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Old enough

Saturday, October 8th, 2016

I only slept for five hours. When I woke, it was to a frigid house and a dull ache in my lower right abdomen.

Foxy was on the bed with me, curled up like a coyote, snout tucked beneath her tail. While she’s welcome on the bed, she usually doesn’t choose to be there. She’s independent and she needs her space. We’re a lot alike.

This morning, I was glad to find her on the bed. I wasn’t alone. I was freezing and weirdly in pain, but I wasn’t alone.

I picked up my phone and typed it in — abdominal pain lower right side — and it spit out the answer, the authoritative answer: Appendicitis. Go to the hospital immediately, it said. It will burst within 24 hours, it said. Once it bursts, it’s too late. You are dead, it said.

Appendectomy cost, I typed. I found a story about a Reddit post in which the bill for a 20-year old guy totaled $55,000. “I guess I’ll never afford that wallpaper,” I thought. Mentally subtracting my very high insurance deductible from my bank account, I decided that before driving myself to the hospital, I should try drinking some Metamucil, which I stock in my cupboard because at some point, I became old enough to stock Metamucil in my cupboard.

I got out of bed and put on a down jacket and wool socks. Why was the house so cold? I made my way down the stairs and into the kitchen. Two rounded teaspoons of orange powder in a tall glass of water, then down the hatch. Within 30 minutes, I felt fine.

Appendectomy averted.

But the furnace. The furnace wasn’t working. The thermostat read 50 degrees. I texted Dane next door and asked him if he knew anything about furnaces, and he said he didn’t, but came over to look anyway. We took the panels off the machine and looked inside with flashlights — for what, we didn’t know.

I found a big cricket dead beside the furnace, and then realized it wasn’t a big cricket but a tiny mouse. Not an insect. An actual mammal with bones. How long had it been there? Did whatever killed the mouse kill the furnace, too? I grabbed it in a dryer sheet and threw it in the dumpster.

I called an HVAC repairman, and he showed up in the afternoon. I left him in the basement. Later, he called me downstairs. “What I’m about to tell you will make you want to tell me to get the hell out of your house,” he said.

The furnace is shot. I need a new one. They recommend also replacing the AC unit at the same time, especially since my AC unit is already over 20 years old, on its last legs. I thought about telling him to get the hell out of my house. When he gave me the estimate, I stared at him, and then said, “I want to curl up in a ball on this basement floor.” He laughed. I didn’t. It’s more money than I’ve ever spent on anything, even a car, save this house itself.

But my house is so cold.

I almost did it. I almost signed on the dotted line, which would have guaranteed me a brand new HVAC system by Tuesday. But at the last minute, as the salesman was walking around my house counting and measuring the windows in order to file the permits, my defeated, slumped shoulders straightened up.

If I’m old enough to stock Metamucil in my cupboard, then God knows I’m old enough to have learned to seek a second opinion, and probably a third. I’m also old enough to know that money is just money, so even if it’s worst case scenario, well, oh well. I’m old enough not to panic at a financial gut punch. I’m old enough to look a man in the face and let him know that I will not be pressured into anything.

And if I’m that old, then I’m definitely old enough to sit at my dining room table at 8pm on a Saturday night just typing out the events of the day.

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My favorite words, via Emily McDowell

My road trip so far

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

My last day at my job was August 18, and the very next morning, I left Minneapolis for a 6,000-mile road trip. I’m two weeks in, and am having such a good time I’ve decided to never get a job again. I will buy a camper and live in KOAs around the country until the day I die, as long as that day comes before my savings account dries up (so… less than a year).

Then again, I would like to see Foxy graduate high school. So I will stay alive and get a job — BUT ONLY FOR THE DOG. As soon as she’s out of the house, I’ll feel free to spiral into squalor and financial ruin. It’s my life.

Speaking of Foxy, she and I are basically conjoined twins these days. We spend every waking minute together (and also every sleeping minute). I fear I’m setting her up for some serious heartbreak whenever it happens that I have to, I don’t know, run to the grocery store or something — but until that day comes, we’re a package deal, and she’s a happy dog. Even if she’s perfected the art of looking sad.

