A Doggie Story (#339)

Our rescue dogs were very different in temperament. Woofie, the Labrador mix, saw every creature as a potential playmate. If he could have, that dog would have opened the door to any stranger with a ball…or a knife, or a gun.

Fey, our German shepherd and shar-pei mix, saw every stranger as a potential threat, unless they were a white male over six feet tall who smelled like In-n-Out burgers. (You can probably guess who rescued her from the streets of Los Angeles and what food they used to gain a starving dog’s trust.) Fey refused to let the gas meter man near the house, which was a pain in the ass, but she also refused to let burglars break into the house, which everyone except Woofie found heroic.

Woofie shook off criticism like water. “Bad dog!” meant nothing to him. So did “no!” and even, “Jesus fucking Christ, Woofie, how did you dig up an entire bougainvillea in two minutes?!”

A voice raised at Fey would result in her freezing or hiding. She was an unusual mix of fierce protector and sensitive shepherd.

Fey preferred to spend her day outside, lying on her bed on the patio unless a street sweeper, squirrel, or passing dog needed to be warned off. She and Woofie would wrestle and play tug-o-war, but Fey would break off immediately to run her guard route if she sensed a potential intruder. (Woofie would then plant himself in the middle of her route, earning warning snarls and snaps which bothered him not at all.)

One Saturday afternoon, as I prepared for date night, I heard a strange, high pitched swooshing noise and some loud clicking. I checked outside. Fey was on her bed in the sun, right under the bathroom window. I checked around the house, and mentioned the noise to Andy. He shrugged it off and continued roughhousing with Baby D.

I went to dry my hair. My hair dryer had been on less than a minute when the bathroom window cracked.

I dropped the hair dryer. Then I put two and two together and lost my shit: “SOME ONE HAS AN AIR RIFLE AND THEY’RE SHOOTING AT US!”

I flew out the backdoor. Fey dashed in the back door. She was shaking, but unhurt.

I was incensed. To hit that particular window, the shots had to have come from the yard of the new neighbors over the back fence.

The wall and the shrubbery in our backyard.

There was a shrubbery that extended about six feet above the six foot cinderblock wall, which meant I couldn’t see into the yard. The noise had stopped, possibly because the shooters heard my enraged shrieking:

“ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? AIR RIFLES ARE ILLEGAL! YOU COULD HAVE HIT MY DOG! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!”

I stormed out the back gate and over to the new neighbors’ yard, where I found a shame-faced father with a teen—a teen holding an air rifle. (In retrospect, I do not recommend confronting people holding weapons directly. At the time, I was such a mass of fury that I probably would not have cared if it were a real rifle. The zero to psycho Ashbough temper is likely to end in prison or death someday.)

I yanked open their gate and barged into their yard, yelling, “MOTHERFUCKERS! YOU BROKE MY WINDOW! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?!”

The dad tried to placate me, explaining that his son was just shooting at the shrubbery, and had hit our house by mistake.

I was NOT placated. “You absolute shit heads! You utterly ignorant fuckwits! THE SHRUBBERY IS POROUS! The shots went right through! You nearly hit my dog WHAT IF MY KID HAD BEEN OUTSIDE YOU COULD HAVE TAKEN OUT AN EYE!”

By this time, Andy had showed up behind me, carrying Baby D. Andy never said a word. (Later, when I asked why, he pointed out that a) I had barely touched my arsenal of obscenities, and b) no one could have heard him over shrieking that would have put a Shakespearean fishwife to shame.)

The dad was thoroughly apologetic. He promised that it would never happen again, that he would get rid of the air rifle, that he would repair the window, that they had moved in from a more rural area and hadn’t been thinking.

“CLEARLY!” I yelled.

Part of me wanted to call the police, but father and son had too much melanin for that to be a reasonable consequence. Our local police are so bad that some of them have actually been ARRESTED for racist shit, instead of getting the usual commendations.

After my ranting ran its course (which Andy says lasted at least five more minutes), I agreed to the neighbor’s window repair offer. The man ultimately paid for a handyman to replace the window and make other repairs as a gesture of goodwill (i.e., so I would never scream my head off at him again).

Fixing Fey was more problematic than fixing the window. While we never heard or saw the air rifle again, Fey turned into a quivering, cowering wreck every time I turned on the hair dryer. To Fey, hair dryer = someone shooting at you + your human going on a screaming rampage.

