Monday, February 27, 2006

We're Thinking of Instituting A "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy

While clipping Bella's fingernails, and making what I thought was just chatter...

Me: "Oh, my goodness, Bella! This fingernail is dirty! What in the world is all this?"

Bella: "Boogers."

And later, at dinner...

Bella: "Cereal hurts my butt."

Me: "Um--it does?"

Bella: (dropping a small piece of something onto the table) "Yeah. I was sitting on a Cheerio."

Me: (relieved, laughing) "Ohhhh...OK! Ha, ha!"

Bella: "But burritos make my butt feel better."

I didn't ask. And I don't regret it.

And from the husband:

During a recent (and rare, because I find Maher to be a thinly-disguised misogynist of the highest order, as well as a PeTA shill) viewing of Bill Maher's show, there was a segment on the future retirement of the space shuttle Atlantis. The gag went something like this (I am paraphrasing rather than waste time looking up Bill Maher transcripts)--"Why stop there, at retirement? Since the American people's attitude toward science is apparently, 'screw it!', why not just take Atlantis to one of the 5 stupidest states, and let the locals beat it to pieces with sticks?" We laugh, Alex and I, and then I cry out, "NO, don't say that! They'll bring it HERE!"

There's a short pause, then we both crack up laughing again, and look at each other, realizing we're thinking the same thing, which Alex articulates:

"You're thinking I'd be out there in line with a stick, too!!

Me: (laughing so hard I'm wheezing) "Yes! Because you WOULD!"

Alex: "Darn right! How many chances in life are you gonna get to hit the space shuttle with a stick?" (puts on extreme hick voice) "HunnEEEE! Get'cher whackin' stick; that-there spaceship's a-comin'!"

I'm going to read a book now, I think.

Help, I'm Raising A Hillbilly

And before there are any cracks about "location," let me just say I will virtually knock you upside your virtual head.

Now: Mommies of the internets? My 3-year-old daughter, that angelic, sweet dumpling of femininity and charm? She won't. Stop. Spitting. We are stymied. We can't come up with anyplace this might have been modeled for her, and more importantly, WE CAN'T MAKE HER STOP.

She spits on the floor. Inside the house. I'm really at a loss to add anything else to that, because it's just horrifying enough on its own. She seems fascinated by the whole process, from the manufacturing of the saliva all the way through to watching it dribble onto the floor. She KNOWS we hate it, and that if we see her do it (or find a tiny blob of spittle on the floor), she will have to go through the dreaded, "We don't do this" talk, followed by the "sit here by yourself until you're ready to have nice manners and not spit in the house" time-out, which she hates.

But I tell you, people--the dire (to her) consequences do not affect her rate of recidivism. I have probably told her to STOP. SPITTING. about 20 times today. She always apologizes, and always agrees not to do it any more, and has lately been insisting that "it was an accident."

HELP STOP THE SPITTING! Mommies--you're up to bat! Also, tell me if the name-change of Bella's preschool seems ominous to you: It's now being called an "enhancement center." I'm checking for pods.

And while you're thinking on that, visit my renter, in the sidebar. She might have something to say today that would feel good to hear.

And? If you have dogs that are afraid of thunderstorms (I have one)? Do not play the DVD "Fantasia 2000" in their presence. Bella wanted to watch it twice this afternoon (or rather, to have it on for background effect while she ran around the house spitting and writing on herself with a ball-point pen), and the whole time it was on, Delta was in high, give-me-a-sedative freakout mode. As soon as the movie went off, she was fine. Go figure.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Unnnnnngggghhh....

Just For Geeks

Is it just me, or do both of these characters share, not the voice, but the identical cockney accent?
I have found a list of men who lent their talents to voice the Geico gecko, including Kelsey Grammer, who is credited as the first voice of the gecko, but nothing--not one word--about who is voicing the new, cockney fellow who's out to recruit more geckos for Geico. I never could resist either of these characters pictured above, and I have to tell you, even with Spike, it was mostly about the accent. It just perfectly suited who he was. Same with the gecko. So, can anyone find out who is voicing the current incarnation of the Geico mascot; the one extolling the virtues of "free pie and chips?" (Admit it, you're laughing to yourself about the free pie and chips.)

And while we're on the topic of accents and exposing my utter innermost dork, there is one more British voice from which I would buy just about anything, and certainly believe anything, and that is a voice with a highly cultured London accent. It is the voice of this man, James Dyson:I can't tell you the amount of mocking I've endured when my husband has caught me running back the TiVo again and again just to hear that voice repeat a phrase such as, "The bags and filters were hopelessly clogged." When you can make something like that sound sophisticated, well, buddy, you're onto something. I swear I can hear both 'g's in the word 'clogged' the way James Dyson pronounces it.

Oh, and he's a genius, you know. That helps in the geek-appeal. Not just the superhero vacuum cleaners, but things like the Ballbarrel, Sea Truck and others.

And he's an artist. Well, an artist of the deliciously nerdy engineering sort, anyway. People, he can make water flow perpetually uphill! Can you do that? All right, so that's not entirely accurate, but he can make water appear to flow perpetually uphill, and that's pretty good. And if that's not enough, there's his book, Against The Odds, or at the very least, this neat little downloadable game.

So there you have it. I'm a sucker for British accents and big giant brains. I'm not ashamed. Now go watch the gecko do "the robot."

Bowel Envy

All right, we all know I'm frequently constipated. I've had a section of my bowel removed, and since then, well, there are chronic pooping difficulties. But still...there is no accounting for the way my husband's mind works. He got up late last night to use the facilities, for that particular purpose, and, well...let's just say it was an instantaneous process. When I express surprise bordering on concern over this phenomenon, this is his reply:

"Don't be a hater."

Peeking Pony Filly


Peeking Pony
Originally uploaded by ninjapoodles.
All Right, so I had to do this one, too. But come ON! Look at that!