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So far, I’ve found myself in Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Kansas, and Colorado. Today, I point the steering wheel toward Bend, Oregon, and then eastern Washington. I’ve been staying with friends and family so far, but in the coming weeks I’ve booked a few Airbnbs. I’ve used Airbnb before, but always for an empty apartment. These next few stays, I’ll be renting a guest room in an inhabited house — one of which is on, no joke, Killannie Street. KILL ANNIE STREET. Listening to Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” to pump myself up.

Besides hiking in the mountains and seeing the Dixie Chicks in Denver (favorite concert of my life), of course the best thing about this trip has been catching up with some of my favorite people in some of my favorite places. Every stop, someone has asked me, “So, what’s next for you?” and my inclination is always to blurt out, “Move next door to you!” And it’s never an empty statement. I truly want to live next door to everyone I love (preferably aligned in a wheel with me as the hub) (don’t worry, I’ll situate you next to people you’ll like).

In all seriousness, plans are coming together for the fall. I’ve lined up a way to make some money (it’s not selling drugs), and other than employment, I’m not making any major changes right away. I’m not finished with Minneapolis, and am even excited to get back there.

Until then, hello from the road!

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A spacious place

Friday, August 12th, 2016

About a month ago, I stubbed my toe so mightily I broke it.

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This is not an unusual occurrence for me. I suppose I walk with a lot of force? And into things? Is there honestly a better explanation for why one frequently stubs toes?

Last night, I was heading to the living room to watch Michael Phelps win all of those gold medals when I slammed — slammed — my right pinky toe into the foot of the couch. It might as well have been a sledgehammer to the foot. Pain shot up my leg like an electric current. I collapsed onto the couch and SCREAMED INTO A PILLOW, no words, just one long primal shriek muffled by a cushion from Target.

Remembering it this morning I giggle — because sheesh Annie, overdramatic much? It was one of those moments that made me grateful I live alone; no one should be forced to bear witness to such hysteria (although I will say that it did hurt like a mother-truckin’ cuss word). Foxy came running down the stairs and looked at me, then turned around and retreated back to her safe corner in my bedroom.

Today while out for a walk, one of Foxy’s feet collided with a large landscaping rock. I heard the hit, it was so hard. She stubbed her toe! We both froze, and then she curled her paw up underneath her, refusing to put any weight on it. She looked straight into my eyes, a big fat “What just happened?” and when I reached down for her, she willingly jumped into my arms like a toddler.

I carried all 40+ pounds of her for several city blocks, and wished for some giant to do the same for me.

Life is barreling forward — I’m wrapping up my job, heading into an unknown future, and while all I want to do is watch the Olympics and read my stack of books and have someone lift me up and carry the load, I’m moving too fast and running into things and screaming into pillows, a dog my only witness. It’s like the walls of my life are pressing in on me, the clutter tripping me up.

In many ways, this past year has been difficult. It’s been crowded and messy. The Dixie Chicks’ “Wide Open Spaces” comes on the radio and I want to cry, because is there any better cure for spiritual congestion than space?

A week from today, Foxy and I are going to hit the road for a while. We’re going to drive around and go on some hikes and share a string cheese every day. I’m in search of space, both physical and mental, landscape and soulscape. By the time I get back to Minneapolis, I plan to have an answer to the “What’s next for you?” question.

In the meantime, I’m taping this verse to my steering wheel:
“He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” —Psalm 18:19

Losing my eyesight, and my mind

Monday, August 1st, 2016

HERE IS THE BACKSTORY:
Back in mid-June, I got pink eye — or if I want to sound older than a fourth grader, conjunctivitis. It was gross and ugly and uncomfortable and all of those things that you remember your childhood pink eye to be. I looked like I had been crying all the time, which, if you know me, isn’t all that hard to believe.

After a week with a goopy red eye and unusual blurry vision, I finally went to the MinuteClinic and got a prescription eye drop (EYE DROP #1). “The infection should be gone within 2-4 days,” the nurse practitioner told me. “If it isn’t, you need to see an ophthalmologist.”

