Patti Soldavini

Posts Tagged ‘frankenstorm’

Hurricane Sandy: Part 3

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/11/2012 at 6:35 pm

“But I LIKE the treats in the LITTERBOX.”

It’s the morning after Hurricane Sandy and Olive and I get up in a house that remains in blackout. “Ugh. No power Olive.” And thus begins the days and nights of thousands of inconveniences. Before I do anything, I have to reach for the Coleman lantern. Only then can I find my glasses. And even these cannot compensate for the pre-sunrise darkness. No matter where I go throughout the house, I have to hold this bright but clunky lantern at my side like a freakin’ miner. I go to the bathroom and although I have a well whose pump is powered electrically, there is still water in the toilet tank so I can flush. Thank God for small favors. I take Olive out and begin to survey the damage. “Not so bad Olive, just three panels of the stockade fence blown down near the property line. We were very lucky. Now we have to go to Kari and Mike’s so I can take a shower.” Because they were smart enough to get a generator after last year’s “Snoctober” storm. As Olive and I drive on one of the back roads to my friend’s house (not the best decision, considering it is such a beautiful rural road precisely because of all the tress that canopy the street), I see trees leaning at 45 degree angles all over the place. Including over the road. With electrical wires dangling everywhere. It looks like someone flung a bunch of Lincoln logs and black string in all directions. “Holy shit Olive. I wonder if we’ll make it through to the top without having to turn around.” Miraculously we do. But not before seeing a giant tree leaning on top of a house, smack in its center, a van crumpled like a piece of paper into a ball, telephone poles snapped in two like toothpicks and trees hovering over the roadway straining against telephone wires. We spend much of the day at my friend’s house. Olive spends much of the day getting squirted by the water bottle because she is driving Max, the black and white cat she knows, crazy. “Where is Olive,” I ask? Kari replies: “She’s under the kitchen table licking her wounds,” meaning that she had just gotten sprayed. Thankfully, the spray bottle is a powerful behavior modification tool for Olive. Because when she’s not getting in Max’s grille, she’s in the laundry room, quietly but quickly gobbling up all the prizes in the kitty litter box. I catch her in mid-gobble. “For God’s sake Olive, you look like a binge eater who just left an Overeater’s Anonymous meeting. Drop it. NOW.” After awhile, we leave. I put the key in the ignition and Olive sidles up next to my face and looks at me. I get an unmistakable whiff of cat shit.

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Hurricane Sandy: Part 2

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/11/2012 at 5:51 pm

“I have to do WHAT WHERE?”

This is the face of the dog who has just been instructed to go “do her business” outside during the 30 minutes prior to the Hurricane’s landfall. Understand that on non-Hurricane days, Olive despises going outside when it’s just raining. The wind is a different story. Usually she enjoys gusts of wind. Possibly because it blows a neverending cornucopia of scents her way like an aerial buffet. But the wind tonight is a different story. Olive and I stand inside the garage while I deliberate the next move. “Olive, see that newspaper on the floor over there, go potty on it.” She looks at me as though I have completely lost my mind. “I CAN’T GO ON THAT. IT’S INSIDE THE HOUSE. YOU TAUGHT ME NOT TO GO POTTY INSIDE THE HOUSE.” “It’s not the house, it’s the garage. Just go.” Silence. Olive stares right through me as though I am an apparition. “YOU KNOW I ONLY GO ON GRASS. NOT ON SIDEWALKS. NOT ON DRIVEWAYS. NOT ON CONCRETE. NOT ON GRAVEL. AND NOT ON NEWSPAPER. JUST GRASS.” “Okay, well then put on your seat belt because it’s going to be one hell of an adventure.” The garage door is climbing toward the ceiling and Olive, who has run to the door like she always does, now stops dead in her tracks when she gets a look at what’s outside. “This was your choice Olive. Go potty and be fast.” As the rain and wind slap her in the face, her eyes become narrow slits. Thankfully she pees quickly. But nothing else. “Well, Olive, I hope you realize, you’re going to have to hold onto those lawn cigars until morning.” Which sometimes isn’t a problem. Sometimes, Olive holds her solid bowels all night as though she is quietly polishing a diamond. Other nights, she leaves enough behind to build a log cabin. I don’t get it. She eats the same thing every day. It’s always a crap shoot with this dog. Right Olive?