Oh, and go ahead and start showing the clicky love for my new tenant, at the right, there. (pointing)----->
She's a lovely lady from Arkansas, and this is an uplifting site. I'll be writing more about her later, as she has FOUR blogs, and I'm dying to check her out!

How To Send Six Poodles Into Simultaneous Apoplectic Fits:

Turn some ponies loose in THEIR backyard, after first locking them in a paddock. Laughing is optional, but very disrespectful.

(This is my first attempt at posting directly from flickr. Let's see how it goes, shall we? Click the picture to enlarge it, and to see the other 4 new pony pictures. Worth the trip, I assure you.)

Friday, February 24, 2006

God Is In His Heaven

I'm changing the sheets in the bedroom, Bella is trying to cram Delta into Alex's closet, and my husband is cleaning the kitchen, preparing a meatloaf* for dinner, and belting out "Renegade" at the top of his lungs.

And all is right with the world.

*This is Bella's favorite protein-based food of all time. When told that Daddy was making meatloaf for dinner, she gasped and clapped her hands to her face like she'd just been announced a Miss America finalist, jumped up and down, and squealed, "That makes me SO HAPPY! That makes me--just--A! LOT! OF! HAPPY!"

The other thing I have to share before I forget it is what happened during the news. We live in Arkansas, but we kind of "fudge" our address so that we can get our network TV feeds via satellite from New York and California. We tend to have the TV on California stations when the news comes on, for whatever reason, and are frequently drop-jawed at something going on there (for instance--is there a mandatory high-speed chase minimum per day by county, or what? And what's the deal with electing Ah-nuld, anyway? We don't get it). At the top of tonight's newscast:

Newscaster: "Shocking new statistics revealed recently show a marked increase in DUI arrests in California wine-country, compared to other parts of the state."

Alex: (without even looking up from what he was doing, and in loud, cheesy newscaster voice) "FLASH--In Krispy Kreme, Ohio, cholesterol is high! Doctors stymied!"

And so, I love him.

So that's us this evening. A lot of happy. Happy Friday night, everybody.

Oh, yeah--go watch this. All of it. And pay attention to the music.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Two (Or Three) Bits

This is my current desktop wallpaper image:
Every time I fire up the laptop, Bella points and exclaims, "That's Huey Boondocks!" How does she know that?

And I spotted this cute little thing on Karen's blog. Takes 2 seconds, and has some funny results. If you capitalize the word you put into the engine, your result will be a noun. Lower-case words can be just about any other part of speech. One of my favorites was when I plugged in the registered name of our next puppy to go out to show--J.T., the one who howls like a coonhound--and did not capitalize, my result was an adjective: "Banshee-like." Let's hope my own result proves as accurate:

Belinda DeAnn --

[noun]:

A master of storytelling



'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at QuizGalaxy.com

NOW--I sent out the Johari Window to 8 people who know me best in real life, and saved those results. The time has come to see how my real-life persona jibes with what I'm putting forward on this blog. How fun is that? So please participate by going to my Johari page, and picking the six words that, in your opionion, based on what you know of me from what I present here, best describe me. I'll give it a few days, then publish both results. (I do find it endearing that my husband chose 4 of the 6 words that I myself selected.) OK, go! Play! After this, if I think my fragile ego can stand it, we'll do the Nohari window.

It's All In The Comments

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, let's just make sure we're all doing a couple of things. Is everyone--and I mean everyone with a blog registering and claiming their blog at Technorati? Yes? All right then. Now, does everyone have their blog registered at TTLB? What's that? I think I heard some mumbling. If you don't, please go to The Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem and add your blog. It just takes a second. Making your presence known on these two websites helps us all to help each other draw more traffic and get the attention that insecure, validation-seeking neurotics like us crave so much. And really, I've been slithering soooo long. I'm desperate to sprout wings and fly. Help a sister out, wouldja?

And now, a few things I want to make note of before they are forever lost in the shuffle.

First, my husband wrote a post that started out being all about sports, and wound up being a sentimental and sweet treatise on father/son relationships, that made pretty much my whole family cry. Check it out. particularly the comments, in which you get not only the rarity of comments from both our mothers on the same post, but the added awesomeness that is my mom using phrases such as "aggressive on the boards." Hoops-slang from a grandmother is something special.

And Pat Kirby posted a great topic for conversation among any of us who enjoy books, movies, or television (and really, who does that leave?) Please stop by her place, get into those comments, and discuss the characters who are your favorite "second fiddles." It's the Sidekick Roundup over at Pat's Place!

Just before Sweetney got all swept up in New Orleans fever, there was a great discussion going on her blog in the comments of a post about literature, the theme being "Everyone Should Read_________", which was itself borne of an immensely broad discussion of the same topic here. I know I've added some must-reads to my personal list. (Margalit, you may not be able to participate in this one, for fear of your brain exploding at the thought of narrowing down a "must read" list to any kind of a managable number.)

And now the killer-diller. And I ain't talkin' about Jerry Lee Lewis. It was a simple enough post on Julia's site about a great easy pasta dish she made as a quick dinner for her family, and then she asked her readers what they liked to "throw together" for dinner. The response has been overwhelming. Go take a look at "Dinner In Minutes." Print out these recipe-loaded comments, and you will not have to plan a meal for the rest of the year.

Oh, and give The Shuttered Eye as many clicks as you can before he leaves us. Thumbnail in the sidebar.

Belinda--being an insomniac lunatic, so you don't have to. Tonight it shall be Lunesta at 9PM, and I will hopefully be out, my lovelies. So pray you don't see me skulking about.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Artistic Spirit

Today was not, generally speaking, a Good Day. It was cold, it rained all day, and the funeral of my best girlfriend from junior high and high school was held. And I didn't go. I tried. But I failed. I will speak of that later, when I can order my thoughts.

