Buster Butt’s Best Friend

If you’d have told me a year ago that Buster Butt would have a new best friend who just happened to be an 80 year old man, I’d have laughed my ass off. But, here we are and this is going to be long. Sorry, not sorry.

Buster Butt absolutely adores Neighbor Frank.

You may know this because we are friends and Facebook (and you actually look at my posts, sometimes.) But I’m not sure most of you realy GROK what this means. It’s huge.

It didn’t happen overnight, but it happened a whole lot quicker than I’d have expected (based on how many times and how long some other people have tried to gain Buster’s trust and affection… cough…Chris… cough…)

In the early days of living here, all of the dogs barked a lot — particularly when people came outside into their own backyards. It took them awhile to settle down and realize that Neighbors Frank and Jackie and Jim (and to a lesser extent Neighbors Caroleanne and Joe) belonged in those spaces. All of the neighbors were immediately kind and understanding. They said things like “They’ll settle down.” and “That’s what they’re supposed to do!” and “They’re the quietest dogs in the neighborhood!” (the latter made us look at each other with both concern and amusement…)

They did settle down, mostly. Especially with Neighbor Frank. They really didn’t bark much at him at all after the first week or so, unless he was wearing a weird hat or carrying a stick. Even Buster was pretty chill, though he did continue to bark the longest when first seeing (or scenting… the scenting becomes important in a minute…), but he stopped immediately upon realizing it really was just Frank.

Before long, I can’t really remember how long, Neighbor Frank had bought himself a box of Milkbones (he calls them biscuits) and asked politely if he could give them a treat. We said he could, we preferred only one a day because SOME DOGS are CARRYING A LITTLE EXTRA, and told him that Buster probably wouldn’t take a biscuit from him because Buster goes on hunger strikes simply because we move a box or a chair where it does not generally belong. When stranger fear hits, well… no, he would not take a treat from Frank. And he didn’t. Days passed and Frank did not give up. He also didn’t push the issue either.

And suddenly, Buster would take a biscuit from him, through the chain link fence. He’d snatch it fast and run. But every now and then, he’d get spooked and wouldn’t take the biscuit. Frank did not give up. He just kept on chatting with all of the dogs as he wandered around the yard. And every day he’d go into his shed (now called The Biscuit Closet) and get a bone for each dog.

Sure enough, it worked. Buster would take the bone and sit right at the fence and eat it like the other two dogs. And then, Buster was hooked.

He would scent Frank before anyone realized he had come outside and wherever Buster was in the yard (and sometimes even in the house?) he’d go dashing to the fence, tail wagging, and making a whining noise — that’s the “It’s Frank whine!” He wouldn’t let Frank pet him but he would lick his fingers sometimes through the fence. That was a huge deal.

And thank Neighbors Frank and Jackie went to Tennessee for most of the summer. Poor Buster sat right there at the fence every day for hours on end, waiting for Frank. Months passed and he never seemed to give up on the idea that Frank would be back. He barked mightily at any of the neighbors who went into Frank’s yard (to pick fruit or water plants or mow lawns.)

I wasn’t really sure whether Frank might have to start all over again in the wooing of Buster, once they returned in October. But no, Buster barked and he got excited and his tail wagged a mile a minute and he barked some more but he also took that biscuit immediately and has never ever looked back.

Frank is his BEST FRIEND. And lord does Frank love Buster. He loves all of the dogs, he calls them “his dogs.” He bought another type of Milk Bone — the extra large bones because he thought bigger is better! He quickly realized that those are too big for Lola because she’s a tiny thing who doesn’t even really like the bones. And Buster still has some anxiety about this so and won’t gobble down the big bone fast enough. Which means Skeeter was getting most of these big bones for herself and there was some risk of dog fighting over. So Frank went out and bought THREE different sized biscuits. The big ones for Skeeter, the medium for Buster and the small ones for Lola. (And he does indeed occasionally slip Buster an extra biscuit. He thinks we don’t know this. We know this. lol)

If you had told me we would have an 80 year old neighbor who loves these dogs, who buys them the right sized biscuits, who worries over them like they were his kids… well I wouldn’t have believed it. We are so lucky.

Last month, Frank and Jackie went up to Tennessee. They had planned to spend a week in TN then go on a trip to New Orleans with the seniors up there, then go back to TN for a bit before coming home. The plan was for them to be gone for a few weeks.

