Saturday, August 30, 2008

Just a quick post.

  • Trixie got her second round of shots today-- and her first visit to the vet's office. She weighed in at 5.8 pounds and knocked a few more numbers off the 100 people she's supposed to meet before she turns three months old. (It's a "socialization" thing. . .)
  • There are some new puppy photos on my flickr photostream, if you're interested. One of these days, I'll probably post more than two or three photos at a time of something not related to Trixie, but that time hasn't come yet. ;o)
  • Speaking of my photos at flickr, someone recently identified the weird white bug-things I photographed a few months ago. They're ladybug larvae!
  • We're still keeping an eye on Hurricane Gustav (with Hanna also on the periphery of our attention), but so far, there's not much to say. We'll just have to wait and see. It's very unlikely that we'll have to face the worst of the storm, as it's predicted to come ashore in Louisiana, but we're still being advised to take precautions and stay alert to possible changes in the forecast.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bulleted List of Random Stuff

  • I don't think I've mentioned (have I?) that Trixie pretty much knows "sit", now. Or at least I think she does. . . In any case, she knows that when you hold up a treat and say "Sit!" she needs to sit to get it. Maybe she thinks "sit" is what we call treats. ;o)
  • Happiness is a well-stocked pantry. (Among other things, of course.)
  • Tonight, while looking at a map of the Gulf of Mexico (and surrounding landmasses), I was suddenly hit by a wave of. . . I don't know. . . more than familiarity. Just a feeling of deep well-being. That feeling you get when you come home and kick off your shoes after a long day. "Relax. This is where you belong." Weird. I guess this is what happens when you've looked at one map enough times. . . ? (g))
  • If you care about the future of talk radio (or in other words, the (un)Fairness Doctrine)-- or, indeed, of the country as a whole-- you might be interested in what happened when Stanley Kurtz went on a radio program to discuss Barack Obama's connection to William Ayers (who was involved in terrorist activities in the 1970s). Here are a few links: One, Two, Three. . . .I wonder how much longer free speech will be around? "We want it to stop"? Well, too bad! (Is it just me, or does that sound like a toddler pitching a tantrum? Maybe they're mentally or emotionally stuck at that level. . .) The last I heard, we're still allowed to voice dissenting opinions. (And in this instance, it wasn't merely opinion.) Isn't it funny how dissent and protest are noble-- patriotic-- when they come from one perspective, but they must be silenced when they come from another? So strange. . .
  • Was listening to a little of "the speech" tonight, but I can only take so many platitudes in one serving. The close shots of worshipers people in the audience, looking up with awe in their eyes? Yuck. Oh, and I'm considering striking the word "CHANGE" from my vocabulary. ;o) (Btw, look who's talking about not having a record to run on!!)
  • Molly got a new squeaky toy tonight. It interested her until the precise moment that she heard Trixie's little toy squeak again. (g)

Car Tags, Bratty Puppy, and Gustav

I decided to try renewing our car tags in my hometown, this time around. This was the first time they've had that option available. There were quite a few cars in the parking lot, but everyone else must've been in different parts of the complex. Maybe I was just exceptionally lucky, but I walked in (around 9:30 this morning) and didn't even have a chance to think about taking a number and sitting down in the waiting area. Instead, I was greeted by so many "open" windows that I wasn't sure which one to go to! I know where I'll be going, from now on. (g)

(On the other hand. . . What a waste of our taxes to keep that many people there-- six? seven? or was it eight?-- if it's usually that slow!)

** ** ** ** **

Trixie has lately seemed an odd mixture of sweet little puppy and mean little brat. She knows how to make you feel welcome-- especially when she hasn't seen you for a while-- with a bouncy run, a wagging tail, and every other sign of joyful eagerness. As for the bratty part, it's mostly biting (even when you're trying to clean up after her-- something I find particularly insulting) and then yapping and posturing ("Oh yeah? We'll just see about that! You can't tell me what to do!"-- only in dog language (g)) when she's told to stop.

I guess they're all this way, when they're little. At least I hope so. . . I really, really hope she behaves better than this when she's older!

Warning: I'm about to muse (boringly) on dog behavior. Feel free to skip down to the next row of stars. (g)

Thinking about puppy behavior has made me wonder how much an owner determines his/her dog's (or cat's) behavior. (I guess it's just a twist on the old nature vs. nurture debate. Nothing new.) Do we gravitate toward animals with certain personalities, or do we somehow influence them and mold their behaviors (unintentionally, I mean-- not talking about obedience training here)?

I don't think we chose any of our dogs based on their behavior. We chose Molly because she was the only one in the litter with the color and gender we wanted. And with both Daisy and Trixie, I don't think we could really tell what kind of personality they'd have when we chose them. I know that some experts advise that you look for certain behaviors or tendencies when choosing a pet, but I'm skeptical. It seems to be mostly the luck of the draw, even if you're making a careful choice.

