The Dog Days: Too Much Fruit!

“I can’t talk! There’s too much fruit in the house!”

Lemons

One of my favorite television sitcoms is Everybody Loves Raymond. One episode, in particular, has been on my mind as of late. In the pilot episode, Raymond gets Marie (his mother) a birthday gift that “keeps on giving”. He signs her and Frank (his father) up for the “Fruit of the Month” club which sends a crate of fruit to their house each month for a whole year. Below is the dialogue that ensued:

Ray: Listen, Ma, I want to talk about Debra’s birthday…

Marie: My god, talk about birthdays. Your birthday gift to me finally came this morning. Did you know they sent me a box of pears?

Ray: Yeah.

Marie: From a place called “Fruit Of The Month”?

Ray: That’s right, how are they?

Marie: They’re very nice pears. But, there are so many of them. There are over a dozen pears. What am I supposed to do with all those pears?

Ray: I think you’re supposed to eat them.

Marie: Myself?

Ray: You and Dad and Robert.

Marie: How many pears can Robert eat? I appreciate the thought, but please, don’t ever send us any more fruit again. Thanks.

Ray: Another box is coming next month.

Marie: What??!! More pears??!!

Ray: No, it’s a different fruit every month.

Marie: Every month??!!

Ray: Yes, that’s why it’s called “Fruit Of The Month” Club.

Marie: It’s a club??!! Oh, my god! What do I do with all this fruit?

Ray: Most people like it, Ma, they share it with their friends.

Marie: Which friends?

Ray: I don’t know. Lee and Stan?

Marie: Lee and Stan buy their own fruit. Why did you do this to me? I can’t talk, there’s too much fruit in the house.

[Frank walks in.]

Marie: [to Frank] Do you know the fruit keeps coming, month after month? [pointing at Ray] He’s got us in some kind of a cult.

Ray: It’s not a cult, it’s a club.

Frank: What do you mean, month after month? For how long?

Ray: A year.

Frank: My god, are you out of your mind? What do you think we are? Invalids? We can’t go out and get our own fruit?

Marie: I tried to tell him.

Ray:  Alright, I’ll cancel the Fruit Club.

Frank: Marie—

Marie: I can’t talk! There’s too much fruit in the house!

The “Fruit of the Month” club then became a running joke throughout the series and was mentioned in several other episodes. Marie will frequently say, “I can’t talk! There’s too much fruit in the house!” She gets flustered and inconsolable about the fruit. As ridiculous as this may seem, I see it as a perfect parallel to life. When things go wrong in my life, I feel like saying, “I can’t talk. There’s too much fruit in the house!”

Recently, I wrote about our mold and landlord problems. Being newlyweds, we expected to have some difficulties during out first year of marriage. We just didn’t expect to be unexpectedly displaced from our first home together and forced to stay with Kyle’s parents until we figure out what to do. Now that I have an hour and a half commute to and from work, I have time to think about what is going on in life.

The other day on my evening drive through the bumper-to-bumper traffic, I decided that life had signed us up for the “Fruit of the Month” club as a belated wedding gift. Of course, a crate of a different type of fruit each month would be pretty nice since we like fresh fruit and it can get kind of pricey sometimes. That would have been a great gift to get. Unfortunately, life didn’t think we needed the variety package so it signed us up to receive a crate of lemons each month for an indefinite period of time. We’ve got crate upon crate of lemons stacking up in our lives and there’s most definitely “too much fruit in the house”.

lemoncrates

With all of these lemons, we are starting to get creative. We’ve made lemon pies, lemonade, lemon chicken, lemon juice, and any other kind of lemon concoction possible but the fruit keeps on coming. From illness to job loss to financial difficulties to Annie and now this, it seems like we are having lemons with everything we eat!

That being said, we don’t actually have lemons overflowing in our home. We do have obstacles and difficulties abounding, though. Just as I think things are starting to get better, something else happens. Take this, for example:

We’ve been managing with the commute from Georgia to Florida and things seemed to be getting better in life. We both had to make the drive on Monday morning so we brought Annie along and let her stay at the apartment while we went to our respective work places. I took a break from work to go a check on our dear sweet Annie. I didn’t want her to have to stay there alone for very long because of all of the mold problems we have been having.