While they were gone, Buster pined away at the fence. Barking angrily when Joe came over and mowed the lawn and watered the plants. Three weeks is a long ass time for Buster but he didn’t give up and Frank came home. A little early (we’ll get to that…) and Buster was happy. So happy that he didn’t just take the biscuit and wag his tail, he actually stood up at the fence so that Frank could pet him. The look on Frank’s face when this happened… good lord. It was like a kid at Christmas. Buster had never, ever done this. NEVER. Never even considered it.

Frank was thrilled and this was extra good because Frank isn’t feeling well. They cut their vacation short because he ended up in the hospital on his 80th birthday and they felt they needed to come home to be close to his doctors (and they never even got to go to New Orleans.) :-(

A few days later, Frank went to the doctor to discuss this problem he’s having and… we didn’t see him (or Jackie) again for a couple of days. We were very worried. They always come out and take care of their plants. ALWAYS. TW went over and knocked on the door – no answer. We were afraid Frank was in the hospital. So I sent an email to Jackie to see how they were doing. I got the update… They’re fine, right now. Frank has a treatment plan. Frank’s looking at some surgery at the end of the month… and still we didn’t see them. This was very troubling to us and to Buster.

Yesterday, I was out on the deck in the afternoon with the dogs. Buster had moved to the deck after staring at Frank’s house for a half hour. He was sound asleep. The other dogs were also chilling on the deck. I was working on my phone. I looked up for a second and noticed a shadow behind the cedar tree… it was Frank, peeking under the branches of the tree.

The wind was blowing like crazy and BUSTER had not scented him. None of the dogs had. I stood up and started walking toward the edge of the deck and before I made it two steps, Buster realized FRANK WAS THERE. He took off like lightning, leapt over Lola and raced to the fence. The other dogs realized what was going on and tore off after him.

Frank laughed, grabbed their biscuits and talked to them about how much he’d missed them and once again Buster stood up at the fence so that Frank could pet him. Frank said, “You guys are the best company and the best medicine” and I almost kind of cried.

Buster butt loves Neighbor Frank. We all love him. I sure hope he’s our neighbor for many years to come. (Sniff.)

The Happy Healthy Nonprofit

I should disclose a couple of things before I talk about The Happy Healthy Nonprofit so here goes:

1) I’m not really a believer in the whole work/life balance thing. It feels like just another way to tell women they’re doing it wrong or they’ll never be good enough. I have a similar feeling about “burnout.” (Though of course, I do understand the real science behind stress, work and health issues. Those are a thing — absolutely, I’m just not 100% sold on the issues as we talk about them NOW… it’s complicated.) This means that I’m probably bringing that baggage into how I feel about this book.
2) Beth Kanter is an old friend and BlogHer buddy and I love her — which means I’m probably bringing how I feel about Beth into how I feel about her book.

Having said that, I knew I wanted to read Beth’s book even before it was released. Because Beth, clearly. Must read. Also, Aliza Sherman, good grief. Could there be two smarter women? Nope. So after I watched Beth’s KICKASS Happy Healthy Nonprofit presentation at Cause Camp a few weeks ago, I decided it was definitely time to read the entire book. So I did.

Overall, I felt pretty good about the book. What I found myself agreeing to is that you can feel X way at work and at home, as a result of … things. In my experience, it’s not so much about over-work (and not taking down time) as it is about falling out of love with my job, my coworkers, my organization/company. It can also happen when I feel under-appreciated, under-respected, and when I’m not given an opportunity to grow or contribute in a meaningful way.

The tips and ideas in this book can help you with those issues. In fact, it includes many of things I’ve done in the past, when I was really unhappy with my job. Making changes about how I worked, how long I worked, when I worked and what I did when I wasn’t working made me so much happier than if I’d just kept grinding away.

I also believe that we’re all different, an environment where I thrive may be one where you struggle. Recognizing what works for me, is important for me (and for my team.) Recognizing what doesn’t work for others is just as important for me (and for my team.) Reading The Healthy, Happy Nonprofit can give you some framework for thinking about this and help you begin to make changes for yourself and support others.

If you are struggling with work/life balance, if you’re feeling burnt out, if you’re not burnt out but are just plain ole unhappy with your job or work environment — then I absolutely guarantee you that Beth and Aliza’s advice will help you.

Besides tips for the individual, there are tips and ideas that you can bring to your coworkers and your company/organization to help improve workplace culture. I enjoyed reading about what other organizations are doing and reflecting on the stuff my org is doing.