I’d had easy success retraining Woofie when he was traumatized by football games on TV; I tried to do the same with Fey. I gave her treats and praised her while taking out and running the hair dryer. Fey wouldn’t eat. Not even bacon. She just trembled miserably.

So I packed the hair dryer away. Forever.

I never regretted it, either.

Our good girl didn’t deserve PTSD.

Vaccination Nation (#319)

I need my vaccination
Want my arm burning
Immune system strong
I need that vaccination
White blood cells learning
That COVID’s wrong…
(Sung to the tune of the Human League’s “Fascination.”)

After my post on my drive-thru vaccination, I’ve fielded questions on vaccine side effects—possibly because I got the newer, less popular Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Here are all the details you could possibly want. And some you maybe don’t. Continue reading Vaccination Nation (#319)

The Ultimate Thief (#298)

Both our dogs were rescues. Our second dog, Fey, was rescued from the streets of South Central Los Angeles and never forgot it. She was loyal, well-behaved, and obedient.

And then there was Woofie. Our first dog ran away repeatedly. He went to science class at the local school. He created bizarre insurance claims. He dug up the yard. He snuck up on the furniture, curling up in Andy’s preferred recliner.

But worst of all? He was an unrepentant thief. Continue reading The Ultimate Thief (#298)

The Reluctant Coach (#292)

I thought that signing up my kid for recreational soccer meant all I’d have to sign up for would be snacks.

That’s how they get you.

AYSO always needed volunteers. They threatened to dissolve multiple teams unless parents agreed to coach. They promised the parents plenty of free training.

I gave Andy a hopeful look.

My husband said, “Hell, no. You’re the one who wanted him to play soccer.”

I caved and agreed to coach Baby D’s U6 team. Continue reading The Reluctant Coach (#292)

Burned (#291)

My Chinese-American husband is a fantastic cook. Andy can make any cuisine, from pulled pork barbecue to agedashi tofu.

Andy’s beef Wellington

His eggs Benedict are sublime. Pretty sure I joined Instagram just to make people envious over of his beef Wellington.

I am content to give Andy the cooking crown in our household. I focus on baking, which is my strength.

I stay in my lane.

Andy is NOT staying in his lane. Continue reading Burned (#291)

When the Days Are Long, Again (#289)

There’s a common phrase about parenting: “The days are long, the years are short.”

The days ARE long when you have a baby. Especially when you have a baby that only takes a half-hour nap. And when you have a non-napping child and no handy relatives to help?

A day feels equal to a year.

When your baby is sick?

A day feels like a century. Continue reading When the Days Are Long, Again (#289)

Outlast the Lockdown: 10 Historical Mystery Series (#288)

Science Fiction and Fantasy books are my first love. They’re also the best escapism around, literally taking you to another world.

But maybe you don’t want to go to a new world with new rules. Concentrating right now is difficult (unless you’re fellow blogger Ms. Bean’s husband). Let me offer up my favorite historical mystery series, guaranteed to take you to a different time, multiple times.

As usual, I’m listing them by the first book in the series because starting in the middle is just wrong and the name of the series isn’t always helpful.

10. The Widows of Malabar Hill, by Sujata Massey. Continue reading Outlast the Lockdown: 10 Historical Mystery Series (#288)

The Mask Avenger (#284)

Like a lot of Chinese-Americans, my husband isn’t into fanfare. He doesn’t make a big deal out of the delicious meals he cooks. He presents me with seedlings for my garden that I had no idea were germinating in his greenhouse.

I only found out about a huge bonus he got from work when I found it on our checking account.

Compared to all the mediocre white males who constantly tout their non-accomplishments (see the Trump Administration for hundreds of examples), Andy’s reticence seems like an excellent characteristic.

Alas. Information hoarding has a dark side. Continue reading The Mask Avenger (#284)

Easter Won’t Be Easter Without Any See’s Candies (#283)

See’s Candies at Christmas time.

When I moved to California, I discovered See’s Candies. I got really pissed that I’d been stuck with Whitman’s Samplers all my life. I also gained about ten pounds (they give out free samples).

It’s probably not a coincidence that we bought a house a few miles from their outlet shop. Our son also grew to love See’s Candies, and the sales people there grew to love him. Every holiday had some See’s, whether it was a chocolate Santa in his stocking or green shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day.

Due to COVID-19, See’s closed for the first time since World War II in March. Continue reading Easter Won’t Be Easter Without Any See’s Candies (#283)