U is for Undercoat

German shepherds are notorious shedders. Here’s why.

Plucking Leo, who celebrates his 4th birthday today.
Happy birthday, Leo Bug!

I took my car to the shop yesterday. Remembering my past humiliation of watching a car mechanic brush off his pants after exiting my car, I put my “guest” car-seat covers over the layer of dog hair.

Normal people put down a towel or something for the rare occasion they have a dog in their car or on their furniture. Not me. I let my dogs fur up the whole interior of the car, and then put a fresh, clean car-seat cover on top of the disgusting mess when I plan to have another human in my car.

Inside the house, Leo has officially taken over my editing chair for daytime street monitoring. I had an allergy attack last time I sat directly on it, so now, when I need to edit, I put a clean sheet over the fur-covered upholstery.

Why has dog hair become the accessory I wear with every outfit? Why is there dog hair on my office chair even though no dog has sat there? Why did my first attempt at writing horror describe choking on errant fluffs of dog hair?

The video above explains it. It’s the Undercoat’s fault.

U is for Undercoat

U

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Fashion backward

While waiting for Rob to finish uploading the entire contents of his cassette collection to digital format and then to his iPod, so we could watch Prison Break, I watched an episode of Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style.

The subject was a mother of two who wore nothing but capri pants and T-shirts. As the mother of two pets and a boyfriend, I could relate. No, that’s not really why I could relate. It’s the job that’s made me slovenly. I managed to dress “professionally” most of the time when I worked at the below-mentioned University. But now, I need to be prepared to wade in a creek or hike to a mountain goat meadow at a moments notice.

Which means I wear jeans and a T-shirt every day. Or cargo pants. Or khakis. I suppose in the winter I wear some snazzy sweaters…but I know that if Tim Gunn ever visited my closet, he’d be getting rid of 97 percent of my outfits and make me wear little dresses and slacks that touch the floor. (So please don’t submit an application for me.)

Remember Laura Bennett from last season of Project Runway? How she dressed like Audrey Hepburn all the time even though she was a mom who worked from home? Yeah, that’s not me.

As I watched Tim Gunn, I was wearing jeans that were dirty from my walks and class with Isis and a raglan T-shirt with black sleeves that were covered in dog hair from lying on the floor by Rob’s computer while waiting for him to finish uploading the entire contents of his cassette collection to digital format and then to his iPod, so we could watch Prison Break. I was wearing no make-up and there was no product in my hair.

When we got a last minute invitation to dinner (his family always does this. Surely someone knew they were going to celebrate his brother-in-law’s birthday on Saturday prior to 4 p.m. on Saturday), I was motivated by Tim to gussy myself up a little bit. Eye make-up and hair product were no-brainers — I wear those to work. But I also put on lipgloss and mascara. Big day.

I thought for a moment about putting on slacks, but without even looking at them, I decided that all eight pairs didn’t reach the floor, were wrinkled or are too tight. My “Saturday night out” outfit? A pair of clean jeans, belted, and a long-sleeved purple and blue tie-died T-shirt, with the “Om” symbol imprinted in gold, from the Tibet Festival two years ago. Instead of Timberland hiking shoes, I upgraded to my black monochrome Converse classics.

Don’t think I don’t know that Tim Gunn would consider this a “Before” outfit. So would Chelsea. (Happy Birthday, Chelsea!)

Small talk

During the past week, I had very similar conversations with an assistant at my physical therapist’s office and my hairdresser. For some reason, neither woman wanted me to sit in silence as she ultra-sounded my shoulder or cut my hair.

I prefer silence to being asked by someone I just met if I have any kids. Come to think of it, my acupuncturist (with whom I have broken up) asked me the same thing when I told her I went to Disney World. My response, naturally, is, “No, but we have a 1-year-old German shepherd.”

I wouldn’t mind if they then asked me tons of questions about my dog, or told me stories about theirs, but the follow-up question is usually, “Do you plan to have kids?”