. . . Was the laid back Skipper ever a biter, like Trixie? I don't remember Daisy ever biting this much, but maybe I've just forgotten. Am I somehow influencing Trixie to bite? Maybe by playing relatively rough games with her, like keep-away and tug-of-war? Molly definitely was a biter as a puppy. She grew out of it. However, I still don't trust Molly as much as I trusted Daisy to not ever bite me "by accident" (or instinctive response to something unpleasant, like accidentally pulling hair during grooming). . . How much of a dog's behavior boils down to breed-- how much to breeding-- and how much to individual personality?

** ** ** ** **

The grocery store seemed a bit busier than usual. Maybe it was just my imagination. People weren't quite pulling everything off the shelves or fighting over the last pack of batteries. (g)* But-- some sizes of batteries had been sold out, and I'm pretty sure it had something to do with Tropical Storm Gustav.

It's still too early to tell where it's likely to go, but I can't help but notice that the latest GFDL model takes it right over us. (And I do mean right over us.)

Of course, the other models steer it further west, and the official forecast is also centered further from us. Still, something to keep an eye on for the next day or two. . .

*(I haven't ever seen anyone actually fighting over something in a shop, but I have been to the store before a storm only to find that certain aisles-- canned goods, for instance-- are almost bare. Can't remember if that was before Ivan or one of the other storms. . .)

ETA: Since I wrote the above, they've posted an updated set of models, and the GFDL is tending more westwardly, too. I don't wish a storm on anyone else, but I still hope it doesn't come here. That little edge in the atmosphere at the store brought back some unpleasant memories of sitting on the bathroom floor, half expecting the front door to blow in or the roof to lift off the house. I'm not eager to repeat that experience.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Disconnected Thoughts

Have to go renew our car tags sometime this week. I'm debating where to do it. Definitely not in "big F"-- and I'm not really "feeling" BM, either. (Locals can probably decipher the abbreviations.) So that narrows it down to "little F" or my hometown, which apparently now has a satellite courthouse. (ETA: Or, if not a full-fledged satellite courthouse, at least a place to renew car tags. . .) In that case, though, I'll have to find out where in town it's located. . .

** ** ** ** **
Also on the agenda: Must call back the termite place to schedule a re-treatment/renewal of our insurance contract. (Stupid termites. (g)) Also need to look into Trixie's next shots and contact the insurance company to change the frequency of our billing. After the recent rearranging of their policies, they put us on the monthly billing cycle. No thanks! I don't need another thing to remember every month (or the additional service charges). I'd much rather pay up in advance.

** ** ** ** **
Trixie is addicted to Milkbones (the puppy-size version), and all we have to do to get her back in her room is rattle the box temptingly. (g) She also likes ice cubes, but they're not quite as exciting as the treats. (Incidentally, I wonder what's in those things to make them so much better than regular dry dog food. They don't look or smell very special. . . I suppose I could look at the ingredients, but apparently I don't care enough to take the time.)

** ** ** ** **
I still have to force myself to put a period after "I wonder" statements, instead of a question mark. I know the period's correct, but the question mark often feels more appropriate.

** ** ** ** **
I listened to Stephanie Meyer's Twilight (in audiobook form) last week, and now I'm listening to New Moon. I had thought I might not be capable of listening to books on tape, because the last time I tried, I had a hard time focusing. However, I was also irritated by the story itself, and I now think that was the problem.

These books certainly aren't great works of literature, but they don't really try to be, which makes it less obvious. As for their being "YA" (young adult), I think I may actually prefer that. So many of the contemporary novels I've read have left me disappointed. At least with YA novels there's less likelihood of encountering some of my pet peeves (excessive foul language, needless details about blood and gore, etc.). I don't know why some authors think that adults require cursing, raunch, and gore in their reading. Maybe I'm not adult enough to "appreciate" those things. ;o)

Anyway, there are a few annoying things about listening to the someone else read the story. I'm not crazy about the way the dialogue is tinted with the reader's personal interpretation. (Well, the whole story is, really, but it's most noticeable in dialogue, I think.) Also, she occasionally uses intonation that just feels wrong to me, and I can't help thinking, "No, you should've read that this way." (g) (She raises her pitch too frequently for my tastes-- like she's constantly asking questions in the middle of sentences.) There's also the way she pronounces certain names-- "Bella" and "Jacob", especially. (It's "Jay-cub", not "Jay-cup"!) But I can deal with it-- and it's nice to be able to work while I listen, so I don't have to feel quite as guilty for indulging in a frivolous novel in the middle of the day. ;o)

** ** ** ** **
We're keeping a close eye on Tropical Storm Gustav. At this point, of course, it's impossible to know exactly where it'll go, but we're well within the range of possible "destinations". Still, no need to panic yet. (g)

** ** ** ** **
I know I'm forgetting things I wanted to mention. . . Oh well! Must not have been very important things, at least.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hm. . .

One more political entry, then I'll try to avoid the subject for a while. (g)

Here's an interesting clip-- from a 1957 film titled A Face in the Crowd-- in which a scary (non-Mayberry) version of Andy Griffith schools a dry politician in the art of selling yourself to the public:

About 1:20 to 1:30-- ". . . the people want capsule slogans: "Time for a change!"

Uh-huh. Now, why does that sound so familiar?

If you're up for it, check out this related article: "Is Barack Obama 'A Face in the Crowd'?", by Mark Stuart Ellison.

