Friday, December 29, 2006
Thursday, December 28, 2006
How are you doing with the snow? Socked in? We had a grey, grey, grey, grey Christmas, to Elvize it. Not too much actual rain on the day, which was good because my friend and her 3 dogs came over for the day. Yeah, 2 people and 5 dogs in the kitchen every time the turkey was touched or might be touched or looked at or when any other food might fall. It was fun. Today was clear and bright, so very nice.
Thank you for the luvverly Christmas gifts. This is another late, late year for me and my gifts. I was still assembling my friend's gift when she arrived, so the thrill of it was a little limited. Sleek got her new bed a few days early, and she is very happy with it. Eggcrate foam, a crib mattress vinyl cover, duct tape, and polyester fleece make for a happy old girl. Fluff is a little P.O.ed that hers has yet to make an appearance. The gargoyle you sent makes me feel very grandmotherly, since it makes it look like my larger dog gargoyle has had a puppy (albeit a very mature in shape puppy – not much of a neonatenous look to the little guy!) (is neonatenous the right word? Should it just be neonate?) They have similar features, so possibly are related? The juggling dog is the type of thing Ms. New Orleans has wanted to find for me for years. It’s very cute. The frames are, ah, interesting. Thanks for all of them! Nextdoor neighbors were appalled by my utter treelessness, so they got me a dog-related tree, about a foot tall. It’s made of doggie bones with a dog at the base with one of the bones in his mouth. I gave them lots of cranberry chutney (and not even the batch I burnt!) and supply them with stories about the weird next door neighbor to discuss at work. mpita tried to send me fish oil capsules, but the company confused the order and sent her the fish oil and me the book & DVDs on strengthening your back.
Working at Department Store over Christmas was interesting, even if I did manage to avoid the customers themselves (I don’t dress well enough to be a sales associate). Shoe department of all places. Had an interesting talk with one guy who was waiting for his family to finish shopping somewhere else. He was looking at a pair of platform soled shoes with about a 4” or more heel and asked me how women wear them. I had to say I didn’t know. We went on to discuss the effects on the body of wearing such shoes, choices in America (he sounded as if he is of Middle Eastern origin), kids & chores & entitlement, work ethic, etc. Let’s face it: I was in love from the moment he said he couldn’t understand why women would wear such shoes
The girls send their love, and Sleek wants more pics of your small furry animals. She got to taste a guinea pig at Thanksgiving although she knew she was not supposed to damage it.
This letter should have you scratching your head. I’m OK. I did much better moodwise than I have for several years at Christmas. I hope you guys are safe and happy.
Friday, December 22, 2006
One young woman came in to work all happy because a close friend of her family had been arrested. This meant, to her, that the friend would have a chance to get off meth, since a couple of months of jailtime were expected. The next day, however, the young woman was upset because the jail lacked a doctor. Apparently detox had begun and wasn't pretty. Another day, one of the sales associates was planning some surgery. Another associate asked her what pain killers she'd be getting because she had a potential market for them.
Today we started having holiday meltdowns with ugly language flying at probably audible to customer levels. Fortunately, none of it was directed at me. I just go in and start putting boxes away. When I'm caught up on boxes, I put display shoes back out (I am a little confused why the sales staff often sits around instead of putting shoes back out. Do they not realize they are less likely to get commissions if people don't buy shoes because they don't know the store has them?). When that's done, I take a small section of the stockroom and re-organize that. I pretty much see the job as a 4-hour nonaerobic exercise session. I don't talk much there.
I'm learning a good bit about myself. My house is very messy, and my cubicle, when I worked in one, was very messy, too. That was okay with me because those were/are my spaces and no one else had to live or work in them (we won't talk about using a messy house as a way to shut people out of one's life). Having the stockroom messy and/or disorganized bothers me. If multiple people need to use that space, then it should be set up to be organized so all can find what they need to find with the least amount of fuss. I suspect this is part of the caretaker part of my personality coming through. And that's probably due to environmental factors (aka "nurture") when i was a kid.
