Monday, November 24, 2008

missing sleek

i miss sleek tonight. hell, i always miss her, even when i sense she's stopping by. it's hard not to miss such a beautiful physical presence, even when it was a pale reflection of an even more beautiful soul.

tonight, though, it feels like the whole holiday crap flooding in, and i'm just choosing to miss sleek instead of facing that. yes, even though she's gone, she's still trying to take on my crud.

i love you sweet girl. run on and enjoy being free of the bodily limitations of age and ill health.

my beautiful belgian. 4-22-94 to 8-30-08. in my life 12-25-98 to whenever i pass. a gift to my soul always and forever, outside of time or space.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bits and Pieces

1. I felt deliciously ironic today when I walked to the Auto Licensing branch in order to get the car's tabs renewed.

2. I feel quite stupid at the moment to have no good idea where the new tabs are. I do know they are not on the car.

3. I love my neighbors who let me borrow their gas-powered mower when my grass is too long for the reel mower.

4. Back to irony. In February, when I thought Sleek was only going to last for another 2-3 months, I wrote down a bunch of stuff about what she has meant to me, brought into my life, etc. I also wrote down a bunch of stuff about what her decline and death might mean to me, and what I would gain and lose by her passing. One of the things I said I would gain was freedom from the tyranny of her reaction to fireworks. As the July 4 fireworks sales approach (June 28 is the first day), Sleek looks better than she did in February. Looks like I get to go through the fireworks with her one more time! We go Wednesday morning to talk to the vet about Xanax and Valium (for her, not for me). Pray for a cool week and especially a cool July 4 so we can shut the windows without suffocating.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What I Finally Sent

Dear Sister,

I’m a little confused by the message you forwarded. Whoever wrote it seems to object to Barack Obama running for US President for some unusual reasons: that his middle name is Hussein, not a conventional Christian name; that his father was Muslim at one point in his life and had a Muslim burial although he apparently was either agnostic or atheist at the time of his death; that a cousin named a child “Fidel” after Fidel Castro.

Like John McCain and many other sons before and after him, Barack Obama was given his father’s name. If John McCain’s middle name were Adolf, would that be worth mentioning as a factor in his suitability for the Presidency? To me, the President’s middle name has no effect on his performance.

Barack Obama has belonged to and worshipped at Christian churches for more than 20 years, so I don’t see why his father’s religious beliefs or lack of them should be an issue. We ourselves were raised by a Catholic father and a Methodist mother to be Catholics. Although I no longer identify as Catholic, I never felt I was less of a Catholic because my mother worshipped at a different church. I would be surprised if any member of our family felt we were less Catholic because Mom was Methodist.

As for the senior Obama’s funeral, the dead can’t really control the form of the services they receive, even if they express their wishes prior to death. Heck, look at our Dad. He rejected the Catholic Church years before his death, yet he received Last Rites when he was neither physically aware nor capable of telling the priest to go away. It was important to some members of his family, so he received them. It was important to some family members that the elder Obama receive a Muslim burial, so he did.

Then we get to the cousin rumor. First, it is not substantiated that the man claiming to be Obama’s cousin is a genetic relative. Second, if they are genetically connected, what difference does it make given they have had very little contact in their lives? We have cousins in Europe. For all we know, they may have given their children names that would sound odd to us. I hardly see them, even if we met them now, as strong influences on, or reflections of, our behavior or beliefs.

I guess I just don’t understand the email or the reasons why people would send an it. After all, I don’t think my status as a non-Christian would affect anyone in our family if they wanted to run for political office, would it? If you think it would, could you explain why? I really don’t get it.

In the meantime, here are a couple of links that deal with rumors circulating about Barack Obama. One is the product of the Obama campaign,, and the other is a more “neutral” source. Snopes, the rumor clarifying site, has devoted a section to Obama rumors. Some are found to be true, some mixed, and many false. The Snopes site is .

Thanks for any clarification you can add where I said I’m confused. Otherwise, happy reading!


Friday, June 13, 2008

Family Politics

I'm a bit to the left of most of my family, apparently, when it comes to politics. A couple of them tend to send a lot of rightwing crap around in presidential election years, and they've started up now with Obama-bashing. One sister sent some stuff today with pictures of Obama with various members of his father's side of the family and nasty comments about them, including nastiness on whether or not his father was Muslim. I'm thinking of sending the following letter to her, and to everyone who received her post.

Your comments welcome.

Dear Sister,

You were raised by a Catholic father and a Methodist mother as a Catholic. Do you feel you were (at the time: I realize you no longer identify as Catholic) contaminated or less of a Catholic because your mother was Methodist? Do you feel you are less of a Christian now for being raised by a Catholic father and a Methodist mother? Barack Obama has belonged to and worshipped at Christian churches for more than 20 years. Why would anyone suspect he is a Muslim? Just because he was given the same name as his father, as so many other sons before and after him have been? Whew.

Your father repudiated the Catholic Church years before his death; yet, he received the Holy Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick (aka Last Rites) shortly before his death when he was not physically aware nor capable of telling the priest to go away. I see this as parallel to Barack Obama’s father being buried in a religious ceremony. It’s a little difficult for the dead to dictate the type of service if the living choose to disregard their wishes.

You have a sister who is not Christian and has not been for at least 15 years. Would that disqualify you, or any member of your/her family, for elected office? The same sister has attended Passover and Sukkot rites with Jewish families. Would that affect your suitability for elected office? She has never voted for a Republican presidential candidate, although she has voted in every presidential election since 1980. Would that affect your suitability for elected office?

You may want to look at some other material about Barack Obama. Snopes has numerous clarifications addressing rumors circulated about Barack Obama. You will find them at
The Obama campaign has addressed a number of rumors at the website


Thursday, May 15, 2008

What Tarot Card Are You?

