Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dear Child: Don't Be A Hater

If you visit here with any regularity, you know that I don't often use this space to report or comment on what's happening in the blogging community. It's not that I'm not out there reading, it's just that that's not what I want for this space. This is, above all, my journal, begun and maintained more than any other reason as something to leave for my daughter years from now--an organic record of how things were at any given time in her life, as well as a history of other times. I view it more or less as a photo album, but with words. It's for us more than anyone else, even though it's publicly shared. That's why sometimes you might come here and get bored out of your skull by dog pictures and dumb regurgitated inside jokes.

That being said, there have been some things going on lately in and around the blogging community that really leave a bad taste in my mouth, and the way I feel about this makes me consider the way I'd like my daughter to learn to approach similar situations in her own life, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to pass along some of the lessons that my own mother taught me.

Don't be a hater. There is just no quarter in it. Not for you, not for your target, not for any observers. When you spew negativity, you're not just running someone else down--you're poisoning yourself--hardening your own heart. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. And energy spent on vitriol, jealousy, resentment, criticism, and mockery is energy you're then unable to invest in kindness, compassion, understanding, charity, helpfulness, and love. It only pays dividends in bitterness. Time you spend spreading discontent is time you can never get back. It's time you'll never have again to spend with your family, play with your pets, lose yourself in a good book.

I want you to know that, in this wide, wide world, there is enough. There is enough success, enough goodness; there are enough blessings to go around. You don't need to take from someone else in order to have something for yourself, and you don't need to diminish anyone else to increase your own stature. In point of fact, those strategies rarely work, at least not in the long run. Conversely, someone else's success does not take anything away from you. Be happy for the good fortune of others. If someone accomplishes something that you haven't yet, something that you want for yourself, don't think, "That should be mine, and I'm angry that it isn't." Instead, think, "How did they do it? How can I learn from what they did? What can I do better, to get where I want to be?" Jealousy is pointless. Not only is there enough goodness to go around, but the stunning fact that most people miss is this: You can make more.

With every choice you make, you're deciding what to add to the world. Ask yourself what you'd rather it be--a snide remark, or a word of encouragement? A slap to the face, or a comforting embrace? The choice is yours. A frustrating fact of life is that you cannot control other people. People in your life will do things that hurt you, upset you, sadden you, and even betray you. You hold no sway over them, so don't waste your effort. You control one thing in this life: Yourself. So while you can't control the actions of others, you are the master of your own actions and reactions. Be quick to think and slow to act, and choose accordingly. The smallest things, good and bad, can have the most lasting impact, a lesson many of us learn far too late in life, and some of us not at all.

Play nicely. Speak kindly. Share. Love others as you would be loved yourself. You won't, nor should you, always agree with others, but please always respect them. Consider the humanity beneath any rough display of ugly or offensive behavior--no matter what, everyone was someone's baby, someone's child once, as you are mine now. And as much as I would make it so that no one in this world ever hurts you, I would also like to send you out into this world living your own personal version of the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm. But you know what? I think you can do better. I think that you, or anyone who wants to, can really do better than just holding your tongue, simply not inflicting active damage. I know that you can, as much as you decide to, offer goodness when it would be easier to dole out punishment. "Kill 'em with kindness," as my mother advised me at least a million times.

Do it often enough, and you'll find that kindness becomes the most readily-accessible arrow in your quiver. You'll also find that you're a darn good shot.

In short? Be good.

Monday, April 28, 2008

You Think You Know Cute?

This little pistol needs a name. She is FULL of herself. I went out to take some pictures of her over the weekend, and got a couple of nice shots and a LOT of attitude.

silly filly

Frizzy, fuzzy foal-hair is one of life's undersold joys.

the hair, it kills me

Sometimes, even babee horsees get very, very sad. :-(


I'M KIDDING! She was just sleeping. Seriously, does this look sad?


A certain amount of scrutiny was tolerated.

frizzy filly

But get too close, and the attitude comes to the forefront.

LOOK AT ME. I am cuteness incarnate

And with that, your photo session is over. LATER!

this photo session is over!

Also, Delta would like to remind everyone that today is her BIRTHDAY, and she is NINE YEARS OLD, and why are you wasting time on silly baby horse photos when you could be looking at something truly phenomenal?

smug and happy

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Buy Me Some Peanuts And Crackerjack

The fam, along with a goodly portion of our church membership, caught an Arkansas Travelers minor-league baseball game at the super-fancy new ballpark in North Little Rock the other night, and had a great time. I think my favorite part was watching my mom explain the basics of the game to my daughter, who was fascinated.

lessons in baseball2

lessons in baseball7

lessons in baseball8

lessons in baseball6

I didn't care if we ever got back, but Alex got really tired around the 7th-inning stretch, so we headed home early. Travs won, in their first-ever game against Arkansas' other minor-league team, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. (OK, it was only with typing that out that I realized the cleverness of that team's name--not just a reference to Arkansas as "The Natural State," but also a nod to the Robert Redford film, "The Natural." Nice.)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Poodles Come And Poodles Go

I've had some requests for poodle-blogging lately, and we have had some changes taking place in that regard that merit journaling. First, the addition, who's actually been here for a couple of months.

