Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My Starfish

I remember hearing the story long ago of the little boy walking on the shoreline. It was low tide and thus for miles in each direction thousands of starfish lay on the sand, scattered between rocks, seaweed, and whatever else kept them from returning to the water. As he walked, the young boy carefully picked up a starfish and tossed it back into the water, watching it float to safety before moving onto the next one. When another older gentleman approached and asked what he was doing the boy answered that he was throwing the starfish into the water. With the sun growing stronger in the sky, he explained, if nothing was done the starfish would die before the tide would be enough to bring them into the water. The older man was a skeptic, reminding the boy as if he didn’t already know that there were miles upon miles of beach, each section full of starfish. There was no way he could possibly make a difference. Upon hearing this the young boy reached down, picked up the closest starfish, and threw it into the water turning to this man he replied “I made a difference for that one.”

Although I must admit that while visiting Oregon this past summer I did search for and find a few starfish to throw back into the water, that is not the first thing that comes to mind thinking of this story now. The first thing I think about is Oreo.

Meeting Oreo 

We didn’t really have the time (or the space) for another dog. Harley was enough dog for anybody. But after joining a group for Rescue Rovers, it became clear that we could make room for one more. I wasn’t looking for a dog, but when Rescue Rovers posted pictures of nine or so dogs that were in shelters with a euthanization date set for the next day along with a plea for anybody who could take them in and foster, there was no way I could just sit idly by. After showing it to Kyle, he was a bit skeptical, not necessarily in the prospect of having two dogs, but because our schedules were so hectic. At the time we were both going to school full time while working full time, my time being stretched between two jobs. We wrote out the email to Jodi and let it sit for a couple of hours, talking through the pros and cons, not just for us, but for a dog we would foster. Sometimes you just have to stop overanalyzing things and go with your gut. We clicked send.

I can still distinctly remember Oreo’s face in her picture. There she was cowering against the side of the shelter kennel. Out of all the dogs in the pictures, she looked the saddest of all. Her head was bent low, avoiding the gaze of those looking in. Even though in the email we described our situation, stating we would foster for any dog that needed it, I remember feeling for Oreo more than any of the other dogs on the list. After nine years of living with her owners who she had grown to trust and love, they left her at the shelter, not giving a second thought to her fate.

The next day Jodi called and asked us if we could take Oreo. She told us that because she was a senior dog there was a good chance it could take some time for her to be adopted. We met her after work to pick up a scared and shivering pup. Every time you would look back at her while driving home, her tail would thump, nothing compared to the dangerous whacks Harley’s can give when she is excited, but enough to show just how appreciative she really was.

As soon as we introduced Harley to Oreo, she began licking her face. To this day Oreo just tolerates it when this happens. For the first couple of days Oreo was scared, always hiding under the bed, shaking when standing on the hardwood floor, and not reacting much to human interaction. It took a lot to get Oreo’s trust, but once we did, she completely transformed. She no longer hid under the bed, but made sure to be right in the middle of the action, always close to her people. Rather than standing in the next room watching us she would find her place at the foot of the couch, lying on our feet on the carpet during a movie. The biggest change of all is finding out just how strong of a personality Oreo has. Some of her favorite things to do include:

·         Sleeping on her Costco dog bed. If Harley is on it Oreo will go stare at her until Harley moves (which she will, she would do anything for Oreo)

 This picture pretty much sums up Harley's life.

·         Belly rubs, if you walk near her while she is lying down, she will roll over, exposing her belly to you. It’s almost like she does it subconsciously sometimes.
·         Play with other dogs. Her number one buddy is Harley, who she will stick with no matter what, but her other buddies include Daisy, Max the puppy, Bella (who she gets to hang out with every time we go out of town), Atticus, and Scout.
Here's when Erica's kids and Atticus stayed over for a couple of days. Don't worry, dogs were kicked out of the kitchen before breakfast started!

·         Treats! There are a few words Oreo knows, and “treat” is one of them. Her favorite tricks to do are speak and sit pretty, which she will do even before you ask her to if there are treats involved.
·         Walks, you can’t get out the leash without her going insane.
·         Hikes, by far Oreo’s favorite thing to do is go on a hike where she can be off the leash, meet new dogs, and explore. 

It became clear after just a couple of weeks that it would be too sad to only foster Oreo, plus I didn’t want to break the trust she had just gained in us. We became what is known as “foster failures” and decided to keep her. Although she is now 10, you would never guess her age.

Become a Foster! 

Now if you’re still reading, here’s the whole reason I began writing all this about Oreo Dog. Currently there are many dogs in the foster program who are considered “seniors”, the one I have in mind is Maverick, who is thirteen. Most of these dogs are put into shelters by their owners after many years of love because of a lifestyle change, or the inability to keep them any longer. We all go through changes in life. Nothing is definite, but here is something to keep in mind when you do this: many older dogs do not get a second chance. The demand for cute puppies is much higher than an older dog who already has a name and a history. Although I’m all for puppies, here are a few reasons why adopting or fostering an older dog has its advantages too:

·       Both of our dogs came potty trained. We didn’t have to worry about cleaning up messes at any time.
·       Oreo is so calm inside, yet take her on a walk and she goes nuts! I take her and Harley running with me all the time, especially when I was training for a half marathon. Oreo was able to keep up even better than Harley.
After a very long run.

