A word about our lodging

For our visits to St. Petersburg and Moscow, I selected bed and breakfasts suggested by Way to Russia. In St. Petersburg, we’re staying at the SwissStar, and were picked up at the airport by a good-looking young man who said almost nothing on the ride.

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We were greeted by Lena, who spoke not very much English, but made a great effort to show us around. We shared a bathroom with three other rooms, but it was right next to our room and only once was anyone trying to use it when I wanted to. The only downside would be that the shower, toilet and sink all were in the same room, so if someone was using one, you couldn’t use another.

Lena showed us the kitchen, where shelves in the refrigerator were marked green for common use, and red for people’s private stuff. We also had a fridge in the room (and a safe). Coffee and tea were in a drawer near the sink. She would wash the breakfast dishes, but after that, we were expected to wash our own.

An old dude was drinking tea as we had our tour, and I saw him twice more, including once in the middle of the night while I was waiting for the US Consulate to call back and tell me they’d just dragged Rob’s body from the Neva. (See earlier post. Rob did not drown in the river.)

A British-ish girl asked about the wifi password as we were paying for our room, and that night, I let her go ahead of me in the bathroom before bed.

Beyond that, it’s been deathly quiet. Which I consider a huge plus. I thought we were the only ones staying here, except one morning, there were a ton of clean dishes in the dishwasher after breakfast. The previous night, I’d made eggs for dinner (the night both Rob and I were sick. See earlier post.) I’d put the skillet and plates in the dishwasher and ran it. So, while we slept (and we did sleep late) all those dishes got used and washed? And we heard nothing?

Later, we returned around 6 pm, and there was a different old dude on the computer and about four older ladies loudly eating cake and drinking tea around the kitchen table. Within an hour, they were all gone. I would have heard them if they’d all had breakfast here, wouldn’t I?

This morning, I had a couple of slices of bread with off-brand nutella I found in the tea drawer. I suspect it was from somebody’s private stash and got left behind. After three days of seeing no one else eating it, yeah, I polished it off. I felt a little guilty about eating eggs for dinner (it’s a B&B, not a B,B&D), and for eating all the off-brand nutella, until I noticed that there were four loaves of bread here around 10:30 this morning and as I’m eating the last of the hazelnut spread before bed, there’s only one loaf left. Who’s eating this stuff?? Are there people eating the food who aren’t sleeping here?

Mystery aside, I would totally recommend this place. It’s close to a central metro station, but probably hard to find if you didn’t have a prearranged airport transfer.

Autumn at the Russian Versailles

Today was a relaxing day, by comparison. The plan was to take the hydrofoil to Peterhof to see Peter the Great’s palace. But when we arrived at the pier with the big Meteorboat to Peterhof sign (in Cyrillic), it was deserted and the guy at the coffeeshop said there were no boats.

“Because of the weather?” I pointed at the sky as if that would make my meaning clear. It had been raining. When the guy looked at me blankly, I simplified.”Why?”

“Closed for season.”

Well that sucked. Once again, I’d researched and learned conflicting info. The company’s website said boats ran every half hour. The girl with pretty green eyes that matched her scarf at the information booth near the Hermitage said boats only ran at 12:30 and 1:30, which was great news as it was 11:54. (We’ve been sleeping late.)

Discouraged, we walked to the other pier in what felt like vain hope of finding another boat company that was still running. We could take the metro and a minbus there; I had printed instructions. But I had my heart set on a boat. (An enclosed boat.) I’d get all hot and sweaty again if I had to descend the endless metro escalator in my North Face jacket, fleece sweatshirt and scarf. Then, surely I’d have to ask 110 unsmiling Russians to point us toward the minibuses. We planned to take the minibus home, but I wanted to take the fancy boat there.

Lucky for me, there was another boat company running a hydrofoil, and it was not yet 12:30. However, pretty eyes was wrong; there was no 12:30 boat. We had to wait until 1:30 anyway.