And there is still the Effexor-weaning, which is getting harder by the day. After being awake crying for most of the night, there was the resulting stuffy-head and headache thing going this morning, plus the swimmy-headedness of Effexor withdrawal...and Bella was UP and RARIN' TO GO today. I actually felt bad after a while because of how many times I had said, "Stop that," "don't," or "BE. QUIET."

Plus there were all these toddler-decreed "rules" today. She could only drink milk from "a little yellow cup" (coffee mug). Songs from movies had to be sung, but only certain parts of the songs. Over and over. She had to have three bananas, but only the top halves. And multiple slices of American cheese, which had to be quartered and then the quarters stacked perfectly symmetrically on top of each other for consumption. (I'm guessing her dietary preferences of late are part of a subconscious effort to be constipated for life, like Mommy.) OH, and the crocodiles. The crocodiles were watching us all day, and had to be avoided at all costs, and the darn things moved around on me. Being as the crocodiles were only visible to Bella, I never knew what danger I was in until I was right on top of them. And then I would get the wits, what little I was hanging onto, frightened out of me with sudden, shrill little-girl shrieks of "MOMMYTHECROC-O-DY-EEE-ULLLLLSAREBOUTTOGETYEWWWWW!!!" The crocs seemed to be preoccupied with guarding the bananas, and once I figured that out, things went more smoothly.

Anyway, the point at which my nerves were frazzled to bare threads happened to coincide with the moment at which my 3-year-old daughter handed to me my digital camera, and asked sweetly, "Mommy, will you picture me?" In a burst of mental-fatigue-induced inspiration, I said, "You know what? How about you take some pictures?"

Bella: (incredulously) "What?"

Me: "Yeah! You can take the camera, and go around the house and take pictures of whatever you want! I'll show you how!"

Bella: (in a hushed, excited voice, with BIG eyes) "Ohhh, that will be great!" (the word "great" lasted at least 20 seconds and had about 5 syllables)

So I showed her how to use the viewfinder, and to depress the shutter-button halfway to focus, etc. This process--the instruction giving--was only allowed, by Bella, to last about 10 seconds, and then she was off and running. I'd see a flash every few seconds, and hear bare feet pat-pat-patting to the next "location." I let her shoot until the memory card was full, and then we went upstairs to load the pictures onto the computer and edit them. Bella edited her pictures herself, complete with yelling "NOOOOOO!" at the top of her lungs if I cropped too tightly, not tightly enough, or in the wrong shape. Cropping was the only editing we did, thank goodness.

Anyway, here is Bella's finished slideshow. To see the pictures individually, with their titles, just click on one at any point, and it will display that way, and then you can continue the slideshow. I loved some of the subjects she chose (paint can), and her framing and concentration; she even canned some of the photos from being included because they "weren't good enough." Internets--she's THREE. Help me think of artsy things to do with her so that this streak never stops!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Suh-WEET-ness

When I sent Sweetney the picture I caught by chance of the baby pony with her nose under the sweetney.com shirt I happened to be sleeping in the night she was born (the pony, not Sweetney), she (Sweetney, not the pony) jokingly asked if I had any more baby animals to endorse her product. I couldn't help but comply, and she posted her faves on her site. I am not worthy.

And I put the rest of them--the "outtakes," so to speak , up on a flickr page. Because, let's face it; puppies are cute.

internets: help! there are people in my house!

And I am mildly freaking out. Just a little, though. I did have to take a Klonopin, and I've peeled off every last one of my fingernails, and I'm grinding my teeth into nubs, but I'm holding it together and retreating to my trusty laptop. I'm "hiding" in the bedroom with Bella snuggled up to me and ignoring all the clumping, sawing, stomping and yelling back and forth. It perhaps doesn't help that I'm on the last slow ragged road to Effexor independence this week. Fewer and fewer granulitos each day now, Alice.

Oh--I'm not actually under siege or anything (that's just what my brain is trying to tell itself). It's just the new security system being installed. We're in enough of a remote location that my husband and my mother kind of insisted on it. At least we'll know when Bella sneaks out of the house now, which she has gotten very good at. And as I understand it, if the house catches on fire while we're not here, why, we'll know that it's burning down, wherever we are.

But seriously? I could puke right now. They're sawing. A lot. I hear the sound of drywall (freshly painted drywall) being torn asunder, and am forcing myself not to look. And most of all, they're just...here. Walking all over the place making me nervous. I would take pictures, but that would interfere with my holing up. But ultimately, they will have to come in here to install a keypad, so it isn't even that good a hiding place.

In other news, we seem to have a squirrel problem. Are there cats mean enough to take on squirrels? And if so, where can I get some? Just my luck, I have ninja squirrels.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Things You've Probably Already Seen Unless You Are Related To Me

But just in case you haven't, i.e. you are a member of my family, a couple of musts.

First, how do you get 400 comments on a blog post in less than 3 days, and 2 spots on Boing-Boing in that same time-frame? Check this blog to find out. I realize that I am impossibly naive and idealistic, but the mere existence of people like this is of complete and total amazement to me. And they're Canadian! Is that even possible? They're obviously not natives.

And this has been posted ev-er-y-where, but again, my family? Pleeeeze watch small Asian children play the marimbas and hop up and down. Seriously. And here is a link to their website. They're called...wait for it...The Marimba Ponies. More videos are online here.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Bouncing Around The Room

Isabella, chattering me quite sincerely to death this afternoon, finally goaded me into exasperation. I asked her, "Bella, why can't you be quiet?"

Bella: "Mommy, I drinked all your Coke."

Me: "You--wha--you drinked all my Coke?"

Bella: "Yes."

Me: blink. blink.

Bella: (carefully, as if speaking to a very slow-witted person) "Coke makes me talk."

Ah. All clear now, unfortunately. She continued to bounce off the walls for another hour or three, and it turned out it was Daddy's Coke, anyway.