I’m still not completely on the work/life balance, take a real vacation, keep your phone out of your bedroom (impossible for ME!) wagon … but I’m definitely glad I read the book. I circled stuff (in PEN.) I’ll be referring back to it again in the future. (And, I really do need to get more exercise. Really.)

The Book Jumper

Well, The Book Jumper was a disappointment.

I’m a fan of book jumping stories, I LOVE THURSDAY NEXT, but this one was a mess from beginning to end. The plot was a muddle. The characters were pretty unlikable (except the real book characters.) The whole thing was just a let down, from start to finish. I had such high hopes — and maybe that was the problem?

Whatever.

Reading in April

LOL Just 13 books during a #readathon month? I have to remind myself that the count is low because I didn’t grab a stack of picture/early reader books from the Cybils shortlist, like I usually do. So 13 books is GOOD. It’s very good! Gah.

Non-fiction – 9
Graphic novels – 1
YA – 2
Queer – 1
Audio – 1

Oy.

Dragon Springs Road

(I actually read this about a week ago, I’m just way behind on book blogging. Again. Always.)

Dragon Springs Road was good. I really liked the Fox animal spirit who protected and guided Jialing (and other women in the house.) I’m not sure how I feel about the ending. I mean it was fine and expected because everyone wants a happy ending (except probably me, lol.)

#Readathon Books Five, Six & Seven: All Non-Fiction

First, the cookbook My Two Souths that Sassymonkey told me about. I liked it. TW was not as impressed with it, which is troubling since we thought she’d really like it. I really want the tomato pie/tart. That would be yummy right about now.

Next, Gardens of South Florida was fine. An over-sized book full of fancy gardens. If you like fancy tropical gardens, this is your book.

Last, but not least, The Art Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained. To be honest, I’ve been reading this book for awhile. I just leave it open on the breakfast bar and read a couple of pages while I eat dinner or lunch or whatever. And then I finished off my readathon by reading the rest straight through. It’s a great book and I’m interested in the other books in the series. I’ll probably get some of those in the future. I might even like to own a few.

And that’s a wrap… seven books, mostly non-fiction, 17 hours of reading and a $50 donation to the #readathon charity. No great snacks and I have a messy kitchen and I didn’t take part in a single mini-challenge (except the opening survey), which was weird. I just wasn’t feeling it. BUT, I very much enjoyed my #readathon and am looking forward to the fall event. (I hope it’s not GHC/birthday weekend… gah.)

#Readathon Book Four: The Abyss Surrounds Us

Liz Henry talked about The Abyss Surrounds us a few weeks ago on Facebook and I decided we needed to read it. It was excellent! Totally awesome for #readathon. Trained killer sea creatures, a female pirate captain, a couple of lesbians. Really excellent. And, even better — it ended perfectly. I like that.

It’s getting late, I’m getting tired and since I don’t have a bunch of picture books and early readers this time around, it’s time to move to the world of cookbooks and over-sized coffee table books to carry me through the next couple of hours.

#Readathon Book Three: Fire!! The Zora Neale Hurston Story

I bought Fire!! when I was in DC in February and saved it specially for #readathon. It was very good but it felt … rushed, maybe? I mean it’s hard to tell someone’s life story in the span of one relatively short graphic novel, I get that. But Hurston’s story is so… interesting. I almost felt let down. Almost. It’s still a great graphic novel and I highly recommend it. I just wanted MORE.

#Readathon Book Two: I Hate Everyone, Except You

I had to read I Hate Everyone, Except You because how could I not, with a title like that. Also, Clinton Kelly (WNTW), right?

And, it totally amused me. The first chapter horrified me and amused me, both at the same time. Many of the chapters horrified and amused me. It was awesome. lol

Also, do you think you can you outrun a raccoon?

#Readathon Book One: The Doodle Revolution

I didn’t plan to read The Doodle Revolution front to back in one sitting but I got involved and ended up not wanting to put it down. It was excellent. I wish she’d talked about color with more depth, that was really the only disappointing part of this book. (And that was really disappointing.)

I didn’t do any of the doodle games or exercises, but I’ll go back and do some of them before this has to go back to the library. (I might update this post after I actually do some exercises. Maybe.)

PS. I’m categorizing this as “art” for the purpose of organizing my blog posts but DOODLING IS NOT ART. Just making sure y’all know that (and everyone knows that I know that.)