Just in case you didn't know. . .

Just a quick heads-up, in case you hadn't already heard. . .

The word is out!

Racism is the only reason Obama might lose.


I must be a racist then, because I'm sure as heck not voting for Obama this November. I could've sworn that I'd made this decision based on my certainty that his proposals would hurt the country-- take it even further from the path I feel is best for me, my family, and generations to come. Actually, I'd even convinced myself that I'd gladly have voted for a black person who came closer to my beliefs than either of the candidates we're stuck with, this time around. But apparently I was wrong. The only possible reason I could have decided not to support Obama must be that deep down, I'm a racist.

I suppose I really ought to have known, all along. After all, I am a white girl from Alabama, and everyone knows that all white Southerners are sheet-wearing-- well, you get the point.

(shrug) Sorry if I'm a tad bit bilious. It's a sore spot for me-- and I've had it up to here with this kind of absolute crap. One dose too many, I guess. It had to overflow somewhere.

Kite Surfer Accident Video

Have you seen this video?

The gist: A guy was kite surfing in Fort Lauderdale, FL, during Tropical Storm Fay. (Yeah, I know. That's what we thought, too.) A sudden gust of wind picked him up, dropped him onto the beach, dragged him a bit, them yanked him back up-- over a road-- and into a building! He had to be taken to the hospital, but he's home now, so you can watch the video without feeling weird about it. ;o)

Speaking of Fay-- I think "she" was just a tropical depression by the time she got here. Saturday was rainier and Sunday was windier than normal, and we're getting lots of rain this morning. Now we're keeping an eye on the next round of "disturbances". . .

Hometown Photos

Over at Flickr, I searched for the name of my hometown and found a surprising number of photos. Surprising for me, at least, considering that the town is small. Some of the photos featured instantly-recognizable landmarks. Others could have been taken anywhere.

Anyway, here's a little collage of some of the photos (though not many of the "instantly recognizable" ones). For no reason in particular, except that I wanted something mindless to do with my hands, this weekend, while I listened to a book on tape.

I know these photos make you want to visit my hometown, right? ;o)

Honestly, these aren't very representative of the area as a whole. They give it more of a carnival/junk yard appearance than it deserves, I think. (g)


Or, er, "puppy update", to be more conventional.

Let's put it in list format, shall we?
  • Still bites, but seems to understand that she's not supposed to bite hard. This doesn't necessarily prevent her from doing it, though-- particularly when she's excited by play.
  • Has developed a habit of "summoning" us to her room when she has a non-puddly surprise for us to see. Does so by standing by the "surprise" and yapping. (Unnecessary to add "loudly", as she is incapable of yapping quietly.) Not sure if she's calling her maid to task or proudly displaying her latest efforts. . . Now just need to train her to yap before she "goes".
  • Displays promise for future howling, but probably won't rival Molly's ability, in that arena.
  • Cries when she thinks we take too long to come see her in the morning. This makes sleeping late on the weekend an impossibility. (If I'm up to see her, I go ahead and clean up after her nighttime adventures, and by the time I've mopped the floor and said good morning to her-- not to mention letting Molly out for her morning stroll-- I'm not likely to return to bed. Instead, I'm ready for breakfast! Can only imagine how much trouble a baby must be, if a puppy puts this much of a crimp in my style.)
  • Difficult for me to gauge how much she's grown, but she's certainly much more alert and coordinated than she was when we first got her-- and I think her face is slowly beginning to look more "pointed"/adult and less blunted/babyish.
  • When scolded, has a habit of lowering her head to the floor, looking up with a "What? I'm just an innocent little puppy!" expression, and then springing up with a sassy yap. This girl has a serious 'tude (as they used to say, oh, two or three or five years ago. . .). ;o)
  • Speaking of attitude, also tends to sigh noisily when things don't go her way. (I'm not imagining it! (g) She is definitely sighing!)
. . . And that's all that comes immediately to mind. So, there's still a whole lotta puppying goin' on, around here. And mopping. Lots of mopping.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Rest Assured, They Will Not Go Hungry!

Yesterday, Donald brought home 92.5 pounds of puppy and dog chow. (Yes, that's a lot of kibble for a small-to-medium-sized dog and a puppy-- even a growing one! We buy in bulk at the local warehouse club.) Now I need to divvy it up for safe storage in airtight plastic buckets. . .

~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~

I wonder what's up with our Internet connection, right now. Seems like I can't access half the pages I try, yet others are working perfectly!

Well, I ought to be doing other things, anyway. (Let's just see if I can even convince Blogger to publish. . .)

Here's to a productive day!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Random. (What else is new?)

Random thoughts:

-- I just caught a mosquito biting the side of my left hand, just below the pinky. I swatted at it, but I must've missed. Now my hand is itchy, and I'm just waiting to see where else the thing bites me. (I never seem to feel the actual bite.)