Here she is playing her own invention, the "Silly Stick Game," where she takes a large stick and scoots it around. This game is only played near water, preferably in sand. She almost always plays after she is wet, so her skirts and tail can hold the most sand possible. And that's a lot.
After playing the Silly Stick Game, she has to swim again to rinse out her skirts. She loves big sticks, but sometimes they're so big I'm afraid I'll hit her with them when I throw the stick. Fluff loves retrieving sticks from the water. Only when she was 10 did she decide that maybe the water (much of it snowmelt from the Cascades) is too cold in December & January for retrieving to be fun.
This is the intent Fluff face, hoping I'll throw the stick into the water again. She locks her eyes on mine when she wants something.
These are pictures of us at an obedience trial. We only went to support a friend and hadn't practiced in years. Our performance was overall hysterically funny, but these shots show the kind of attention she can give me when I ask for it. Ironically, I dislike heads-up heeling, when dogs have their heads cranked like while moving with the handler. These two pictures are courtesy of brisbeethewhite.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
This is Sleek, at 12.5 years old. This picture makes her look heavier than she really is. I think she's one of the most beautiful dogs I've ever seen. Watching her move, in her prime, across an open field just took my breath away, no matter how often I watched her. Fluffy is the girl of my heart, but Sleek is beautiful to Fluffy's pretty.
Christmas Day will mark 8 years since Sleek came to live with Fluff and me. She's lived longer than either of her parents did, and at least two of her littermates are gone, too. I do hope we have another Christmas or two together after this one.
The worst part for Fluff is that the dog is a Lab. Fluff doesn't care for labs, because Fluff is a Princess (i.e., not a dog), and Princesses have personal space that is not to be encroached upon by the peons. Unfortunately, Labs have no personal space of their own nor do they recognize that anyone else might have personal space. They also don't realize that a Princess is not a dog, so they treat Fluff like a dog. Shocking! Fluff only weighs about 45 lbs, so an on-rushing lab can easily knock her off her feet.
This afternoon the New Dog was out in its yard with one of the owners. Sleek went over to meet it through the fence. Fluff took one look at it and very pointedly would not look at that side of the yard again. I find her hysterically funny when she decides she cannot see something. She tries it with grooming tools (If I don't see the brush, I cannot be brushed, I am not being brushed....), the leash if she wants to go for a ride instead of a walk, and definitely the vet. She also does it with me when I say mean things like, "You have to stay home this time." Apparently if she doesn't see me say it, she can't hear it. Interesting.
Dogs are frighteningly similar to us sometimes. I know I had no genetic say on this animal (didn't even pick her parents for her), didn't meet her until she was 8 months old so the early puppyhood conditioning wasn't mine, and yet she mirrors so many of my behaviors that it can be creepy. (Yes, I sometimes carefully do not look at the neighbors since the one is most likely to want to talk to me when it's getting dark and I'm trying to get the grass mowed before full dark.)
Monday, December 18, 2006
This is why I spell Kabbage with a K. This is the "real" Kabbage, aka "Fluffy." Since I don't know exactly when her birthday is, although it probably was December or January, since they told me she was 8 months old at the shelter from whence she came, I celebrate it on the Solstice. This year, she turns 11.
Why do I call this dog Kabbage? Her real name begins with a K, and occasionally I've gotten a little frustrated with her. At that point, she comes "K___-you-bitch" which slurs into "K__-yuh-bidge" and eventually the polite company-usable Kabbage.
She has many other names and has a number of titles on the end of her name, but her real title is "best girl." I knew getting a dog would change my life, but I didn't know it would change my perceived values, too.