Well, wouldn’t you know, I’m the lucky star who just couldn’t shake my conjunctivitis. So, after two weeks of pink eye, to the ophthalmologist I went. He did some tests, and discovered my cornea to be “incredibly infected.” He gave me a stronger eye drop (EYE DROP #2), and said that my affliction should be over within a week.

In the meantime, he checked my vision — something that historically had never been a problem for me, although things have been blurry lately — and, well, I NEED GLASSES. The doctor scheduled me to come back for another exam two weeks later, giving the drops a chance to work their magic, just in case my failing eyesight was at all tied to this sexy eye infection.

So ten days ago, I went back to the doctor for the follow-up exam. And because Annie Parsons is no quitter, the infection is STILL THERE. Surely I have broken some sort of record for “most consecutive days with a rotting eyeball.” He measured my eyesight again and still found it to be worthy of glasses, but gave me another prescription drop (EYE DROP #3), and asked me to come back in three weeks with a (hopefully) healed cornea. Late next week, I’ll return to pay a fourth co-pay for what I hope is my final exam, and walk out with a script for glasses.

So.

HERE IS THE REAL STORY:
As established, I have now been prescribed three different eye drops of various strength. The bottles all look pretty much the same, but I’ve been good at keeping them straight.

Until yesterday.

“Where did this fourth bottle come from?” I wondered. I mentally ticked back through my doctor’s visits, counting one, then two, then three prescriptions. There was not a fourth. Why did I have four bottles of eye drops?

Suddenly, all of the air sucked out of the room. The ground opened up beneath me and the earth swallowed me whole.

I remembered.

Two weeks ago, her eye had been goopy. I’d scrounged around through her stash of medicine from the past three years, and found her eye drops. The bottle looked the same as mine.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been using Foxy’s… expired… eye drops.

I don’t deserve to be an adult.

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Solid Gold giveaway

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

This is the last week of Foxy’s trial run with Solid Gold food, and I’m happy to report that she’s continued to eat every single day. The past two days, she’s finished her bowl both in the morning and in the evening – and while she’s no Annie Parsons (breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, popcorn), she seems to be getting the nourishment she needs.

Her coat is extra soft, she’s been a little more playful, and when I come home from work, she’s back to greeting me at the door. I don’t know how much of this might be due to the food she’s eating, but I’m going to guess a good amount – because if you’re hungry, how happy can you be?

The folks at Solid Gold have generously offered up a prize for a giveaway, including:
· One 4 pound bag of food (winner’s choice)
· A t-shirt
· A bag of treats
· A tote bag
· Some coupons
· A few other goodies and surprises

I’m hosting the giveaway over on my Facebook page – to enter, just hop on over and upload a picture of your pet in the comments section of the post. In a few days, I’ll use Woobox to pick the winner at random. So easy!

A huge thanks to Solid Gold for including Foxy in their Free Spirit Challenge. We’ll be sticking with their food.

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Matters of the Fox

Monday, August 17th, 2015

If you know me even a little bit, you know that Foxy is my favorite thing in this whole world. For as much as a dog can fill the role, she’s the love of my life.

So it breaks my heart to know that she is sad.

This transition has been rough on my pup. We were separated for a month before she made the cross-country move, and then we stayed at a friend’s house for a week before moving into our new house. Since I had been working from home in Colorado (thus around all day long), she’s having a tough time adjusting to me being gone at an office during work hours. For the first few days, she would be anxiously excited when I would get home – now, she won’t even come downstairs when I open the door.

She is mad at me.

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When we moved into the house two weeks ago, she went on a hunger strike; she didn’t eat a thing for over four days. Her food just sat there in the dish. I tried to tempt her by sprinkling it with cheddar cheese or chicken grease, but it made no difference. Eventually she cracked (of course she did), but this dog is sensitive, and she’s never had an issue proving her point – especially when it comes to eating.