You are The Wheel of Fortune

Good fortune and happiness but sometimes a species of
intoxication with success

The Wheel of Fortune is all about big things, luck, change, fortune. Almost always good fortune. You are lucky in all things that you do and happy with the things that come to you. Be careful that success does not go to your head however. Sometimes luck can change.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spring Musings

I opted to chop back my five forsythias now that they're done blooming. I remember my dad cutting them back drastically when I was a kid. They always seemed to survive and even thrive on this treatment every several years. I want to chop now so they'll have lots of new growth for blooming next spring. Assuming this was not such a bad idea that they'll die -- I don't remember when in the year my dad chopped ours back.

Only three received the radical cut. Sleek has spent the last couple of summers digging a little nest between a couple of them, so I left those slightly taller for shading her nest. I will rue this next year because the two are in the middle and will be more difficult to cut back with the others' new growth, but I won't regret leaving Sleek her nest.

While cutting up the forsythia branches, I noticed a fair amount of noise 2 doors down. Two years ago that house was pretty noisy (for our neighborhood) in the summer, with a lot of late evening outdoor parties. Last year it was markedly quiet. This year noisier again? Same occupants, so perhaps they hoped to lull the neighbors into a false sense that the party year was an aberration.


Pet sitting this morning, I noticed that two of my clients have the same bedspread! What are the odds of that, I wonder. Made me laugh.


St. John's Wort may be nearly as expensive as pharmaceutical antidepressants when taken in the massive doses my ND/MD prescribed -- NINE droppersful per day. He still advocates taking either Lexapro or Welbutrin with that dose of St. John's Wort. Usually they say you should not take St. John's Wort with another anti-depressant, but he feels it can be done as long as you account for the SJW when deciding how much of the pharmaceutical to give. He will start me at 5mg of Lexapro if I go that route, or 75mg of Welbutrin.


Some evil little dog puked on my sweatshirt while in the car this evening. What is that about?


Pollen season is here. The car needs new wiper blades, but will the pollen mess up the blades too quickly? Will I care if I can't see through either the pollen on the windshield or the streaky arcs left by trying to wash the windshield with wiper fluid? And how much water do I have to drink to dilute the goopy feel of my eyes? Thank heavens for the digestive enzymes that help my body have enough energy left to deal with pollen!


Have you ever thought about the oxymoronic quality of calling an area of the US mainland the "Pacific Northwest?" This area is on the eastern side of the Pacific Ocean, and there is a lot of Canadian coastline that is further north....

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Love is Everywhere*

*Allman Brothers Band "Revival" ( to listen)

Okay, I'm starting to put one foot in front of the other to get myself out of this mental hole. I saw a psycologist last week, but I think he's more than I want to pay at this point since finances are one of my stressors, and told several friends that I think I need anti-depressants. This week I've admitted here that I'm in bad shape (THANK YOU, Mrs. G. for your comments over the months. I am grateful!), and made appointments with both my MD/ND and my previous counselor, whom I've not seen for about 3 months. I've also thought about what I didn't accomplish in counseling and my role in the process.

Sleek has been interesting in this. Over the past few days, she has shown some odd physical symptoms like poor digestion and a low amplitude, high frequency vibration in her body. She's looked rather stressed, which worries me because of her cancer. I also noticed the way her hair was lying down her spine was different, which usually means she needs a chiropractic adjustment. Those often help her digestion, too. Today I called the chiropractor's office and was able to get her in on short notice (always stay on good terms with the office staff!). The doc started to check in with her, then he turned to me and asked how I am doing. Because we're friends, I replied that I wasn't doing all that well, brain malfunction, etc. He asked if I would take a bottle of a particular supplement if he gave it to me. Turns out my beloved Sleek has been trying to give me energy to get my brain boosted enough to be functional, and that's why she's feeling a bit drained and lacking enough energy to properly digest her own food. She will get 2 per day of these tablets (and I will give Fluff the same amount because she's been a bit down lately, too) while I need 11 per day!

And I need to avoid all occasions of sin such as white flour, sugar, and starches. Yoiks!

We'll see what happens.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Reel Mower Power

Or, Kabbage is Losing It

I love reel mowers.

When you own one, you can get a bee in your bonnet to whack at some of the grass at 9:30 at night on a work/school night without irking the neighbors. I can't wait to see what my backyard looks like in the morning. My grass is really long, and we had rain most of the weekend. I decided to see if the grass was still short enough to mow by randomly mowing a strip. It is, and I did. Then I started zooming around the yard from taller patch to taller patch in interesting ways. I think I got about half of it mowed. Mowing in something other than straight lines was curiously freeing. Sort of like rolling down hills.

I haven't rolled down hills much lately, although I found doing so very helpful in 2006. I was telling a friend about how bad my depression has been lately, and she asked if I had rolled lately. Huh? I asked. You know, down hills. That really seemed to help you a lot, came the reply.

I hadn't thought about it, but she's right in the sense that I felt like I was making progress back then, and I don't now. I already think I need to try anti-depressants again (yeah, that interesting observation: I have no problem with other people using anti-depressants, but I get extremely pissed off when I think I'd better use them before I become totally non-functional). Getting them into my system and tweaked for the chronic depression would be a good thing before I add acute, situational depression on top by losing Sleek. I don't think there are enough hills to roll down to compensate for losing my Best Blonde (and I'm not talking about Mrs. G., although losing her voice would be depressing, too).