(TMI Warning) In translation today, it made me very sad to hear my little girl, suffering from painful constipation, ask for "the butt-drips." I finally figured out that she meant one of those little baby liquid-glycerin suppositories when she said, through tears, that "the cold water helps my butt feel better." I really hope that this is a transitory problem for her.

I'm slowly but surely uploading more pictures to my flickr pages. Got a few of our wedding up, even, though for some reason they're really small. Haven't figured that out yet. There are some cute ones of our standard poodle "attendants."

Oh, and Sue? We're not house-hunting any more, but thanks for sending me the link to this e-bay auction. Holy Cow.

But seriously, how many tiny screwdrivers do you have? My husband has this many:

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Shuttered Eye

When this bid came up right after I created the offer, I snapped it up. It's an easy decision when the bidder is someone you already have in your blogroll and read regularly. Only at his place, it's even easier, because it's mostly looking! Do yourself a favor and visit The Shuttered Eye photography blog by clicking the thumbnail in the sidebar, and be sure and scroll back several entries, to view as many photographs as you can. You may find something you'd like a copy of--I did!

What The Ice Storm Bringeth

We knew we had an ice storm coming, so we prepared accordingly. We got as much work done at the "other" house as we could, and got in ample supplies for the horses before dark yesterday. And yes, we were iced in this morning. I kept having a funny feeling, and peering out the windows, looking for Magic the pony, who was due to foal 8 days ago. Kept not seeing her. I put on Alex's Carhartt jacket (good GOSH those things are warm!) over my pajama pants and t-shirt and called to Alex, "I'm suitin' up!" He asked, "Where are you going?" and I just vaguely answered, "I have a feeling..."

Sure enough, as I headed up the driveway, all the horses appeared, and made their way down toward me. But no Magic. Now I KNEW. Went into the pasture, and started a climb up the icy hill that I knew was fertile ground for one of those video clip shows where you laugh at people getting horribly injured. Got up to the very top, and finally found her, and her little surprise.It's a filly (a girl), and appears to be a black & white pinto (spotted). At least in Arabians, this mousy-brown-gray color at birth gives way to black, and with a black mother and a chestnut pinto father, I would expect black, bay, or chestnut, and this doesn't look like bay or chestnut.

Magic was very smart to find a huge pile of leaves that had "drifted" up against the fence, to make a more hospitable environment for her baby than all that hard, cold ice. But I wanted to move them somewhere even more comfy, so tucked the camera into the inside pocket of Alex's wonderful jacket, picked up the baby and headed down the icy hill, again thinking it was too bad no one had a video camera going.

Apparently, Magic missed this somehow, and flew into a panic searching for her suddenly missing baby. I called and called, but she was beside herself. So I set the baby down on the driveway, and headed for the house to enlist the help of my husband. Tiny little newborn feet clip-clopped along right behind me as I went. I stepped a few feet into the house, called Alex, and shed his jacket so he could have it, because I was way past warmed up by then. By the time he got into the room, the little toot of a baby pony had actually followed me into the house. Long story short, I turned the foal-totin' over to Alex, and we did finally get Mom and Baby reunited, and snugly bedded down in what used to be a puppymiller's "OB Ward." What was once a sad little outdoor holding cell for dogs and puppies became a perfectly down-sized "barn" for a pony and child. A good, wholesome "cleansing."More pictures are up on this flickr page.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Manners

Mealtime, and an opportunity for a lesson in dining etiquette. It starts off easily enough. I remove my own elbow from the table, so as not to model a bad habit of my own for my impressionable daughter. She's off to a good start, having organized the blessing of our food, down to mandating the hand-holding around the table.

"Bella, you should keep your elbows off the table when you eat, like Daddy does."

Alex: "Here. Put one hand in your lap, and use the other one to eat with."

Bella: "Oh! Okay. Like this?"

Bof'us: "Yes! Good girl!" A couple of minutes go by.

Alex: "And always chew with your mouth closed."

Bella: "Not like this?" (illustration below from another recent dining experience; click it to go there)

Bof'us: "NO, not like that!" A little more time passes.

Me: "You are learning good manners!"

Bella: "Yes. Like when Daddy toots?" (makes grossed-out face) "Yucky." (Alex is laughing proudly)

Me: "When Daddy toots, that is NOT GOOD MANNERS."

Bella: (matter-of-factly) "It's not good for ME, either."

Having recovered from that exchange and finished our meal, there was time for one more lesson.

Me: "Bella, do you know what to say when you're finished eating and you want to leave the table?"

Bella: "Ever'body get outta my way?"

Me: (after pausing to consider how effective that might actually be) "No, you say, 'May I please be excused?' and then Mommy or Daddy will say, 'Yes, you may.' "

Bella: "And then ever'body will get outta my way?"

This all caused a bit of pondering on my part--what are manners, after all, but a way to get people to do what we want, while being nice? And while we were at it:

Me: "Bella, what do you say if you burp?"

Bella: (grinning madly) "I BURP-ED!" (My mistake here; I was too literal)

Me: "What should you say?"

Bella: "Excuse me?"

Me: "Yes."

Bella: "Like when you are in front of my way, and I want you to move."

Me: "Well, yes."

That's it. I'm ghost-writing "Emily Post for Toddlers" for her.

Dunce Boobs

Not to be confused with Bad Monkey Boobs, these are courtesy of Her Royal Sweetness. I'm not one of those clingy-t-shirt gals, so I chose the "deluxe" shirt in "ash" in adult size XL, which I usually need to accomodate the 38Ds. These shirts seem to run a little larger, but I'm betting a washing will bring it down a bit.Go here for a studly, macho man-modeling of the Sweetness.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

What's Next? A Dog Day

"Where The Red Fern Grows" Flea Collars? "The Yearling" deer minerals? What am I talking about? All right. I just got back from Kroger (grocery store chain) a little while ago, and the aisles and end-caps and free-standing displays were overflowing with huge, bright-yellow bags of--I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP--"Disney's Old Yeller Dog Food." I kid. you. not. I saw one woman with a hundred pounds of it in her cart, and several other people buying it. And then I saw the price. $9.99 for the 50-lb. bag. Criminy.

