work. No accompanying documentation. They were just there, like silent sentinels, tall and heavy and shiny and blue.

I asked Mr. Bean: “When did it get here?”

He briefly looked up from his computer screen. “What?”

“The big honking garbage can? In the driveway?”

He looked down again. “I refuse to see the garbage can. There is nothing there.”


I called Allied Waste to inquired about the potentially imaginary garbage can.

“Yes; we are now requiring that all of your refuse be placed in the provided cans.”

“Ask?” I inquired. “I see no ask. There was no accompanying letter or even a sticker on the cans. And I don’t see anyone asking me anything. The blessed things just arrived, like locusts.”

“Ah, yes; well, we’re a little bit behind on getting the flyers out.”

“I see. So how did you determine that we were in need of these cans?”

“We have made a modification to our collection process, to better serve our customers and protect our employees from injury. The new cans can be lifted and dumped by our automated trucks now”

“Oh? You are protecting your employees from injury? Have paychecks become a source of injury now? “ I was, perhaps, allowing my sarcasm to bleed through a bit.


“You’re sure it wasn’t so you can decrease your workforce?”


“OK, how about my next question. How is my 85-year-old neighbor lady going to haul this behemoth of a can out to the street? Because it’s pretty heavy. Have you tried to wheel one of these around?”

“We have alternative solutions for those customers who need them.”

“Oh? Is that information in the flyer that is not accompanying the new cans? What alternative solution should I share with the neighbor lady? Better yet, what should I tell the next-door neighbor who has five kids and probably won’t be able to put all their garbage in this wonderful can?”

“Um…well, I’m not sure. They haven’t told us. Your refuse has to fit in the can.”

“So you don’t have an alternative solution?”

“Oh yes. We do.”

“But you can’t tell anyone.”

“Um…I’ll have to talk with my supervisor. Thank you for you comments ma’am.”

I called the county commissioner.

"Oh, I got one today too! I'm so screwed! I have a small business, and they won't give me a second can..."


Thursday morning, the garbage trucks showed up. All the new blue behemoths were lined up compliantly on the street – the next door neighbors had rigged it to contain an overflow. Apparently, in addition to not getting the flyers out on time, they didn’t get the new trucks out on time. The new cans were too big and heavy for the garbage crew guys to lift, so they had this one guy, with REALLY long arms, reaching into the cans, one at a time, and pulling the bags and associated jetsam out of the cans and putting it all in the truck. He fell into the can across the street.

I pointed this out to Mr. Bean.

“He has not yet learned to deny the can. When he denies the can, he will be able to lift it. I suggest that next week, we make a pot of coffee and bring out the lawn chairs."

I don’t know whether to write to the better business bureau or go watch The Matrix again.