Despite being enclosed and comfy, the boat ride was cold, so I put on my gloves and fuzzy hat. Arriving at Peterhof by boat was a treat.
We enjoyed the fresh, cold air and fall foliage as we disembarked. Peterhof’s famed 140+ fountains were in full glory and the gold and yellow palace sparkled as we ascended the steps and snapped photos.

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Then I felt a familiar faintness. Hunger. Today I had my mixed nuts with me, but since it was so cold, we wanted to sit and rest for a few inside a cafe. A nice souvenir lady pointed us back toward the pier. We passed ladies sweeping up fallen yellow leaves to the “Pectopah” (That’s Cyrillic for restaurant), which turned out to be swanky. More expensive than yesterday’s cafe near Peter and Paul. It wasn’t part of the palace of course, but in a separate standalone building with a patio where no one was sitting.

They offered bear and elk and rabbit. Rob really wanted a sandwich, but we didn’t see anything like that. We decided we’d be satisfied by a bread basket, fried potatoes and pumpkin soup. Still water and apple juice to drink. Ketchup and butter were extra. Our waiter did not appear amused by our meager order.

The food was excellent, but Rob’s apple juice and my pumpkin soup were each about $10.

When we got up to leave I notice a sad-looking Asian tourist, dining alone, camera atop the table, hunched over her bowl of soup. (Maybe I’m projecting. Rob didn’t think she looked sad.)

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We continued our relaxing stroll, feeling happy to have escaped the grit of the big city for a while. Taking the hydrofoil was a clever move too, because we didn’t tire our feet out trying to get to the place.

As we strolled, we discovered a self-service Pectopah inside a palace-like building.

“Dammit! That’s where I wanted to eat! Why didn’t she point us in this direction?” A person-sized plastic ice cream cone stood outside a door. “And they have ice cream!”

Rob’s chief complaint about Russia is that it doesn’t seem as friendly as Italy with gelato on every corner.

On our way back, we did in fact have to ask a few Russians for directions. But eventually, it was an Asian couple I identified as fellow travelers by their giant camera, who told us where to catch the minibus.

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The Rasputin Conspiracy

When I was in St. Petersburg in 2001, I wasn’t able to visit the cellar where Rasputin was murdered. Who even knows why I wanted to, except that I like macabre stuff. In my travel story, I said that it’s worth seeing the rest of the Yusupov Palace even if you can’t do the separate Rasputin tour.

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Strange, because as we approached the yellow palace along the Moika River, I had no recollection of being there before. I was determined to see the cellar this time, although guide books and websites had conflicting information about how to do it. Some said you had to call in advance, others said you needed to be part of a group, and others said there was a tour every day at 1:45.

I tried calling, but the person who answered the phone spoke no English.

At the ticket counter, a sign said that the Rasputin tour indeed was at 1:45, and was in Russian only. Foreigners were required to have interpreters. No individual visits.

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I tried to buy a ticket anyway. The lady shook her head at me and summoned the “administrator,” who spoke English.

“Can we just go with the tour and look?”

“It’s just two rooms. Not very interesting.”

Hmm. Clearly there’s something about Rasputin’s murder he doesn’t want me to know.

“Aren’t there wax figures or something?”

“No. It’s all in Russian. Just history.”

Weird. All the reviews said there were wax figures depicting the attempted poisoning and successful shooting of Rasputin before his body was driven across town and chucked into the Malaya Nevka river.

I should add that I knew next to nothing about Rasputin, other than his name and that he was murdered there, but now I really wanted to see the damn cellar, even if the wax figures were gone and the room was empty.

Seeing the strength of my resolve, they sold me the tickets. Man, I never had to work so hard to give anyone $8 in India.

While we waited for that tour, we visited the rest of the palace, aide by spotty audioguides that clicked off midsentence during descriptions of the antique room, the theater, the prince’s study… It was a perfectly lovely palace, but there are lots of palaces around here. Dunno why you’d bother with this one unless you were in the neighborhood and/or could also see the cellar.