·       Oreo knew many tricks when she came to us, all of which she eagerly does.
·       Maybe I’m just imagining it, but I feel as though she is grateful to be out of the shelter, and appreciates what she has.
·       You’d be surprised how fast an older dog will become loyal to you.

I can’t promise every dog will be as awesome as Oreo (because she really is the best) but I can say that you won’t regret fostering through this program. Fill out the Rescue Rovers adoption or foster form to make a difference. It’s a small effort for a large reward.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bruges Waffles & Fries

Anybody whose ever met Kyle knows he loves to talk to France. I'm not kidding. You could be talking about something completely different, unrelated, and off topic, yet somehow it all fits. He loves everything from the culture to the sites, to almost anything else you could imagine. The little bit I can speak and understand isn't enough to fluently keep up a conversation. There have been a surprising number of times while out running errands we have overheard somebody speaking French and the next twenty minutes is dedicated to chasing them around finding the perfect moment to slip in and begin a conversation. Luckily everybody has been really nice and excited to talk so far, one of these encounters even led to a job offer as a translator. For a couple of months, he was able to spend some time in Belgium, which has forever changed his opinion on waffles and fries. It became a science, the techniques behind the cooking.

A couple of weeks ago I was looking around and found a review of a place called Bruges Waffles & Fries. I had never heard of it before, although it was featured on Man Vs. Food a few seasons back. After reading a little about the place, I knew it would be perfect. Pierre Vandamme, the owner was originally from Bruges, Belgium, but started a waffle cart in Salt Lake in 2004. Now there are three different locations. We decided to try out the Sugar House location, first calling up the family food connoisseur, aka Kyle's sister, her husband, and his other sister.
This is the only picture I could get everybody to take. If Jordan would have been there we probably would have had a whole posts worth :)

The waffles and the frites were both amazing. The only disappointment for Kyle was that there was nobody there that spoke French. We got the machine gun, which is basically a delicious heart attack waiting to happen, and a Liege waffle.

The machine gun was a lamb sausage inside a french baguette with a healthy, or rather unhealthy serving of frites and a special mayonnaise on top. We only split one and it was almost too much! In fact, it was too much for the fork

I'm not exactly sure what Kayla, Dave, and Kitroen got, but it was equally good.

Anybody looking for a change of scenery from the mundane burgers and fries should definitely check this place out. I highly recommend it!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Odd Thomas

Even though I have admired him for a long time, and listened to countless interviews, I just finished my first Dean Koontz novel this week. Odd Thomas was one of the most original books I have ever read. The story is unique, and the characters are so likeable, especially Stormy and Odd. I found myself laughing every couple of pages, quoting hilarious lines out loud to whomever was near enough to hear, and risk spending the next day exhausted at work by reading way later than was healthy. Even though the ending wasn’t at all what I expected, or even hoped, I really enjoyed it. The only parts I didn't care for were the sections it got a little too graphic, but I guess it was necessary seeing as the story included a serial killer. For the most part, his humor made the images better.

I honestly don’t know why it took me so long to read one of his novels. For the past couple of years I have been stocking my bookshelf with his books for fifty cents each from the DI and library sales. And yet each one has been left to gather dust. When he interviews, you can hear the style of his writing echoed in his words. Even just listening to him for five minutes, it’s obvious that he is just one of those guys anybody would love to meet.

In the most recent interview I heard, the question was asked: what started your love of writing? He gave this profound story about how his father was a drunk, completely unfit to raise children. His stories reflect his negative attitude towards his dad with the father of the main character. When he was six-years-old, his mom got very sick, and was in the hospital for quite some time. Since his dad could not handle the task of taking care of his children alone, young Dean went and spent the time at one of his mom’s friend’s homes. Every night she would give him an ice cream sundae in bed, and read him stories. Here was the first place he was introduced to books, and the feeling of security they brought to him. From that young age, he began working towards a writing career that includes over 100 novels to date.

Whenever I hear a question like this, it makes me reflect back on my own answer to that question. Maybe that’s a bit egotistic of me, not that I will ever have a career even close to this literary genius, but I do want to be a published writer one day. For me, the spark that started the desire to write couldn’t have been more different from Dean.

Ever since I can remember, my dad has been obsessed with books of every kind. In his basement there are two rooms packed with bookshelves. I can’t tell you how many hours I have spent organizing those books, only to have him buy more and shove them wherever they fit.

 These are even pictures of the smaller of the two rooms. I'm not kidding, he could open his own library down there. It’s likely that he has at least two copies of every classic; I think his record is six copies of Moby Dick. I’m pretty sure it’s genetic because when we go to my uncle’s house, he has some of the greatest floor to ceiling bookshelves that I am extremely envious of.