-- I've been spending a lot of time, lately, cleaning up puppy "mistakes", including mopping the entire dining room floor (where Trixie stays most of the time) every single morning. (I lead such a glamorous life!) By now, that floor has certainly been mopped more than any other place in this house (because I'll be the first to admit that mopping the floor has never been a high priority for me. Cleaning the floor is such an irritating chore, because it never stays clean for more than a few hours, at most.) Yes, I'm beginning to wear my way through that dining room floor, and we've only had her for a couple of weeks. Mopping is good exercise, though, right? I'm sure to lose five or ten pounds from all this mopping, right? ;o)

-- Someone I know (who shall remain nameless-- oh, who could it possibly be?), when singing "Yankee Doodle" some time ago (why? I can't remember) thought they lyrics were "Put a noodle on his head / And called it macaroni". Yeah, I guess that makes about as much sense as the real lyrics do, but I still laughed. (g)

-- I'm looking forward to the return of new episodes of favorite TV programs, starting in September. If I were "cool", I suppose I'd pretend to be too busy or glamorous (see above) to care about a new season of television programming, but-- I'm not, so I do!

-- Speaking of TV. . . Donald and I were amused to find that we aren't the only ones who think the new animated Wendy in TV commercials looks a bit creepy. (g) Especially in this one:

-- Trixie likes chewing on this old shoe:

Fun w/ Shoelaces

But so far, we haven't felt safe leaving her with it unattended. (We want to prevent her chewing off a piece and eating it.) So it's a "special treat" toy, like her little yellow, spiky, squeaky toy and a couple of ping pong balls that she loves.

It may be a tragic mistake to let her chew this old sneaker. Possibly she'll grow to be a terror to all shoes, regardless of age (or race or sex (g)). However, I think that some dogs are capable of distinguishing between "their" shoe and other shoes-- just like a dog that chews on his own stuffed animal knows not to chew on pillows. Maybe she'll be one of those dogs. (I hope!)

-- More puppy stuff:

She's just lately developed a bad habit. (Well. Another bad habit, in addition to the typical puppy biting/chewing thing.) The clinical term is "coprophagy", but I generally refer to it as "Ewww! Gross! Trixie, why do you do that?!" ;o)

Anyway, it's extremely frustrating, because I am as scrupulous as you possibly can be about keeping her room clean. As soon as I see that she's left a "surprise" (of either type!), I remove it (if applicable), mop the spot with diluted cleanser, then wipe it again with water. And I generally give the whole room a quick mopping every morning, as I wrote before. I honestly don't see what more I could be doing, other than keeping constant vigil over the room-- because the only times she even has the opportunity to engage in this disgusting behavior is overnight or before I notice that she's "been busy". (How many euphemisms for "pooped" can I use before I come right out with it?)

Of course this is one of those things that could have any number of causes. Even watching me clean up after her could be causing her to mimic me (in her own special way (g)), according to some sources! (sigh) I need to figure out a plan for house training her, I guess, but she's still so young (eight weeks old, today) that I haven't wanted to push her too hard. . .

-- I've been trying to find out how old puppies usually are when they learn to fetch. So far, I haven't found much about specific ages-- probably because it varies so much with breed, individual personalities, and other circumstances-- but I have learned that if a dog is to be considered for training as a guide dog, bomb dog, etc., it's critical that they learn fetch.

Molly's always been good at fetching. (Except, of course, when she refuses to bring the toy back-- usually a sign that she's not in the mood. (g)) You'd expect a spaniel to be naturally adept at fetching, since that's part of the breed's "job"-- fetching dead birds. (What? That's what they are, you know, whether you plan on eating them later or not. You needn't blame me if it sounds nasty.)

Daisy, on the other hand, was usually completely uninterested in fetching. There were a very few times when she got excited about a game of fetch. (Maybe she didn't want to butt in on "Molly's game"; maybe she simply didn't see the appeal in running after something and bringing it back, only to have it thrown away again. . .)

. . . So I was surprised when Trixie took to the game so quickly. She started during our first week with her, so she couldn't have been even seven weeks old at that time! It may change as she grows older, but for now, she seems to love playing fetch.

(whispers) She also likes playing growly games of tug-o'-war, but don't tell anyone about that, ok? Some people think tug-o'-war is bad for dogs. At least we try to rig it so that the people always "win". Supposedly, if the puppy/dog "wins", s/he thinks s/he's the alpha of the pack.

-- Looks like we may be getting a taste of Tropical Whatever-She-Is-Now Fay, early next week. Of course, that's very iffy, at this point. We're not worried about this one, though. Some of our more violent afternoon thunderstorms are probably worse than Fay is likely to be.

-- I read yesterday that the BBC is planning to film another version of Jane Eyre! Sure, there've been plenty of film adaptations already-- including one the BBC did only so long ago as 2006!-- but I'm always up for another Jane Eyre adaptation! They've cast Ellen Page in the lead role, which makes me even more curious. I haven't seen Juno (which, unless I'm mistaken, is the movie that she's best known for), but I must say I wasn't impressed (or at all tantalized) by the previews. I really wonder how she'll make the transition from bratty teen to Jane Eyre. If she's a bratty Jane Eyre. . . ugh! In that case, I'll have to fall back on the 2006 version. (It wasn't completely faithful to the book, but I think it's my favorite version to date.)

