What It Is: 12/28/09

What I’m reading: As is my wont, I did plenty of reading while visiting my in-laws for the holidays. I read Hadji Murat from Pevear and Volokhonsky’s new translation of Tolstoy’s stories, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Everyman, and started Winesburg, Ohio (Note: these were all via my Kindle; no carrying tons of books around on trips anymore). What’d I think?

  1. Tolstoy: Loved the new Hadji Murat and I’m glad P&V turned their attention to Tolstoy’s stories; I can’t wait to tackle Ivan Ilyich, The Kreutzer Sonata and a few others that I’ve only read in Garnett or Maude translations.
  2. Dog, Night, Curious: I enjoyed it, but didn’t think it was Novel of the Decade-level good, which a pal of mine contended. I’m down with “autistic Adrian Mole” as a narrator, but maybe I found the kid’s quirks too similar to my own “one step away from Asperger’s Syndrome” to be entertained.
  3. Dying Jew: Loved it, and was happy it didn’t turn into “elderly dying Jew is still a lion with the ladies.” Rather, starting at the lead character’s funeral and going back through past episodes of his poor health (and some of his sexcapades), Roth manages to convey our universal through the filter of this singular, never-named man (who’s Jewish and from New Jersey).
  4. Winesburg: I was going to start Roth’s next novel, Indignation. I knew it was largely set at a college named Winesburg, and that this was a nod to Sherwood Anderson, but, um, I’ve never read Anderson’s book. So I started that, knowing nothing about it. Seriously. I wasn’t even sure when Anderson was writing, and looked that up this morning (it was published in 1919). As it turns out, Winesburg, Ohio is written in the form of interconnected short stories. Who knew? I’m enjoying the heck out of it, and will report back next week.

What I’m listening to: OK Computer, Spirit of Radio, Oblivion with Bells, Boxer, and other comfort food.

What I’m watching: A bunch of college bowl games. Not my thing, but when in Rome. Also, I watched Three Kings on the flight down. Need to write about that this week.

What I’m drinking: Not much. I never really drink when I’m visiting the in-laws. Although we did have a nice Riesling that Amy’s pal Riece brought over.

What Rufus & Otis are up to: Living it up with their girlfriends, Ruby & Willow. My pal Jason texted to let me know that he & his wife got home one evening, and only two of the dogs were waiting for them in the living room. They panicked, wondering how two of the dogs had escaped (and why the other two stayed). Then they discovered that My Boy Rufus had gotten locked into their bedroom along with their dog Willow. Amy & I figured he pulled some variant of the “oh, we must be out of gas” trick, or invited her upstairs to look at his etchings. But since he has non-functioning genitalia, it was no harm, no foul. Anyway, they seemed to have a great time at our friends’ place.

Where I’m going: Nowhere! I’ll go to the office one day this week, but that’s about it! (oh, and our neighbors across the street invited us over for a New Year’s get-together with a bunch of other neighbors, so we’ll drop in on that)

What I’m happy about: See above! And, being home, where I have my familiar coffee, gin, bed and the ability to curse like a sailor. Which is to say, I like seeing my in-laws, but it sure puts me out of my element in a number of ways.

What I’m sad about: End of another year, blah blah blah.

What I’m worried about: Well, I wsa worried that there’d be all sorts of crazy new regulations on our flight back from New Orleans on Sunday but, outside of a pat-down after the metal detector, there wasn’t anything new.

What I’m pondering: What I’ll read and write (and record?) in the year ahead. Oh, and whether I should update to this blog template.

Dog Tags

I’ve been putting in 12-14 hours a day in my home office this week, laying out our big Contract Services Directory year-end issue. Since Rufus & Otis can’t leave my side under any circumstances, I had to move one of their beds in here. All of which is superfluous buildup to the following photos, which illustrate what can happen when two greyhounds decide to flip into their “cockroach” pose at the same time. They play tag:

Ru should have little stars and birds circling around his head, he looks so knocked out.

