Year of the Üter


We adopted this guy a year ago, on Super Bowl Sunday. I remember because we didn't watch the game but we did make chili, and he just sat and watched us with his big, heartbreaking brown eyes.

Things were a little rocky at first, and sometimes still are. Willa, it turns out, probably should have been an only dog. But she has gradually accepted her lot, and the house is mostly peaceful, if occasionally snappish.


Üter is pretty chill--most of the time. When he gets wound up, it's hard to shut him down, and he can look and sound pretty threatening. (BORK! BORK! BORK!) He's still learning to walk nicely on a leash and to greet friends when they come over. I don't know if he'll ever be cool with bigger dogs, which is a bummer since one of my favorite things is inviting people to bring their dogs over to tear up our backyard together.

Still, through a mix of training and management, we've been able to give them both a life full of exercise, fun, and sociability. I feel pretty good about that. Sometimes we get a little lazy and fall short, but they're dogs. They forgive us. 

Car pal

If you know you like dogs but are on the fence about getting one because you're afraid it's going to be disruptive or a lot of work--just go for it. I mean, if you work 90 hours a week or are about to go on a six-week trip to Europe then it's probably not the time. But if you want it and you're able to, do yourself a favor and get a dog. It's so worth it; the work, the expense, all of it. They will make you happy every single day, and you will make them happy too, and there are not a lot of things in life that pay off so handsomely.  

And now...we celebrate!

Degrees of dogging

The other day I was walking home from the track when a man and his little dog approached. The dog wasn't on a leash but was sticking to the man like glue. The dog was on the man's left and so would have passed next to me, except the man said "switch" a few feet before we passed. The dog looped over to the man's right and continued to trot along, face upturned, awaiting further transmissions. After they passed me, he said "switch" again, and the dog resumed his spot at the man's left side, wagging all the while. 

I actually said, "damn," out loud because it was that cool, and also because I was amused. The day previous I had nearly burst with pride--I'm talking high kicks, effusive praise, exuberant Instagram post--because I had dragged Üter through a park full of dogs and he never once had his usual full-bore hellhound freakout at the sight of one, just a little whimpering and a few easily quelled woofs. We've been working on that for a long time, and it seems like maybe he is finally, finally getting the idea.

I'll never have a dog as obedient as Mr. Switchy's, which is very sad, but I'll take my training success where I can find it.

Redbud buddy

I was puttering around the front yard this afternoon when I noticed the profusion of seed pods hanging from the leafless redbud tree. I'd had moderate luck in getting mountain laurel* seeds to grow and stunning success in planting the red yucca**, *** seeds my coworker Sarah gave me. So hell, let's plant some redbuds!

According the the Wildflower Center, you can conduct a test to see which seeds are capable of sprouting.

As in a witch trial, the ones that sink are good and the ones that float are bad.


"And this isn't my nose; it's a false one!"

Unlike in witch trials, the good ones were then carefully pulled out of the water and roughed up with a piece of sandpaper.

I have them in the freezer now and will wallop them with boiling water and a long soak before I go to bed.

I really hope these sprout. I want to plant a bunch of these so I can have pretty little redbud trees all over the yard, and I want to give some away, and I just might plant some more on a neglected strip of dirt here and there.


Photo by Marcia Cirillo, Creative Commons

They are great little trees for Austin--drought tolerant and attractive. They like a range of light conditions, and of course their hazy pink blooms light up the city for about two weeks every spring. The blooms and the immature seed pods are edible too, although I haven't tried that beyond popping an exploratory flower into my mouth last spring. I don't remember it tasting like much, maybe a little fruity and a little perfume-y.

*AKA the grape Kool-Aid tree, for its fragrant spring blossoms that just smell...purple.

**Not really a yucca, I just learned.

***I should really give the Wildflower Center some scratch one of these days. Their plant database is indispensable. 

How it happens

A friend recently made an offhand comment that when she adopted her dog she made her a promise to never dress her in silly clothes. I cringed a little when she said that, because I used to think that way. But now I have become the kind of person who pays money for cute sweaters for her dogs to wear.

Here's the thing: Üter has very short fur. We noticed not too long after we got him last year that he would shiver uncontrollably whenever it got below about 45 degrees outside. So we got him a little shirt, and he stopped shaking so much and everything was great.

This year we had a cold snap kind of early and his shirt got filthy after just a couple of days. I thought it would be nice to have a few on hand in case we needed to wash one. So I ordered him another shirt. Then I thought I might as well buy him a sweater in case it got really cold--it does do that here sometimes. And then I figured if I was going to buy him a sweater, it might as well be a cute one.

Then I felt bad that I wasn't getting Willa anything. I mean, rationally I know she doesn't care and she doesn't get nearly as cold as Üter anyway, but it still seemed a little lopsided, and besides, what if it did get really cold outside? So I bought her a cute sweater too.


And then this happened.

And then it never got cold again, so I have a tidy pile of adorable dog sweaters in my office.

I also tie bandanas around their necks.

IMG_5978 (1)

And take pictures like this. 

They don't seem to mind. I'm pretty sure they would tell me if they did.

Fer sale

I forgot to tell you about a nice thing!


I have a piece for sale in the window of Kruger's Jewelers at 8th and Congress downtown.

Cactus ass

Stop by and see it if you're down there, and be sure to check out the company it's keeping, like this fantastic mosaic cactus.

Winda mirra
It looks a little plain compared to the others, but I think it holds its own okay. (That's my friend Sam in the mirror, classing up the joint.)


It's the 27th anniversary of my mom's death.

When you live with grief for a long time you know you're going to feel all kinds of ways about your loss depending on the season or the day--sadness, acceptance, the sensation of being punched repeatedly in the solar plexus--and sometimes, for long stretches, not very much at all.

This year I mostly feel angry. I'm 40 this year, the same age my mom was when she died. That's preposterous, that this--this spot where I am now, where I have some things to look back on, and things still to look forward to, and things to regret forever and things I still have time to fix--this was all she got, and the last few years of that so frightening and full of pain to boot.

It's appalling. I'm so pissed. I've felt like kicking something all week, but there's nothing to kick.

So what can I do? Have lunch with my sister, walk the dogs, pull some weeds, pick out Christmas presents for people I love, cook dinner for Eric, text with my friends and family. Write an inadequate blog post. Drink wine, cry a little. God damn it.

No more November!

This month went fast. And now I am no longer under a self-imposed obligation to post every day. Which I did do, mostly, although the writing was thinner than I'd hoped. I guess it takes more practice than just a few weeks.

Still, on a personal level, it was a very good month, and daily blogging lends shape to things. It encourages you to notice things more, to distill things into a few paragraphs--or, conversely, to find at least one thing to salvage from a shitty or utterly unremarkable day.

I do plan to write more than I have been, but I am not going to post every day in December. There are enough obligations in the month already. So I'll post when I feel like it, and be quiet when I don't.

Hey, look! By my clock it's just now December as I'm wrapping up this post. Thanks for reading. Come back and see me soon.

Food food food food

That's really all I've done all weekend: cook and eat. This morning I transformed the stock into turkey noodle soup. We had that for breakfast. Later Eric and I went to the grocery store and I decided we needed to make a pan of turkey mole enchiladas. So we had that for an early dinner. We are set for meals for the next couple days.

We bought a jar of mole at the store to make the enchiladas, but now I'm wondering if it would be worth it to try to make mole at home. I've been wanting to do that for a while, but it's extremely time consuming. If it'd be miles better than the jarred kind, I think it would be fun. If it would only be a little better--or even worse--I think it would be a dispiriting waste of time. I will let you know my findings.