We still had more than a hour before the cellar tour, and I’d forgotten to replenish the supply of mixed nuts in my bag. I didn’t think I could last without a snack. The closest food joint appeared to be a cafeteria-style place across the Moika. As we crossed the river, Rob said he could go for some chicken soup.

“Good luck with that,” I said.

As we waited in line, I saw the counter dudes handing over bowls of soup.

“Guess it’s your lucky day.”

He had the soup, I had a piece of carrot cake, and we enjoyed the experience of eating with regular Russians, including uniformed soldiers.

Back at the palace we joined the tour to sit in nearly empty rooms while a lovely tour guide chattered away in Russian. I’d pretty much resigned myself to this possibility. Still, a murder happened here.

Then she led us into a dark room where three wax men plotted a murder around a table. One of them peered out the window. Another looked about to leap from his chair in protest. I discerned from the tour guide’s words the names of the perpetrators I’d read in the Rough Guide’s description of the murder. Who needs an interpreter when your B&B has copies of travel books to borrow?

Next we went downstairs where wax Prince Felix Yusupov stood beside a table where long-haired Rasputin sat, looking suspicious after eating cakes supposedly laced with cyanide. (The doctor who supplied the poison later made a deathbed confession that he hadn’t used real cyanide. Rasputin’s assassins wound up having to shoot him a bunch of times.) I recognized him as Rasputin despite not actually knowing very much about him. Upon reflection, maybe that’s why the Russians don’t want stupid foreigners to tour the Rasputin cellar. Isn’t that like someone wanting to visit Ford’sTheater without knowing anything about Lincoln except he wore a beard and a hat?

But look how much I learned!

The final room’s exhibit contained what looked like a newspaper photo of the body after he washed up downstream.

So yes, friends… I got what I wanted. Saw what I waited 11 years to see. Was it worth it? Would I recommend it? I don’t know, but I feel gratified. Yes it was weird to stand around for half an hour listening to a history lecture in a language we didn’t understand. We would have preferred to have an interpreter. But supposing they did allow individual visits, we happily would have paid to walk down to the cellar, look at the wax figures and be on our way.

Then we might have gotten to the Peter and Paul Fortress in time to see the Space museum before it closed. Instead we settled for the cathedral and the prison museum.

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Pinky swear with shrunken head Peter the Great

As we approached the fortress, it started to gust wind and rain, so we popped into a fancy cafe where I ate delicious bliny with smoked salmon. I thought the pancakes would be wrapped around the salmon like a blintz, but they were presented folded with the smoked salmon on the side.

Guess what else was on the menu, which Rob ordered? Chicken noodle soup!

Lessons from St. Petersburg

When you’re used to visiting cities the scale of Florence or Prague, you look at a map of St. Petersburg and think it’s an easy walk from your B&B to the Church of our Savior on Spilled Blood.

It is not. Take the metro.

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I’d forgotten, but that was the advice I gave in a travel story I wrote 11 years ago.

When I tried to reread it a few months ago during trip planning, I was embarassed by my lead that let on how challenged I felt.

Reading the rest of the story this morning, I think it’s a pretty awesome travel piece, if I do say so myself, especially how I conveyed what I learned from my tour guide about St. Petersburg culture.

Because I forgot my own advice, we took a long walk around the “neighborhood” last night, and happened upon a supercharming place called Soviet Cafe Kvartirka. Usually, when you’ve walked a long way in a new city and are cold, and coming down with a cold, you pick the first place you find and feel let down.

Not the case. I drank cherry beer and ate Ukrainian dumplings stuffed with potato, and soaked in the kitschy decor, music and old Russian movie on the TV. We expect to return to Kvartirka over the next few days.

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Today we walked to the Troitsky (Trinity) Cathedral, metroed to St. Isaac’s and the Bronze Horseman, then metroed to the Church of Spilled Blood.