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Privilege Meme from Peripatetic Polar Bear

From this link, ,here's a meme about privilege. You're supposed to bold those that are true for you

Father went to college. (GI Bill after WWII)
Father finished college.
Mother went to college. (GI Bill after WWII -- mom was an Army nurse)
Mother finished college.
Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor. (one uncle by marriage was an attorney in a small town in southern Indiana)
Were the same or higher social class than your high school teachers.
Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.
Had more than 500 books in your childhood home.(considering all 8 of us maxed out our library cards every week, we probably had more than 500 books in the house at least until kids started moving out. Heck, I'm the only bookreader in my house, and I am pretty sure I have at least a couple hundred books right now.)
Were read children’s books by a parent.
Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18 . (5th of 6 kids means money was going toward college expenses before I could grab it for lessons)
Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18.
The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively.
Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18. (parental dead bodies before this would've happened. I think I only touched one of my mom's credit cards once or twice by 18)
Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs. (parents paid for tuition/room/board at a college we agreed upon considering costs as well as academic programs. Undergraduate degree only, and they were quite annoyed when I paid $150/semester for tuition/fees in grad school at the same university. I pointed out that they usually want you to have taken the course before you TA'ed it; therefore, not an option in undergrad days)
Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs.
Went to a private high school.
Went to summer camp. (Does Girl Scout camp for 1 week after 4th grade count?)
Had a private tutor before you turned 18.
Family vacations involved staying at hotels. (Most vacations were to my grandparents' homes, but some were to destinations that meant motels. We also did a few trips where we rented a condo at the beach to cut meal expenses.)
Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18. (Three older sisters and a girl down the street who was my age but much taller were sources of hand-me-downs. My mom sewed a lot for us, including my prom dress.)
Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them. (HA! not a chance for even a hand-me-down)
There was original art in your house when you were a child. (Sort of, if you include a [bad] painting I did in middle school and a paint-by-number that my parents did together before they decided to have children)
You and your family lived in a single-family house.
Your parents owned their own house or apartment before you left home. (I think the mortgage was paid off (13 years early, IIRC) in my senior year in high school. They moved to a different state -- but I found them! -- while I was in college and probably picked up a mortgage again at that point.)
You had your own room as a child. (after enough siblings grew up and left home. At 11 I had a room to myself when college was in session. At 13 I had a room of my own year-round, but I was only allowed to paint one wall because the room had been painted 2 years earlier when my oldest sister went to college and my youngest sister moved into it.)
You had a phone in your room before you turned 18. (we had one phone, 2 jacks. One jack in the dining room, the other in my parents' bedroom. Privacy on the phone was unlikely and fragile when achieved)
Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course. (We did some vocabulary work in my advanced English class and had filled out a bazillion multiple choice tests with number 2 pencils over the years, but no specific SAT prep class. Got 1400 anyway -- see books, above.)
Had your own TV in your room in high school. (we could have clock-radios or stand-alone radios)
Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college.
Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16. (I was 16, about a week and a half from turning 17)
Went on a cruise with your family.
Went on more than one cruise with your family.
Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up. (mostly museums. Loved the Natural History Museum in Pittsburgh, esp. the dinosaur bones and the stupid diorama of a lion attacking a camel driver.)
You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family. (didn't know dollar amounts, but certainly knew we were trying to conserve energy & money during the major energy crisis years ('77 and '78?) as my mom kept the house freakin' cold. I still do -- winter thermostat setting is usually between 60 and 65 degrees F)

What gets interesting is thinking about this and seeing what items mean privileged to me, and which seem ordinary. To me, the idea of having books around is unremarkable. I think it's really odd when I go to someone's house and see only a few, if any, books. Our schools did field trips to the museums and such in Pittsburgh, but we only lived in the suburbs so it wasn't too far. Looking at my childhood now, the most striking thing is color, or lack thereof. I never, ever had a black student in any of my classes all through public schools. I did have one black teacher for one year in high school when the regular teacher for that class took a sabbatical. My high school class had nearly 500 students, and not one of them was African-American. We had 3 or 4 Asian-American kids, but otherwise, European-American all the way.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sleek Update

Sleek, fat and happy.

Sleek looks great and seems to feel great, too. I was letting her eat a bit more to give her some reserves for later in the game. Sleek took to increased meals with great gusto and a disturbingly greedy glint in her eyes. She put on reserves. She put reserves on her reserves and looked for more. I looked at my dog and saw, instead of a dog suffering from cancer, a beautiful blonde bloated tick on long skinny legs. I told Sleek she did not need reserves adequate for surviving a nuclear winter.

Now Sleek is on a diet. Sleek does not like being on a diet. Sleek polishes her bowl. She polishes Fluff's bowl. Despite being mostly deaf, Sleek hears any movement I make toward the refrigerator or a kitchen cabinet and comes at a dead run. She practices looking like a show dog to see if I'll toss some food to her. If that doesn't work, Sleek tries staring and drooling. Eventually she gives up and wanders off, muttering sotto voce comments on which one of us would look better in a bathing suit anyway and who really should cut back on her food. Gotta love living with a teenager!

All of these pictures were taken Saturday, when Sleek turned 13 years and 11 months old. I don't know why she is squinting.

Gratuitous Fluff shot (I pay my models in liver, and Fluff wanted payment badly)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Canine Sense of Humor

Yesterday Sleek came up to me while I was sitting and bumped my hand for attention. I absently petted her then looked at my hand. There was a blood spot on it. I didn't remember cutting myself, and certainly she didn't nip at me. I touched her nose again, and found a new blood spot on my hand. Oooooookaaaaaaay, then. We've established Who is bleeding, now let's look at How much and Why. I'd only come home a few minutes earlier, and there was no blood involved in the greeting.

How much was a seemingly steady drip. Where was the inside of one nostril. I'm quietly flipping out. Were all the vets who said, oh, her cancer isn't going to metastasize wrong? Has she got some honking bleeding tumor in her nasal cavities that is going to kill her any moment? Nothing when I got home, a drip now, perhaps a gushing torrent in 5 minutes? I call the vet, get an appointment for 2 hours from now, cancel an afternoon appointment for a potential job and watch.