When I walked in the door, I found the apartment in shambles. All of the blinds on all of the windows had either been mangled or torn down. Annie’s fourth leash (which didn’t last two weeks) was chewed through. The pinch collar and some of the leash were still hanging on the peg where we left it but the remaining ¾ of the leash was upstairs with chew marks on the handle. Our IKEA lamp that was in our bedroom was ripped to shreds. Furniture had been knocked over and pieces of the blinds were strewn about the floor. Apparently, Annie decided to forget how to behave like a good dog in the few days that we have been displaced. I promptly ordered a giant dog crate (which we had been putting off purchasing due to her fabulous behavior when left alone) and patiently awaited its arrival.

AnnieApartmentMess

Too much fruit!

Now we are on the search for a new place to live that doesn’t have mold and terrible management. I’ve searched most of the popular internet sites and we’ve asked our friends and coworkers for help. We need a place with good air quality and someone we can trust for a landlord, but where do we find the perfect place? Who knows!

What I’ve learned from this experience is that you can’t count on a place being the “perfect” place. When we were about to get married, we sat down and decided as a couple to spend our honeymoon money on the “nice apartment”. Now, after almost a year of living in the supposedly “nice” apartment, we are forced to move once more. This time, we will check the utility closet BEFORE we sign the lease. Hind sight is almost always 20/20.

Would I go back and do things differently? Probably not. We did what we thought was best for us and our future at that time. Plus, there’s no way of knowing when life will sign you up for the “Fruit of the Month” club.

Sometimes we all have to say, “I can’t talk! There’s too much fruit in the house!”


Have you ever had “too much fruit in the house”? If so, tell me about it in the comments. I’d love to hear your story about life and lemons!

Until next time…

J. G. McNease

The Dog Days: The Back To School Blues

Annie McNease

It’s still hot outside, giving the illusion of summer days, but summer has come and gone and school has begun. My wonderful husband, Kyle, teaches at Florida State University which means he, too, must return to school. As with any first day of school, we tried to make sure he got started out right. We ate a hearty meal of grilled chicken and angel hair pasta with spaghetti sauce and went to bed at a reasonable hour. We did all of these things with good intentions…


“Amount of time it takes for a dog to ‘do its business’ is directly proportional to outside temperature + suitability of owner’s outerwear.” – Betsy Cañas Garmon

Last night, we took Annie out for an evening walk. There were children playing in the large, open field that sits in the center of our complex. Many of them wanted to see Annie and pet her. She was a good dog to them and for that we were thankful. She has always been good with kids, so we didn’t worry. Kyle took her out first while I gathered our keys and the batteries we needed to return to the grocery store. I locked the door and made my way over to where Annie was sniffing around, attempting to “do her business”. Unaware that the new neighbor (who never puts his small-ish black schnauzer-mix dog on a leash) and his dog were behind me, I saw all of the children and warned Kyle to hold Annie tight. At my advice, he wrapped our broken, used-to-be retractable leash around the plastic handle until it was taught enough to pull on Annie’s prong collar a bit.

“Did you say that because of the other dog?” Kyle asked as I finally reached him standing in the field.

“What?” I inquired, confused.

At that, I turned around to see a hyper black dog running at full speed towards us and his owner (the new neighbor) running awkwardly behind holding a Frisbee. Oh no! I thought to myself. Given the current state of Annie’s leash, I panicked. She began to bark excitedly as the neighbor approached her (still running, I might add) without saying a word to either of us.

“Hi Annie!” said the neighbor in a high-pitched tone. “I remember you! You remember me, don’t you?”

He squatted down to her level and put his hands out to pet her. That’s when I noticed her collar. It was broken and only hanging on because it had gotten tangled in the not-so-retractable leash string.

“Kyle,” I said nervously, “her collar.”