Do you know what's in dog food that can be sold for 20 cents a pound, and still be profitable? Well, I checked the ingredients, and I can summarize for you. Mainly corn, something dogs don't really digest that well in the first place. And then a bunch of stuff swept up off the grain-mill floor after the edible grain has been processed, and the really gross stuff scraped up from the meat processing plant that couldn't possibly be sold any other way. Throw in some red dye and some carcinogenic BHT (also used as a rubber stabilizer, I think--or is that ethoxyquin?) as a preservative, and you've got yourself a heck of a dog food. And OH, the resulting crap you will enjoy, both in volume AND in texture, not to mention aroma! Because that stuff is coming out of the dog pretty much the way it went in, and pretty close to the same weight out as in, I'd imagine. Blecch. Raw diet, peoples. Or at least a quality processed food. If its best feature is that it can feed your dog for a nickel a day, trust me--keep shopping.

And besides, if I'm gonna buy a dog food (presuming it's NOT made of garbage) marketed on the image of a rabid movie-dog, I want it to be CUJO brand dog food.In the rabid movie-dog department, Cujo, in my opinion, has it all over Old Yeller. While Old Yeller was originally a thieving, egg-sucking cur who got into constant trouble and finally came around and protected his family and wound up paying with his life, blah, blah, blah...Cujo was a good dog his whole life; a boy's faithful pet. It was no fault of his own that, while minding his doggy business, he got bitten by a rabid bat and went all, well...Cujo. And since we had Stephen King writing segments in dog-perspective, we know that he felt confused and bad about what was happening to him. I tell you, people--Cujo is not the villain he's been made out to be, but a victim! A tragic figure! I want CUJO brand dog food!!

In other dog-related news, you can go to the website of the Westminster Kennel Club and view streaming video of not only the "big" winners from the Groups and Best In Show (gotta love that "Rufus"), but the breed judging from every single breed. Click here for the videos of the breeds in the Working, Terrier, Non-Sporting, and Toy groups, and here for the videos of the breeds in the Sporting, Hound, and Herding groups. The breeds are listed, in case you're not sure what group the breed you want to see is in (or ask me; I'll tell you!).

Also, this site has several candid shots from Westminster that are just wonderful. Browse through them, and then tell me that a show dog's life is anything but fun. These pooches are having a great time! And naturally, I'm attaching the picture, an AP photo, of the miniature poodle Best of Breed winner, "Chanel," kicking back and waiting for Group judging to start, with her handler, Leslie Simis. Chanel was also the variety winner of our national breed specialty in 2005. She's a pip.
Finally, a sad note--Vivi, the outstanding champion whippet who was leaving New York with a First Award of Merit to her credit when her crate was dropped and broke open in the Delta terminal, still has not been found. If you live anywhere within a few miles of JFK airport, keep your eyes peeled for Vivi. When last seen, she was wearing a black wool coat, and I hope to goodness she still has it on, and is found alive and well soon. Her owners have vowed not to leave New York without her. She was last spotted near the marshes in Jamaica, Queens, and this is what she looks like.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Love, The Love

Yeah, my husband owns Valentine's Day. He does neat and thoughtful things that require planning ahead and consideration. Exotic tropical flowers shipped in from overseas. Gourmet chocolates from wonderful places. Those special, beautiful, and uncommon Leonidas roses that I carried in my wedding bouquet (honestly--how many husbands know what type of flower, much less what variety, their brides carried on their wedding day?).

This year, I received from Alex a sweet card with his own heartfelt sentiments written inside, several pounds of chocolate, an item to risque' to mention here (and don't email me), and the biggest, prettiest bromeliad I've ever seen. It is perfect in size, composition, and color for this setting, and he knew it would be.And what did I get him? My usual. Nothing, poor man. I never paid any attention to Valentine's Day before I got married, and I guess I need to start. It's only taken Alex 5 or 6 years to warm me up to the idea. And it's not just me he remembers. It's his mother, my mother, and my grandmother. He's a good guy. Really. Crazy, but good. Or maybe just "crazy good." In any case, this serves as a public proclamation that this wife is going to try to be a little more "wifey" as soon as this doggone move is complete, which, the Good Lord willin' and the crik don't rise, will be Monday.

Until then, show the love, people.

Is It Just Me...

...or is the fact that the audience feedback segment of the Olympic figure skating coverage is called "Push Dick's Button," well...just kind of wrong feeling?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I Heart You

More tomorrow on how much I heart my wonderful, Valentine's Day-OWNING-husband, but for now, I heart you guys. So I am sharing some things from the last week or so that I have actually been saving (sending myself emails) , many involving said husband.

During the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, as many Italians notoraries are being announced, Alex yells, "Hey, there's Chef Boyardee carrying a flag!" He is not always PC, my husband. Also, when Pavarotti was singing a transcendent rendition of an aria from "Turandot," Alex sang along. Now, my husband has a beautiful singing voice. But he does not know any other languages. Or even the words to any English songs. So his version, while quite melodic, went, "Blah blah-blah-blah-blah blahhh blah-blahhhhhh....." etc.

One night recently, he came in from a trip to Wal-mart, and deposited onto the bed sacks containing a dozen or so small stuffed animals and...a small hacksaw. When I questioned this, he plopped a box on the bed, and said, smiling suggestively, "I got a sump-pump, too." And then winked. This is my life.

When setting up his blog, I asked him what kind of tags he wanted associated with his site. He replied, "Hunky...stud..." then presumably caught sight of the look I was giving him, and quickly added, "UNATTAINABLE."