Meet Alex's new huntin' dawg, a cream standard poodle girl. She comes from Minnesota, from a kennel where they know what they're doing when it comes to retrievers.

Remi at 5 weeks

Puppy C, female

This is how she arrived, and this is how she got her call name, "Remi."

and thus, she was named

She is, as her breeders described her, a "fetching machine" at only four months old, and has all the personality traits you'd want in a working dog, plus she's just as cool as any other poodle. She has a natural affinity for water and a high drive to work and to please. And of course, she is seriously in love with Alex, as the girls always are.

already figured out which side her bread's buttered on

And seriously--this face! Could you just die?


On to the departures. Our own Kirby (Impulse Silver Surfer) flew off to Cornhusker territory yesterday, for a trial run with a nationally-ranked flyball competitor. Coincidentally (except not really, because it was a total setup), he'll be living and training within spitting distance of his full sister, Betty, who preceded him to Nebraska a few months ago. We're hoping for great things from both our little 'Huskers, as they begin new careers this year.

over the shoulder Kirby

outrunning his tongue

I am cute

And sometimes the departures are too sudden, too soon, and too permanent. He may not have belonged to us, but Radar certainly felt like "ours," and now he's gone, having just laid down for a nap with one of his grandkids night before last, and never woke up again. Rest in peace, Champion Renaissance Rage Of The Stage, and thank you SO much for really giving us the very foundation of everything we wanted in our poodles. We'll do our darnedest to keep your legacy very much alive in your children, grandchildren, and beyond.

Our deepest condolences to our dear, dear friend, and Radar's breeder/owner, Sue. He was a darn fine dog, and you know how we felt about him, and how we feel about you. Here's hoping that we get to continue to see his image and enjoy his personality for generations to come. He certainly deserves that tribute.

CH Renaissance Rage Of The Stage  (Radar)
CH Renaissance Rage Of The Stage
September 16, 1996 - April 17, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

Darn Straight

Because I'm an incredible sheep (but at least I follow the right kind of people). Dave did it, so I just had to go see what the Slogan Generator came up with for me. This was my first result, and I'm hoping it refers to history, and is not, in fact, prophetic. If the former? Then, you better believe it.

Your Slogan Should Be

Belinda. Stronger than Pain.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

She's The Best One That We've Ever Had

OK, so let me just say right up front that those of you who are already familiar with the songs of Dar Williams are a thousand times cooler than me. First of all, how big a victory is that? And secondly, are you surprised? Since 90% of the time that I listen to music, it's the music that they play on XMKids, I'm pretty much relying on them for my music library. Which means that I know all the words to the 50-year-old version of "If I Knew You Were Coming (I'd Have Baked A Cake)," but not much about, say, Vampire Weekend's current single.

So, even though this song is not "new," it's fairly new to me. They just started playing it on XMKids, so I just heard it for the first time recently. And it made me cry, much to the bafflement of my daughter, who has never had a babysitter in her life.

It's the end of "The Babysitter's Here" that gets me every time:

"...'cause she's leaving me...

You're the best on that we've ever had;
You sit on her hair and you're tall as my dad;
And I'll make you a picture for college next year;
So hush, now, peace, man, the babysitter's here.

The best babysitter's here."

How about you? Did you have a "best" babysitter, one that really made a fond place in your memory? Because I did. It was 1975 or '76, I was nine years old, and my sister was four. The babysitter's name was Trella Yates*, and she was THE BEST BABYSITTER EVER. She had bright red hair and an easy smile, and seemed, to me, to be able to do anything in the world. She lived in a big old farm-style house with a wraparound porch and warm wood floors and what seemed to me like a dozen siblings. She made snickerdoodles and played the piano while we sang songs like "Put Your Hand In The Hand (Of The Man From Gallilea)."

We lived in Fayetteville. We had no money, and ALL the happiness. If you know what became of Trella, (*Yes, that is her real name, and she'd be in her late 40's or so now--find her!) or you know her now, would you pass on a message, from me to her?