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My favorite souvenir I have ever purchased came from St. Petersburg. I bought it at a stand near the Church of Spilled Blood. It also happens to be my favorite Christmas decoration. Shaped like a nesting doll, but sealed, it’s painted like Santa Claus, and jingles when it rolls. Today I learned that they’re meant for children and the nicest ones NOW cost upwards of $100. None could be had for less than $30. I almost convinced myself it was worth it, then remembered I already had one. Sort of. It’s in my mom’s custody, so I see it every Christmas.

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Today is my birthday! I selected a restaurant for dinner that sounded as fun as the place we went last night. Turns out, it seems to be part of a small chain of Soviet Cafes. While Kvartirka has an urban Soviet vibe, Dachnika is decorated like a Russian cottage. The sound of a rooster crowing greets you as you open the door and make your way downstairs. Frogs croak in the bathroom.

I ordered potato pancakes and Rob ordered pork with potatoes. Sadly, they had no chocolate cake, so I had birthday cheesecake.

Continuing on the theme of me posing with statues that remind me of my dogs, here I am with a lion, posed with her foot atop her ball, just as Mia likes to do.

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Detour in Florence

We slept late our first morning in Florence, and weren’t particularly hungry, even though the last time we ate was crepes in Amsterdam. We’re staying with a friend of Rob’s who’s teaching at NYU here, and lives in a sweet penthouse in Piazza Pitti. The area is crawling with tourists, even though Florence’s main sights are across the River Arno.

First thing we did was cross Ponte Vecchio and grab a table at the nearest patio restaurant that looked cute, complete with a view of the David replica in Piazza Vecchio. After we ordered, I looked the place up on my Trip Advisor app, and read reviews calling it an overpriced tourist trap. True enough, they brought Rob the most enormous 7 Up of all time and charged him €8.80 ($11. At least he got value for the price.) Our spaghetti was OK, and I don’t even know if I would have found it disappointing if I hadn’t read the reviews. Still, at €45 for the meal, we spent more than we meant to, wanted to, or needed to.

Next we visited the impressive Duomo, where the low lighting inside prevented me from taking a decent photo.

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We didn’t book advance tickets to see the David in the Galleria della Accademia, but I assured Rob it was a must-see, and worth whatever the wait. We spent about an hour in line (I passed the time reading on my Nook, Rob played Angry Birds.) Within a minute of being in the museum, having seen the first of Michelangelo’s Slaves, but with David still down the hall, Rob said, “Oh yeah, this was worth it.”

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No photos! (surreptitious iPad photography)

We met our host, Brendan, for dinner at a less touristy place, Natalino, where he ordered pear and gorgonzola ravioli (acclaimed on Trip Advisor, as it turns out), Rob had fresh pasta with meat sauce, and I had melanzane alla parmesana. Dessert was a rich chocolate cake. 

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We drank Chianti and wandered the streets of Florence until I got a grip on taking photos at night.

Day two: Several Trip Advisor reviews said the Bardini Gardens were better than Boboli, and I have to agree. You get admission to both with a ticket purchased at Palazzo Pitti. The Palatina Gallery is a separate admission. We went there first and admired the ceilings painted with frescoes of Roman myths. I enjoyed these more than the dark-hued Renaissance paintings on the wall. Almost too many really to look carefully at any of them.

Afterward we wandered Boboli Gardens, which is known more for its fountains than for its flora. Neptune was my favorite, spearing the green pond so murky you couldn’t see the fish, as water spurted up his crack.

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By then we were hot and thirsty, so we tried to follow the signs to a coffee shop, which got us confused and almost lost as we switchbacked down to the entrance from whence we came.

We found our way back to the pizza place our host recommended: Gusta Pizza, allegedly the best pizza in Florence. Rob was disappointed, but I scarfed the pizza margherita, with a slightly creamy tomato sauce and hunks of mozzarella. It may actually be the best pizza here, as I explained to Rob, pizza is different in Italy.