He looked and saw the problem and tried to pull Annie back. By this point, the neighbor (whose name I have yet to find out) had gotten her extremely excited. She started jumping and barking a shrill, desperate bark. She wanted to go play with the man and his unleashed dog who were running around throwing and catching the red Frisbee. The children only made matters worse because they immediately swarmed around the new dog on the block, ignoring Annie completely. Annie doesn’t take being ignored very well. Her crazed, desperate barking continued and I overheard one of the children remark, “That dog barks a lot,” to which another responded, “Yeah, that dog is bad.” Infuriated, both Kyle and I tried to contain Annie to no avail. She wouldn’t hold still long enough for Kyle to fix her collar and return it to her neck. After about 5 minutes of struggling with her in the field and becoming a spectacle for the children who had gathered to point and laugh, we dragged our loud-mouthed puppy back to the apartment.

“Rambunctious, rumbustious, delinquent dogs become angelic when sitting.” – Dr. Ian Dunbar

It was embarrassing, needless to say, and she still had not “done her business” yet. After fixing the prong collar, we put her pathetic excuse for a leash back on and took her out once more. I wanted to show the kids that she wasn’t a “bad dog” so I walked her to the field and made her sit several times. Things seemed to be going well until the unleashed pooch approached us. Trying to avoid another mess, I turned her away and quickly walked her out to the grassy knoll that is designated as a “dog area”. She managed to finally “do her business” properly and we promptly left to go to the grocery store.

Hours later, after dinner was cooked and enjoyed, and we had been asleep for some time, I was awakened by a terrible sound. It was something you would expect to hear on a horror movie when a ghost or evil spirit is doing whatever ghosts and evil spirits do. It sounded horrible and I turned to find out the source of the devilish sound. What I saw was Annie, heaving like she was possessed (further confirming that the sound was straight out of a horror film). Kyle had fallen asleep on the couch trying to prepare his lesson plans and was at the door to the room in a split second.

“Baby?” he asked, sounding terrified. “Is that you?”

“What?” I said, still half asleep. Once I figured out what he was saying and had awakened enough to process what was happening around me I said, “Oh, no. It’s Annie.”

I rolled out of the bed as she began to vomit all over the floor in front of me. Kyle grabbed her heaving body and quickly guided her to the bathroom where she proceeded to vomit again. I held her as she continued to dry heave and Kyle went to wipe up the disgusting mess. Once her heaving had subsided, she wagged her tail and begged for food. Kyle and I, on the other hand, were trying to investigate the cause of this sudden upheaval (pun intended). We inspected the vomit that Kyle had cleaned up and found hard pieces of something we couldn’t quite figure out. Then we saw a brown looking piece that, upon closer inspection, was determined to be an almond.

Nuts! I thought. It was an almond, which she must have found on the floor after one of us had eaten a handful of them. Fabulous! It was 3:00am and both of us needed to get some rest. After the evening we had with Annie and the embarrassment, this was simply the icing on the cake.

Annie seemed to be unaffected by the event and curled back up on her bed and fell fast asleep. Once we had managed to clean everything up and calm down, we, too, attempted to rest our wearied eyes.

Annie Sleeping


News and Other Noteworthy Information:

I’ve submitted what I hope to be the last revision to CreateSpace for The Last Navigator and will be ordering another proof as soon as possible. As soon as it is just right, I will get it out there so everyone can buy a physical copy. Yay! Get excited!

Also, The Woman in the Zebra Hat is now available on Kobo and has shipped to Barnes and Noble and Apple. Once it is available in other stores, I will post links. The Last Navigator is being released for purchase in multiple formats on September 2nd, 2013 (Labor Day) so don’t miss out on that. You can pre-order your copy now and it will automatically download on Labor Day.

I have joined the Independent Author Network and my profile is now live so you can go take a peek. It has links to all of my social networking profiles, my website, and links to purchase/download my books. Below is the link to my IAN profile:

http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/j-g-mcnease.html

I hope everyone has a fabulous week!

Until next time…

J. G. McNease

Interview on “Meet The Author”

I had the pleasure of being interviewed for the “Meet The Author” blog by K.M. Francoeur. The interview is posted on the blog but I wanted to give you a preview here. Below are the first few questions of the interview. If you would like to read more, click HERE.


