December 30, 2011


Amy and Bren spent many hours over the last few days cleaning up and re-arranging the garden. (I will have to ask them whether it's possible some ancient instinct subconsciously prompted them to freshen things up for the new year. )

cardinal and mockingbird

December 29, 2011

field notes, xii-xxix-xi

Ondine behaved nicely on her walks these last few days. (For locals, I walked her along Liberty Walk at rush hour - a steady stream of cars going by at 35 mph or so.) She strained a lot but it was more extreme attentiveness than giving chase; she didn't dig in or go bonkers.

Also we saw a treeful of doves explode and flee as a merlin swooped past fast.

December 28, 2011

December 26, 2011


snippets xi-xix

...For all we know, this is year we will finally feel at home; we will sail the seas; we will find a job; we will beat a repossession, a foreclosure, an eviction; we will graduate; we will marry.

This is the year that will satisfy some large and persistent longing.

- Stacia L. Brown, "Rejoice, Rejoice, Rejoice."

2011 was the Year of Chaos and Turmoil. Here's hoping 2012 is calmer.

Which brings us to 2012 New Year's Resolution and Planning Time! Woot!

- New job!
- Spend 100 nights outside.
- Read, write and walk every day.
- Play the guitar. Draw.
- Eat healthy.
- Frugalify.

(Author reserves the right to edit this list at whim.)

December 24, 2011

christmas eve

whatcha reading xxvi

"These dishes have magical properties, little mouse. They were once served on the longest night of the year," Baba said, while peeling potatoes for the varenyky. "Each one has a story, and when you make them, you should remember the story like a prayer for your family."

"A prayer, Baba?" Like the 'Our Father'?" I asked, while playing with the hay we were going to spread under the table for dinner.

"A little bit. But these prayers are older than that. They are like the prayers of a pine tree when a bird makes a nest in her branches, or the prayers of a river when she is full of fish. These are prayers of the spirit, blessings that the mistress of the house prepares for her entire family. You must make each dish with intention. It is a special job, to be taken seriously--" Baba stooped down to tickle me "--but also with much joy. That's why it's good to cook in a house filled with laughter. Some of that joy will get passed into the food and will help the meal be happy."

- The Silence of Trees, Valya Dudycz Lupescu

December 23, 2011

field notes, xii-xxiii-xi

We've been walking with a front-pull harness together with a loose martingale collar. The martingale helps keep the front strap off her shoulder. She's doing all right with the combination. She doesn't go over the top with each and every car encounter, and we're steering clear of the neighborhood's problem areas. (The four-way stop with a grumpy pit bull on one corner and a platoon of angry yappy dogs on the other always stresses her out.)

garden camping xix

christmas camping


December 22, 2011

snippets xi-xviii

Dog cam!

But how do the researchers keep the dogs from eating the glasses?

December 19, 2011

December 17, 2011

foot bull

garden camping xviii continued, still

I've yet to take the tent down this month. I've also lost track of how many nights I've spent in it - I've been sneaking in a few work nights here and there, as well as weekends. It's been cool and damp most of this month. Nice change.

December 15, 2011

December 12, 2011


that's a lot of gum

My periodontist told me today she'd like to schedule me for a gum graft for a couple of problem areas. I thought that sounded unpleasant, but was willing to go along with her game plan until the front desk people said it would be $1870. HAHAHAHAHA HA. And HA. (The total without insurance would have been a little over $2400. Our crappy DMO will give us a 25 percent discount, but that's it.)

I'm going to go with Plan B, which is to pretend the periodontist was just kidding.

December 11, 2011

December 9, 2011

hippo in a basket

snippets xi-xvii

Hi! Did you get my Evite? Did you see my event posting on Facebook for my reading at the cafe? I cross-linked it to Google+ and sent out an email blast to our friend circle, but it might have gone straight to spam, so check your BlackBerry. No? I'll re-send it. What's your email address? No, the other one. Can you text it to me? Thanks.

- Mark Morford, "Please text me your naked email URL,"

December 8, 2011

whatcha reading xxv

Matt regarded his employer with grieved disapproval.

"If you don't mind my expressin' my feelin's, Mr. Scott, I'll make free to say you're seventeen kinds of damn fool an' all of 'em different, an' then some."

- White Fang, Jack London

Sister Wendy once said of Guernica that it was more poster than great work of art. That's kind of how I feel about this book.


December 7, 2011

skinny legs and all

Ondine was keeping all her weight off her leg on Monday so we took her in for a check-up. The doc didn't find anything from a physical exam and didn't think x-rays were necessary, but he told us to limit her activities for the next seven days. He said, "You're off the hook with the walks for a week."

I do not think he expected my look of dismay. Walking her is the highlight of my day. I may write too much about her car issues and not enough about her good qualities. She's a really good friend. She has helped me in ways I would never have imagined when we adopted her last January.

(Do you like her new Martha Stewart sweater? She looks like she's ready to bake a pie.)

garden camping xviii continued

The tent was still all wet through Monday so I left it up. Since on Tuesday I had a conference close to home and didn't have to get up early, I camped out on Monday (night 30). It was 32 degrees when I got up. Skipped last night - the forecast was 23-27, and I had to get up early anyway. (Frost on the windshield this morning - our first.) At this point I figure I'll just leave it up and get out there when I can. The cold isn't a problem - my 55-degree travel sack works as a liner inside a heavy old Walmart bag. The limiting factor is having to get up at 4:00 a.m. and go to work. (As I'm sitting here typing this I wonder why that makes a difference. Mountaineers always get up early. Hmmm.)

December 5, 2011

found my epitaph

"Well, he didn't make it worse."

(Thanks Grace!)

December 4, 2011

garden camping xviii

A soggy weekend! (Nights 28-29.)

December 3, 2011

December 2, 2011

christmas tanner

He's so gonna flick those balls.

snippets xi-xvi

In the civilian dog world, a growing number of animal behaviorists seem to be endorsing the concept of canine PTSD, saying it also affects household pets who experience car accidents and even less traumatic events.

Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman, director of the animal behavior clinic at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tuft University, said he had written about and treated dogs with PTSD-like symptoms for years — but did not call it PTSD until recently. Asked if the disorder could be cured, Dr. Dodman said probably not.

“It is more management,” he said. “Dogs never forget.”

- Anahad O'Connor, "Dogs and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder," New York Times


Speaking of which, Ondine has been doing better with passing cars - still not great, but well enough that I've felt OK about switching her out of the prong collar and back into a SENSE-ible dog harness. (We use it in conjunction with a loose martingale, which helps keep the front straps from dragging across her shoulders. The harness doesn't fit too well, though. We'll probably have to go to the next size up.) With the harness she tends to grab the leash when she gets agitated. It's manageable, but she is fast and flexible and can twist herself in unimaginable ways to get at it. It's like she's part owl. I can't have her gnawing it, of course, but it's a useful behavior since she's turning her attention away from the cars, which creates an opening to play. She's pretty good about letting it go if I engage her in something else right away. Praise, treats and good rub-downs all work well. (Also, my leash-handling skills are co-evolving with her. At this point I could probably rope a goat blindfolded.)

Maybe I'm over-anthropomorphizing, but my impression grows stronger day by day that she's trying really hard to work through this stuff. Lots of give-and-take.