-- On the subject of film adaptations. . . Sullivan's filmed another Anne movie, and from the trailer (and what I've read) it looks to be a doozy. His Anne movie (Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story) bore absolutely no resemblance to the chain of events described in Montgomery's books. Even if you aren't bothered by a little thing like that ;o), the characters didn't behave as they ought, and the timeline didn't make sense. According to the books, Anne's youngest child was teen-aged by the beginning of World War I. In the film, she wasn't even married to Gilbert, yet! (Shocking, I know. (g)) I couldn't get past all those changes, and I didn't enjoy the movie at all.

Warning: This will contain spoilers for the new movie!

This next movie-- Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning-- looks like it'll be even worse. From what I gather, the film starts out with Anne in her sixties. It's either during or after WWII, and I've read that Gilbert is supposed to have died in the war. Anyway, she finds a letter or something, and we're taken back to the years before she was sent to Green Gables. I think the worst thing in the trailer was some guy (the nonexistant adopted son Sullivan invented for Anne3, maybe?) asking OlderAnne, "So you weren't adopted?" and Older Anne smilingly replying, "As a child I made up stories about my parents." What?! So she only pretended to be an orphan, all those years?

I'm not a purist, really. I enjoy the first two Sullivan adaptations, despite deviations from the novels. What's more, I realize that if it weren't for those films, I may never have found the books. But this is going too, too far. The basic germ of the whole AoGG story is that a girl orphan is sent by mistake to people expecting a boy. Now he's rewriting it so that Anne wasn't even a true orphan?!

(What's next? She actually was a boy? (g) Or maybe she has a sex-change operation because of the trauma of not being the boy the Cuthberts wanted. Perhaps I can sell that idea to Sullivan. . . It's very cutting-edge. ;o))

Yes, Anne had a wild imagination, but she was not a dishonest child. She wouldn't "make up stories" about something that important. And why in the world would she have waited so long to hunt up her possibly still-living father? Why keep it a secret for so long? Are we to believe that she somehow repressed the memories all this time? It's just plain yucky and not at all true to the spirit of the Anne books, in my not-so-humble opinion.

Anyway, if you're interested, here's a link to the trailer: Don't say I didn't warn you!

Friday, August 15, 2008

On a happier note--

--more puppy pictures!

And there are even more on my Flickr page! Aren't you lucky?! ;o)

What a great role model. . .

Heard about this the other day.

Apparently (though you won't see anything about it on Wikipedia) Mona Sahlin, leader of the Swedish Social Democratic Party and the woman who could potentially become the country's first female prime minister, has had six abortions (in addition to the four children she allowed to be born).

That makes me sick to my stomach.

Six?! And this is a woman born and raised in a civilized, developed country. There is no doubt that she could have have obtained whatever birth control options existed during the late 1970s and since.

Whether you support "choice" or not, there is simply no realistic excuse for allowing yourself to become pregnant SIX TIMES, knowing that you're not prepared to birth and raise the resultant children. Evidently, she doesn't feel that she needs an excuse. For her (and who knows how many others), abortion is birth control.

Setting aside all moral issues for a moment--
Maybe I'm misinformed, but based on everything I've ever heard and read, abortion isn't a very pleasant experience. Even if you believe that an unborn child is nothing more than a mass of meaningless cells-- even if you won't feel a single twinge of regret-- why would you want to put your own body through that over and over again? From a purely selfish perspective, wouldn't it be easier on yourself to just use some form of traditional birth control? I just don't get it. As Donald says, she must be amazingly stupid. . .

She's not fit to lead a country if she couldn't even manage her own life better than that.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

News from "Around Here"

The weather's winding down from about three days of (mostly non-thunderstormy) off-and-on rain. It has been fairly dreary, but I've liked being able to trick myself into believing that it's autumn. It's looked so much like a rainy autumn day that it's been easy to believe that it's not actually still uncomfortably warm and sticky outside. Well, the real autumn will be here before long. Just have to make it through August and most of September. . .

%% %% %% %% %%

Some sort of mild sickness (more of an annoyance that anything else) has been bothering me since yesterday morning. It's mostly a sore throat and slight case of the "blahs", but I think I might have a low fever, too. (Our digital thermometer isn't completely trustworthy. I'm going to get us a good old-fashioned thermometer the next time I go shopping!)

%% %% %% %% %%

Trixie's had a slightly upset tummy for the past day or two. It's nothing severe or worrying, though, and other than that, she seems fine.

She's turning into quite a little handful, though she's nowhere near the destructive force she could be-- so I shouldn't complain too much. Still, I think I see why some people prefer to get adult dogs instead of puppies. You miss out on a lot of puppy cuteness, but you also get a pass on some of the "puppy surprise" cleaning and basic training.

I'm not even sure how old she needs to be before she'll be ready for house-training and a few simple commands. Some sources I've read say that puppies don't have complete control of their bladders until they're six months old! (It's going to be a long four months. . . ) I seem to have forgotten nearly everything I ever thought I knew about "raising" puppies!