Gradually the drip ceases. But I'm paranoid because this is my girl with cancer so we still go off to the vet's. Sleek has just nicked the inside of her nose. It's scabbed over and fine. Whew.

I think Sleek was messing with me. I don't know how she nicked her nose just lying around the house and backyard when she never nicked it chasing rabbits through blackberry bushes. Today Sleek keeps on looking at me and smirking.

Trust me. Dog faces can completely form smirks. At least long skinny Belgian noses can smirk.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Teaching Moments -- How to Use Them?

My 2 senior citizens and I were walking along the river today. We were joined Slim and his young cattle dog, Blue. Slim and his wife found Blue in a shelter about 6 months ago. Blue is one of the smallest and cutest cattle dogs I've ever seen. Very lively, smart, charming. Slim wants a better recall on Blue because Blue is apt to go chasing after bikes, horses, other dogs, and people. Slim asked my opinion on electronic collars, and I told him I was leery of them because timing is so crucial in using them successfully. I don't think I have the timing necessary to use them properly, given that I accidentally clicker-trained poor Fluff to pick up a dumbbell and spit it out as fast as she could instead of picking it up and holding it*. I told Slim about one possible problem with the collar -- if the shock is timed incorrectly, the dog may associate the bikes or whatever as causing the shocks and feel like he really needs to get them under control or away from him. If that happens, he's going to be more assertive and/or aggressive going after them.

Slim was definitely in "yes, but" mode today. Honestly, I'm pretty sure he's made up his mind to try an e-collar. Equally honestly, I think his consistency and timing are going to suck enough that there is a good chance he'll ruin his dog. As we walked, I talked about positive reinforcement and the need to practice the recall when it's not needed. Blue was unable to get my dogs to play with him, so he'd mostly lost interest in them. I suggested Slim practice calling Blue away from Fluff when Fluff was chasing sticks and make it a party when Blue came to him. Slim throws some pretty boring parties. Blue would come, Slim would quietly say, "good dog," ask him to sit, and then give a cookie. My dogs, who normally glom on to anyone with cookies, didn't even notice Slim was handing out cookies, that's how understated he was.

Then we saw some people down the shoreline a ways. Blue noticed, and I tried to get Slim to call Blue before he took off running, when he still had a chance of the dog listening. No, Slim argues with me about how Blue knows these dogs, so it's okay. Ah, Slim, that is precisely the time to play this game! There are no disastrous consequences for failing! If Blue sees dogs he knows across a busy road, it's going to be nice to be able to call him back from going to see them, now isn't it? Better to practice on the beach with no one else around before stepping up the criteria several notches. Unfortunately I didn't think of this argument until after we had parted ways.

Since I am interested in teaching people as well as dogs, I wonder how I could best get through to someone like Slim. When I have a young dog again, after Sleek transitions, I'll be more able to show by example, but how to do it with words????

*If you are interested, I clicked late, after she had already begun to let go of the dumbbell, so she thought the trick was to let go of the dumbbell. As she got faster at spitting out, I had less and less time when I wouldn't be too late for the hold. Her ability to learn via clicker was faster than my ability to improve my click timing. It was ugly. Fluff never went on to get her CDX because of that and her dislike for out-of-sight stays.

Swimming Mantras for Today

I am 140 fit, flexible, strong and healthy pounds.*
I effortlessly earn $XXXX dollars every month doing things I enjoy.
I enjoy stretching to find my capabilities.

* please. it's a goal. stop laughing.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Peeve of the Day

The word is "REIN", people, not "reign" when you are talking about your spending or other excesses. I realize we're all a bit removed from the good ole days of using horses as a major form of transportation, but the phrase "reining in ____" comes from those horsey days. You rein in your horse when you want it to slow down or stop. Why do we say you "rein in" your horse? Because you pull on the reins. You know, those leather straps that run from the bridle to your hands? The reins.

Reign, on the other hand, goes with royalty, and not because we associate the British royal family as riding to the hunt on their horses using their reins to tell the horses where to go and when to slow down. No, we simply have a tradition of royalty reigning over the land they rule. (we might note that the Latin Regina would translate to Queen today) Queen Elizabeth is the reigning monarch. Prince Charles would like to reign over the British Empire before he's 100 years old, but that may not happen given family longevity. The reign of King George III was marred (from his POV) by the American War for Independence (aka Revolutionary War).

Had someone been able to rein in King George III's tendency to reign over the colonists by taxing them dearly, we might not celebrate July 4 as Independence Day.

Got it? Thank you for trying.

Monday, February 25, 2008


I'm coming to terms with the idea of Sleek leaving. Of course, when I knew she would probably leave before I did, and probably before Fluff did, too.

I spend some time thinking about what this experience of loving and losing Sleek brings to me. First I've been thinking about what knowing Sleek herself has brought to me. She has taught me a lot about self-possession. She is who she is, she knows who she is, and she's very comfortable with that. Fluff and I can learn a lot from Sleek on that front!

Her self-possession is a big part of Sleek's beauty, and she is a beautiful dog. OMG, when she was younger and hunting in an open field! Watching her move across that field brought shivers to my spine. She would glide across, much like a coyote or wolf would. Her back would barely move up and down she was so smooth. Sleek was so in to her hunting. It was a huge part of who she was. She still hunts some, but the body can no longer deliver that effortless movement.

