Friday, Aug. 19, 2005
Dear Diary:

If someone ever comes up to you and tells you that facing your fears will help you conquer them, well I am here to tell you that that is nothing but pure mendacious malarkey.

So here it is, Year 22 of painting my mom-in-law's house. Okay, so it hasn't been exactly 22 years, but it feels like it.

The place is huge, originally built as a stagecoach inn in the 1840's, and now a five bedroom farm house. When I grumble to the spousal unit that an 82-year-old woman, one dog and one cat do not need that kind of room he chortles and points out that a 54-year-old woman does not need acres of garden, either.


Such a tedious job. I have scraped off peeling paint. I have primed bare wood. I have washed off years worth of dirt and pollution with trisodium phosphate and I am about 2/3 of the way through painting the siding.

And I am still afraid of heights. If anything, this endless scrambling up and down ladders has made me even more afraid of heights. When I get up as high as I dare, my knees shake so much the ladder makes a soft vibrating sound. I've had to leave the highest stuff, the peaks that rise above the second floor, for the spousal unit. I just can't psyche myself to go that high.

After four hours of painting I'm just whipped so I can only put in partial days which is making the job drag on. It's not the actual painting that tires me so much as it is my stupid, utterly irrational fear of heights.

And even when I get that part done, there will still be eons and eons of painstaking painting trim around door frames and windows. I don't know what I did in my past life to merit this, but whatever it was I want to say right here right now that I repent it thoroughly.

You might think this is painful enough but wait, it gets even worse. If my cats ever get wind of what I'm about to confess then I'm A Dead Woman.

I have grown fond of the dog.

Me, Marn, the woman who has always held that dogs are a waste of perfectly good fur that could have gone into building a cat, is fond of a dawg.

There are no words for my horror at this unexpected turn of events.

It has been easy to dislike the 35 years' worth of dogs my in-laws owned previously because they were to a dog unruly beasts and two of them had tempers that made them dangerous. The dogs of my friends are equally untrained and jump all over me. When they are tired of that, they jam their noses into areas most private. I have never had much use for dogs but I'm guessing that's mostly because almost all the dogs I've met have not been particularly well-trained.

Whoever owned my mom-in-law's dog, Shadow, before she came to the shelter must have spent an endless amount of time training her because she is an extraordinarily well-mannered pooch.

Shadow takes her role as Dog of the House quite seriously. She goes into guard dog mode the second anyone or any vehicle appears down my mom-in-law's drive. The moment she recognizes you or my mom-in-law calls her off, her manner changes completely and she comes The Welcome Wagon Dog, wagging her tail. We don't have to worry about her temper. She respects personal space and waits for someone to come and pet her. She's not a jumper.

She's not a roamer, as so many of my in-laws' dogs have been. Let her out in the yard and she stays in the yard. Even cooler, every so often she will wander around looking for my mom-in-law, making sure she is okay.

The dog loves to play, but she's very patient about it. When I climb down off the ladder she will materialize and drop her tennis ball at my feet and then sit, with the same solemn gravity as the best sommelier. Her whole manner says, "For your consideration, a tennis ball. You may throw it if you wish, but if this does not suit you, I understand completely."

So of course this suckers me into throwing the tennis ball, the dog bounds off joyously, captures it, and gambols back to me with the ball, tail wagging furiously. She again drops the ball at my feet with the same solemn gravity. A mangled, disgusting, dog spit covered tennis ball which I again pick up and throw.

I'm thinking the dog has mind control powers. It's the only logical explanation to cover how I the ultimate cat person, has come to like a dawg, not to mention the whole ugliness of multiple handlings of a mangled, disgusting, dog spit covered tennis ball.

No, no we will not even consider that.

Next week is my recovery week from running. I'm at the point where I can run one ten minute mile followed by two 9:13 miles followed by half a mile at 8:34. Not much by zygote standards, but big gains for me in terms of speed and stamina. I'm hoping that taking my cardio down a notch to let my body recover for seven days will give me free, bonus, spare energy to throw into wrapping up the house painting.

Calvin is supposed to come this weekend for the final consult on our landscaping job, heavy equipment to follow sometime next week if he can wrap up another job. It's probably just as well he hasn't shown up any earlier because I know that if I had dirt to play in I would probably become, um, distracted and the odds of my mom-in-law's house actually getting finished would drop precipitously.

There's something about the sight and smell of fresh, new earth that is irresistible for me. So much life, so much promise.


P.S.—Carrie is running in the "Sacremento Valley AIDS Run Walk if you're looking for a good cause to support.

Mileage on the Marnometer: 858.72 miles. 10 per cent rubber duck10 per cent rubber duck10 per cent rubber duck10 per cent rubber duckhalf way smooch10 per cent rubber duck Over half way there. Oh, man, please let this be over

Goal for 2005: 1,250 miles - 2000 kilometers

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