Monday, April 27, 2009


Growl. Tail wags for five seconds. Tail stops wagging. Growl. Back hair stands up on end a little. Tail wags reluctantly. Sniffs other doggy butt. Tail wags. Looks hopeful that other doggy might play. Tail stops wagging. Facial expression looks concerned. Runs into the kitchen behind the other doggy with similar hopes to fetch a bone...

When Ruggles met his cousin, Chauncey for the first time, the second time, the third time, the fourth time, and the fifth time, this is what his reaction looked like. Chauncey is my parents' rescue dog who they rescued about three years ago.

So, first, the brief story about Chauncey... when my mom met Chauncey, a sheep-dog/black lab/unknown mix, she knew he was the one. He sported a scarred patch on his shoulder and she found out that not only had he first been abused by his owner, his wound had then been re-opened by the dogs he was being fostered with.

On their long car ride home, Chauncey was very well behaved. He sat still and looked lovingly over at my mom.

However, when he got home, he started to cause a few more problems. At first, my parents would leave him in the house when they went out. They'd close the doors and the windows and leave Chauncey in their comfy kitchen. And then, they'd come home and find Chauncey. He'd be sitting on the front lawn. He was officially an escape artist. Somehow, he'd pry a window open and climb out but would decide to not go far after his escape. I think he knew to appreciate his new home.

As most dogs are, Chauncey was also a "counter-surfer." He ate a whole lot of food off of the counter. Somehow, he'd propel himself into the air and land "surfing" on the counter.

Somehow, my parents decided to call a dog psychologist to make sure that Chauncey was a happy dog. First, over the phone, the dog psychologist told them that "dogs are just suck ups." She said that dogs don't actually love you but that they just pretend to care about you to get what they want. I think we all know that is just NOT true as dogs are loyal, sweet, and even a little needy sometimes... Next, she offered to come and pick up Chauncey and take him to her house a couple hours away for a couple days for "therapy sessions." For the "reasonable" price of about $40 per hour (including for her driving time and the dog's sleeping time), she would make sure he was a happy rescue dog. In the end, they decided not to go this route...

And Chauncey became a perfectly adjusted, albeit shy-towards-other-dogs dog. He'd follow my mom everywhere and our whole family loved him.
You may have already read a bit about Ruggles, my recent (as of last November) rescue boy. So...

Ruggles and Chauncey at first mostly sniffed at each other, growled a little, and seemed fairly uninterested. While Chauncey is about twice as big as Ruggles, Ruggles always seemed to have more confidence.

Their main other interaction was lying on each other's pillows. With their very visible size differences, it was funny to see Chauncey fall off of Ruggles' tiny pillow and Ruggles disappear into Chauncey's much-too-big pillow. And then sometimes they'd trade back to their own pillows. And sometimes they would both run into the kitchen with hopes of a bone. Other times, they'd go on a walk together - separate leashes but the same destination.

And then, all of a sudden, they started to become friends. Where they had sniffed unenthusiastically before, they now seemed more interested in the other's doggy smells. Their tails wagged for longer and faster. They still are not yet the best of friends, but now they'll share a pillow. I think they are making great progress towards becoming happy relatives!

Friday, April 24, 2009

My At-Home Cafe

It's amazing to me how much joy I get out of an espresso beverage. For about $2 (I always bring my registered Starbucks card for free flavor syrup and soy...!) at Starbucks I might order a:

- soy cafe au lait
- americano with sugar free vanilla and steamed soy
- nonfat mocha with two pumps of mocha
- or whatever other concoction I'm in the food for that day

Or, I'll head to a local North Beach coffee shop to order a huge bowl of cafe au lait, chai latte, etc.

So, basically, I know that I love espresso. There is something much more satisfying/pleasurable to me about it than coffee. Don't get me wrong, I love coffee too but just not in the same "special" way.

The natural next step in my espresso exploration was learning to make traditional espresso beverages and design my own in my at-home cafe. I started with the most basic and least expensive of espresso machines. Next, I purchased espresso grounds from the supermarket and Starbucks. I bet that regular grounds would work fine too... I also picked up soy milk and nonfat milk since those are my favorites with espresso. For extra excitement, I also grabbed some mocha powder.

The drink that I usually make at home takes about 1 minute and 30 seconds. For me, this is much more instant gratification than waiting for a not-as-special pot of coffee... I start with about 1/3 inch of espresso in my mug and then add about 1 inch of soy milk. I then warm up the steamer attached to the machine and foam up my espresso and soy concoction. Sometimes I'll put a little mocha powder on top... sometimes I'll re-steam the milk once the foam starts to go away... In any case, I'll thoroughly enjoy my special beverage. I haven't yet named it but I love that I make it in my at-home cafe!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Introducing Ruggles

Since Ruggles is one of the most important boys in my life, I wanted to more formally introduce him. He's the barker and I'm the typer so he unfortunately can't introduce himself without a sound bite...

Right before Thanksgiving 2008, I rescued Ruggles from WonderDog (, an amazing organization in San Francisco. Poor little Ruggles had a very runny nose and was too timid to even walk without being carried. Luckily, Linda at WonderDog had already started nursing him back to health. I was actually volunteering with WonderDog for the day and playing with all the dogs. However, Ruggles and I connected very quickly. When people kept asking if he was up for adoption, I started by saying "maybe," but an hour later was saying, "No, actually, I'm adopting him!" The picture above is of Ruggles and me on the day I met him... I've never fallen in love with something/someone so fast.

Now, he is a happy, healthy, active, hyper boy. He is incredibly affectionate towards me, my friends, children and many other dogs. He loves to fetch a ball, cuddle with me, sleep, and go to the park. The picture above shows him cuddling with his doggy best friend/girlfriend, Lizzie. They wrestle, chase each, other, play, cuddle, and kiss. While Ruggles is about half of Lizzie's size, he is strong and can pull her around the room while they play tug-of-war with a rope!

This is just a little snippet of who Ruggles is and how much he means to me...

Seaweed and Wise Words

A few things that I love today:

- Yo Yo's seaweed salad: you can get amazing seaweed salads and udon soups at Yo Yo's located at 318 Pacific Avenue (cross street Battery) in San Francisco. The husband and wife who work there are also adorable and always remember me. This is my all-time favorite lunch spot though I work too far away from it now...

- Great quote on my Starbucks cup (loved my grande nonfat latte!): "The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head the barrier to your life" - Anne Morris, Starbucks customer from New York City. She describes herself as an "organization builder, restless American citizen, optimist."

- That I've decided to be brave enough to try to learn how to blog...