Sleek has taught me a lot about graceful aging. She doesn't seem to miss the sustained hunting much. She'll poke around holes in the ground, maybe dig a little, and she will increase her pace if she sees a rabbit or squirrel, but I never see her doing anything that looks like she's cursing her body for no longer being able to catch rabbits or squirrels. The dog who once dislocated her sister's ribs simply because Fluff was standing between Sleek and where the ball was thrown, now barely trots after the ball. I think I miss Sleek's former physical prowess more than she does. I definitely miss the selective deafness as opposed to the current involuntary deafness. Before I had a chance that she would choose to hear me eventually, but that's not so much of an option for her anymore.

I've also learned about acceptance. Even as Sleek accepts aging and her impending transition, so I had to learn to accept that Sleek was a) not like Fluff when it came time to do some training; and b) not like a typical Malinois. Fluff loves training. She loves the bonding of it and the chance to see how quickly she can figure out what I want. Sleek is a lot more wary of training. I say that Fluff is a child of suburbia with a love for rules and predictability. Sleek is a child of the country. She'd rather run loose and make her own rules. Sleek hates, though, having people she loves upset with her. Unfortunately for training regimes, she thinks being asked to do things more than 2 or 3 times means she is doing them wrong; therefore, I must be getting upset or close to getting upset. Sleek shuts down into her default mode: "When in doubt, sit. No one yells at a sitting dog." Eventually I learned and accepted that Sleek was not going to be a competition dog with me.

Sleek and I came to some agreements on a few things that are important to me. She may have thought some or all of them were bad ideas at times, but she has acceded. First, she and Fluff must get along. I will not deal with bitch fights where the combatants must be kept separated at all times lest they, for real, try to kill one another. I told Sleek very soon after she joined us that should the two of them begin to fight that way, Sleek would be the one looking for a new home, no matter what. Second, she may not jump the fence and go cat hunting/killing. She did that once. I chased her (after I put clothes I could jump the fence in on), caught up with her, and read her the riot act the whole way home (around the block, not back over the fence). She was devastated for 3 days (would not look at me, tried to avoid being noticed) but never went over the fence after a cat again. Third, Sleek is supposed to stay off the furniture unless invited. We came to an agreement where she stays off when I'm home and gets on when I'm not.

Sleek's passing also brings up a lot of stuff for me, but I'll cover that another day.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Why I Haven't Been Posting

Letter sent to RL friends on February 19, 2008.

Thank you to all who asked how Sleek and Fluff and I are doing.

The last evaluations of Sleek’s cancer are still a bit indeterminate (“we can tell what it is if you cut it off and send it in….”), but the cells appear to epithelial neoplasia at the skin level, with a small chance that it could be mammary gland too/instead. Sleek’s vet thinks they are unlikely to metastasize. Chest X-rays taken at the same time the needle aspirations were done show no signs of metastases. Sleek still looks generally okay and continues to eat well and be interested in walks and sniffing every freakin’ blade of grass on the walks. She still asks for cuddling and lets me know at night when she is ready to go to bed. I go to bed then, too, because she’s very hard to move once she’s settled across the middle of the bed. A queen-sized bed is not big enough for two when Sleek takes my spot in the middle.

Spiritually, Sleek gives the impression of a soul ready to move on to the next adventure. Given that, her age, and her general condition, I have decided not to pursue anything radical in terms of “fighting” her cancer. I’ll adjust her diet as needed to support her and continue chiropractic. I’ll look into acupuncture for her, too, to help with any pain or energy blocks that may come up.

Fluff seems to not understand why Sleek is leaving and to prefer that Sleek stay so Fluff doesn’t have to worry (it is all about Fluff, thank you very much!). I’m calmer now (most of the time) and am focusing on looking at what Sleek has brought into my life, what her death will mean to me, and what my fears and concerns are about her transition period and eventual death. Because Fluff and I are (too) deeply connected, this work will help me figure out how to support all of us as Sleek travels on without Fluff and me. We may have another 2-3 months of physical togetherness.

We very much enjoyed the beautiful weekend weather. I took the girls down to Cottonwood Beach both Saturday and Sunday. Fluff got to retrieve sticks from the water, and Sleek got to sniff and hunt. Although there were no carrion-rolling incidents, Fluff did bring a good bit of “river essence” home in her skirts. Let’s just say “minty-fresh” and "Fluff" are not synonymous. Saturday we walked with several other people and dogs whom we met there, and Sunday was more of a family day.

Thank you again for your love and concern. I feel it, and it helps.

kabbage, Sleek, and Fluff

Friday, February 01, 2008

Healing and Faith

A few days ago the Peripatetic Polar Bear asked a question about whether faith healers truly believe they heal or if they're all a bunch of charlatans ( ). I kind of liked my reply, although I didn't read the blog entry that triggered her question until afterward. Had I read it first, the context and thus content of my answer probably would have been different.

I think the answer is, "It depends." Some faith healers probably believe they have a gift, and some may be in it for money or notoriety or some other reason. Some probably start one way and end up another. Who gave the title of "faith healer?" The priest himself, or people who had seen the work he'd done or _____? I think there are some people who can facilitate other people's healing, at various levels. In one sense, we do that when we "kiss a boo-boo and make it better." When it comes to more serious illnesses, like cancer, I still think some people can help some others heal or heal themselves, in part or in whole. No single "conventional" treatment works for all people, so I think it stands to reason that no single "unconventional" treatment, be it snake oil, prayer, or casting out demons, is going to work for all people.

I do a form of bodywork and training for animals that can be energy work or can be done without energy playing an obvious role. I don't *try* to transfer energy in either direction when I'm working with a client, but people (I sometimes work on people I know) tell me my hands feel very, very warm or hot to them. To me, they are comfortably warm. Can *I* heal? No. Can I, in some cases, help bring awareness to the client (human or animal) so that they are able to change something? Yes.