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We took a little rest, then walked to the Bardini Museum to see some sculpture. None of my guide books told me it wasn’t open on Thursday. So we hit the Bardini Gardens, which features as steep a climb as Boboli, has sculptures as intriguing (including stone canines I snuggled up to), and flowers! (Which Boboli lacks.)

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We strolled to the spectacular view at the top where, unlike Boboli, there’s a beer garden. Nice place to blog, too.

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Note: I won’t be able to upload my own photos until I get home, so these blog posts feature Rob’s pics from his iPad.

Note2: While I’ve enjoyed Trip Advisor’s reviews, its Florence map is insufficient. The Amsterdam map is better. Sadly, there’s no Trip Advisor app for Russia.

The problem with produce

Rob’s not a huge fan of most fruits and vegetables, so he was keen on using a juicer for a rapid infusion of nutrients. We borrowed one from his parents and enjoyed a week of concoctions that were mostly quite tasty. But the Jack LaLanne juicer is a bitch to clean and for every two glasses of juice, we had a big container of pulp left over. It seemed wasteful to me and inferior to eating the foods whole. After all, I enjoy most fruits and vegetables (cauliflower and celery are the only ones I actively dislike), and when you drink your veggies, you miss out on the fiber so you don’t feel as full. Our daily juices weren’t meal replacements; I actually felt hungrier after a glass of juice.

Then there’s the price. I have tree-hugger guilt about buying non-local produce, but our farmers markets are so expensive. Last weekend, I was supposed to buy fruit for a barbecue. I circled the stalls at the Saturday market several times to talk myself out of driving to the nearest chain grocery store to buy a pre-packaged plastic container of pineapple, mango and kiwis grown elsewhere. I forked over $13 for strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Meanwhile, Rob bought a couple of pre-packaged veggie trays at Costco. Only one got eaten, so on Monday, we juiced the leftover berries and $10 of broccoli and carrots from the veggie tray, yielding just two glasses of juice. Not a great value.

It’s just so hard to eat healthy and locally sometimes. I suffer from paralysis at the grocery store. I don’t know what to buy! I don’t want Ecuadorian bananas or Argentinian pears, I think I’ll buy some processed veggie burgers instead. That’s better for the earth, right?

For years, I’ve been eating a lot of my lunches at the Skagit Valley Co-op deli. Last winter, shortly after I finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I noticed how clearly the co-op produce department labeled the origins of its goods, and for months, I was the proud consumer of Washington pears, squash and kale. Surprisingly, the food co-op carries imported produce too, but at least the country or state of origin is labeled clearly, unlike chain stores that tell you only that your food was grown somewhere in the U.S.A.

Today after I picked up my co-op deli lunch, I went to the produce section to select peaches, an avocado and a tomato from California (close enough); kale and spinach from this very county, and green beans from somewhere in this state. I plan to eat all of these items whole. The avocado and tomato are going on that veggie burger and processed white bun from Costco. What? They’re left over from the barbecue.

What’s to eat?

I became a vegetarian in 2000, and now I feel bad about eating bananas.

I’m reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I suggested it to my book club after we read a dystopian downer called The Windup Girl, which had something to do with food being an endangered species controlled by Calorie Companies. I didn’t care for it. At. All. But it did make me want to read some nonfiction about the state of food in the world.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle I like. Some of the reviews I read complained that it’s not fair to expect regular people to grow their own food. Kingsolver and family have a lot more resources than regular people. And does she have to be so smug?

I don’t think she’s smug at all, I think she recognizes that the year of eating locally isn’t possible for most people. That’s why she wrote about it, to share the experience with those of us who don’t have the money or wherewithal to move to the Appalachians and pluck our own poultry. While the book contains recipes, it’s not a cookbook, it’s a fantasy memoir. Here’s what life would be like if you could afford to live off the land for an entire year. (I know, weird, right? Living of the land appears to be more costly than eating at McDonald’s every day.)