Hurricane Sandy: Part 1

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 11/09/2012 at 8:15 pm

“Is this what they call BUNK beds?”

Where do I begin? On Monday, October 29th, the Day of “Frankenstorm,” Olive and I spent the day atypically, watching TV. Early in the day, the wind started to pick up noticeably. It shook the trees, making the tops of them sway like hula dancers. And the fine drizzle that began around 11am was now transformed into a hail of needles slicing sideways through the wind. It didn’t really seem that unusual. However, the three days prior were cloaked in an unusually heavy grey cloud cover. Looking at the horizon, it felt like a big grey pool cover was placed over this corner of the earth. It’s important to note that when our friendly TV meteorologists announce that a hurricane is headed our way, South Jerseyans have a party while North Jerseyans yawn and simply go about their business. Inland we usually just get lots of rain and some wind and that’s it. Now that I think of it, why are weather reporters called meteorologists when they do not report on meteor showers or meteorites that fall to earth? But having gone through last year’s “Snowtober” storm and losing power for eight days when three telephone poles in front of my house snapped in two, I’m not taking any chances this time. I filled the car with gas, did a load of laundry, and showered. I also filled two large plastic storage containers with water and placed them in the tub. I didn’t have to worry about getting bottled water because I have six to eight cases in the house at all times because I buy them in bulk. It’s about 1pm and I glance out the living room window and watch the trees being thrashed back and forth in moderate winds. I call my friend down the street and as one of us is talking I say, “What the hell? Why are there two COCONUTS on the front lawn?” My brain knows they can’t possibly be coconuts, but my eyes say coconuts. I excuse myself from our conversation and go outside to discover that these coconuts are actually two of my faux oil-rubbed bronze solar lights. I pick them up and the other four that were still tethered to their stakes and bring them into the garage. I believe all potential missiles are now accounted for. As the afternoon begins to fade away, the wind gusts become more powerful and more frequent. This is Olive’s finely-tuned biological cue to run downstairs into the darkened bathroom and alternately whine, cry and bark. She does this on and off for the next few hours. For the first time I think, “This is going to be one long night.” I had planned for Olive and I to sleep in the living room because if the monster century-old tree in the backyard falls, it will come crashing down on the master and guest bedrooms. It’s now between four and 6pm and the house posts and beams begin to actually creak. Frequently. The Wizard of Oz ditty floats to the forefront of my brain, “The wind began to switch – the house to pitch and suddenly the hinges started to unhitch.” Olive does not like this at all. I’ve noticed that because weimaraners are so hyper alert they do not like random, unpredictable motion or sound. Olive’s head snaps around and she looks at me for reassurance. “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? SHOULD I BE WORRIED?” I look directly at Olive and purr, “Everything’s fine Olive. You have nothing to worry about.” She seems to accept my tone of voice as confirmation that she’s safe. Until the next creak. Which prompts the next head snap. Again and again and again. It’s now 8pm and Frankenstorm has made landfall about 100 miles away in South Jersey. Like clockwork, the power goes out. In an instant, our nice warm contemporary home has been transformed into a Taliban cave. The wind starts to howl loudly and actually whistle. Some of the gusts are so powerful, I am afraid the house is going to be air lifted from its foundation. In between the furious gusts is constant wind that sounds like a freight train hurtling down the tracks. “Screw this Olive, we’re going to sleep in the basement.” I go downstairs with Olive trailing me very closely. I open the pull-out couch, throw some blankets on it and place the Coleman battery-powered lantern on a chair next to the bed. I try to read. It’s impossible. The wind is frightening. I keep waiting to hear a tree snap and drop onto the house like a two-ton hammer. Olive is very restless. She keeps getting up and just standing on the bed. I try repeatedly to get her to lie down. “This is going to be an even longer night than I originally thought.” The wind howls and whistles and screams incessantly for the next five hours. I am conscious of the fact that I now feel like the subject in the Edvard Munch painting, “The Scream.” We’ve never experienced anything like this up here. If I wanted to live through this kind of event repeatedly, I’d move to Florida. And the 70mph winds we’re getting is nothing compared to what they get elsewhere and what the Jersey Shore is getting battered by right now. I lie in bed in the dark checking Facebook and trading posts with friends. Olive is now next to me curled up in a little brown ball. I finally fall asleep by about 1am. Five hours later I open my eyes and ears and am met with a deafening silence. It is eerily quiet. One, because the storm has passed and two because we still have no power. “Thank Christ that’s over Olive.” Olive opens her eyes and lifts her head towards me in a very familiar and expectant way. To her, it is no different from any other morning. Hurricane or no hurricane, my little food whore wants her breakfast. To be continued…

