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.