%% %% %% %% %%

After talking with my mother about the Street View feature at Google Maps, I decided to give it a look. I guess I'm not an early adopter. (g) Besides, I hadn't realized that some local places had already been. . . photomapped (?). Anyway, I finally checked it out, and-- guess what? ;o)-- it's pretty neat. Kind of amazing, even.

First, I found Donald's workplace. . .

(For those of you who might not be familiar with Street View, you can "travel" down the street and turn the camera to see several angles of the same spot. This is just one of the angles available for this location.)

After that, I visited a few places we've been on vacations, including Captiva Island in Florida:

Then I made a brief stop in Tokyo. But I won't bore you with that. ;o)

Of course, much of the country-- not to mention the world-- isn't available in Street View, but it's probably only a matter of time. . .

%% %% %% %% %%

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Very Scary Hairbrush!

My hairbrush broke this morning after years of use, so I've added "hairbrush" to my ever-growing shopping list.

I decided to see what the all-knowing Internet had to say on the subject of hairbrushes. In the past, I've mostly just bought one that looked nice and was in my price range, but I figured I'd put a little more thought into it this time-- see if there's a real reason why they make them in so many shapes, other than pure aesthetics. ;o)

After discovering that there's a hairbrush for every possible hairdresser's whim, I wandered over into pages about how to clean hairbrushes, and it was there that I learned that hairbrushes are yet another hidden threat to our precarious health. (g)

Did you know that you're not supposed to use a hairbrush for more than a year? According to some people, at least. Probably the same ones who say you should replace your pillows every six months.

I just got a chill. I've been using that same hairbrush since I don't know when. . . And our pillows. . . (shudder) ;o)

Good grief!
If you want a new hairbrush every year, ok, it's your cash going down the tube-- but please don't insult my intelligence by suggesting that they need to be replaced that often.

Whatever happened to just giving things a good washing when they got dirty?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Introducing Trixie :o)

Yes, the puppy has a name! You can finally stop sitting on the edge of your seat. ;o)

We started out with quite a list of possibilities, then narrowed it down the three: Trixie/Trixy, Pippi, and Kismet.

We thought of "Kismet" almost immediately, and I kept returning to it in favor of other names. I still really do like the name, but in the end, we felt that it simply didn't roll off our tongues the way we wanted.

"Pippi" would've been a nice nod to the Swedish element of our lives. (Pippi Longstocking is a classic character in Swedish literature.) However, the English and Swedish pronunciations are slightly different, and we finally decided that we favored "Trixie".

Then we went back and forth over the spelling! (g) "Trixie" or "Trixy"? I wasn't terribly thrilled by some of the slang definitions for "Trixie" that we found online, but by then we'd pretty much settled on some spelling of that name, so I'll just try to forget those mild annoyances. (Should be easy enough. I manage to forget so many things without even trying, after all!)

Anyway, as I said, there was much going back and forth about spelling, but I think we've finally decided to stick with "Trixie". It's more common than "Trixy"-- not a selling point, from our perspectives-- but we feel it just looks nicer on paper (or in pixels). So "Trixie" it is!

I think "Trixie/Trixy" and "Pippi" would both suit her equally well, as she is now. Her personality may mellow as she ages, but so far, she's been growing in the other direction, showing more spirit and spunk every day.

In fact, I think we may have our hands full with this one!

All this fuss over naming a dog! (g)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cute Overload

Mary D drew my attention to Cute Overload, which I don't remember seeing before. Lots of fun photos and videos gathered there!

Two in particular gave us a good laugh:

*A very unusual Halloween costume for a dog (maybe not for the faint-hearted).

*A series of photos showing an adult spaniel with a pair of growing Alaskan Malamutes.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Youngest Miss Ward

Note: This entry is nothing but rambles about the book mentioned in the title. Please don't feel obliged to read it. (g)

I actually read a "new to me" book, the last week of July. (Generally, I tend to reach for familiar friends when I read, these days.) I picked up my copy of The Youngest Miss Ward, by Joan Aiken, at the big library book sale, months ago-- and I think I'll be donating it back to next year's sale-- or Good Will, maybe. I don't think I'll ever be tempted to re-read it. (Besides, about half-way into the book, the pages started smelling of cigarettes, which wasn't exactly pleasant. Now I'll forever associate the story with stale cigarette smell! (g))

The story is described as "a Jane Austen Entertainment" because it's loosely tied to the characters of Mansfield Park. (Technically, I guess you'd call it a prequel, though the two novels don't focus on the same group of characters. It's more like a few characters from the original have guest roles in this new novel.) It didn't feel like Austen to me, and I think it would better have been written to stand on its own. I certainly wouldn't recommend reading it with the expectation of something along the lines of Austen.

I found the story readable enough, though the plot felt a bit haphazard-- just a series of odd misfortunes peopled by too many unpleasant, bossy characters for my tastes-- one dark situation after another. (I will admit, though, that the story wasn't as depressing as it could have been, given the laundry list of "bad stuff" it describes.)

A blurb on the cover touts the title character, Harriet "Hatty" (ugh, hate that name!) Ward, as having "a will of her own". Eh, well, maybe-- but she doesn't seem to exert her will often enough! Maybe young women of that period couldn't exert their wills-- but in that case, why even mention her "will" on the cover?

