All I wanted was a hot cup of coffee

Our hound dog is being harassed by a bunny.

Yeah, you heard that right.

We are officially one week and one day into this mess and it just keeps getting weirder. Sit back and let me paint you a picture of what’s been going down in the Romano house these last eight days.

After a busy few weeks at work, all I was really looking forward to over the long Labor Day weekend was a chance to sit down and drink a hot cup of coffee. See, as a mom, I’m always brewing coffee and pouring myself fresh cups, but I honestly can’t remember the last time I was able to sit down and drink a full cup while it’s still hot. There’s always some interruption that pulls me away–Stevie, the kids, the dog, the doorbell, the dog running out the door because the kids opened it after one of their neighbor friends rang the doorbell. So I finally decided I was going to brew my coffee, pour a cup, and then take it outside on the patio to enjoy a little early-September sunshine and maybe even do a little writing.

I took one glorious sip before Henry came over and tapped me on the arm.

“Mommy, Electra’s digging,” he said, pointing behind me.

I didn’t even bother to turn around. On hot days, Electra will occasionally dig herself a cool spot in the dirt near the garage and flop down to snooze in the shade.

“It’s okay buddy. Digging won’t hurt anything.”

I opened my notebook and held my pen to the empty page, taking a second sip while I gathered my thoughts.

“Mommy, Electra’s got something in her mouth,” Henry said. And then I heard a muffled squeaking noise before Electra let out an excited hound dog whine.

I set my coffee on the table, tossed my notebook and pen in the empty chair beside me, and jumped up from the chair all in one frantic motion. I hollered at Henry to stay back and braced myself for whatever I was about to find. Electra has surprised us a few times over the years–digging snakes out from under lilac bushes, chasing (and sometimes killing) birds and rabbits, trapping an opossum and her babies in a dark corner of the yard. Hell, there was one night I caught her stalking a screech owl that had perched itself on the post of our chainlink fence. Luckily I managed to grab her and drag her away before she pissed the owl off and suffered any damage.

And as soon as I saw her gingerly pulling something small and brown and squeaking from a hole she’d carefully excavated in the flowerbed, I knew exactly what we were dealing with.

Electra had gone and found herself a nest of baby bunnies.

Now, if you’re new to this blog, let me give you a little bit of history…

We adopted Electra when she was just shy of a year old. Her life pre-Romanos was spent with a dozen other beagles and beagle-basset mixes living in a kennel and being trained to track rabbits. No lazy couch naps. No gourmet dog cookies. Just training and tracking and learning how to put that hound dog nose to good use finding rabbits.

Electra obviously knows how to catch a rabbit scent, and knows to make a helluva lot of noise to let us know when she’s on the trail. But we’re guessing that’s about as far as she made it in her training before she was surrendered to the Arizona Beagle Rescue and adopted by us. There’s no mistaking it when Electra starts tracking a rabbit. She puts the whole neighborhood on alert with her booming hound dog voice. But the thing with Electra is she doesn’t quite seem to understand what to actually do with the rabbits once she finds them.

Hell, half the time she’s so focused on tracking that she doesn’t even realize the damn rabbits are sitting less than two feet from her face.

Then the rabbit takes off and Electra takes off, barking and howling and hauling ass around the yard in hot pursuit. And somehow, as lazy and uncoordinated as our sweet dog is, she has managed to catch (and unfortunately kill) more than a dozen full grown rabbits. Most of the murders unfortunate incidents honestly appear to be mistakes…like she somehow managed to catch up with the rabbits when they hit a fence or took a wrong turn.

Once, Electra even managed to trap a rabbit in the space between our chainlink fence and the neighbors wooden fence and all of her excitement and barking scared the damn thing to death. She spent the rest of the afternoon whining  and crying like she’d just lost a dear old friend.

But baby bunnies? Totally different story.

Electra has managed to find two rabbit nests in her life. And both times, all she wants to do is pull all of the babies gently out of the nest so she can lick them and love them and apparently make them her own.

Poor sweet hound. She just doesn’t seem to understand that’s not how it works.

So, I managed to grab Electra by the collar and wrestle her away from the nest. She’d only had a chance to pull one baby out and drop it gently in the grass. Behind me, Henry was squealing.

“Oh look at the baby! He’s so cute! Look at the baby rabbit Mommy!”

“Don’t touch the baby, H. Just stay back. We gotta get Electra away and help him.”

Henry followed close behind as I pushed Electra back in the house and grabbed a pair of gardening gloves from the garage.

“What are you doing Mommy?” he asked. “You helping the baby?”

“Yep, I’m helping the baby. We gotta get the baby back in his nest so his Mommy will come back.”

The baby was squirming and trying to burrow into the lawn. I nudged gently, looking for any sign of blood or broken bones. But other than a thin layer of dog slobber, the little guy seemed to be in good shape. He made little clucking noises and kicked his legs as I scooped him gently into my gloved hands. I peered into the hole in the flower bed and saw three other little bunnies huddled together, so I carefully laid Electra’s baby on top of the pile. He wiggled and snuggled back in with the others.