Before I got Fluffy, no dog would ever sleep on the bed or get on the furniture. That held for a while. Then I decided that since she hadn't yet started ruling the house, she could be on the bed while I read at night, but she would have to get off when I turned out the light. Then we started traveling for agility trials. Fluffy is true to her breed when it comes to guardian instincts. She didn't approve of other people walking past our low-end motel room when we were trying to sleep and let them know. She got moved up to the top of the bed so I could easily grab her to stop the 2a.m. barking. Since she was sleeping on the bed when we traveled, why not at home? Now she must wait for permission to jump on the bed, but she can sleep there once she's invited.
While arguably I saved Fluffy's life (as cute as she is/was, I'm sure someone else would've adopted her if I hadn't), I know she has saved mine once and possibly twice. I adopted Ms Fluff because I was in a relationship that made me feel truly loved, so I felt I had enough extra love to add another life to mine, in terms of this dog. When the relationship ended, I was devastated. For days, I dragged myself to work only to come home afterward and curl up in the fetal position on the living room floor. Poor Fluff was quite young at this time and didn't really know how to handle my distress. She just pressed herself as hard as she could against my back, letting me know I always had someone there for me. Every once in a while, she'd get a squeaky toy to offer me, because a good squeaky can help a lot of problems. If I didn't respond to the squeaky, she'd go back to curling up with me. I was in so much pain, I think I would've tried some drastic methods to stop the pain. The thing was, I had to find a way out of the pain that wouldn't lead to Fluff going back to the pound. That ruled out the lethal "cures." And in the meantime, I had to let her out of the house, feed her, and generally take care of her. I got on with my life, putting the relationship behind me.
A few years later, Fluff and I were on our way home from agility class when a car behind us started blinking its lights and motioning me over. Eventually, I pulled over, although I retained enough common sense to have the doors locked and the window barely cracked. The driver asked for my license. I countered by asking for his ID. He flashed something I couldn't see clearly. Fluff, by now, was bored with the car being motionless. She announced her displeasure with a few sharp barks. Instantly, the man spun on his heel, got into his car, and drove off in the other direction. Good girl, Fluffy!
I do love my little dog. You'll read more about her, I'm sure.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Mindyhas a meme where you get assigned a letter of the alphabet and have to come up with ten things you love based on that letter. Since I really should be sermonizing, I figured I'd play. I got S.
I asked PPB for a letter and received this reply: "Kabbage, you get a C, for cabbage---the way we spell it in Illinois."
1. Cup, as in mug. A container for hot beverages. One of my previous employers gave out a lot of mugs for different company events, and I still have a number of those. I still have my Bell Atlantic 1-1-84 mug, for the first day of life without Ma Bell. Bell Atlantic is now Verizon, but I left long before that happened.
2. Car, as in my beloved Honda Element. Best darn dog car ever. Cute-ugly, but no carpet to get soaked with dog spit.
3. Checks that I sign on the back, not the front.
4. Cranberry chutney. Even people who don't like cranberries like this stuff. Despite burning a double batch of it this week, it's really pretty easy to make. I must make more to give as gifts this Christmas season.
5. Cooking for friends. I don't much like cooking for just me, but I do enjoy cooking for/with friends. I even kind of like cooking for the dogs, although I try to pretty much keep from cooking with the dogs.
6. Candles, which I'm probably going to need soon. We have a major winter blow going through, with rain, and the lights are flickering every once in a while. Cable connection, too. Give me real scents, though, not artificial ones!
7. My CD player. I bought it in 1989, and it's still spinning those discs whenever I ask (assuming we have power). It was a bonus to myself for breaking up with a certain doofus.
8. Chinese food. Thai is really yummy, too. The abundance of Thai restaurants where I live amazed me when I first moved here from the Midwest.
9. Canada. Fun people, beautiful places, cute way of saying "aboot" instead of "about."
10. Chocolate! Dark chocolate. Good chocolate. Hot chocolate. Chocolate-orange ice cream. As soon as I publish this, I'm going to brave the wind for a trip to Trader Joe's for more truffles.