How deeply personal. Especially since in most cases, the asker has kids, so it seems rude to say, “Oh God no, why would I want to ruin a perfectly lovely life?” Which isn’t really how I feel, but it’s just not a conversation I want to get into with my hairdresser, acupuncturist or assistant to the physical therapist.

I have the same problem with my married girlfriends, whose weddings are precisely the reason why I don’t want to have one. “But, you always wanted to get married!” they exclaim, thinking I’m sacrificing my girlish dreams to be with Rob. How can I tell them, “Yeah, but then I was in your wedding and I realized how pointless the whole thing is. Also, you’re in a lot of debt, and I own a house…”

I digress.

In the physical therapy setting, since it was my first session, I would have preferred for the woman to make conversation perhaps by explaining what the ultra-sound was for, because for a second I thought she was going to tell me the sex of the baby gestating in my shoulder.

I know that hairdressers like to chat, or they think we expect them to chat, but I really felt like mine was having to work pretty hard to keep a conversation going with me, and if it’s that hard, honey, just give up; I must not feel like talking. I tried asking her about herself, but that didn’t really get us anywhere either.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest…I fired the acupuncturist because it wasn’t doing much for me, whereas the doctor-prescribed physical therapy has worked wonders already. I’m like, Duh! Why the hell did I think acupuncture was the answer? (Because physical therapy didn’t occur to me. Guess that’s why doctors go to med school.)

Follow up

A few things I didn’t have time to type up yesterday before I headed out to the state fair. For work. (This is the third time I’ve been to this fair by myself, but usually it’s to see Weird Al. Rob’s taking me to see Weird Al on my birthday next month, but I was kinda bummed to discover that Weird Al actually played the fair this week, the night before I was there. And I could have gone on any day.)

  • Huge disappointment re: my hair. None of Yahoo! Avatar’s hairstyles are quite right. Except the one with the purple hat. And it’s not raining yet, but the poncho/rubber boot look just seemed appropriate.
  • In the first “after” photo, what you see on my shoulder is an Aladdin band-aid, covering up one of my itchy mole scabs. The hairstylist admired this, and my Aurora/Belle/Cinderella watch and then after I went on about having recently been to Disney World, I paid with a Snow White check. What a freak I must have seemed.
  • I really should wear lipstick when having my picture taken.

Too much of good thing = bad

As much as I enjoyed wearing my hair in pigtails during our vacation, my hair is just too long.

I don’t have the patience to blow it dry and wind up braiding it every day anyway. Beauty magazines’ll tell you, if it only looks good up, your hair is too long.

Another thing that bothers me, even more than having my hair stay wet most of the day, is the sensation of a strand that has shed and hangs longer than the rest of my hair, tickling my arm. And the long hairs themselves on my sleeves and furniture. It’s interfering with my enjoyment of the dog hair all over everything I own.

So I’m getting a drastic haircut today.

After picture to come. Here’s the before. Note the kinks from wearing it in a braid.

Oh what this hair could be if I had a personal stylist to blow it dry every day…

To have seen what I’ve seen

Oh, woe. Poor little me. Life was so much fun before Disney World. Now, how can it compare?

On the plus side, there was no Isis in Orlando. The first couple of days were rough. I kept wondering what she was doing and whether she was worried we weren’t coming back. Then it became clear that she was having a delightful time with Rob’s folks. Then she took off after a deer and Rob’s mom had to chase after her in a car. I kinda wish I’d been there, just to see the athletic prowess of my dog. I’m glad it happened. It was like an “I told you so” to keep an eye (and a leash) on her.

So we reunited and cuddled all weekend. And now she’s in her crate and I’m at my desk, in mine. Rob shaved his head bald against my wishes and I’m moving ahead with my plan to chop off about 12 inches of my hair. As revenge.

Wondering if the sheer weight of my hair is contributing to my neck problems. Or if I actually have whiplash from riding Expedition Everest three times. (I’m wearing my Yeti T-shirt today). All I know is that I napped a lot this weekend, and it hurts most when I first wake up, and last night before bed I felt generally achy and weak. This was after eating a filet of salmon I didn’t really like.