Forlorn

Just got back from our Sunday greyhound hike, which we haven’t participated in in a while. Pix to come are here!; but meanwhile, here’s a shot I took in the parking lot of our local pet store, where we stopped on the way home:

His mom cruelly left him in the car while she went to the store.

Park it!

After last week’s 35-degree snap, we have 75-degree weather today. Go figure.

I’m going into the city tonight to meet friends for dinner, but since it’s such beautiful weather, I decided to take a half-day, bring Rufus to the local(ish) dog park, and hope he would finally decide to play with other dogs. (Unless it’s another greyhound, he’s not interested after the first sniff.)

As it turns out, he palled around with a retriever-y sorta dog, chasing along when the dog’s owner threw a tennis ball. This is not that dog:

Neither is this one:

In fact, I didn’t get any pix of Ru playing at all. I was too shocked. Still and all, you should probably check out the photoset.

The Standing Around of the Greys

I’m crazy-busy with these Top Companies profiles and re-confirming all of my conference speakers, but here’s a pic from Sunday’s trip out to Vernon, NJ for a greyhound meet & greet (so people can find out what awesome dogs greyhounds can be):

Rufus had a pretty good time. I mean, he sniffed tons of dog-butt, which is what passes for a good time in those circles. I think there were more than a dozen greys at the event; they certainly outnumbered the other pet groups that had come to this adoption fair.

I’m convinced they tangle up their leashes just to get their owners to bash into each other.

(Oh, and if you live in/near NJ and you’re interested in adopting a greyhound, contact Greyhound Friends NJ. They did a great job, setting us up with Rufus.)

Which way to the gun show?

Sometimes, I get a little punchy from writing these Top Companies profiles all day. That’s when I blow off steam . . . by dressing my dog in my clothing:

I admit that I consider work-at-home sessions to be “No Pants Days,” but I resent the implication that people and their pets tend to resemble each other!

You ain’t nothing but a sight-hound?

Our experience with Rufus has been pretty awesome. Outside of his inclination to bring home every tick in Ringwood — Amy thinks it’s because they keep mistaking him for a deer — we don’t really have much to complain about. I’m still afraid to leave him on his own in the house for a day, because I think he’ll get bored and start chewing on furniture, but he doesn’t seem to mind being in his crate while I’m at the office, so that’s alright. He’s been well-behaved on walks, didn’t react when a 1-year-old trundled over and tapped him on the nose this weekend, and has only peed in the house once since his first week with us.

One oddball trait of his, though, is his need to “protect the house.” Sometimes when he’s sleeping or resting in the living room, he’ll react to the sound of car-doors closing, getting up and barking. We think he’s trying to keep us safe, but he may just be jealous of other people getting to ride in cars. Yesterday evening, he did something even stranger.

Rufus was KTFO on his bed while Amy & I were reading. He suddenly got up, sniffed, and began barking to beat the band. This time, he was so agitated that he tried climbing over me onto the loveseat. We don’t let him on the furniture, and he hasn’t tried to get onto any since his first few weeks here. But he pushed and strained to look out the big window in the living room.

He ran down the hall of the house, barking away. Neither of us had heard any noise that would have woken him up, so I decided to take him outside to show him that there was nothing going on. He ran down the stairs and waited at the door, tail wagging.

Outside, he took one sniff and led me around the side of the house. I heard some leaves and branches being stomped, and figured he’d caught wind of a deer. We get ’em all the time out here, so I was surprised that he reacted so strongly. I walked him to the edge of the woods behind our home, listened for the noise and tried to peer through the trees to see his quarry.

And that’s when I saw the bear.

It was gallumphing down the hill, not too rapidly, but he was obviously not happy about hearing Rufus’ barking earlier. For his part, Rufus didn’t make any moves to drag me into the woods, content to stand in the bear-free yard.

“Good dog?” I asked.

Back inside, Amy & I decided that, yes, this constituted “good dog” behavior. Oh, and that we’ll pay very close attention to our boy when we take him out hiking on trails, especially during bear season.

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