Some dogs are motivated by food. Foxy is not. With the exception of rotisserie chicken skin and the occasional bite of cheese, she’s just not interested. Even if I give her a dog treat – supposedly a tasty little morsel of joy – I’ll usually find it later dropped in a corner. (As someone who wants all the food, all the time, I WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND.)

And when it comes to kibble, forget about it. I’ve tried a variety of well-known, grain free, highly recommended (and rather expensive) brands, and it’s always the same: Foxy Brains don’t care.

So when Solid Gold contacted me to see if Foxy would be interested in trying their products, I figured it was worth a try.

When I worked for LÄRABAR, it was always easy for me to evangelize the brand because of two things: the simplicity of the bars (2-9 ingredients, just fruits, nuts, and spices), and the taste (delicious). In a world of processed foods, it’s nice to find options made of recognizable ingredients that still taste good – and wouldn’t you know, for as much as one can find it in a kibble, that’s what I’ve found in Solid Gold.

From their website:
Our mission is to create the kind of nutrition that will change pets’ lives in mind, body, and spirit. That’s why, for over 40 years, we’ve scoured the earth looking for simple, natural ingredients that unleash the very best in your pet, which we call their “inner gold!” We are interested in much more than just a healthy, natural diet – we strive to provide a way of life that allows each pet to fulfill their destiny, while looking and feeling great! There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing your pet happy inside and out.

Happy inside and out – that’s all I want for my dog.

Foxy has been on Solid Gold’s Barking at the Moon formula for the past week – and the first time I scooped it into her dish, she walked over, sniffed it, and ate the entire bowl. I couldn’t believe it – this, from the dog that sees food as nothing but an expendable nuisance. In the days since, she has continued eating at least one meal a day – not up to the two meals that the vet recommends, but consistently more than she usually eats.

Barking at the Moon is grain free and gluten free, and made with beef, eggs, peas, carrots, pumpkin, apples, blueberries, cranberries, and other wholesome ingredients. And like all Solid Gold products, it’s made in the USA, with zero ingredients sourced from China.

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I’m off work for the next two weeks, sticking around Minneapolis to work on some house projects and take care of all of those dumb life-change details like finding a dentist, filling out my 401K paperwork, and weeding my flowerbeds. Mostly, I just want to spend some time with my dog. Yesterday we went to the Minnehaha off-leash park, and Foxy ran along the Mississippi River and chased a German Shepherd named Molly in and out of the water. She ran like crazy and dug in the sand, and for an hour, I saw the happy dog I know and love resurface.

It’s too early to know if Solid Gold will make a major difference in her energy and mood – but right now, she’s eating. And that’s a great place to start. I’ll keep you posted.

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Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post, but I did receive a sample for my (and Foxy’s) review. I am not a scientist or a veterinarian. Opinions expressed here are my own.

An eensy weensy check-in

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

Some seasons can’t be wrapped up into compact little blog posts. So let’s just pretend that I haven’t not written here for a while – at least anything of substance – and catch up free-form. Like a meandering conversation – but with me talking into a megaphone (everyone’s dream).

We’ll start with the most important things, such as my sadness over Zayn leaving One Direction. Where do broken hearts go, Zayn? Things will never be the same. In light of his departure, I have reordered my ranking of best voice to worst voice to Zayn, Liam, Harry, Niall, Louis (Louis will always be last) – because what can I say? Absence makes the heart grow fonder. We didn’t know what we had when we had Zayn. Paved paradise and all that.

Now, an explanation for why I’ve been a bit MIA. In the past three weeks, I’ve been in nine different states (Foxy joining me for eight): Colorado, obviously. Then Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Kansas, and Minnesota. I am finally back home for the next two and a half weeks, reacquainting myself with my morning routine, exercise, and dry air. Each time I’ve reentered Colorado in the past few weeks, I’ve gotten a bloody nose. Love, your ideal woman.

Speaking of Foxy (not that we were, but let’s do), I thought about creating an ongoing series on this blog called Fox News – but then I remembered that it would all kind of be the same. She’s the best! I love her! We go on walks! She doesn’t eat her food! She’s scared of strangers and kids and balloons! She loves kittens! So there’s your Fox News, no Ann Coulter necessary. And if you’re feeling nostalgic, here’s a Then & Now warm fuzzy.