Frankenstorm and Bully Sticks

In dogs, humor, lifestyle, pets, weimaraners, writing on 10/28/2012 at 10:14 am

“What’s a FRANKENSTORM?”

Olive is paying rapt attention to the discussion among the humans at the dog park about the approaching “Frankenstorm.” Yes, that’s actually what the local paper splashed across the front page in monster-sized type on Friday. “The Rise of Frankenstorm.” It has certainly succeeded in whipping New Jersey and New York residents into a tornadic fever. There’s not a “D” battery, jug of bottled water or generator to be had in the two states about now. I had more important things to do. I had to race to the local feed store (the “candy store” to Olive) and purchase a half dozen bully sticks and a giant knucklebone. If Olive is going to have to be confined indoors for the next 24-36 hours, then this is a must or the two of us will go crazy. Indoors, the bully sticks seem to be Olive’s favorite way of burning off some of her energy. She lays on the floor in a sphinx position, stick between her paws, gnawing at that thing with the concentration of a St. Benedictine Monk transcribing ancient scrolls. She barely moves. In fact, if you saw her from the back, you might think you were watching a canine Rabbi performing a circumcision. I think she’s gotten even more protective of her treat lately because she knows that once it gets down to about three inches, I take it away from her. I used to ask her to drop it. She would reluctantly lower her head a few times and finally release it. I’d scoop up the sticky, gooey remnant and race up the stairs to dispose of it. Olive would run alongside me, jumping up repeatedly trying to snatch it from my hands. I finally wised up. Now, I just yell “biscuit,” she comes running to wherever I am, and stares at me with the bully stick hanging out of her mouth like a Havana cigar. She’s waiting to see the evidence. I hold up the biscuit. She drops the fully masticated bully stick and races toward the biscuit. “GOD, OLIVE, SOMETIMES YOU ARE SO PREDICTABLE.” I try to grab the bully twig off the floor in the same fell swoop that I offer her the biscuit, so she doesn’t see me and change course. When she’s done gobbling down the biscuit, her head richochets back and forth around the dining room looking for her bully stick, like “HEY, WHERE THE HELL DID MY BULLY STICK GO?” I’m sure one day, she’ll stop falling for this deception, but for now it still works. A week or so ago, Olive vomited downstairs and as I went to clean it up, I watched something fairly large tumble out of her mouth. It was a 2.5 inch saliva-coated bully stick that was basically teal in color, probably from being attacked by the antacids in her stomach. This is why I need to be more careful. Now, I have to watch her the way a security guard at Wal-Mart watches potential shoplifters. When the bully stick gets to about four inches, I start to rise from the chair and this is Olive’s visual cue to activate “flight” mode. She takes off like a bat out of hell.

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