Getting Ready

July 31, 2009

I woke up this morning and between thinking about the roofer coming to fix my leak, I fully realized the enormity of my new family joining me in our tiny Tampa home. Which will be our base seven months a year for the next two years.

Tiny means about 1200 downstairs sq. feet (I don’t count the upstairs office) and about 700 of it dining/living room area where ALL of the pets will hang out. This house was never meant for more than me and a pet, so I have a lot to do before they arrive in a few weeks.


While our chow-chow, the lovely Puddin’, goes for pottie walks, Tinker and Little He do not. They’re accustomed to a yard. But I don’t have a back yard. Only a large, screened patio.

But brilliantly, what I DO have is a small fake yard I had constructed out of a wood frame and sod. Or what WAS sod and is now weeds, because Riley mostly uses his potty pads in the house. It’s inside the patio. Now, I’ve asked my gardener to sod it again, and maintain it, so the dogs can potty there.

My darling husband will be practicing law from our patio and thinks that he can just hose it down daily, after the dogs go. But, it’s not that big: I suspect he’ll find himself bagging doggie poop daily, in between teleconferences with his big national bank clients. I’ll definitely have the camera for that.

My fabulous husband has also designed a simple wooden structure to provide the pets with more patio shade. But he’s got to build it. Thinking he might also include a few shelves for the cats to perch on.

The patio screen mesh has a few slits, probably where the wind blew branches into it, or where squirrels dug too deep as they climbed. It isn’t much of a problem for Riley, but it certainly will be for Gigi and Rufus, my two step-cats. They’ll have to be home-based for a few weeks while they get to know where they now live. So screen man will have to come this month.

I am not all that thrilled about Rufus and Gigi going outside the screen, because we live off a fairly busy street. I would rather they hang out on the patio. But I think that is going to be a mighty struggle.

We’ve figured out a few ideas to help us cope with limited inside space. I have had my last party of any kind in this house, I suspect. All entertainment will have to be centered in our much bigger California home, once we buy it. Or at a restaurant.

Instead, we’ll move furniture to make the dining room area much smaller and the living room more expansive. So the dogs can all have a living space of their own.

Which begs the question of where OUR space will be, and I guess we will huddle together on our bed, squeezed between Riley and the cats.

A word about the cats. Riley’s day care provider told me yesterday she thought he’d do great with the cats. I can’t imagine her basis for that; when we go to Helen’s he is like a bloodhound, searching her house for her two cats, while they cleverly hide out of sight.

His one real encounter with one of her cats was when he jumped on a chair the cat hadn’t had time to vacate, not realizing she was there. I’m not sure which of them was more shocked, but both leapt in the air, the cat headed for the hills and Riley had a crazy barking spell.

Then, there’s the kitty litter box. Riley is not all that interested in making a meal from dog poop, but the sand box might be too much to resist. So I’ve had to figure out where and how to locate it. Being the creative girl I am, I think I have a solution.

I don’t have a good mental picture of how M. will practice law from the patio, while I teach part time, working from the patio, dining room or upstairs office., while we shush Riley, climb over sleeping dogs and keep the cats from tearing up the screens.

I know this prospect would give other women pause.

But hey, I’m up for it. Because it means I’ll be living with my fabulous husband. For whom no superlative suffices.

So it gives me…paws. Yeah, I know. Bad.

Oh. Did I mention it’s hurricane season? Until Nov. 1.

Note: None of these photos are of us or our pets.

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