The first is obvious -- they are still getting used to being empty-nesters, and they are not in a particularly stimulating part of the world. We have always been a close family, in spite of a childhood of a mother in night school and an overachieving non-profit developer father.
The second is a bit more amusing. Over a year ago, now, my dad and I co-authored a recipe for a Tuck cookbook, "Beercan Chicken". It was a grilling technique I've experimented with, refined, and mastered -- my dad did the writeup (he doesn't cook much). I'd be happy to share if anyone is actually interested.
As a part of my dad's Initiative, they had an Auction. One of the things that was put up was dinner for some number (8-10) prepared by my dad (one of the most popular professors) and another professor (the other most popular). More to the point, it was a bbq for n starring my dad's famous beercan chicken.
As the date approached, my dad and mom realized that maybe, just maybe, they were in a tight spot (my dad having never actually prepared the dish, let alone for 16). It was felt to be violating the spirit to have my mom do it, but that it would probably be ok if his son and co-author "assisted". So a plane ticket was bought, and I "assisted" in preparing dinner for 16 of beercan chicken and grilled shrimp. Carefully made to appear that my father was doing it.
The final element was most crucial. 19 May my parents drove down to Connecticut to buy and pickup a puppy, the culmination of months of research. Katy (or more precisely, Katy No-Pocket) was born 18 March 2003. Last week she weighed 19 pounds. She is a very well-bred Rhodesian Ridgeback...
Puppies are a lot of work. Well prior to adopting this young thing, my mother used to emphasize -- from experience of both -- that raising a puppy is roughly the same effort as a new-born human. For the first year. What could possibly convince my mother, a 50+ year old mother of two successfully launched children, to go through it again?
Basically, my mom is sick of having crazy dogs -- or rather, tired of dealing with other peoples' crazy dogs. Our last dog, Saint Amber, was a legend... but had more than his share of quirks. I've certainly had my hands full mellowing out corvisdog (he's better, honest!). She wanted another chance at molding a dog to their own quirks, and do it from a well-thought out position. Their last puppy was a selection from an accidental litter of a friend...
Katy's Father is a beaut, no? When we first got Amber (a Ridgeback mix), we decided we liked the breed (doing the research after the fact), but were stunned by the prices people pay for pure ones ($900-$1500). Over time, we decided we really liked the breed -- they are beautiful, strong, loyal to a fault, strong, fearless, etc. Most of their properties are rather nice.
For the past six months, my mom has been obsessively researching dog breeds in a way that only Librarians do. The Ridgeback never got ruled out, but as an African dog, Vermont seemed a bit extreme. Finally, she started to settle on Bermese Mountain Dogs (albeit short lifetimes) and finally the standard Black (or more likely, Chocolate) Lab. Those, or Golden Retrievers, are generally supposed to be issued upon residence establishment in Vermont (along with the Subaru). Then it turned out that two of my Dad's students had Ridgebacks, and upon seeing one (they blame me for seeing one at Misty Pines and commenting) it was clear.
Part of my mom's research was assisted by a patient of hers. One of the great advantages of a trade like acupuncture (particulary when it is not the means of supporting the family) is that skill-trade (you do what you do well, for me, and I'll give you free treatments) is easy and cost-effective. One of her patients is a well-respected Dog Show judge, and so she swapped treatments in exchange for breed and breeder advice. Which is how they ended up driving to CT to get an elite child of Excalibur, skipping the long waiting list. Katy was actually selected to be a prospective showdog -- but for a 1/4" overbite. Her ridge, posture, etc are in flawless conformation... except that both her mother and father are oversized from the aging Standard. Excalibur is substantially more than the 75 pounds (>100) he should be, but in proportion (did I mention strong?) and that didn't hurt his BIS. Katy will likely be at least 80 pounds.
I call her a little monster because she shows the real ridgeback spirit -- Question #1 is "Can I eat it?". When energized, she would apply all the force and jumping ability her quarter-sized frame would give her in the pursuit of chomping on everything. I have several interesting scars now, including an inch long slice on my nose. But she's also beautiful, and very sweet when tired. I expect that, should she and my parents live through her first year, she'll be a Great Dog. But oh, was it nice to come home to my loving corvisdog, whose faults are that he might lick you too much (not that he's pretending to lick so that your face comes close enough for a run at your ear). That if I can't see him he's likely trying to eat power cords. That even when he threatens with his teeth, he knows not to bite down on flesh.
Now I'm not going anywhere for a while, and that makes me feel better. I had a lovely date with ommkarja after she picked me up at the airport. Finding Nemo comes out this weekend. And I've been drafted to a Summer League team, now named Running Amok!