She's the best one that we ever had.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Humanity Illustrated, In 20 Minutes

On the way home from a recent trip, there were some flight delays. It was the day after tornadoes ripped through central Arkansas, and the weather front had moved all the way through to the East Coast. The worst weather had yet to reach that far, but it was causing problems with flights getting in to some places (like Nashville--just ask poor Jamie about that), so when I got to the Continental terminal at the Newark airport, I was greeted with at least 10 lines of people whose flights had been canceled and were being re-routed on later flights. I lucked out--my direct flight to Little Rock was just late enough, and Little Rock was just enough west of the worst weather (flights into Memphis were being canceled), that my flight wasn't canceled. Of course, other delays with other flights were having a domino effect, so my flight home was delayed a couple times and moved to a different gate, but it still left within 30 minutes of its scheduled time. I considered myself fortunate.

people mover

As is usually the case when I'm making my way through the enormous, sprawling, sometimes dirty airports in major "hub" cities, I could not help thinking how very much I love Little Rock's Adams Field. Yes, it's tiny. That can be an inconvenience at times, like when you can't get a direct flight to a major destination, and sometimes the pickings are slim as far as flight availability, but that smallness is also kind of the point. It took me all of 10 minutes to arrive, check in, go through security, and get to my gate on the morning that I left. I love that. It's also a clean airport, with free wi-fi and plenty of electrical outlets for the public (I'm looking at you, Newark--I saw all the black holes where the outlets used to be). Seriously, airports of the world, let's get rid of "Boingo" paid wireless, OK? If Little Rock, Arkansas can do it, then you certainly can, too.


So, back to my flight--it was on a very small plane, just like the one I'd had on the trip out, so I had one of those seats that is, by virtue of being the only one, simultaneously window, middle, and aisle. I was seated at the front of the plane, just behind the cockpit. A cheerful young(er than me) man in a Houndstooth tee and some very blue running shoes sat across the aisle from me, and a woman I'll refrain from describing, for reasons which will soon become obvious, sat behind me. The flight was uneventful, the hostess pleasant, the turbulence minimal considering the weather. I had a great book to read, the plane was full of fellow Arkies, and I was feeling pleasantly nostalgic for home, despite only having been gone for two days. I'm sappy like that. And then we touched down in Little Rock.

First, something happened that I've never experienced in air travel before. We were parked out a good distance from the Continental terminal, because there was another plane occupying the spot (remember, this airport is tiny). I didn't think much of it, because, as I said: weather, domino effect, many delays and cancellations. I was still feeling lucky to have been able to get home that night. Then, through the cockpit door, I hear the plane's Captain (who may or may not have been John McEnroe) yelling out the window of the plane, and some mumbled responses from a grounds-crew person with a pronounced foreign accent. I couldn't understand anything the groundsman said, but here is the gist of the Captain's end of the conversation:

"What's going on?"

"How long?"

"Twenty MINUTES? Are you kidding me?"

"Can't you bring out a hard-stand?"

"Are you kidding me?"

"Get me a manager I can talk to on this frequency!"

"Are you KIDDING ME?"

I have to admit, I was chuckling to myself. Because it was just funny to me, an airplane pilot communicating with the ground crew not on a radio, but by yelling out the window. I was smiling to myself, and thinking, "only in Arkansas." And it was only 20 minutes, and in the grand scheme of things, with the perspective of just having had a tornado ravage my hometown and surrounding areas, and knowing that my family was safe and that I'd soon be joining them, I just settled back in with my book. Not a huge thing. The captain was plainly upset, though, and announced the 20-minute delay over the plane's PA system, encouraging passengers to fill out a Continental "customer care card" and express our displeasure at not being able to get to the terminal when we landed. That kind of made me laugh inwardly, too, because honestly--on a day like this? I think the airline had bigger things to worry about. Again, just ask Jamie. 20 minutes? Well, it's not as good as right now, but it's no big deal.

Except to the woman behind me. First, she began just complaining out loud to no one in particular, saying intelligent things like, "Come ON--the weather hasn't even been bad here today." Nah, just tornadoes that flipped airplanes over a few hours earlier, followed by massive power failures and flash-flooding. You know, nothing major.

And then she got on her cell phone, and called some (presumably) loved one to advise them of the situation. Naturally, I only heard her end of it, but she was speaking loudly, apparently wanting the rest of us to hear her conversation. Try to imagine the intonation and nasal whine of Lovey Howell, without the class:

"Well, we're heeeere, but we're just sitting on the taaaarmac. For twenty miiiiinutes."

"This is reason number THREE to get OUT of Little Rock. I swear to Gaaaawd, I am sooooo OUT of here. I haaaate it."

"I don't know; typical Little Rock moronity. Everyone in Little Rock is a moooooron." (At this point I was biting my tongue so hard I drew blood, at the intense desire to inform this paragon of class and manners that if you're going to malign the intelligence of an entire community, including a good many of your cabin-mates, you might want to stick to using actual WORDS.)