Foxy then now

I’ve made a list of things I want very much, but for financial reasons will need to pace myself in the procurement thereof. In no particular order, here they are: a new bike, a Shark vacuum, a Fitbit, a new rolly suitcase, a grown-up size CrockPot (right now I just have a little one), a new Sonicare toothbrush (mine died), and an entirely new wardrobe.

I am still working from my dining room, which means that I am still living in squalor, like a natural foods Grey Gardens. One hundred square feet is simply not enough space to house all of the STUFF my job requires, so it’s all spilling out into the rest of my 500 square feet and making me twitch.

And with that, I’ll let you get back to your day. Keep going! Pink bunny with the drum.

In which I drain my savings account

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Back in December, a natural gas leak was discovered in the crawl space beneath my house. The inspector from Xcel told me that it wasn’t urgent, and that I could have it repaired at my leisure (pronounced “lehh-zhure” in my mind). So this past Friday, I finally had someone come take a look. He shut off the gas, unplugged all of my appliances, and started testing.

Here is how a gas man “tests” for a natural gas leak: he uses a spray bottle of soapy water to mist the joints of your pipes (not an innuendo). If bubbles form, gas is leaking.

Well, bubbles were forming. Gas was leaking. It’s much worse than I was originally told: I need a full (multi-thousand dollar) replacement of all of my gas lines – that is, if I don’t fancy a dramatic death by explosion.

This worker would have started the job when he was here on Friday, except that my gas line actually runs from my cellar out beneath my neighbor’s house, and he will need to access their basement to complete the repair. My neighbors are out of town for the next week – and since the worker said that it would be dangerous to turn my gas back on, I have been gas-less for the past three days, and will be for at least four more.

But don’t cry for me Argentina – it’s basically like fancy camping. I have a comfy bed and electricity – at least, I did until my space heater blew the breaker (momentary setback). I have coffee in the mornings and a microwave to heat up the soup from my freezer. But I don’t have stovetop burners or an oven, a shower with hot water, or heat of any kind. Luckily, this week is off to an unseasonably warm start, so I don’t have to worry about my pipes freezing. I’m cooking in the CrockPot and wearing wool socks and counting my lucky stars not to be dead even though I haven’t taken a proper shower since Thursday.

On Saturday night, I crawled into bed and tucked the covers around myself like a burrito. It was 10:30 or so, because I am geriatric – and even though there was a party with a bonfire raging in the vacant lot across the alley behind my house, I put in earplugs and fell asleep.

When I awoke to shouting and laughter, I figured that I hadn’t been asleep long since the party was still going – but when I looked at the clock, it was 3:45am. “Seriously?” I thought. I walked to my kitchen window and looked outside – and yes indeed, the bonfire was in full force.

So I called 911. (See above: geriatric.)

I asked the operator for the non-emergency line, but she said she could help me. I told her that I needed a squad car (and yes, I called it that) dispatched to break up the party, and after taking down the information, she said she’d send someone as soon as possible.

An hour later, the drum circle started.

At 4:45 in the morning, my neighbors started a drum circle.

So I called back, this time to the non-emergency line like a decent human being (720-913-2000, FYI), and asked the status of my knight in shining cop uniform. They said that the night was busy, and assured me that they would send someone as soon as they could.

I hung up the phone and burst into tears because in that moment I so desperately wanted someone else to fight my battles for me. But then I pulled myself together and tugged on my boots and marched across the alley like a BAMF/high school chaperone, and informed them that they were at least 5 hours past their bedtime and could they PLEASE stop DRUMMING around their BONFIRE.

I didn’t stick around long enough to experience their reaction. I was too mortified at my old lady rage. I did a step-pivot and scurried back across the alley, blessing the darkness for shrouding my face, lest I see these hooligans in the daylight.