A neighborhood branch of a grocery chain is having a closing sale. I went there yesterday with ideas of buying all the local produce they had. (Wait, what’s in season right now?) I walked out with Ecuadorian bananas and $274 of other stuff. It was a ridiculous spree that also included organic cotton socks and a snow shovel. I don’t know what happened. Rob was with me, but I was the one putting most of the stuff in the cart.

I mention the bananas, because even though I am inspired by Kingsolver’s book, I still walked into the grocery store, looked at the produce section and thought, “I have no idea what to get.” When did I lose the ability to feed myself? Bananas are something I know how to eat. I slice them and eat them with peanut butter on toast.

I’m a fairly lousy gardener, but Animal, Vegetable, Miracle makes me want to grow tomatoes and potatoes. How cool would it be to grow my own carrots? I picture myself pulling the leggy orange roots out of the dirt by their weedy green hair. Of course, then I’d have to worry about deer eating my groceries. And keep my diggity dogs away from the beds.

The least I can do is buy from the farmers’ market or co-op.

I’m not a strict vegetarian anymore. I started eating seafood again in 2007 when I regularly came face to face with the harvesting process. I feel good about that. I still feel bad watching fish gasp their last breath, but I’m comfortable decapitating a shrimp or putting a live crab in a steaming pot of water. Hey, if you’re going to eat it, you better respect where it came from.

That’s basically the message of Kingsolver’s book, and here’s the craziest part. I found myself looking forward to the chapter about harvesting poultry. It still makes me sad to think of the deer and cows who die to feed my dogs. I went to a sheep farm a few years ago, and couldn’t relate to the woman who raises those fuzzy little critters to eat. I wanted to read in detail about how Kingsolver dispatches the toms and roosters she and her daughter so lovingly reared. It helps, she says, that testosterone-fueled birds aren’t so fun to be around.

Also, what? The chicken on your table is actually a rooster! Your Thanksgiving turkey is a tom!

Free meat

I think it was my dentist who told me a few years ago that I should get a second dog, because it’s really no different than having one dog. Except for the cost of food.

Never mind how untrue that first part has wound up being so far, but oh my gawd, the two dogs seem to be going though MORE than twice as much food. That’s what a growing boy will do for you.

Isis has been on a raw meat diet for more than a year, and she’s doing well on it. Leo took to it right away. Sure it would be cheaper to go back to kibble, but I just couldn’t do it.

To help stretch the ol’ food budget, I’m seeking cheap/free sources of meat. A while ago I considered joining a “discarded meat” group that took meat that grocery stores had to dump before their expiration dates. Still perfectly good meat…just not to be sold to humans. Unfortunately, the only stores that participated were Walmarts and they don’t sell ANY unenhanced meat that I’d want for my dogs.

It’s hard to be selective about things like free-range and antibiotic free when you’re essentially begging. I put an ad on Freecycle asking for people’s old, freezer-burned meat. I did this when I first started Isis on raw. I got some locker beef, but I didn’t have enough freezer space, thought she would eat it faster than she did, and wound up throwing most of it away.

I have two spare freezers now, so I’m good to go.

Interestingly, the same woman who gave me that locker meat responded again (without acknowledging, or perhaps even remembering, that we’ve met this way before), saying she had chicken, beef, pork, fish and maybe venison! That’s sort of my hope, by the way, that someone will have a whole elk or deer in their freezer from a hunting trip, and they just can’t eat it all. I’d much rather have that than pork from a factory farm. Which is what I buy most of the time, because it’s pretty reasonable at Cash and Carry.

Another woman said she has “some white fish.” She responded first, and I was quite excited until she told me that she lives 45 minutes away. I’m afraid I’m going to drive all that way (in the rain, most likely) for 4 ounces of fish. But we’ll see.

Speaking of wildlife, Leo has laid eyes on his first deer and rooster this week. The pair of deer were standing still in a garden and I didn’t even notice them at first. They didn’t spook as we unwittingly crossed the street in their direction. Leo watched them with interest, but not longing.