I'm rambling. My point is that while I like heroines to be "nice", it irritates me when they (usually) refuse to stand up for themselves. Being nice doesn't mean you have to let people walk all over you! Maybe it's because I'm just not that nice, myself. ;o) In any case, it annoyed me.

In spite of all that, I didn't dislike the character, so I was disappointed by the ending, which I thought was an unnecessary let-down. I wouldn't say that it was an unhappy ending-- but it was somewhat odd. Just another instance of an author trying to make you root for one ending, only to snatch the rug out from under your feet and present you with a different one. I think it's a pretty under-handed trick to play on a reader who's invested hundreds of pages in a story. (shrug)

In fact, I think it's time to post a. . .

(insert red flashing lights and wailing siren here) ;o)

Ok, so it's the story of a girl's coming of age-- not strictly a "love story"-- but romance is definitely a driving force. The reader hopes (if not expects) that the girl will achieve success/happiness in several areas of her life, and part of that is for her to be married, engaged, or "attached" by the end of the book.

The author gives us a variety of possible matches, but soon it's obvious that we're supposed to be focusing on this one person. Ok, I say to myself. I'll play along. I'll root for this couple to find their way toward happiness. It'll take a little imagination, because honestly, I don't sense much chemistry there-- but I'm willing to give it a try. ;o)

After a certain number of pages, I just want the couple to finally be on the same continent again! (g) (Can I just tell you how hard it is for me to think well of a man who completely needlessly leaves the girl he supposedly loves to go on a long, dangerous adventure? Wow, what a guy! ;o) He doesn't know that she knows he loves her-- or that she's returned the favor-- but still. . . ) So I keep doing my best, just waiting to see if he'll ever make it back to her. . .

And he does (just a few pages before the end of the book)! But he brings a wife back with him (an "Indian" girl he saved from starvation)! One he probably doesn't even really love-love. (Yeah, it's like "like-like", but for grown-ups. (g)) All because the idiot heard a second-hand (third-hand?) lie that the original girl was to be married. (Why not at least write to make sure before tying the knot with this new girl?) The man is obviously shocked to find the original girl still unmarried, but that's not much comfort, is it?

The original girl, angel that she is, doesn't even make a fuss. (Does she even cry? I can't recall.) Making a fuss or crying wouldn't do any good, I know, but at least it would be an understandable, human reaction. Instead, she's all too happy to agree-- that same evening-- to marry and settle down with a different guy-- one whom we've hardly been encouraged to think of in a romantic light. (A pear-shaped head with eyes that shift back and forth with amusement would be difficult to write about romantically, I'll admit. Maybe Aiken simply wasn't feeling up to the challenge.)

Couldn't she (Aiken) at least have given them. . . I don't know, a month or two to form a new attachment? Please give the poor woman a little time to recover! Must Hatty really say "oh well!" and go merrily on her way so soon after this horrible shock? No real, feeling woman could do that-- unless we're to believe that she wasn't really/still in love with Guy #1. (I guess there were instances of people talking about Guy #1 is a "saint"-- unrealistic, impractical, expecting more of people than they can give-- but nothing to make the reader would think Hatty doesn't still wish to marry him.)

Why do authors think it's acceptable to lead a reader on for chapters, only to pull the old switcheroo? Especially such a wholly unconvincing switch! I wouldn't have been quite as upset, I think, if she'd ended up with Ned-- though I suppose he'd been on the fringes of the story for too long to bring him back for a convenient stand-in husband. ;o) Besides, she was so tied to the hideous thatched cottage that it would've been awkward to tear her away. . .

Anyway. . .
I know that it's formulaic and conventional and inartistic to let a story play out the way 9 out of 10 readers want it to play out, but writing's still "business" for most authors, and you know what they say about the customer always being right. . . ;o)

Personally, I felt cheated. I had to make an effort to want those two characters together in the first place. There wasn't quite enough substance there, and I was hoping that when they were finally reunited there would be something more than a hint of mutual fondness. Instead, this. Yeah, it's great that Hatty manages to find happiness, anyway, with a different person. That's probably how life most often works out. But I still felt cheated. (g)

"Toby Snaps"

Just looking around on YouTube, I discovered several fake Office promos and such-- usually mixes of various clips of the show with music and things from other sources. Likely, I'm the last fan on earth to find them ;o) but if you haven't already seen it, you might find this one amusing (if you're familiar with the show):

(g) Well, I was amused.

Friday, August 8, 2008

That New Puppy Smell

(Finally coming back to my neglected blog. . . I have a few "saved-up" posts, starting with this one. If you aren't that interested in someone else's new puppy, it's best to skip this entry. (g))

If you follow my tweets on Twitter, you already know that we got a puppy last weekend. :o)

It was kind of a spur of the moment thing. Donald spotted the ad online. The puppies weren't quite local, as they were located all the way north of Birmingham (Jasper, to be precise), but we thought about it and decided that it was worth the drive. Eskies seem to be pretty rare around here, and there was no telling how long we'd have to wait to find a litter nearby. And even with the cost of the extra fuel, we'd still end up spending less than many people do to get the pet they want.