What I think we don't acknowledge is that we can be operating at multiple levels. There may a part of us that wants to heal right here and now. There may be another part, which we may not even be aware of, that says there is a reason for this illness or challenge and sustains the progression of the disease. Maybe our souls have something to learn or experience from this event, maybe we're there as a teaching moment to others around us. Sometimes our environment, be it physical or emotional/mental, does not permit us to heal. I think many of us have heard of kids who act out their parents' issues by getting sick frequently or having behavior issues. Heck, my *dogs* do that for me because we're so tightly linked. I may not be aware of how I'm feeling because I stuff things down, but they know and act stuff out in their bodies and behavior to clue me in. Sometimes there is something in the physical environment, not just the psychic one, that prevents healing. Maybe it's something that doesn't bother most people, but in a particular case, it does bother one enough to prevent healing.

This is when it's helpful to believe that we are energetic beings choosing to have a physical experience in this lifetime.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Impressed, but not in a Good Way

Because I have dogs, I bought a Honda Element. It is a great dog car because the upholstery is designed to be water-resistant and easy to clean and the car lacks carpeting, instead having textured plastic that does not absorb water or other fluids. I have mine configured with only one back seat installed, so about three quarters of the back is just floor. The seat that is installed has a blanket on it because I'm more likely to throw a blanket in the wash than I am to actually clean the car (yes, I am a pig).

I took Fluff with me to run to the grocery store. Got out of the store and opened the hatch to load the food. I notice a little bit of puke just behind the back seat, so my eyes travel upward. It appears that Fluff has outdone herself. First, she rarely pukes. Second, she has managed to puke so she almost entirely missed the blanket. She has, however, puked in the hinge pocket which is lined with more absorbent fabric and on the seat where stuff could pass through and drip on the floor. On the floor right by where the spare tire cover ends so there is another slight path to another level of the car.

I'm impressed. With over 80 percent of the available surfaces impervious to puke, she's managed to find the places that are not and use them. Oh, well, at one point when the car was less than a year old, her sister Sleek puked down the emergency brake housing. I love living with animals!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Snappy Good Comeback Needed

Scenario: kabbage, sleek, and fluff are returning from their morning walk. when they reach their own yard, kabbage continues across the grass with the dogs still on leash. since sleek is nearly completely deaf, kabbage wants her away from the street (no curbs, for one thing) before turning her loose. car pulls over to the side of the road. middle-aged (older than kabbage, who is mid-40s!) woman lowers the passenger window and asks kabbage something. kabbage has to ask the woman to repeat herself twice before actually hearing the question. woman asks kabbage if she ever wonders what people think about her walking her dogs across their yards. kabbage is dumfounded and stares blankly with mouth open. it's her own fine* yard, for heaven's sake! and this is a total fine* stranger. gradually kabbage's lower jaw begins to waggle as she tells the woman that this in fact her own yard and by the way, did the woman notice the used bag kabbage was carrying? Woman says, "Okay, good" and drives off, leaving kabbage in a highly adrenalized state.

kabbage has come up with some better replies since then (plenty of time to think in the shower!):

  • do you ever wonder about people who make snap judgments about other people's behavior and feel free to share those judgments with the people?
  • do you have cats? do you allow them out of the house unsupervised? pot, kettle, black.
  • do you know the people who live in this house? do you think they'd have a problem with these dogs being in their yard? (this one had the most potential for interesting dialogue going further, if woman answered in the affirmative)
  • bursting into song from Jesus Christ Superstar (where Judas is dissing Mary Magdalene and JC comes down hard on him for being judgmental)
  • saying numerous unprintable words loudly and rapidly

questions for the viewer:

  1. what situations would lead you to pull your car over and comment on someone else's behavior?
  2. was the woman's behavior appropriate? why or why not?
  3. is kabbage over-reacting? why or why not?
  4. what would you have said to the woman if you were in kabbage's shoes? would you have smacked the woman's car with your used bag in the hopes of premature bag failure? why or why not?
  5. would you have apologized after kabbage told you it was her fine* house? why or why not?
  6. do you become apoplectic if someone's dog unloads in your yard but the owner immediately picks up after it? why or why not?

    *fine is the "polite" 4-letter f-word.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Miscellaneous Bits

My skin is too "mature" to handle drying east winds, temperatures in the 20s, and swimming. Am I wishing for the adolescent grease? The still-functioning brain cells say when I swam in my past, I sometimes ended up with dry flakey oily skin.

Swimming was great fun again today. I was the only person in the pool, so I had my own personal lifeguard! Mantras were pretty similar to last time.

Weather is beautiful. This is the stuff that made leaving the midwest for the land of winter rain challenging (hot, humid summer weather is why I left. Even the SAD I have now is better than the perpetually crabby mood of summer in Cincinnati). Cold, clear. Low humidity, so very crisp air. Almost full moon. East wind. I'm so enlivened that I walked my dogs twice today and client dogs 2.5 times (the pugs don't count as a full walk, even though I took them out twice). And I swam a half mile.

Now to feed starving ravenous bitches (just ask them) and go to bed!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Swimming Mantras 1-20-08

I am strong, fit, and flexible in body, mind, and heart.
I love and am loved. I live in a universe ruled by love.
I set goals and act to achieve them.

Lovely day in the pool. The mantras seemed to help me release worries about time, and I was still able to keep count of my lengths (previously my length # had been my mantra). I had the lane to myself, which is especially nice when I'm doing backstroke and elementary backstroke. My relaxed state led me to swim a little farther (further? not sure on those two when to use one and not the other -- comments welcome), so I did 36 lengths (1/2 mile) instead of stopping at 30. Had some nice conversation with women in the locker room -- nothing earth-shattering but a nice confirmation of mantra #2 above! -- and messed with the lifeguard's mind by thanking him for being there so I'd be allowed to swim. Perhaps it's not fair to hit a poor teenaged guy with something like that, but it was fun. The admission person at the front counter was pleased when I thanked her for being there.