And just so you know he's not the only crazy person in the house, I'll tell on myself. I had a few insomniac nights recently, where my brain would not shut up and let me go to sleep. You might assume, knowing me, that I was thinking deep, philosophical thoughts. And of course, you'd be right. BUT, I was also consumed with one recurring, nagging question. Think about the game of "charades." Now what do you do when you want to indicate that the category is "movie?" You mime the cranking of a manually-operated film camera, right? WHY?!? How long has it been since movies were made with cameras you had to hand-power? And why do we still even recognize that as the motion of a camera?

And in that same night, I spent some time online, and kept seeing an ad that read, "Earn a degree in your pajamas!" I could not get that Groucho voice out of my head, which kept repeating, cigar wiggling and eyebrows wagging, "How the degree got into my pajamas, I'll never know!" It was disturbing.

And then there was the electrician incident. I fell vicitim to the Southern charm of my electrician. I know you're thinking, since I'm from here, that I should be immune. And I would have thought the same thing. They were supposed to be here at a certain time to install some wiring for new light fixtures. They were late. Very late. At the 3-hour-late mark, I called in to their office to get an ETA. Not a lot of help. Shortly thereafter, I got a call from one of the electrician partners, who happens to be about my age, and the brother of a classmate. I was prepared to be irate, and give him what-for, but here's how it actually went:

Charmin' Electrician Contractor: "Hey, there, Miss Belinda. How you doin' this afternoon, ma'am?" (Now, this is someone I know, but down here, it doesn't matter. Honorifics are never dropped by charmin' gentlemen, and you can always expect a "yes, ma'am" and a "no, ma'am," etc.)

Me: "Just fine." (See? Already there is no complaining. The very idea of complaining is beginning to fade.)

CEC: "You gonna be around there for a while, for our guys to come on out there?"

Me: (Already feeling not irritated, and chipper, even) "You bet!"

CEC: "Well, then, they'll be right on out, if it's OK with you."

Me: "All right, then!"

CEC: "Thank you much, Ma'am."

Me: "Thank you!" As I hang up, I realize that I am smiling. And then I think, "Wasn't I going to be mad at them?"

A little Southern charm can go a long way, it seems. Even as the men who did the work were leaving, the older one (and owner of the company) called out to me, "You tell your mama I asked after her, now."

And I did.

P.S. Thank you to everyone for the kind comments and understanding expressed over the dying pet issue. This just exemplifies why I heart you SO much. Rosa is buried now, near the pond, and all the other horses have settled in well.

Monday, February 13, 2006

NEVER Have Chicken Soup At Paul Lippert's House

Go to this page, and click on "My Puppy's Ears" to find out why. I think you'll agree. This song is in play on XM Kids, and Alex and I just marvel at the possible explanations of what was going on at Paul's grandma's house on chicken soup day. Egads.

Droning On

Because obviously, I'm not sleeping, and obviously, it's Rosa that's on my mind, and what I could have done differently for her, maybe. This is the third time in my life that I have lost a very old pet, and the third time that I am second-guessing my decisions in regard to them.

The first one, almost 10 years ago, was my precious miniature poodle, Zorro. He was 16 years old. He was falling apart, and in his case, looking back, I KNOW for sure I should have had him humanely put to sleep weeks before I did. I was so selfish with that situation--I just didn't want to let him go, and it was really all about me, right up until the end, when he refused to eat even cooked chicken. He was practically begging me to let him die. I dug a grave (at night, in the rain, sobbing), and called my wonderful old cowboy horse vet, who agreed to stop by. I held Zorro in my arms, on our spot on the sofa, stroking and petting and talking to him, as the drug took effect and he slipped away. Even the salty "hoss doc" was choked up, and it was the only time in our years-long vet/client relationship he ever hugged me. I buried my best friend, and was suddenly all alone for the first time in my life. I called my sister at 2:00 am, and we bawled over it together. I cried for days, and dog-GONE it if I'm not crying now! I swore, after that, that I would do better the next time.

And then, this summer, my dear friend and Best Dog Ever, Cappy, was 14...a good, long life for a standard poodle. I knew he was a little achey, some days more than others, and I knew he had some degree of dementia, because there were times when he didn't seem to know quite where he was. The last time I took him to the vet, which was months before he died, she cried at his condition (he'd always been a favorite of hers), and told me that the time would be coming soon. To watch for loss of appetite, increasing pain, etc. I thought I was ready for this one, and when "the time" came, I'd be on the ball. Well, "the time" doesn't come with a flashing neon sign. One day, I'd see him barely able to stand up, and decide, "I must do it soon," and then the next day he'd be up, spry, barking (at things he couldn't see, but barking because Delta was barking), and wagging his tail, and he always had an excellent appetite, and still liked the top of his butt scratched, just above his tail. And then one morning, he was just gone. Took the decision out of my hands; ever the gentleman. And I have spent months debating inside my head, "Should I have done it myself? Could I have spared him some pain? Did his last weeks have any appreciable quality of life?" On this one, I just don't know.

And now, Rosa. For nearly a year, she'd been going downhill. She had all kinds of veterinary and farrier attention for her "sore feet" (that was the "official" diagnosis, believe it or not), to the tune of around $1,200 in the last several months. Bloodwork, x-rays, ultrasound, dental work, special worming programs, special senior feed and supplements...you name it. I thought she was foundering, but diagnostics showed no sign of it. She was failing, but she just wouldn't die, and the doc didn't see any immediate need to put her down because the special shoes we had put on her (egg bars) did help her pain somewhat. She bore the miracle foal, and since he was about 4-5 months old, she had declined steadily, no matter what we did. She looked and felt worse every day, but again, when I would say to Alex, "I think it's time to end it for poor Rosa," the very next time I'd go out, she'd be bright-eyed, eating well, and neighing to me, and looking after that foal. We've been going over to the other house where the horses stayed until today and feeding after dark--because, well, it's winter--and while Alex saw Rosa Friday around noon, she did not come up to eat Friday night, nor did she come up on Saturday night. We were at the house Saturday during the day, but stayed inside working until time to leave, which is when we fed. No Rosa. That's when I knew we probably had a problem.

