Welcome, Polar, bienvenido

Dog in the snow

Things were difficult after Kahlua passed away. One of the worst side effects was that the cats started fighting like crazy. While Kahlua was alive, she was the enforcer. The cats would fight from time to time, but she would not let it get too bad. There were also a lot of times that we were all cuddled in bed together. Once Kahlua was gone, Crème started attacking Ponche whenever he tried to get in the bed. It was bad.

Todo fue difícil después de la muerte de la pobre Kahlua. Uno de los efectos segundarios peores era que los gatos empezaron a pelear muchísimo. Mientras vivía Kahlua, ella mantenía la paz entre todos. Los gatos luchaban de vez en cuando, pero no constantemente como empezaron a hacerlo después de que se murió. Había muchas más veces que se acurrucaban en la cama juntos. Una vez que se murió Kahlua, Crème atacaba a Ponche cada vez que intentaba subir a la cama. Todo andaba mal.

Cats fighting in a box

Douglas was also very depressed. My family members and I were all concerned about him around Christmas. He was so sad it broke my heart. That is why I did not put up more of a fight when he told me that he wanted to adopt another dog, even when he picked one that was going to be a big challenge. Polar was born with a severe facial deformity, and a former owner convinced a vet to file off all of his teeth. Below is a picture of him before with the teeth and after without them. He was brought up from Georgia from a kill shelter and has been waiting for a forever home since last April. He was adopted once and brought back.

Además, Douglas estaba muy deprimido. Mis parientes y yo estábamos preocupados durante las vacaciones de Navidad. Él estaba tan triste que me ardía el corazón. Por eso no protesté más cuando decidió que quería adoptar otro perro, aun cuando escogió uno que sería un reto enorme. Polar nació con una deformidad facial severa y una de las personas a quien pertenecía antes le convenció a un veterinario limarle los dientes que le quedaban. Abajo lo puedes ver antes con los dientes y después sin ellos.

Before and after dog

Douglas went to pick him up while I was driving down to Maryland with my sister. My aunt and cousin from Venezuela and my cousin’s girlfriend from Montreal were the first to meet him. We decided to name him Polar after a Venezuelan beer.

Douglas fue a conocerle mientras yo estaba en camino al estado de Maryland para visitar a mi abuela con mi hermana. Mi tía y mi primo de Venezuela y la novia de mi primo de Montreal eran los primeros de conocerlo después de que Douglas lo adoptó. Decidimos darle el nombre de Polar por la cerveza venezolana.

Polar gets adopted with family from Venezuela

When I returned home three days later, things were not good. The cats were hunkered down in the basement, refusing to come up because Polar was scared to go down the basement stairs. The good news was that they had united against a common enemy and were no longer fighting like cats and… angrier cats.

Cuando volví a casa tres días después, las cosas no andaban bien. Los gatos se escondían en el sótano negando salir para nada porque a Polar le da miedo bajar al sótano. Lo bueno era que se habían unido contra un enemigo en común y ya no se peleaban.

Snuggling cats in basement

Polar hates to be told what to do. He gets very aggressive and attacks when you try to physically move him, grab his collar or simply tell him no. He was barking a lot and sleeping very little. We were afraid that he was going to have to go back to the shelter. At other times, he would be very loving, and we were sad that it would be hard for him to adopted if he were brought back to the shelter again.

A Polar le da rabia que uno de diga qué hacer. Es muy agresivo y ataca cuando uno intenta moverlo físicamente, le toma por el collar o simplemente si le dice <<no>>. Ladraba mucho y no dormía nada. Temíamos que tendríamos que devolverlo al refugio. Otras veces era muy cariñoso y nos entristecía que sería muy difícil que alguien lo adoptara si otra familia lo devolviera al refugio.

Douglas with Polar

When we were just about at the end of our rope, I had the genius idea to take him to the vet and ask for a medication to help with Polar’s anxiety. I actually wanted to give him one of my Xanex or invite my brother over to smoke marijuana with him, but Douglas convinced me to wait one more day to see if the vet could help us.

Cuando estábamos al punto de rendir, se me ocurrió que podríamos llevarlo al veterinario y pedir un medicamento para reducir su ansiedad. Actualmente, yo quería darle uno de mis pastillas de Xanex o invitar a mi hermano a fumar marihuana con Polar, pero Douglas me convenció de que podíamos esperar un día más para ver si el veterinario nos podría ayudar.

Polar on the couch

Thankfully, Polar exhibited all of the behaviors that I needed the vet to see, both positive and negative, and we were able to find a drug that has helped him. The vet agrees with us that he is a loving boy that just needs to be trained and helped with his anxiety. Things have been much better but not perfect. However, we are hopeful that someday he will be a model dog and the cats will be able to come out of the bedroom.