Off to have a little experience with my little red vacuum cleaner!

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Sleek is fading away. It began years ago with a little frost on the muzzle. Then her feet started looking lighter in color. Her stomach began to have trouble with food that previously hadn't bothered her. If she ran and played really hard one day, she'd be stiff the next. She could no longer jump into my arms. About 3 years ago, I began to see the beginnings of clouds in her eyes. Off leash, she began to walk within 20 feet of me instead of 200 yards.

Two years ago the vets began to mention a heart murmur. She stopped being interested in chasing the ball after years of knocking other dogs out of the way if they got to the ball first. A year ago I took her to the cardiologists at OSU. They confirmed the murmur but said it wasn't bad, just watch for changes in exercise tolerance and coughing.

Over the past few weeks, Sleek's hearing has gotten really bad. For a long time I've thought it was fading, although it's been hard to tell physical hearing loss from psychological hearing loss ("Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't hear you say not to chase those deer...."). Now even a high-pitched "Sleeeeeeeek!!!!!" seems to be genuinely hit or miss. We had a tornado in town a week or so ago. We were nowhere near it, but I heard some odd thunder or thunder-like noises. Sleek didn't react. In the past, she has reacted when she heard thunder on the radio, so this was big.

I wonder what it is like for her. Does she know her hearing is going? Does she ever think about how quiet her world has gotten? Does she wonder what happened to the noises? She'll look at me sometimes when I'm talking to her while I fix the dogs' food. Her ears are up, she looks alert, but her ears are not moving as my intonations change. On the other hand, she's not cocking her head to the side like she's trying to understand me. Does that mean she can hear some of it or just that she knows what I say at times like that is never really important anyway?

Ah, well. We go on. She has general routines for daily life, so she has a good idea of roughly when things are going to happen. I've never given my dogs a really rigid schedule so they're fairly flexible and accepting of 1-2 hour variations in meal times, walk times, etc. She's still very happy when walk or meal times come around. A few weeks ago she got to flirt with a male Tervuren (long-haired version of Malinois). That made her very happy to think that she still is sexy in the eyes of a boy in his prime. As long as she's still happy to be here, she is welcome to stay. When she says she's tired of this life, it will be soon enough to say goodbye to my beautiful blonde.


Xena and 3rd Co-owner tell me Fleur was being Fleur. The good news is I can thus more easily not take it personally. The bad news is that I still think she was being a jerk. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I don't want to get a dog from someone I think is a jerk, so she's still moved way, way, way down the list of breeders to consider.

I found my checkbook. In the car. Strangely, it has no more money in it now that I've found it than it did before I lost it. Disappointing. You would think if the thing is going to go MIA, it could be doing something useful like finding someone to put its deposit slips to good use. I'm glad I found it. I would hate to lose the checkbook cover.

It's fabric origami and way cool. Click on the link to see more patterns. I think I'm going to get one of the brighter ones, too. Then I'll use this one for business checking and the brighter one for personal.

sunny side of life

The bad news: I can't find my checkbook. I need to pay bills.

The good news: I've cleaned up a lot of stuff over the past hour while searching for the damn thing.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I Don't Understand

About 14 years ago, Fleur and friend drove to Canada with Sleek's mom so Sleek's Mom could meet Sleek's Dad. Fleur is the breeder of record on Sleek's papers.

In the intervening 14 years, Sleek was born, bounced around her co-owners' homes, and successfully shown to a conformation championship and an obedience title. Then I stumbled into the picture just after Sleek was spayed because they had decided she wasn't needed in her breed's genepool. She has lived with me for the past 9 years, picking up a herding certification along the way, being a loved and loving member of my family. Although Fleur signed off on Sleek's registration papers so I could own her, she really had nothing to do with the decision to rehome Sleek with me. That was Xena's choice, and the others just agreed to it. The 3rd co-owner moved up to our area a few years after I got Sleek, so we've seen her a number of times. I've sent Fleur pictures and a few anecdotes over the years but never met her until a year ago when we ate dinner at the opposite ends of a large table. So not much contact and usually at my instigation.

Yesterday Fleur flew into town here so she could go to a dog show this afternoon. I called her yesterday and asked if she would like to see Sleek while she was here. She said yes and gave me a few factoids of her schedule: where she was staying, when she was leaving. She thought maybe we could get together this morning and asked how Sleek is doing. I paused and then told her Sleek is doing okay, a little creaky, has heart murmur, and such. She is and acts like an old dog. Fleur told me they were just reaching the hotel and she would call me back in half an hour after they checked in so we could make final arrangements to meet.

Fleur didn't call.

I tried calling her a couple of hours later, and her phone went straight to voice mail. I called both her hotel room and her cell phone this morning with no reply and no return call.

I do not understand this. I can understand where it may not be important to Fleur to see Sleek. She no longer has any dogs closely related to Sleek, and I doubt she's looking at lines similar to Sleek's for the future. That's fine. Maybe Fleur hates to see old dogs. It's painful sometimes if you knew them in their prime to see the changes. Maybe she'd rather have the memories of Sleek as young and full of herself and, frankly, sleek. That's fine.

Just be honest with me. Or at least white lie: gosh, wish we could get together, but it's such a short trip that I won't have any time. Don't tell me you'll call and then turn off the phone.