A caring friend who is also a neighbor called Alex and I just as we were leaving to head over and start moving horses yesterday. She said, "Do you know that your old mare is dead?" My heart sank, and I just said, "No, but I'm not surprised." We think she died sometime Friday night.

The guilt over this is immense. It feels like Rosa willed herself to live long enough to birth and nourish that colt to weaning age, come what may. I feel like I should have taken that decision away from her some weeks ago, because she was doing so poorly.

I wonder if I've learned anything, and if the next time one of my animal family needs me to make the hardest decision for them...will I step up to the task, or will I fail them, too? Have I failed these others? Will I act TOO soon next time, out of fear of repeating my mistakes?

The Townsend quote in the post below has always summed it up perfectly for me. In choosing this life, and sharing it with these creatures, I've chosen to bear witness to a lot of deaths if I myself live out a natural life.

I'm beginning to understand why my mother said, when Zorro died (he had been the family's dog, and just moved with me when I left home), "NO MORE." We thought she was kidding--how can you live without a poodle? But so far, she's held firm. A few years ago, when I brought over a new little puppy that reminded her of our first poodle, Jolie, she held him, smiled ruefully, and handed him back to me, saying, "He'll break your heart, you know."

Mom? I know. I really, really know.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Bey Sharose (Bey Shah x HA Rosetta), 1980-2006

Our Rosa left us this weekend. She had been failing for some time, but I just had not been able to make that difficult decision to put her down. She is the first horse I have ever lost, and there is something very humbling in seeing the end of such a large, powerful, sensual creature.

Rosa was not a "cuddly" mare. She was aloof, often cranky, and a little curmudgeonly. She was impossible to photograph flatteringly. She did not want to be your friend, she just wanted to be fed and sheltered and left mainly to her own devices. In spite of this, she had impeccable stable manners, always a perfect lady for the vet, farrier, or anyone else. And what she did best was to produce amazing foals, and mother them perfectly. We didn't have her long, having acquired her from the wonderful Paul and Liz Smith of Sunset Valley Arabians in 2001, in foal to their breathtaking stallion, Major AA. The next year brought the produce of that breeding, the filly "Major Emotion," also known as our lovely Kate.Rosa was bred that year to another stallion, and the following year to our own stallion, with no results either time. We then moved her in with Montrachet so they could keep each other company in their golden years. It was the summer of 2005 when the senior citizens presented us with THIS surprise.

Thank you, dear Rosa, for leaving us, and others, your lasting legacy, in forms such as these:
"We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan."
--Irving Townsend

Friday, February 10, 2006

Wild Abandon

My "renter" this week is an important one, especially for those of us dealing with any issues of mental health and wellness. There isn't anything I can write that will mean more than the actual raw words and story of this brave, honest blogger, who is dealing with a handful and a heartful right now. For your own edification, visit Jil of Wild Abandon by clicking on the thumbnail in the right sidebar. And while you're there, do yourself a favor and read back through at least several posts. You'll come away with more than you had when you went there, one way or another.

Ahem.

OK. First of all, my new house is not haunted.
There were marks in some paint. They were not the fingerprints of "baby ghosties."
The hearthroom does NOT have Amityville eyes.
The hearthroom has Bette Davis eyes.
I am not painting the hearthroom "blood" red.
I am painting the hearthroom a deep terracotta/brick color.
Alex is NOT running out of medication, and he is not channeling Jack Torrance.

I should never have posted those fog pictures.

Semi-Frozen Water Falling From The Sky?

Click on pics to enlarge.What's this? What's this?It's falling on my tongue!Poor, snow-deprived kid. No such thing as global warming, my hind leg. I don't have the heart to tell her it'll be gone within 24 hours, if anything sticks at all. Notice the Arkansas snow outfit? Nemo pajamas, ultrasuede boots, and a size-too-small parka. (We went to Colorado, where they have snow and cold, that year.) It's Arkansas, yes, so schools are closing, roads are closing, grocery stores are being emptied in a "There Will Never Be Food Available For Sale Again" frenzy, and everyone who can possibly get on the road is there, driving erratically and aimlessly in a state of panic you'd expect during Armageddon, because SEMI-FROZEN WATER IS FALLING FROM THE SKY. There are many crashes.

It's very wet, though, and the ground is so warm that it will melt promptly. Still, I'm watching from in here. It's not only pretty, but this is a prime spot to see anyone careening down my curvy driveway before they smash into my house.Anyhow, here is some of what we wound up with:Still loving the weeping holly,and also the yucca.No idea.I don't know what variety of holly this is, but there are many of them, and they are very, very pretty.Two disgruntled equines hiding behind the hay; Arabian Misha on the left and black Shetland pony Magic on the right...Magic's due date to foal is today, and she is not pleased. She looks like she's gonna hold out for a while, though, which is fine with me.And this, which snuck out the back door while I was busy, but fortunately set off a motion sensor so that I caught her coming around the front, all a-sodden, with lunchtime pudding remnants still on her face, asking, "But WHYYYY?" when I said she had to come in and dry off.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Misha Appreciation Day


This is my precious Misha, aka "Bolshoi Mikhail." I've had him since he was born, and he's 15 years old this month. Still beautiful, still amazing. As I was bringing him and Bella's pony over from the old place last night, I had occasion to appreciate him anew. After Ana had refused the trailer (it was dark, and she couldn't see inside it--can't say I blame her for not getting into the black box), I went for my reliable Misha, got him within 8 feet of the trailer, tossed the lead-rope over his back, and pointed. After he self-loaded, he called the pony in after him, which made things much simpler.