Gracias a dios, Polar exhibió toda la conducta que yo necesitaba que el veterinario viera, tanto la buena como la mala, y pudimos encontrar una droga que le ha ayudado. El veterinario está de acuerdo de que es un perro muy cariñoso y sólo le hace falta entrenamiento y algo para reducir su ansiedad. Su conducta ha mejorado mucho desde entonces, pero tiene que mejorar aún más. Sin embargo, estamos seguros de que un día será un perro modelo y que los gatos podrán salir del dormitorio.

Polar in the crate

It’s good that Polar sleeps in a crate, so the cats are able to come up and snuggle at night. We also keep the bedroom door shut, and since they have their cat door in the wall, they are able to go into the bedroom during the day as well. We try to spend time down in the basement with them as well.

Es bueno que Polar duerme en una jaula así que los gatos pueden salir del sótano durante la noche y dormir en la cama con nosotros. También mantenemos la puerta del dormitorio cerrada durante el día para que pueden entrar cuando quieren por la puerta de gatos que pusimos en la pared. También, intentamos pasar tiempo con ellos en el sótano.

Cats cuddling on bed

Here is a video from our walk in the snow two weekends ago. I tested him off leash. He was a good boy and came back to me immediately when I called him. At least in the beginning, after a while he started to get braver and wander farther and I had to stop letting him roam. That is another thing we will have to work on, but at least now we are planning to keep him. There were times earlier this week when we were certain that he would have to go back, and it was really depressing.

Aquí tienes un video de una caminata este fin de semana. Le deje correr para ver si volvería cuando lo llamaba y lo hizo las primeras tres veces, pero después tardaba más en volver y tuve que mantenerle en la correa. Es otra cosa que tenemos que enseñarle, pero tenemos tiempo ahora que hemos decidido que se quedará con nosotros.

I had planned to publish this post last week, but then Polar started acting up again, and we were debating whether or not we should take him back to the shelter. On Saturday, we decided that we would keep him for better or worse. Then, he developed a urinary tract infection and started peeing all over the house. Or rather he had been peeing all over the house, and we figured out why. My goodness, the problems never seem to end with this beast, but we are committed to him now. God help us!

Había planeado publicar este artículo la semana pasado, pero habíamos decidido cien por ciento si iba a quedarse con nosotros. Él tiene muchísimos problemas y no estábamos seguros de tener el tiempo suficiente para trabajar con él para entrenarle. El sábado decidimos que si por bien o por mal se queda. Después nos dimos cuenta de que tenía una infección urinaria y estaba haciendo pipi por toda la casa. ¡Dios mío! Esta fiera tiene un sinfín de dificultades, pero ya estamos cometidos que dios nos ayude.

On a walk in the snow with my dog

Happy Homemaking!

¡Espero que todos tus sueños caseros se cumplan!


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Oslo, Norway

Happy New Year! How is it possible that it is already 2018?

2017 was a very busy year. There were highlights and low points, but overall it was a good year. I have missed writing here for the past several months, and I hope to make my posts more frequent this year. It is hard to summarize everything that we did this year, but I wrote a poem that we included in our Christmas card this year, so I will share that.

Ode to 2017Spiderman and Ironman visit the Riverhead Aquarium

How to record all our adventures this year;

not sure I can get them all down on here.

2016 ended in poorly as M & M returned to their family,

January to March – we missed them terribly.

Then, back into our lives they returned with a bang,Mutter Museum, Philadelphia

now once a month we hang out as a gang.


Jess went to Philly, and in Washington we marched,

Douglas drank lots to keep from feeling parched.

In Vermont we skied with Gav and her lover;

the Thessins helped Jess find the oldest manhole cover.Women's March Washington D.C.

In Norway we experienced Northern Lights and dogsledding,

the theater, museums and Taylor; our return we were dreading.

Not satisfied with one pole Jessica went to the other,

before taking a trip to Peru with her brother.

Thus from the streets of Buenos Aires to glaciers of El Calafate,Aurora Borealis Norway - Leander - Aurora Safari - Tromso Safari

she found time to visit friends and drink lots of mate.

In June in Peru, Machu Picchu they did see,

the time of their lives for Jessi and Justy.

Douglas refrained from that trip because,

he was doing another trip for a cause.Machu Picchu, Peru

From Oregon to Battery Park on a bike;

you might think that is quite a hike.

But he and Junior did it in four weeks,

down all the valleys and up all the peeks.

With only one stop for a half marathon,Trans America Bike Ride for TBI

which he finished in hours with nary a yawn.

Much awareness and money did he raise;

they gave him an award and beaucoup praise.