I'm struggling over how to get my dogs into this meme. They are the things I most love these days. How about....
11. Cat-chasing dogs! Sleek used to have really bad intentions toward cats, but she's mellowed now that the body can't deliver what the ego demands in terms of speed and jumping ability. Fluffy chases until the cat stops, then she becomes fascinated with some object that just happens to be close to said cat.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Warning: it is tactful to tell people beforehand that the cake is not chocolate. It looks like chocolate, and sometimes people spit because the molasses flavor is so different from what they expected. It's messy. On the other hand, the cake itself is the easiest cake recipe on the planet. I love it!
Recipe was expanded for my sister's benefit, although she still missed the reserving crumbs for the topping step. She doesn't cook much.
Shoo Fly Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In bowl #1 (medium or large) mix
2-1/2 cups of boiling water,
1 cup of molasses, and
1 Tablespoon of baking SODA.
This will froth up when the soda hits the molasses, so be sure there is room in the bowl.
In bowl #2 (large bowl) mix
4 cups of flour,
1 lb dark brown sugar,
½ teaspoon salt, and
¾ cup cooking oil.
Use your hands to mix this up until crumbly. Reserve one cup of crumbs in a (smaller) bowl for topping (I probably reserve more than a cup because I grab a couple of large handfuls).
Mix together the contents of bowl #1 and bowl #2 so the final mix is fairly smooth. Pour the batter into an ungreased (why I really love this recipe!) 13x9 in^2 (sheet cake) pan. Top with the reserved crumbs. Bake for ~45 minutes at 350F.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Villain: May I speak to the lady of the house?
Hero: We don’t have one of those.
Villain: Well, then may I speak to the man of the house?
Hero (offendedly): We CERTAINLY don’t have one of those!
Villain: Then are you the adult of the house?
Hero (pausing): Maybe.
Villain decides this part of the conversation is going nowhere productive, so opts to go into canned spiel, which deals with television and ratings. Hero lets Villain run for a bit, then when Villain pauses for breath, Hero strikes.
Hero: None of us here watch TV.
Villain (realizing this is a lost cause): Thank you for your time
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Yesterday I cooked some meat and vegetables for the dogs. The special was pork and purple kale. I boiled these together and served up about half of it. The meat was the typical grayish color you would expect from boiled pork. The rest of the mixture went in the refrigerator, waiting for today’s canine breakfast time. When I pulled the food out of the refrigerator, I saw the pork had turned blue. Truly blue, although not blue catsup-blue. It’s an interesting color but not too appealing to me. Fortunately, animals that will eat cat poop or several-day-old roadkill are less picky about the color of their food. All the pork was quickly eaten. The kale itself is less popular and eaten under protest.
My guess is that chicken breasts would really end up blue but beef wouldn’t be all that colorful. Doesn’t homemade chicken noodle soup with blue lumps of chicken floating in it sound pretty cool?
Monday, December 04, 2006
Favorite toys of childhood
1. Ralph, my stuffed, light blue Basset Hound. He had a tag that said he was "Morgan, Junior. TV Star" but I don't remember seeing him on TV. I loved Ralph with a passion that was visible in his missing fur and damaged eyes (the droopy eyes were done partially with felt that eventually wore away). He had a huge squeaker that was most of his muzzle originally. Somehow it migrated into his neck.
2. The sandbox. We had the coolest sandbox. My dad built the sandbox and its lid and filled it with fine white sand. We had a farmset in there, a set of dogs close to the same scale as the farmset animals, and some miscellaneous dinosaurs. It made for some interesting social structures. I confess that there were some caste decisions made on animal color. We weren't supposed to put water in the sandbox because it was wood and my parents were afraid of the bottom rotting out, but we did. You can't build much fun stuff with dry sand. I played in that sandbox until I was 13 or so. I think my parents hauled it off because they thought I was too old to be playing in it.
