Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dalmation Dealing with Thunderstorms

As I may have mentioned before my 11 year old Dalmation, Cassie, is absolutely TERRIFIED of thunderstorms.  Well... thunderstorms and fireworks.  When she was younger it wasn't as big of a deal; she'd pace around the house a few times and had a few shivers when the biggest of lightning strickes would create a giant roll of thunder but she'd calm down as soon as the storm was over.  As she's gotten older, her reactions have gotten so much worse.  In recent years she's begun to shake like an epileptic, she can't think, her hear rate goes through the roof, and she slobbers and pants like she's having a stroke (and this is a dog that rarely even opens her mouth except to eat). Now I think that Mace and I would have been able to cope even with these dramatic reactions to thunderstorms if they ended as soon as the storm did, but she'll literally do these things for hours and hours after the storm has passed and wears herself out to the point of total exhaustion.  The last couple of storms had been so awful that we thought Cassie might have a heart attack. There just wasn't anything we could do that seemed to help her.  I really thought that the next thunderstorm could be the death of her.

So I talked to a few friends that have similar issues with a few of their pets and my friend Meredith told me about a website that had a great varriety of anti-anxiety meds for dogs that might help.  She also gave me an idea of how the couple of brands she used on her cats helped but recommened a few of the lesser expensive ones to try first since her cat goes ballistic at just about the drop of a hat and Cassie's issues are only on specific occasions.  She didn't need something that would be a daily anti-anxiety med.  So Mace and I hopped online to see what we could find ASAP.  We read all the reviews, weighed our options carefully, and decided on one called TranQuil Tabs for Dogs.  What we found out was that the strongest active ingredient in the stuff was L-Tryptophan (yep the same stuff that puts us into a turkey induced coma after Thanksgiving dinner). 

After a few short days we got these in the mail and really it couldn't have been any better timing since the day we got them we had a terrible thunderstorm that evening.  Now even though these tablets are chewable and apparently chicken liver flavored, getting them in Cassie can be a little difficult if we don't have her take them before a huge clap of thunder.  Her brain just goes so wacky that she doesn't even realize that she's been giving something yummy to eat.  So down the gullet we have to force them.  If however we get them to her when we first start to hear those low rummbles up the valley before she gets freaked out, she eats them right up and is looking for more.  Within about 10-15 minutes she's soooooo much more relaxed.  No more pacing, panting, and shaking (unless its a really big clap of thunder) but then she calms right down again.  She isn't exactly at "normal" Cassie levels but its such a dramatic improvement from before TranQuil Tabs that I really have no room for negative commentary.

Actually the only reason I'm writting this post this morning is because we're in the middle of another huge thunderstorm (thunder, lightening, hail, rain, the works) and yet she's laying here with her head on my lap breathing normally and only picking her head up and giving a little shiver when the thunder gets really bad.  Even though I didn't get her meds in before the storm and she was panicking like crazy it still only took about 10 minutes for the good juices to flow and she calmed down.  I love her sooooo very much and I am so happy that we got her these treats.  Now all I have to do is remember to give them to her on the 4th of July before going to the fireworks booth so she's not clawing at the walls when the fireworks start going off around town... but I'm sure that will be another post.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fireworks Frenzy!

Its that time of year again.  The 4th of July is only 10 days away and of course for me and Mace that means selling fireworks for the next 10 days.  Now until I started dating Mace my fireworks experience was limited to the old style metal sparklers that my family would light on the back deck after we'd gone to the big Cheyenne public fireworks display.  My family left it to the professionals but around here the town/county doesn't do any kind of public display and individuals light off fireworks at home.  So about 10 years ago Mace started a fireworks business here in town and has been really successful with it.  Once I came into the picture I became the business's bookkeeper since I am the master of all paperwork and we've made a fantastic team.  Each year I become a little more involved and look forward to the day we start.  Today is that day.