Grandma turned ninety and parties were had.

Into the Wrestling Hall of Fame they inducted my dad.Family Reunion

Vivie was born, and we love her a bunch.

But she still isn’t big enough to take out to lunch.

In November to Michigan we did roam,

to visit the Sawyers all gathered at home.

Visitors from Rwanda, Argentina did come.Croton Dam with Fred

Our garden tested Jessica’s green thumb.

The year will end with a last special group.

From Montreal and Venezuela they will troop.

To Celebrate Christmas with the crazy Spates clan,

and for 2018 we will start to plan.In bed with the animals

Lest you think that our animals we are forgetting,

they are all doing well and demand lots of petting.

And so this terrible poem has come to an end.

We hope you are doing well, our friend.


Jessica and Douglas

P.S. Shortly after this poem was published, Kahlua died unexpectedly in our bed on a Saturday night. We are glad that she was able to go from the place that she loved best and that she suffered minimally in the end.

So, I hope that your holidays were all that you hoped they would be and that we will be in contact in 2018.

Happy Homemaking!

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New Dry Wall – Nueva Tabla Roca

New drywall patches

The alternative title for this post could be – It is Advantageous to Speak Spanish! I am not sure how long the dry wall saga would have dragged out if it had not been for the fact that I had been chatting up the guy fixing the holes in my wall in Spanish. Although, I was never able to speak with the boss, the Ecuadorian in my house, we will call him Pablo although that is not his name, promised me that he would get the approval needed to get the job done properly. By the way, if you are confused about how this story started, you can go here to catch up. After they screwed in the first piece of damaged drywall, I refused to let them continue. All of the guys were very nice, and I tried to be respectful of the fact that they were just following orders. I find that things often work out better when you treat people really well, and that is how it turned out this time. Because I had been so friendly, once the tears started brimming in my eyes, Pablo assured me that he would get it done right.

Un título alternativo para este post sería – Es una ventaja hablar español. No sé cuánto habría durado la saga de la tabla roca si no fuera por el hecho de que yo hablo español, pero seguro que todo habría sido mucho más difícil. Aunque nunca pude hablar con el jefe, fue porque había estado charlando con el hombre ecuatoriano que estaba haciendo el trabajo, lo vamos a llamar Pablo, aunque no es su nombre verdadero, todo el rato en español, y él me prometió arreglar todo bien. Si estás confundido porque no sabes el comienzo de esta historia lo puedes encontrar aquí. Después de que había afijado la pieza de tabla roca rota, no les permití continuar con el trabajo. Todos los hombres que estaban en mi casa eran muy simpáticos, e intentaba yo respetar el hecho de que no eran ellos quienes hacían las decisiones. En mi experiencia la gente te ayuda más cuando le tratas bien y así fue esta vez también. Porque yo había sido tan simpática con ellos, una vez que él se dio cuenta de que yo estaba al punto de llorar, Pablo me aseguró de que él se encargaría de hacer todo bien.

Repairing cracks in the walls

True to his word, Pablo showed up shortly after 8 am and got to work. The first thing he did was set up a plastic barrier in the two rooms to contain the dust. At least, he told me that it was to contain the dust. I did have my suspicions that he did not want me to be able to see what he was doing.

Fiel a su palabra, Pablo llegó el día siguiente un poco después de las ocho y empezó a trabajar de una vez. Lo primero que hizo fue construir una barrera de plástico en los dos cuartos para que el polvo se contuviera. O al menos esta fue la explicación que me dio él. Me parece muy probable que lo hizo para que yo no pudiera ver lo que estaba haciendo.

Plastic barrier for drywall

All day he worked, only taking a short lunch break. I had to laugh at the fact that the boss had only scheduled two hours for this job. In the end, he was at my house until almost 3:30.

Trabajó todo el día con sólo un descanso corto para almorzar. Me hizo reír pensar que el jefe había pensado que el trabajo sólo tardaría unas dos horas. Al final, Pablo estaba en la casa hasta las tres y media de la tarde.

Plastic barrier for drywall

The walls are now flat, and the drywall is strong. Pablo did a great job.

Ahora las paredes están lisas y la tabla roca es fuerte. Pablo hizo un buen trabajo.

New drywall patches

The only problem is that I have to paint. It might be another year before that gets done.

El único problema es que yo tengo que pintar. Podría ser otro año antes de que tenga tiempo para hacerlo.

New drywall patches

Actually, who am I kidding, it could be at least another five years.

Actualmente, a quién intento engañar, es más probable que pasen unos cinco años antes de que tenga el tiempo.

New drywall patches

Happy Homemaking!

¡Espero que todos tus sueños caseros se cumplan!

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