It's tacky, it's incredibly hurtful, and Fleur is old enough (probably in her 50s) to know better. Additionally, it's a stupid business move, given that Fleur still breeds dogs of Sleek's breed. Where I might have thought naturally about going back to the breeder responsible for breeding the dog I love, I now probably will not consider her. If she's not available for me when I do NOT have a problem, would I reasonably expect her to be if I did have a problem with a dog of her breeding?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

They Took My Stash

Of plastic bags, that is. My car had to go back to the shop this week because of extreme leakiness. Turns out that when they repaired the 2007 accident (as opposed to the 2006 accident, neither of which were my fault, btw), they pinched some drain lines and left some plugs out. Things were bad for my interior in our rainy weather! As soon as the car moved, there would be a stream (sometimes 2) of water from the ceiling. Nellie the Element was a very soggy girl inside (thank heavens Honda Elements have no carpeting, or Nellie would be a very stinky girl, too).

Anyway, I cleaned out the car before I took it in since I knew they'd be crawling all around the interior. I left a stash of plastic bags under the front seat, though, and now they're gone. I guess it's what I get for living an alternative lifestyle -- other people don't understand the need for plastic bags in the car and see them as trivial or, in this case, trash.

I, on the other hand, see them as future poop bags and keep some in the car in case I've somehow emptied all my pockets.

Sigh. I guess I have to buy and eat some produce now so I can get more bags.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
North Central
The Inland North
The South
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

And it's been over 15 years

You are 97% Pittsburgh.

Great job! There's nooooo doubt about it. You're from Da Burgh. You deserve a reward, so go have an Ahrn City or two. And GO STILLERS!

How Pittsburgh Are You
See All Our Quizzes


89% Barack Obama
88% John Edwards
88% Chris Dodd
86% Hillary Clinton
84% Bill Richardson
81% Joe Biden
79% Mike Gravel
73% Dennis Kucinich
41% Rudy Giuliani
36% John McCain
35% Tom Tancredo
31% Mike Huckabee
28% Mitt Romney
20% Ron Paul
20% Fred Thompson

2008 Presidential Candidate Matching Quiz

Thursday, January 03, 2008

New Year's Greeting for Mrs. G.

As George did not have your email address, he asked me to pass this on to you. I'll tell him you said Hi....

(let me know if you need the larger bitmap version of this!)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


I took a walk at our local Little League park today. This place probably has 6 or 7 ball fields of varying sizes. Today is rainy, probably about 0.75 inches so far, so I wore boots and planned to puddle-stomp. The infields tend to have generous puddles at the juncture of infield dirt and outfield grass, and I hit almost all of them. It was great!

Some of the infields are a slick mixture of clay and sand, making some of the run-n-stomp moves a little more exciting. I started to think about skating. Wouldn't it be cool if these ball fields were converted to ice rinks for the winter? Our winters are too mild, but what an idea! With a multitude of rinks, they could be split for different functions. Some could be for rank beginners or tiny kids. I'll be on the one for adult incompetents! Some could be designated for hockey or even curling. Some could be teaching rinks, while others could be for open skates. They could even be split by music preferences. The fields already have benches in the dugouts that could be used for donning and doffing skates and concession stands for hot chocolate.

One thing we would have to do in this town, if we were heading for nuclear winter instead of global warming, is to improve the drainage of the parking lots and walking paths. Those had the deepest puddles in the park.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Things to Remember in 2008

These are not resolutions, don't you know.

  • Change is good, even necessary.

  • Keep Einstein in mind. "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

  • Simple way to apply to life: ask myself, "so, how is X working for you?" where X is some trait or behavior that I know is self-defeating but that I continue to do.

  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour. Midnight is not a reasonable hour when the alarm goes off at 5a.m.

  • Exercise! Exercise with dogs, exercise without dogs. Moving blood around the body is a good thing that allows one to keep the furnace setting lower.

  • Speaking of the furnace, change the filter! Poor thing probably has a dog's worth of hair on it. That is, a whole 'nother dog, made out of hair from the incumbents.

  • Give the incumbents quality time (i.e., get off the freakin' computer, idiot!). I'll be surprised if Sleek sees 2009. Then again, last January/February I didn't think she'd see 2008. Fluff is 12 now, so she's no spring chicken, either. Not to mention, who wouldn't want to look at these faces rather than the computer screen?

Fluff and Sleek smiling at Champoeg State Park a couple of summers ago. photos courtesy of brisbeethewhite.

Happy 2008 to all of us (that includes you, dear reader)!

(gratuitous Sleek picture. This is one reason we refer to Malinois as "Maligators", although Sleek is only scratching her back here. You can't even see her tattoos from this angle, but doesn't she have the longest jaws?)

Classic Body Language

This is classic canine body language.

Sleek is warning Whitey away from the toy (small blue/white and yellow blob near Whitey's upraised paw in the picture). Sleek is all about straight, hard angular lines. She's standing very straight, stiff, and tall with her head up. Her eyes are hard and her stare is very direct. Even her ears are laid back stiffly. She's showing darn near all her pearly whites in her rigid jaws. You can't see in the picture, but her hackles are probably raised and her tail is probably stiff and held almost level with her back.

Whitey, on the other hand, is all about curves and softness. He has realized he made a bad mistake in trying to take Sleek's toy. He doesn't have the social position or self-confidence needed to convince Sleek that he really should own it. His posture is soft and somewhat crouched -- he wants to look as small and harmless as possible to Sleek. His left paw is up in a submissive move as he tries to move slowly away from She-Who-Owns-The-Toy. You'll notice he's curving away from her -- look at his right shoulder and ribcage -- although he's afraid to take his eyes off her. His ears are soft and submissively lowered, and his head is going down as he bows to the Toy Queen. His eyes are probably soft and not looking straight at her, and he's probably licking his lips alot.

This was the end of it. Whitey backed off, and Sleek picked up the toy to carry it to a human. Whitey, being fairly short and lacking opposable thumbs, is absolutely useless in the toy-throwing department, and Sleek wanted the toy to fly again. Whitey probably never has tried to steal Sleek's toy again. If you are a dog, you just don't try to take Sleek's toy.