The conversation went on for most of the not-quite-20 minutes we sat there waiting, and several things were discussed, but the overriding theme was other people, and how they are essentially wastes of skin. A couple of snippets I can't seem to cleanse from my brain:

"Oh, and when you saaaaaid it, did you just feeeeeel the biiiiiiile rising in your throat?"

"That probably makes me a bad mother, doesn't it? Well, I don't caaaaaare."

And then, excusing the person on the other end of the phone with "I don't guess you need to be entertaining meeeee while I waaaaait," she finally hung up, and began pontificating to the hostess and other passengers about the details of this particular flight, how she took it "aaaaall the tiiiiiime," and that the employees were "aaaaaaaall on a break," because it wasn't this much trouble getting in at 1:00AM, and besides, "they didn't even have any weather here today." That was the only time I broke my silence, since I'd sat up the entire night before and into that morning glued to KTHV's streaming storm coverage on my laptop in a faraway hotel room, worrying for the safety of the family I was unable to contact. I didn't say much, only that I considered tornadoes and flash-floods to officially qualify as "weather." She just sputtered a bit and answered, "Well, that wasn't todaaaaaay." Well, yeah, actually, it was, but I let it go. I could have spit some bile of my own by then, though.

About that time, we were able to taxi up and park near the terminal, and allowed to deplane. While the crew was bringing out the hard-stand so we could get out, my pleasant across-the-aisle flight-mate brought out his cell-phone, and called his wife. His voice was quiet, full, familiar and warm. His conversation went like this:

"Hey, there, Honey. We're here."

"Oh, there was a little delay, and I didn't want to wake you just to tell you I wasn't off the plane yet."

"No, no...don't do that. I'll be there in (checks watch) 20-30 minutes. You just go back to sleep. I just wanted you to know I was on my way."

"I love you."

If that is "typical Little Rock 'moronity'?" I'll take it. I'll take it every. Darn. Time. I only had a brief, small-talk-ish exchange with this sweetheart of a guy, and didn't get his name, but if you recognize these blue shoes, you might tell their wearer that he restored my faith in humanity one 20 minutes upon a time.

across the aisle guy had some BLUE shoes

Cross-posted at The Arkansas Times Blog.

How Do You Create A Perfect Day?

Poodle Cupcakes
Originally uploaded by Tri_Poodle
By combining beautiful cupcake art with poodle, naturally. One of my talented flickr-friends MADE these. With her own hands. From scratch. I'm always thrilled when something I bake just gets all the way done without getting burned around the edges. This leaves me awestruck.


Monday, April 07, 2008

Chickens In The Mail

According to my mother, I have officially crossed over into true country-gal territory with the delivery of today's mail:

Look what came in the mail today!

Packed into that tiny box, and chirping like CRAZY, were 29 Buff Orpington chicks (4 more than we'd ordered, included by the hatchery for "insurance"), and 3 Araucanas. The Buff Orps are "straight run," about 50/50 pullets and cockerels, and the Araucanas are all pullets (females). All emerged energetically, with a healthy thirst and appetite, and set about making themselves right at home in the brooder we set up (just for the first 24 hours) in the office upstairs.

chick huddle

Bella, of course, was enthralled.

Bella meets chicky

I've been a little concerned over what will happen with her in the event that some of these cute fuzzy chickies become dinner, down the road a few months, and have taken care to be honest with her about that outcome for some of the livestock. After she played with them a little, I asked her, "So, do you think you'll be able to eat one of these chickens if we cook one for dinner after they get big and grown?"

I needn't have worried, I don't guess, because I got an immediate, "Yes," followed by her pointing one out, and declaring, "I'm gonna eat THAT one."

Life as a farm-girl. At least it's honest. As for me, I'm definitely not naming any of the Buffs (at least not yet), because there's no way I'll be able to put, say, "Rosie" or "Gerald" in the stew-pot. However, the Araucanas are for egg production and entertainment value only, so if anyone would like to propose names for the three Araucana sisters, have at it. I'm trying not to have a favorite, but I'm not made of STONE, people.

the tiniest araucana

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Packing Up, Heading Out

Now that I know my beloved, beautiful Grandmother is A-OK after heart surgery earlier today, and since my stomach appears to have settled to a dull roar (and I'm armed with enough drugs to stop up a dairy-cow), I'm actually packing to leave for Joisey. Good gosh, I HATE leaving my family and my pets. It's a good thing the baby chicks don't arrive until next week, or they'd NEVER get me out the door. I've posted once about the trip to "Camp Baby" over here, and will be updating, along with several other folks, over here. If I figure out how to make a static page on this site, I'll include my updates at the J&J Camp Baby Blog, as well. We'll be hooked up with wireless 24/7, so definitely watch my Twitter and Flickr streams if you're interested. I don't have a toddler to learn to get to sleep, and I don't have enough hair to braid, so there may be some sessions in which I'm less, um...engaged than others.