The rooster was in the street next to the house where it lives. I deliberately brought Leo close to familiarize him with the creature. The rooster didn’t run away, and Leo went into stalk mode. Lowered his head, stiffened his body. His feathers were ruffled too (ha, ha, by this I mean his hackles went up). It was adorable. He didn’t bark or lunge though.

Also yesterday, we ran into a friend on a bicycle who rode and walked his bike alongside us the rest of the way home. Such great socialization for Leo. In a million years, I couldn’t imagine walking Isis next to a bicycle.

This morning, Leo was afraid to cross a footbridge we had crossed yesterday from the opposite direction. He actually skidded to a halt and tried to turn and go the other way. Like a cartoon character. It’s the first time he’s been that afraid of anything. Except Isis.

Keeping it real

All is not as well as I so optimistically declared last week. My foot still bothers me and my TMJ has gotten bad again.

Active release therapy for TMJ is not as much fun as having my foot rubbed, and I feel sore after. I’ve had two treatments and I hope that it’s working, because never mind the pain, it’s annoying to have my jaw click every time I open my mouth.

I don’t know what to do about my foot. I’d really like to use the memberships at the two gyms I joined in February. At this point, I feel like I’ll never be able to exercise normally again.

Or eat normally. Did you know there’s soy in everything? Bread, candy, my favorite frozen eggplant parmesan…? And I’m sure I have some kind of allergy to soy, because every time I have anything with a soy product in it, I break out.

So, ick.

The bright light on the horizon is that we are expecting.

To get a puppy.

I have mixed feelings about breeders vs. rescues, but know I have to be very careful in the selection of Isis’ baby brother, because of her special needs.

I drove a long way to meet a puppy who turned out not to be much of a German shepherd at all, but perhaps a mix of a Rottweiler, Australian shepherd and chow. What a handful that would have been.

There’s a 6-month-old possible shepherd/Australian cattle dog mix that I am drawn to. He’s a little fearful, and I worry that he could learn some reactive/aggressive tendencies from Isis. She’ll be all, “Hey, tall guys wearing hats are bad. We must bark like crazy at them so they don’t come in the house to kill Momma.” Also, perhaps a cattle dog requires as much exercise as a border collie or Australian shepherd.

At least with a breeder, you know what you’re getting. But then I feel bad about all those dogs in shelters.

Reminds me of a PETA ploy of a few years ago, advertising a free gift bag to new owners of AKC-registered puppies. The gift turned out to be a body bag and a note saying that for every breeder-born dog, a shelter dog must die.

Kinda turns me off to PETA a little.

Cranky pants

Things have been going pretty well of late. My foot is on the road to recovery, and I have resumed some of my exercise classes. Summer is near, etc. etc.

Even in the face of “going pretty well of late,” sometimes I accidentally put on my cranky pants. I don’t even realize I’m wearing them. Perhaps some older ladies at the gym are sitting on a bench right next to the locker where I’ve stashed my stuff. They’re fully dressed in their street clothes, but they’re just chatting, oblivious to my needing to scooch around them in a cramped space to get to my towel. When I return from the shower and see that they’re still there, I let out one of those exasperated, “what-ever” sigh/snorts. Even though they don’t actually hear this, they do leave shortly thereafter.

Or maybe I’m recounting a challenging work situation in an instant message window, and I find myself wanting to use more profanity than is my usual. I don’t catch on at this point, because I’m not actually mad at anyone. There are some people who are sort of mad at me, but even this doesn’t really bother me, because what they’re mad about is something over which I didn’t have a whole lot of control.

Could be that I’m pulling into the parking lot at my lunch spot and become inordinately annoyed with people who creep along, waiting for someone else to vacate a spot, even though there are plenty of other spaces.

That was the moment of realization for me today, when I uttered something derogatory and profane about a faceless driver in front of me, for a pretty insignificant offense.

Oh, shit, I’m wearing my cranky pants today!

Nothing an 84-gram organic orange dark chocolate bar won’t fix. That’s a single serving, right? 84 grams?