This horse spooks at nothing, is afraid of nothing, and has never refused me anything. When it was time to start him under saddle, it was simply a matter of getting on and riding. Period. He supported me when I was recuperating from surgery. When I went to fetch him from the pasture on my crutches, he came when I called, and he learned to walk like a bridesmaid to accomodate my crutch-gait: step, two, pause. Step, two, pause. He then became my crutch. He adapted to my weakened right side afterward, and made me look great in the saddle, to the point that if a whole-bodied person rode him, it got him all discombobulated!He won his first class at his first show, where he was both the youngest entrant and the only Arabian, competing against bigger, older horses--in a baby green hunter class. He was state high-point in the Arabian club twice in a row for Hunter Pleasure, and state high-point at training level in open dressage, all his first year shown. He is a Class 'A' Champion in working hunter, hunter pleasure, and hunter pleasure jr. horse and amateur rider divisions. He has taken me foxhunting, and kept up gallantly with all the Irish imports, Thoroughbreds, and warmbloods, fording chest-high streams and jumping every coop without hesitation.In short, Misha was my best friend for many years. Things have changed now, and I have a husband and family. My single years are behind me, and with them the uninterrupted hours I could spend with my equine companion. He is still the best horse I have ever known, or will ever know. He still reads my mind, and every cue I give him, no matter how subtle. He still comes when I call. He still regards all other people with an air of arrogant suspicion, especially men. He begrudgingly accepts Alex, and tries to pretend not to like him, while watching him out of the corner of his eye.Misha, and horses like him everywhere, would like to enlist your help in the following cause. We thought we already had it licked, but (big surprise) we've been betrayed by the government. Bigger surprise--it's profit motivated.

Horse Slaughter to Continue Despite Action
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: February 7, 2006
Filed at 2:03 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Horse slaughter for meat will continue in the United States, despite votes in Congress to halt the practice, the Agriculture Department announced Tuesday.

American horse meat is sold mostly for human consumption in Europe and Asia, although some goes to U.S. zoos.

Congress didn't ban horse slaughter outright. Instead, lawmakers used a tactic that is common in spending legislation. Horses must pass inspection by department veterinarians before they are slaughtered, so lawmakers voted to yank the salaries and expenses of those inspectors.

Department officials maintain the law requires inspections regardless. They announced Tuesday they will pay for live horse inspections by charging fees to slaughter plants.

Rep. John Sweeney, R-N.Y., denounced the decision, saying that ''commerce and greed have ruled the day.''

''To end this practice, Congress, with widespread public support, passed this amendment by a landslide vote in both the House and the Senate,'' said Sweeney, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee. ''This action is a direct defiance of congressional intent.''

The department acted on requests from slaughter plants, two in Texas and one in Illinois, which said their communities could be facing $41 million in losses.

Compared to the huge beef, pork and poultry industries, horse meat is a tiny business: Plants slaughtered about 88,000 horses, mules and other equines in 2005, according to the department.

In letters to Sweeney and other lawmakers last month, department lawyer James Michael Kelly pointed out Congress did not address other elements of the inspection system.

After live animals are examined and slaughtered, the Federal Meat Inspection Act requires separate inspections of carcasses and of meat. Lawmakers did not prohibit those inspections, Kelly said. He added that a separate law allows fee-for-service inspections for more exotic animals, such as bison, deer, elk or rabbits.

The new fee system will go into effect on March 10, the department's Food Safety and Inspection Service said Tuesday. The agency will accept public comments on the system through March 9.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that it is ignoring Congress and thumbing its nose at all of your hard work to save American horses from slaughter for human consumption. In light of today's outrageous action, the horses need you now, more than ever.

As you know, we had a remarkable year for horses during 2005, winning two bipartisan, landslide votes in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to prevent the use of tax dollars to fund horse slaughter inspections. President Bush signed the final ban on November 10, 2005, and it is scheduled to take effect on March 10, just a short month away. This was a huge victory for America's horses and those of us who want to protect them from cruelty and abuse. The law meant that horse slaughter would be prohibited for the rest of the year.

People like you across the nation were with us each step of the way during this legislative battle. Your hard work carried the day for horses, and the will of the people prevailed in Congress. Unbelievably, the USDA, with its ties to the livestock industry, says it will not implement this Congressional mandate. These bureaucrats are hell-bent on allowing the slaughter of America's horses!

Tell the USDA to respect the will of Congress and enforce the horse slaughter ban.

It's not every day that animal advocates win a landslide vote in Congress to stop a cruel practice. We are disgusted that this victory is being stolen. This new development means that the tens of thousands of horses -- who were to be spared from slaughter -- may face a grim and bitter passage to slaughter this year, despite Congress's efforts to save them. Take action today to stop the USDA from betraying the horses and subverting the will of Congress and the American people.

1. Take action. Contact the USDA and urge the agency to shut down this illegal and undemocratic scheme to slaughter horses. We need a permanent ban now more than ever. After you contact USDA, you will be prompted to contact your lawmakers so they know we have no time to waste -- we must pass permanent legislation to protect our horses from slaughter. Members of Congress should be as angry as we are that the USDA is circumventing their clear directive. Click here to contact USDA and Congress now.

2. Spread the word. Congress needs to hear about USDA's outrageous actions from as many Americans as possible. Ask your friends and family to contact their elected lawmakers as well. Click here to tell five friends to take action now.

Americans don't eat horsemeat -- there is no domestic demand for it. But last year, more than 90,000 American horses were either killed in one of three foreign-owned slaughterhouses in the United States or shipped to Canada or Mexico for slaughter. Our thoroughbreds, show horses, mustangs, carriage horses, and family ponies are shipped in inhumane conditions and butchered.
Knowing that hundreds of thousands of our loyal companions have already been slaughtered is simply devastating. Please stand with us and do everything you can to spare the lives of our horses. Together, we will stop this horrible practice. I know we can prevail, but all of us must take action.

Misha thanks you, and must now take a nap due to all this exertion.