I can remember going to library sales with my dad almost every weekend, whether that was to check the limited for sale section, or just to pick up his stack of holds, it didn’t matter. The library became an important fixture for me. I loved to read, but even more than that, I loved to write. I wanted to create something like what I had been reading for so long. With every author read, there were elements that I appreciated and tried to incorporate, while other factors I stayed far away from. I wrote many short stories. Some shorter than others, many were awful, but I kept trying.

Fast-forward a couple of years to graduating high school. I had no idea what I wanted to do when I went to college, or anywhere beyond that. The first year was almost a waste. Not that I didn’t take interesting classes, art history, linguistics, and the American Civil War were all fascinating to me, but I knew none of these were something I really wanted to do for a lifelong career. During my second semester, I took a creative writing class for fun, and realized what should have registered from the beginning. I had been too busy focusing on the wrong things. Realizing that, for me, there was no greater major than one focusing on reading and writing was such a relief. In some ways I’m sad I’m graduated and it’s all over, but on the other hand, now I can read and write anything I want.

I seem to have gotten off topic, but basically what I’m trying to say is: Dean Koontz is one of the best writers of our time. His writing takes dark elements, and turns them comical, mostly through the character’s voices. Anybody looking for a great read should pick up Odd Thomas today. I look forward to enjoying many more of his novels, and learning more about his characters.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


It may seem as though I have dropped off the blog world after only a few post. That is only because I dropped off the blog world after only a few posts. It's mostly because the purpose of this blog has been accomplished. No thanks to the blog, but hey it was fun to write. About a week after my last post, I got a job writing for an internet marketing company. Which is huge. At least from this perspective it feels huge. When I committed to being a nerdy English Major, all I wanted to do was write my own fiction. I quickly learned, that that isn't always how it works. You have to gain experience, learn, make mistakes, and grow before having the funds, and sometimes talent to completely do your own thing. I love writing for a company. It scared me when I first sat down on my first day. That blank screen was one of the most daunting things I have ever seen, but now, I look forward to the time I have to write about whatever the topic is that day. I enjoy the challenge of writing about something I know absolutely nothing about. Every day I learn so much, pretty soon I am going to be a walking talking supply of random facts nobody ever wanted to know.

I probably won't be writing on here as often. I mean not that once every month was often, but still. I'll write about the important things that happen.

This post probably seems pretty sporadic, that's because I'm having a full conversation while writing it. Impressed? You should be.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Goodbye Green Toad

Today I had to say goodbye to a friend of mine, today we sold my car. The Green Toad was so much more than a car to me. I probably shouldn't admit this here in cyberspace, but I did get a bit choked up as I sat in it for the last time and "said goodbye". I'm pretty sure that Kyle thought I was completely absurd, but I've had that car since I was 16. Letting go of it felt like letting go of some great memories. I remember the first time I got to drive it, I was so excited I drove two houses up to Jessica's house where the battery promptly kicked the bucket and I had to wait for what seemed like forever to get a new battery. There was the time I was going to Senior Ball, I was in a huge hurry so I tried to squeeze in a tight spot getting out of the driveway. My side mirror hit against my dad's back tail light. I thought if I slowly kept backing out it would just brush by. For those of you out there who ever find yourselves in this same situation, it doesn't work. The light completely shattered. Looking into my dad's face at the top of the driveway, I figured it was best to just leave and deal with the consequences when I got back home. The Green Toad agreed, we sped out of there faster than ever before. I wouldn't recommend this either. There was the time we spun out together following Kyle to work. I took my hands off the wheel and let the Toad take us to a park strip on the other side of the road. Every time I looked into the driver side mirror, I always remembered my grandpa. When the cover fell off of that mirror while I was driving him home, we spent what felt like forever retracing our steps until we found it in a muddy gutter. Together we cleaned it off and taped it back with electrical tape, and for good measure taped the passenger mirror securely. Almost every time I look into that mirror, I remember that day. I've had a lot of great memories in that car. Driving to the U for four years, driving to St. George, late night drives, taking Daisy to the park. Now it's time for somebody to make their own memories with that car. I know they will gain memories that will outlast the car, just as I have.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I'm doing this for the job

I decided to start a blog. Not because I live a particularly interesting life or have something profound to say to the world. Today I went and listened to a copywriters meeting and one of the copywriters told me that the way they first broke into writing was somebody stumbling on her blog. They liked her writing style and hired her after that. Although I don't think that is the norm, I figure this can't hurt. So to my future employer, this is for you. Right after I got out of the meeting I called Kyle and told him my plan. Of course being the loving supporting husband he is his first response was, "YOU are going to write a blog?! Tu blague" I have to admit, to an extent I agree with him. What really do I have to offer to the online world that isn't already there? Basically nothing. The second part of what he said stuck with me more. In French "tu blague" means "you joke". How witty is that since it's pronounced the same as blog?! There are new unique ways of saying things that nobody has before, you just need to find them. I figure the world can only benefit by reading from the perspective of an English major right? At least that's what we tell ourselves. So here's to brain vomit blogging!