Then I gathered the scattered piles of dry grass and tried to rebuild the nest the best I could. Inside the house Electra was howling in protest.

“Okay H-man, we gotta stay away from the babies now that they’re back in the nest. And we gotta keep Electra away, okay?”

“Okay,” Henry agreed.

I grabbed Electra’s old tie-out chain from the shelf in the garage and wrapped it around one of the trees on the opposite side of the patio. Stretched taut, she would be at least five feet away from the bunnies. I figured that was as good as it was going to get, and as long as Mama Rabbit would come back, we might be able to watch these babies grow and bid them farewell with no casualties. I reached out to a local wildlife rescue to make sure we had a solid plan, and a very helpful lady named Vikki told me all would be well if we could keep Electra away for a week or two.

For the next few days, we kept Electra on her chain and left the nest undisturbed. We even saw Mama Rabbit come back a few times to check in on the babies. All was well, right up until Friday evening when someone let Electra out without putting her on her chain.

(I’ve got two guesses…ahem…Cadence and Henry)

And then, the nest was empty. No sign of Mama Rabbit or the babies (and thankfully no sign of any carnage either). So, we assumed that we’d seen the last of our little rabbit friends, and wished them well.

Now this is where shit started to get weird.

Saturday morning, approximately 7:30 am – Cadence bursts into our room yelling that Electra is barking really loud and there’s a bunny on the patio. Sure enough, one of the bunnies is hiding behind the stack of plastic patio chairs. With Electra safely wrangled in the house, we manage to shoo Baby Bunny into a small box, fill the box with some of the discarded nest, and place the box in the flowerbed near the original nest hoping Mama and Baby will figure this shit out. Baby hangs out in the box most of the day and then disappears mid-afternoon.

Saturday night, approximately 9:30 pm – Electra has her last meal of the day and we put her out on her chain, just in case. Lots of barking and whining, so obviously Mama or Babies (or both) are somewhere close by.

Sunday morning, approximately 11:00 am – Electra goes into full-blown tracking mode and everyone in Southeast Lincoln knows it. It’s been a long time since Electra has tracked this hard (she’s honestly gotten way lazy in her old age) and the kids think it’s hilarious, so I pull out my phone and start recording. As I try to get in front of Electra and get some good video, I suddenly look down and see Baby hiding in plain sight, burrowed in a patch of long grass near the tree trunk less than six inches from Electra’s nose. That’s me almost dropping my phone as I quickly grab Electra to pull her away. (And what I really should have been recording was the next 10-15 minutes of us shooing the Baby over to the side of the yard away from Electra’s chain. Every time Baby would jump, Henry would squeal and Cadence would holler and laugh. It was like a slapstick scene straight out of a Carol Burnett Show special).

Sunday afternoon, approximately 1:30 pm – I come down from putting Henry down for a nap and hear Electra going nuts in the back yard. Cadence let her out and forgot to put her on the chain. I go around the side of the house near the gate and Electra is trying her damndest to shove her face between the brick garage wall and the chainlink fence post. On closer inspection, I see Baby Bunny oh so casually lying in a patch of overgrown grass near the garage about a foot from Electra’s slobbery face. Electra spends the next four hours whining and pleading with Baby Bunny to please just come a little bit closer. You gotta give Electra credit for being persistent.

Sunday night, approximately 11:00 pm – Heading to bed late (always a bad idea when you’ve got work the next morning) and I put Electra out one more time. She’s off-chain because I couldn’t imagine the rabbits would actually return after being so thoroughly shepherded out of the yard. Suddenly, Electra’s hound dog voice is echoing in the darkness. I pull on my slippers and head outside. She’s on a fresh scent in the yard. It’s late, and I can’t indulge her anymore, so I grab her collar and haul her into the house. I turn around and Baby Bunny is sitting on the edge of patio, not three feet from the back door, just hanging out like he owns the place. He doesn’t even move when I grab my phone to snap a picture. I’m starting to think Electra might have a stalker, or this poor Baby is all sorts of confused and thinks Electra might be his mother.

Today (Monday) noon – Stevie comes home for lunch, let’s Electra out, and she’s tracking again. Baby is back and exploring the yard.

Today (Monday), approximately 7:00 pm – Electra is trying again to shove her face between the brick garage wall and the chainlink fence post to lick Baby Bunny who is hiding in the grass less than eight inches away.

Today (Monday), approximately 7:30 pm – Doorbell rings. It’s Cadence and the neighbor girls telling us that Electra got out of the yard when one of the other neighbor boys opened the gate. Baby Bunny is gone. Electra is tracking like crazy.

Tonight (Monday), approximately 10:00 pm – Stevie puts Electra out and notices Mama Rabbit is hanging out in the yard, so he hooks Electra to her chain. Mama Rabbit hops away without Electra even noticing. Now Electra is tracking in the yard and occasionally howling when she catches a whiff of a fresh scent.