I slept from 6-8am, and then got up to go on a hike with Kristen. We made it a half mile before Foxy bounded up a hill and then started limping. After checking her paw for thorns and not finding any, I carried her back to the car, which is kind of like carrying a 4-year old without the benefit of legs that can wrap around your waist. As we drove home, I passed one of those traffic cameras that take your picture if you’re speeding – which I was (54 in a 45, which also happened to be a construction zone). The camera flashed, and I can now look forward to a hefty ticket in the mail.

Foxy’s limp worsened throughout the day and her paw swelled up, so I took her to the emergency vet. The x-rays revealed no breaks, but potential torn tendons. So I spent last night worrying that she would need surgery – but luckily the radiologist called with the report that she should heal up without it [cue the angel choir] and oh by the way, your bill will be $500.

So now it’s Monday and it’s back to work and I’m still without gas and my poor pup is on pain meds and all I want is some roasted vegetables and a bubble bath, and I guess that the moral of the story is that we don’t always get what we want.

Hope you had a better weekend than Foxy’s foot and my bank account.

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Scaredy dog

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

It’s no secret that I think Foxy is the best dog in the entire world. I love her more than anything I’ve ever had. She is smart and snuggly and intuitive, loves to walk as much as I do, and is all around just the most wonderful little companion.

But no one is perfect.

Foxy’s Achilles’ heel? She is terrified. Of so many harmless things.

(A friend recently asked what Toad’s Achilles’ heel had been, and I told him the doctor sawed it off – because, AMPUTATION JOKES!)

But truly, Foxy is scared of a lot of things. Here are some things she recently lost her mind over:
• A black trash bag full of leaves in a neighbor’s yard
• CAUTION tape tied to a construction site
• A man in a wheelchair
• A plastic bag blowing in the wind
• A wagon full of watermelons (yes, we saw this)
• Anyone under the age of 12

After a monster day of driving (I-70 was closed, so I had to reroute up through Nebraska), I arrived in Kansas City last night. Foxy was so excited to jump out of the car, and when I opened the door to my mom’s house she tore into the living room – and then high-tailed it the other way.

Because there’s nothing like Christmas to transform a safe space into a house of horrors.

This morning, I tried a little treat therapy – but alas. Watch and see:

There is no treat therapy for this kind of terror.

A video posted by Annie Parsons (@hootenannie) on

Merry Christmas!

September

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Well, hello September.

I’ve made nary a murmur in this place for over a month. You want to know why? It’s a little thing called a J-O-B. I went back to work on August 4, and that was that. Because listen, I don’t care how much you love your job – going back after 5 weeks off is rough. August was rough. August was hot. August was a slog, retraining my brain to think in terms of “way too many details” and “never-ending emails” and “calendar deadlines.”

But here we are, August behind us, and September ahead. It’s my sincere intention to write more in September – and I think that maybe that starts tomorrow. For today, let’s play catch up.

In the month of August, I walked hundreds of miles. There are times in my life where my workouts are more than mere walks, but for August, I stuck to hoofing it. As you can see, my “bike to work” days were few and far between – that’s another thing that’s going to change in September.

August

Something else that I’m committed to for September: sticking to using cash envelopes. I need financial accountability, and cold hard Benjamins (okay, Jacksons) seem the best method for right now.

Here’s something we need to talk about: awful TV shows. In August, I watched True Detective and House of Cards. And then I felt so hopeless about the human race that this weekend I binged on season 4 of Friday Night Lights just to renew my faith in humanity (or at least the television version thereof).

I’m realizing that I do not want to consume stories in which I hate every single character. I do not want the good guys to be bad guys. I do not want to immerse myself in narratives with no element of redemption. I don’t care if “the character development is amazing.” I don’t care if “the acting is incredible.” I really, really don’t care if “these shows are a more accurate representation of real life” – because I have to believe that real life includes a lot of good, even if it’s intermingled with the hard.

This month, I’ll be spending time in Boston, Minneapolis, and Seattle – some pretty great places.

Since I last wrote, I had a birthday and so did Foxy Brains! My tiny puppy has turned into a full grown 1-year old dog, and I couldn’t love her more.

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Summer is winding down, fall is on its way, and thank goodness – because sheesh, I am in need of some newness. I hope today somehow feels new for you.