We went and chose her on Saturday. It was a long drive back home, but she was a good puppy and behaved very well, lying still or sleeping most of the time. We were amused to find that she (and the other little Eskies, when we were looking them over) made the same "gasping", "keh-keh-keh-keh" sound that we remembered Daisy making on our ride home with her.

She's a little 'un, still. Born on June 25th (also the birthday of one of my sisters!). We've read the pros and cons of getting such a young puppy, and the main issue seems to be that a six-week-old puppy may need more attention and "anti-bite training" than an eight-week-old would. (If they're left with the rest of the litter for another couple of weeks, they train each other to not bite so firmly.) So all this week I've been doing a lot of fake/exaggerated "ouch"-ing and squealing and "No Bite!"-ing. I think she knows not to bite too hard, now, but she still thinks it would be fun to bite more softly. (g)

She's not pedigreed and probably wouldn't be considered a "show-quality" dog, if only because her nose has a little pink in it, and her toes are mostly pink with black freckles (little teensy chocolate chip cookies! (g))-- but we were never going to be doing dog shows, anyway. Besides, our family dog when I was younger was a cockapekapoo (cocker, pekingese, and poodle/"mixed breed"), and I firmly believe that a carefully bred and registered dog is no better than a mutt-- or at least is not necessarily a better dog just by virtue of being bred and registered. Maybe it doesn't make sense, then, that I set my heart on a specific breed of dog. . . Well, people don't always make sense, I guess. . .

She has that new puppy smell-- something I'd forgotten about but instantly recognized. Ah, so sweet! Of course, some people say that this smell-- or "puppy breath" as it's also called-- is a symptom of intestinal worms. :oS Apparently, almost all puppies have worms at some point, which is why they all seem to have the same smell, regardless of breed. In any case, whether that lovely puppy breath is from worms or not (g), we already knew we ought to de-worm her, just to be on the safe side, so she's two days into a 3-day program.

As you may have guessed (given that I keep referring to her as "her" and "she" (g)), we still haven't chosen a name. We brainstormed names on the ride home and talked a little about it a couple of other times-- and I spent a little time looking around online for ideas-- but we haven't sat down and said, "Ok, no-one leaves this room until we've settled on something!" ;o) So she's still "Puppy" and "Girl", for the time being. However, I have set an ultimatum that she be officially named by the end of the weekend, so we'll just have to make a decision and be done with it. We have it narrowed down to three names-- two, actually, because the third simply doesn't seem to roll off our tongues the way we want it to. For the benefit of those two or three of you who might care, I'll share the alternates when I "unveil" the lucky winner-- Monday at the latest. ;o)

Maybe I shouldn't be, but I am surprised that we can already see her beginning to grow up since we brought her home on Saturday! We have an old rubbery dog toy shaped like a bone-- something Molly had lost all interest in. I cleaned it up and put it in the room with the puppy in hopes that she'd chew it instead of baseboard and furniture. It seemed way too big for her, that first day, but now she can carry it around (a little while). She hasn't really grown that much, but I'm convinced that she must be getting stronger. . .

She does have a few hobbies, aside from play biting. ;o) For instance, she's developed an interest in her own tail-- trying to grab it and bite it. She often manages to get hold of it, but then she tries to pull it past what's physically possible, which must be an exercise in frustration. Well, at least she doesn't bite into her own leg and then yelp in pain, like a certain cocker spaniel I know did in her puppy days. (g)

One of her chief pleasures is a sort of "pounce and fetch" game that she plays with the little stuffed puppy-size pillows/toys I made for her. If she's in the right mood, she'll play this game over and over again. We toss the toy for her-- she stalks her "prey" and pounces on it, then runs back with it so that we can get it from her and toss it again. If it's been a particularly naughty dog toy ;o) she gives it a good shaking and may even growl a bit to put it in its place.

She also likes to play tug of war, but what puppy doesn't? (g) (Most "experts" seem to think tug of war is a bad game for puppies-- or even all dogs-- but some seem to think it's ok if you make sure that the dog knows that you-- the owner-- always "win" and are in the dominant position in the pack. . . . I wonder how much these dog experts really know! Especially since some of them seem to hold such contrary views on key points!)

She's treated us to a few yaps, now and then, so there's no "worry" (as with the long-silent Molly-pup) as to whether she'll ever bark. Honestly, there never was any fear on that point! Eskies are supposed to be a fairly barky breed.

Despite her sometimes tough attitude, she occasionally displays some scaredy-cat tendencies. When she's frightened by a sudden noise (or whatever else it might be-- but it's usually a sound), she beats a hasty retreat behind her cardboard box (into the corner where she likes to sleep). And there's no denying that she likes being close to people most of the time. It's heart-warming to have a little puppy come running over to you-- bouncing right against you, or even spilling over into your lap. You have just enough time to think, "Aw, that's so sweet! She loves me!" before you feel her needly teeth prodding your tender fingertips. (g)

But like I wrote, we're working on that. So please come visit so she'll be properly socialized. She won't bite you too hard. I promise! ;o)

If you haven't already seen them, you can find more photos of our new pup on my Flickr photostream. :o)