Yesterday we spent 14 hours moving the booth over town, setting it up, getting our order, making sure everything is displayed properly, checking our booth safety measure, etc.  All of which is a lot of hard physical work but its also really exciting, especially when our order arrived and we were able to see for the first time the new products we get to sell.  There is so much this year that looks like it would be amazing to see fired off.  Luckily I'll get to see most of the items because its local people buying them and on the 4th I'll sit on my own porch and watch around town. I'm really looking forward to seeing some of the new 500 gram aerial displays and some of the new artillery shells go off because the performance rating on them is spectacular.... and really who doesn't like sparkly lighted stuff exploding at night???

Today is our "grand" opening.  We had a bunch of people stop by yesterday asking when we were opening up and were a little upset that they couldn't buy things yesterday but the federal government controls the selling period for fireworks and we can only go from the 24th of June to the 4th of July.  Hopefully that didn't discourage those folks from coming today.  So in the next few minutes Mace and I will go over town and finish pricing all the items (by 8 last night we'd had enough!) and open the doors.  We're both really hoping for a good year and are a little nervous since the 4th falls on a Wednesday this year which traditionally makes for a bad sales year, but we'll keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.  So wish us luck and hopefully we'll see a few of you drop buy and say hello.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Long Live Sesame Street!!!

For some reason I never thought I'd be part of the "old generation" but I see more and more things everyday that put me in that kind of category.  For instance... I still know the lyrics to a bunch of songs by Kiss, Guns n Roses, Blondie, Wilson Philips, etc; I remember slouch socks and scrunchies, and I grew up on Sesame Street!  Sesame Street was the end all be all for children's educational entertainment in my day.  Yes I said "my day".  Today's kids watch Dora, Diego, and the WonderPets, which in all reality I can't say are too bad but they aren't as awesome as Sesame Street.  Now I'm totally admitting I'm biased but I really feel that today's kids are suffering because of their lack of interest in shows like Sesame Street and have such a crummy array of cartoons to watch.  How can Sponge Bob compare to Thunder Cats, David the Gnome, or the Care Bears?  I mentioned a classic Loony Toone character (the Tazmania Devil aka TAZ) to the 3rd/4th grade class recently and they looked at me like I was an alien.  Am I really that far removed?

I know what you are going to say, all people look back on their childhood cartoons/shows and they they were the best.  But that's not what I'm saying at all.  I was born in 1983 so I watched shows like Saved by the Bell, Family Matters, and Blossom but I also watched Mr. Ed, the Brady Bunch, and Gilligan's Island which were before my time.  The same can be said for the cartoons I watched.  I adored Grape Ape, the Flintstones, the Jetsons, and Bulwinkle (again all from before my time).  But they were still fun to watch and had a story line to them.  I thought that maybe it was my age that was making me so angsty toward present day cartoons and kids shows but I don't think that's it either.  I've shown some of the younger kids cartoons and shows from my generation and they have absolutely no interest in them.  I just don't get it!

Tully, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, and Cookie Monster made out of Fruits and Veggies!!!
So to all the moms, teachers, and child caregivers out there... keep the old school alive!!!  I had a massive grin ear to ear when a friend of mine shared an awesome snack idea for kids (again my preschool teacher spirit is coming out here).  Check out the picture above.  Each plate contains fruit, veggies, and cheese laid out to make Sesame Street characters.  I was so excited about trying this out on the preschoolers next year but came to the sad reality that many of them wouldn't have a clue who there classic characters were.  Cookie Monster, Tully, Oscar the Grouch, and Big Birdwere so common place to me that I can't imagine not recognizing them.  Such is life I suppose.  But if you are anything like me you'll love to make these Sesame Street snacks.  Maybe they are more for the mom's than the kids anymore but I still think its a fantastic and creative idea (and healthy to boot).

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Is Salem Oregon In My Future?

After months of searching, hundreds of applications and resumes sent out (I'm not exaggerating here), and lots of prayers I finally got some word back on a few jobs.  Since February I've been in this dry spell with very little serious feedback on the jobs I've put in for and I was getting depressed.  But apparently the dry spell is over and during the past week I've gotten emails from several agencies that are interested in me.  My applications have moved on to the next phase in the hiring process and I'm in the middle of scheduling interviews for several possibilities. 