Friday, November 17, 2006
It's highly questionable whether or not Fluffy has a shot at being part of the 5-year plan. She's about to turn 11. The difference, I think, is that Fluffy is from my soul plane. I know I'll be with her again. I think there is even a good chance she'll show up in a different dog body during my current lifetime. With Sleek, I'm not so sure. I think she's from a different soul plane than Ms. Fluff and me, and she may be finishing up with us for now.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Why do I miss voting in person? I miss the sense of civic membership that came from standing in line with people from my neighborhood (even if I didn't know them), greeting the poll workers, seeing my name in the voter rolls, stepping into the booth, fitting the ballot over the pegs to align it, pushing my chads through as I made my choices, putting my ballot into the "secret ballot envelope" and finally putting it into the ballot box. I love that! I feel so responsible, so adult when I vote in person. Voting by mail feels more like paying bills by mail -- personal drudgery rather than civic participation.
On the other hand, I remember all too well my first experience voting. I was 19 and away at college. It was a Presidential election year, so many of us in the dorms registered locally (absentee ballots were less common in those long ago days). We voted at another dorm near ours. I found one of my closest friends over at the polling place when I got there, and we happened to get booths at the same time.
For some reason, it hadn't occurred to us that we would be able to vote for anyone besides the Presidential candidates, and maybe for US Senator. Holy moly, there were all sorts of races on that ballot! Since we were young, naive, and mostly experienced in tests where the powers-that-be recommended choosing some answer instead of leaving a blank, we felt we had to choose a candidate for every race. We're talking about school board, city council, everything. We lived in the dorms, we read the college paper, not the town paper. We knew nothing (although we did know we knew nothing). So we started consulting with each other, even as both of us are in the voting booths. "So, who do you want to vote for on city council seat #1?" "Uh, I'm not sure. How about voting for Party X this time? We haven't voted for many of those." "Umm, look, there's a woman running for the next position. Let's vote for her." "OK." We went through a lot of races that way, and I'm sure the precinct workers wanted to kill us and/or void our ballots. I'm not sure they shouldn't have, but at least we were participating. It was important to us to use our votes for that first national election where we could.
Today, even if it's done at home, I vote. And I send a mental toast to my dear friend in honor of that long ago vote. Thanks, Broc-T for sharing my first election!
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Unfortunately, Sleek nested on top of ALL the bedclothes, so all layers were damp. I didn't want to wait a couple of hours for things to be washed and dried, so I started scrounging for other blankets and such.
The new set of sheets are both current and classic -- red flannel, purchased a few years ago. Next came an afghan I crocheted in 1989. The colors on that one are classic 1980's -- dusty rose, colonial blue, and cream. I remember thinking when I chose the yarn that those were classic colors that I would always love. Guess again, Kabbage! The next layer was a 1998 purchase in Canada. I forgot a dog blanket on a trip and grabbed a Martha Stewart thermal blanket from the Canadian equivalent of Target. Another dusty blue color, probably due to limited color choices. Then I have a small throw with pictures of Australian shepherds woven into it. Last, but not least, another traveling and forgot a sheet for the bed purchase, a T-shirt knit sheet in dark green. I think it matched my 1994 Subaru. Yes, traveling with dogs leads to some weird odds and ends of bedding around the house. I also have a flannel bedspread purchased as a dog bed.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Sure, there's the usual question of "what if I ended up with halo or starburst effects?" but the real reason is more obtuse. With my current vision, once I take off my glasses, no one can see me. This means I can wear a bathing suit in public or roll down hills in public. I can't see anyone seeing me, so they can't see me. Simple, and effective.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
I joined ASCA to get the reduced LEP [Limited Exhibition Privilege] registration rate and to see what the organization was like, since AKC was the only thing I knew. I wanted to get the Aussie Times magazine. I think that was back around 1998, when the dog was old enough to compete in agility. I figured she might as well get credit for her breed since I’d be trialing her in NADAC/ASCA trials. I live in the Pacific Northwest, so there is a LOT of ASCA stuff around.