J. G. McNease Interview Preview from “Meet The Author”

J. G. McNease

Question:  How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was just a little girl, but started writing novel-length fiction about a year ago.

Question:  What was the name of the first book you ever published, and when was it published?

The name of my first book is “The Last Navigator”. I published it in May of 2013.

Question:  Was this book published by a publisher; or did you self-publish?

I chose to go the self-publishing route with “The Last Navigator” using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program.

Question:  Tell our readers about this very first book.  (For example:  What was the inspiration for writing it, and what was it about)?

My inspiration to write “The Last Navigator” came from experiences I had while participating in a graduate school course in Hawai’i several years ago. While visiting the School of Social Work at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, we learned of the Navigators, and of Nainoa Thompson, one of the few remaining true navigators. The Navigators are a group of people who use natural elements, such as the stars, the planets, the movement of the waves and clouds, to find their way in the ocean. The title, “The Last Navigator”, was inspired by the Polynesian Navigators and, although it is not about them, the Navigators in my book do use the stars to find their way. I pulled from elements of the Polynesian Navigator traditions to write “The Last Navigator” and develop my characters. The storyline and many of the characters were also shaped by my background as a social worker and my desire to learn about and understand the human condition.

In writing “The Last Navigator”, I wanted to create a story that pulled from my experiences in Hawai’i as well as from current societal and personal life themes. Themes such as the empowerment of women and the hardships of single parent households are evident in the book. The main character in “The Last Navigator”, Lani, is a young female whale who dreams of being more than average. She wants to make a difference—and she does. In developing her character, I wanted to empower young women to follow their dreams and not simply conform to the norms of this world. Lani is shaped by her life experiences and her relationships with other characters, such as, Mother, and Kilo, and even the zany character of Manny, the sea turtle. She learns through trials and overcoming obstacles that she can indeed reach for the stars and achieve great things. My hope is that in reading “The Last Navigator”, some part of Lani’s character will resonate with each reader. Whether that resonance is found in her search for life’s meaning, or her desire to go against the grain, I hope she will touch the hearts of readers young and old.

The Dog Days: Eclipsing Heat

“The kind of heat that August brings eclipses hot in an odd way; the atmosphere radiates with such intensity that you know fall is on its way.”

This week’s episode of The Dog Days is going to be shift from the norm. My wonderful husband, Kyle, has written a guest post about summer heat, vacation, and thoughts on life and death. It’s a refreshing break from the stories about dogs and it gives us a little more to ponder as summer comes to a close.


If you have been following this blog lately, then you already know that Jamie has been writing about the dog days of summer.  Since she has been so courteous as to extend an invitation for me to write something this week, I will keep to that theme—though I will approach it a bit differently.  Bear with me.

In our master’s program, Jamie and I had a professor who taught us the power, process, and dynamics of group therapy.  In our process recordings we were forced to reflect on as many of the exchanges we could remember from each group session.  Our professor asked us if we noticed a trend.  No one spoke up with an answer and, as she was a pretty thorough Freudian, she informed us that the topic that kept coming up was death.  Like a gyre, the conversation spiraled from humdrum talk of classes and grades to the profundities of life.  You could set your watch by it; every session, the group would end up ending up with talk of the end.  What does that have to do with the dog days of summer though?

In the deep south, the August heat chases dogs to the coolness of shades, preferably ones under the porch or, better yet, IN the house.  The kind of heat that August brings eclipses hot in an odd way; the atmosphere radiates with such intensity that you know fall is on its way.  The burning gusts of August will eventually give way to a milder fall—continuing a cycle that began before us and will continue long after us.