Since going to Vancouver WA last summer and finding out that Mace's allergies aren't nearly as bad in that neck of the woods I've been focusing on trying to find a job in the Pacific Northwest.  That's not to say I haven't been putting out applications out all over the Rocky Mountain West but I've been keeping my fingers crossed for something to pop up over there that would work out.  So when I got emails from a job located in Salem, OR and another outside of Olympia WA I have to admit that I've gotten excited and overly optimistic.  But maybe that's what its going to take.... hope beyond all hope that something is going to work out. 

Both jobs are one's that I'd be very interested in.  The one in Salem in particular because it has to do with habitat improvement for wildlife and also private land owner involvement in cooperative projects.  I'd be working for the state of Oregon but the job entails contact with various state, federal, and local non-profit organizations which would create an amazing network of contacts for me for the future.  The job in outside of Olympia involves more field work which would be fantastic as well so its kind of a toss up as to which would be the better fit.  I guess I'll just have to wait and see what happens and keep up the optimistic attitude.  Hopefully good things are around the corner.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Preschool Moving Day

Over Christmas break this year, Meredith and I were informed that the preschool had to vacate its present location by the end of May.  This might not seem like a big deal for some of you out there, but for those of us that have been involved in moving, either a household full of goods or even just a college dorm room full of stuff, moving just sucks.  I have a lot of issues with this decision to make the preschool move because frankly its ridiculous.  You see that local church had an old parsonage which it hadn't used in several years and was completely vacant so when Meredith was lucky enough to involve her personal preschool with the school in Trout Creek. It was a win win situation.  The school got a preschool to get students on the right track to school and the church had a great tennent that paid rent and got members involved in the community. The location was optimal and only about 100 yards away from the school giving us access to the school activities when the opportunity arose but still able to do our own thing.  Now granted I've only been involved in the preschool for the past year but I love it so much and Meredith is such an incredible woman that I hate when things go wrong. 

Apparently the church that the building belongs to is talking about hiring a new pastor (not that they have even started taking in applications for the position) and needed the old parsonage available if the new pastor decided he/she wanted it rather than living elsewhere in town.  While I understand the need to have this option available to a new person coming in it made little sense to me to have a rent paying operation to move out before knowing one way or another if the new pastor wanted the building at all.  I have this sinking suspicion that the building will just remain empty for at least the next school year, but I guess there is very little anyone can do about it.

Now the other problem we have is that we don't have a definitive place to move the preschool to for next year.  All we know for sure is that we'll be somewhere on school property.  It might be in the old teacherage (this is what we're really hoping for since the teacher that is living there now is getting married in a couple weeks and wanting to find a bigger place to have a family) which has several rooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, a fenced in back yard, etc that is the most similar space wise to the old building and functionally the best option for the preschool. But its also possible that Ms. Mahoney will stay there another year which I can understand.  I can't say that I'd want to move right after working so hard on wedding plans. The next option is sharing the other teacherage on the property with AltaCare which is a type of special ed operation associated with the school.  It would be awfully tight squeezing us both in there but its doable.  Lastly we have the option of moving into the music room of the school itself.  This too has its positives and negatives but again is doable if we organize things right.  Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

I digress however.  So Thursday the 31st was the big day to get everything belonging to the preschool packed up and moved out.  Meredith a a few of the preschool mom's/friends had done a lot of packing the day before while I was subbing at the school but fortunately I was able to help out with the heavy lifting on Thursday. I have to say I didn't really think about how much stuff was in the place until we had cleared out all the cubbies, storage cabinets, and closets.  I should have known since we've used all this stuff over the course of the school year but you just kind of forget as time goes by.  Thankfully many hands (and muscles) made for light work.  Two horse trailer and pickup loads later we had EVERYTHING from the preschool moved over to the basement of the school gym where it will rest until we have to move it again in August or so.  Hopefully by then we'll know exactly what building/room/whatever the preschool will end up being in.
Mace volunteered his services as well which I thought was so sweet.  It was also great because during the course of the work he got to know Meredith and Bruce a bit better.  We even went out together for dinner afterward and had a great time talking and joking around.  Both Meredith and Bruce commented on how much Mace and I reminded them of themselves.  I am going to miss these people so much over the summer.  Hopefully though with my volunteering with the Fish and Wildlife Services and doing the scrapbooking stuff I'll be able to spend more time with them over the summer.