Why did I stay? I stayed because ASCA welcomed me and my little LEP with a tail. Her registration certificate IS a certificate, whereas AKC sent a laser-printed piece of low-grade paper with her number on it and a note that indicated there would be no charge if I wanted to change the ownership on the dog, which I inferred to mean they considered her value-less (they certainly charged when I got my Malinois and wanted her registration put in my name). They (AKC) very much gave me the feeling that my money was okay, but that was about it – the dog and I were essentially throw-away items. I took Fluffy to watch many ASCA confo shows and to watch/participate in obedience. Always, we were welcomed. People asked about her tail sometimes, but no one overtly sneered at us. They petted her and told her what a good little dog she was. I took her to the 1999 Nationals and we were welcomed there, too. A few more people seemed to sneer at her tail there, but many more people just asked about it out of curiosity or to comment on how nicely she carries it. No one made any snide comments about her (lack of known) breeding when she won 24” Open Jumpers and Novice A obedience at that Nationals. I stayed because my dog was treated as an AUSSIE, not a maybe-pretend-sort-of-hold-your-nose-because-those-unknown-parents-dogs-stink-but-they-bring-in-money aussie. I stayed because I was treated well. I stayed because of the ASCA opportunities in my area. I stayed because I wanted to keep getting the Aussie Times. I stayed because I thought (and still think) that ASCA has a chance to save at least a portion of the breed. I know the registry can’t really save the breed, but they can give me a place to look for my next dog.
Why ASCA-l? To help me stay informed on what people in the breed are thinking about. I love, love, love the absence of most show/performance brags. Sometimes the list gets tiresome, when people start dissecting posts below the level of meaning or simply repeat their opinions on issues over and over again, often in the same words. Staying on ASCA-l is part of my way of supporting ASCA. I’m also on OpenForum, Aussie-l, and AussieHerders. All of them have their times of great value and their times of “what is the point of this list’s existence?” (Frankly, for useful information on the breed and almost anything related to health and training, none of them can touch Belg-l which has active moderators who want a peaceful, Belgian shepherd-related list. It’s a fantastic list, IMO.) I want to vote intelligently in ASCA elections.
That’s what comes to mind first off when I think about why I support ASCA.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
I think I want to soak in the tub tonight. Incipient sore spots are mentioning themselves.
The rolling felt great, but I was very dizzy at the bottom of the (not very big albeit fairly steep for its size) hill. I don’t think I could’ve gotten up and stayed up until at least 10 seconds after rolling.
Have I just forgotten that it was always this way?
Has my brain shrunk inside my head, leaving it more room to flop around and discombobulate while rolling?
Do I need to roll more to build up a tolerance for the dizziness?
Do you need to go try this for yourself and let me know your experiences with rolling down hills? Yes.
Fluffy tried to ignore the fact that I was lying on the ground, and Sleek took advantage of my lower height to wash my face.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
"The only way we will triumph over hate is to become as deeply committed to love as some people are committed to hate, as deeply devoted to expressing our love as some people are devoted to expressing their hate, and as firm in our conviction that love is our mission as some are that hate is theirs."
This is the first time I've ever been the subject of a blog headline. What a way to start!
Chris's dog Zeke is aging rapidly and finding movement difficult. I suggested Chris check out the Bottoms Up leash (gonna go berserk with links, I think). He did, and it helps. Zeke got out today for a long outing, so everybody's happy for the moment.
Now I'm off to write a couple of due or overdue notes to various and sundry.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Today, five years later, I do feel the sadness of remembering the emotions and the sorrow of that day. I have a pull to music today. For some reason, the deceased members of the Beatles are pulling me today. Thank heaven for YouTube, so I am able to hear "Imagine" and "My Sweet Lord" today.