At this point, Stevie and I are convinced that these rabbits are just screwing with our dog. I guess we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

To be continued?…

Day 139 – The meaning in the chaos

I suppose you could view being human as both a blessing and curse. We’re here on this earth experiencing all the challenges and wonder and uncertainties alongside all the other living creatures, yet we’re different. We were given this extraordinary ability to ask “Why?” We search for meaning in the chaos. It’s an ability that has the potential to both inspire and destroy us. It’s a heavy load to lift–to question one’s existence and search for greater meaning. And it’s an immense responsibility to do something about it, to follow a path of purpose once we recognize it stretching out in front of us.

I think we spend a lot of time not trusting ourselves, second-guessing our choices, worrying over the what-if’s instead of appreciating the journey. There’s a lot to learn from our bad decisions, from the detours we’re forced to take in pursuit of our goals. And there are times when what we thought was the “right” path doesn’t even scratch the surface of our potential.

I think a lot of people get tripped up thinking there is only value in setting and achieving lofty, long-term goals. We end up measuring our value as humans and the quality of our lives by our ability to compete with others–to do bigger, better things than someone else. The side effect of this is that we miss out on the wonderful experiences and the small victories right in front of us. We start living for the future, focusing our time and energy on things that may never happen, while the very real and fleeting present moment passes us by. We start measuring ourselves and our self-worth by someone else’s standards.

It’s hard to live in the now because, frankly, the now isn’t always a great place to be. Maybe you’re stuck in an abusive relationship. Maybe you’re struggling to pay your bills. Maybe you’re battling an illness. Maybe you just lost someone you love. Maybe you’re stuck in a job you hate with a tyrant of a boss who takes credit when things go right, shifts blame when things go wrong, and thinks repeatedly telling rape jokes is funny.

Yeah, the present can fucking suck sometimes.

But it’s all we’ve really got, isn’t it? Life gives no guarantees. Life doesn’t even promise the next moment, so how do we keep deluding ourselves that it’s going to promise us next week, next year, or even the next item on our endless To-Do lists?

Maybe some people feel like that’s a pretty grim worldview. I don’t. I think it’s the most powerful move a person can make–to learn how to live in the present moment, to learn how to navigate and appreciate moments as they come instead of ignoring them to obsess over a future that doesn’t even really exist (and may never come).

So, it’s our burden and our blessing to be here now and to make the very best of it. And yes, it can be hard, but it can be beautiful too. And what I’ve discovered is that the good moments, the really magical moments, far outnumber the bad ones. We live in a world and on a planet built for growth. The default design is for us to continuously evolve, to move and grow along a positive trajectory in such a way that even the challenges and setbacks we face serve to propel us forward.

All we have to do is hold on and learn to appreciate the ride.

Day 125 – Close to perfection

There’s nothing that restores balance to my soul faster than writing, sunshine, and music. It’s why days like today are so important–days where I can grab a notebook and a pen, a bluetooth speaker, and a cold beer and go sit out on my back patio to do a little writing, listen to some tunes, and soak up some sun. Today was sunny and 80-degrees, slight breeze, and nothing on the agenda for a change.

This is as close to perfection as it gets, my friends.

I read an article recently in the New York Times recently (The Case For Doing Nothing) that questioned our culture of busyness and whether our obsession with over-scheduling and feeling the need to always be doing something is actually slowing us down, stressing us out, and doing much more harm than good. And I’m not just agreeing with this because I selfishly want a vacation  or woke up today feeling extra tired. I’m agreeing with this because I see how much damage we’re doing to ourselves and our society by clinging to this ridiculous notion that busyness is some sort of status symbol, that running ourselves into the ground is the reason we were put on this earth in the first place.

What a crock of steaming, stinking bullshit.

We’re not here to run crazy and stress until we die. We’re here to appreciate beauty, to experience wonder, to spread kindness. We’re here to grow and learn and evolve. We’re here to connect with each other, to love each other, and to have some fun along the way.

And if we could just get out of our own heads (and out of our own way), we might be able to recognize that the secret of life is staring us straight in the face.


So slow down, folks. There’s plenty of time for all the things that matter. Everything else is just noise.

Day 115 – Welcome to allergy hell

Yes, I skipped a day of blogging.

No, I’m not sorry.

And I’m going to place full blame on the fact that I haven’t gotten near enough sleep this week because these damn allergies are out of control. Even the usual Claritin-D fix is barely taking the edge off.

Want to get a glimpse of the problem, here ya go:

Beautiful right? Yeah, pretty as a picture, but those damn trees are trying to kill me. My throat is tickling, my nose is running, my eyes are puffy, and I just had a sneezing fit that, for a second, felt as if I’d blown my left eardrum out.

I’m this close to shopping on Amazon for a full Hazmat suit to get me through the next few weeks.

And with that, I’m tapping out. You suck, allergies. I hate you. Good night.

Project Life 365 – Day 122 – Nature

Oh, Mother Nature, you’re sure having fun screwing with us this year, aren’t you. Just when things were starting to get bright and beautiful, you spoil it with snow in May. At least it only lasted a day.

IMGP5730

IMGP5719

IMGP5705

IMGP5701

IMGP5698

IMGP5694

IMGP5695

Project Life 365 – Day 88 – My Peeps

My favorite peeps in the whole wide world, out enjoying a walk now that the weather is finally cooperating. Now that is what a call a good day!

PL365Day87MyPeeps