The dog days of summer are my favorite days of the year, weather wise.  The heat signals something in my unconscious and creates a longing to return to places of my youth—places where happy memories and moments were shared with my family.  Just about every year of my life, we loaded up in a vehicle and traveled to the same vacation spot.  I am sitting there now, which, of course, makes it here-now.  I am here now, again.  This here is the last place I ever saw my grandfather draw a breath.  I am sitting a few feet away from the same spot that I perched upon so many years ago, as I strained to catch a few glimpses of my papa.  Continue reading

The Dog Days: Episode Four

Annie, our Great Weimar puppy, has made a speedy recovery from her surgery. After visiting her regular vet the morning after taking her to the emergency vet, we were told to continue to give her the antibiotic until it was finished and keep the area around the sutures clean with a special prescription cleaner they gave us for free. We are now getting to enjoy our time with our sweet puppy instead of constantly running back and forth and to and from the vet. As my husband said last night, “She may cost us a ton of money and be a pain to deal with during the day but it is really nice to cuddle with her like this at night.”


A Day in the Life of a Dog Named Rocky

Rocky 2009

“Dogs are great. Bad dogs, if you can really call them that, are perhaps the greatest of them all.” ― John Grogan, Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog

Today’s episode is going to go back in time to the life of my first big dog. He was a Boxer who weighed in at a whopping 98lbs and had a head that was bigger than mine. Rocky was a bad dog by all standards: he chewed through valuable things (like the cable line and my mother’s $700.00 mouth guards), he stole underwear and shoes and anything else he could get his teeth on (like a stuffed Santa doll we used as decoration at Christmas or my stuffed animals from my room), and when he wanted attention he always got it because he would make noise and scratch at us with his heavy paws. Rocky was the best dog I could have ever asked for, though, because throughout his 11 years of life he never stopped loving me and he was spunky until the day he died.

One memory of Rocky that sticks out in my mind today is his insatiable energy. When I was young, I used to put on my rollerblades and hold on for dear life as he pulled me at top speeds around our neighborhood. The neighbors all remember seeing me fly by their windows and they still ask about “the daughter who was pulled by the dogs.” I was a legend in that regard. As I got older, Rocky maintained his energy and if he didn’t get enough exercise, he would destroy household items. I graduated from high school and soon moved away for college. Because I was no longer around to take Rocky out for a rollerblade run, my parents had to become innovative. They managed to find a neighborhood kid brave enough to strap on his rollerblades and let Rocky pull him around but he, too, got older, joined the Air Force, and moved away from home after a year or so.

Now it was up to my parents to do something about the dog and his need to run. Not being rollerbladers themselves, they had to come up with some other way of running Rocky around the neighborhood. One day, my dad had the genius idea to get in the car to run the dog around. This seemed to work and after the first few tries, they got the hang of it. Every day, my dad would hold the leash in his hand out of the car window and accelerate fast enough that Rocky had to keep up a decent gate. It was certainly a sight to behold.

One day during a particularly hot summer, I was on my way home to my parent’s house after work. As I drove down the main street of our neighborhood, I saw a car that looked similar to my mom’s Lexus SUV. It seemed to be stuck in a drain and the tire was as flat as a pancake. When I got a bit closer, I saw my dad standing on the sidewalk near the car with Rocky on a leash sniffing around. He was clearly infuriated from the look on his beet red face. He was on his cell phone saying all sorts of choice vocabulary.

I soon found out what had caused such a scene. He was taking Rocky out for his daily run beside the car when a squirrel suddenly caught his eye and Rocky bolted across the street, in front of the car after the squirrel. At that point, my dad had two choices: 1) hit Rocky with the car and potentially kill him, or 2) swerve and try not to hit Rocky with the car. He chose the latter and ended up running into a drain, popping the front tire, but saving the dog.

The lesson I think we all learned from that experience was this: Don’t try to run your dog by holding the leash out of the car and letting him run on the side of a moving vehicle.

A lesson I learned from having Rocky, the best worst dog ever, was to love always, live in the moment, and never stop chasing those darn squirrels.

I’ve had small dogs and I’ve had big dogs. I’ve had good dogs and I’ve had bad dogs. I’ve had the whole range of them and I’ve found that there is always good in a dog’s soul even if it doesn’t present itself in the mischievous nature of the dog. Deep down, there’s a good dog in all of us.


Anyone have dog stories about good-bad dogs? If so, I’d love to hear them! Tell me about it in the comments!

Until next time…

J. G. McNease