Saturday, May 18, 2013

Household Chores Consume Me

“I think housework is far more tiring and frightening than hunting is, no comparison, and yet after hunting we had eggs for tea and were made to rest for hours, but after housework people expect one to go on just as if nothing special had happened.”
—from The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford

It’s Spring Cleaning Time at my house. And at my mother’s house, to which I’ve contributed some muscle. Housework, for me, is a Sisyphean and mind-numbing activity. I sympathize with Nancy Mitford’s heroine. After hours of exertion, I too feel that something special has occurred and deserves recognition.

On the other hand, like the woman in the painting, I’m easily distracted while cleaning. What’s more, I’m not especially good at the task, largely because it bores me. So I guess this Lull post is the most I can hope for to mark the occasion—the shift from dirty to momentarily clean.

Hope your activities this weekend are more engaging than housework…

[Art by Edouard John Menta.]

Sunday, May 5, 2013


“One of the great dreams of man must be to find some place between the extremes of nature and civilization where it is possible to live without regret.”
—Barry Lopez

[Photo by N. J. Jackson.]

Taking Time (A LONG Time) to Smell the Flowers

I fell for this little daisy-hugger the other day and had to share him/her with you:

“Where’er he dwells, he dwells alone,
Except himself has chattels none,
Well satisfied to be his own whole Treasure.”

—From “The Snail” by William Cowper

[Photo by Audrey Green.]

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Balm for a Bad Day

Here’s a little humor for my sister (and anyone else battling the clueless or malevolent). 

[Art by Erin Smith.]

Monday, April 29, 2013

Returning from My UBS (Unexplained Blogging Silence)

Hello. It’s been a while. I’ve no good reason for my long absence—not one I can easily articulate anyway. But let me tell you a story…

Eons ago at a motel in California, my five-year-old self left two very tired parents in their room and set off to explore. My parents’ exhaustion now seems understandable to me. Who wouldn’t frazzle while traveling cross-country with two contrary teenagers and one youngster who ceaselessly asked questions?

So I was on my own on a clear, sunny afternoon. I surveyed the area—a playground for motel guests, a neighborhood of houses in the distance, more families checking in to their rooms, the symmetry of the motel exterior, the sameness of every room altered only by the numbers on the doors. Nothing remotely interesting to me. In fact, the afternoon was looking so bleak I wish I hadn’t left my parents. And then a flash caught my eye.

I looked skyward, only to be blinded by glaring sun. After focusing, I saw it: an oblong, silver metal vehicle encircled by slender, perpendicular cylinders each ending in a colored light. What was it? I looked around to see who else had noticed, but no one was looking up.

The vehicle came closer to the motel and glided slowly overhead. I HAD to share this with somebody! I raced back to the motel room, threw open the door, and burst in with my news. But before I got the whole story out, I realized that the people listening to me were NOT my parents. I was in the wrong room—so embarrassed I never wanted to leave my parents again (assuming I’d be able to find them). By the time I got back to them, my humiliation far outweighed my cosmic experience and I couldn’t wait to get on the road again. I was ready to leave this dismal place in the dust.

Of course, between my UFO tale and my accidental exuberance with strangers, my parents enjoyed a good laugh at my expense. But I know what I saw.

Years on, my UFO encounter well behind me and never mentioned again, I was trying to verify something I was editing. A newspaper article led me to a book chronicling unexplained occurrences. I found more than I’d anticipated.

Several pages of one chapter were devoted to the same shiny, colorful vehicle I saw on my first family vacation. The descriptions matched mine, the vicinity was the same, the time of year synced as well.

Hmmm. Other people saw it? You mean I wasn’t suffering from heatstroke or an overactive imagination? Cool. I could reshuffle my brain a bit and recategorize this memory without shame.

Fast-forward to April 2013—a month during which I should have had LOTS to write on Lull. A month celebrating poetry, honoring trees, raising awareness about animal cruelty. Yet I remained strangely silent. Honestly, I don’t know why. Lacking a better excuse, I offer this: That shiny hovercraft with colored lights came back for me.

Yup. I was abducted by aliens.

[Photos by N J. Jackson (palms at top) and NASA.]

Monday, April 22, 2013

Waiting For Every Day To Be Earth Day

“Knee-deep in the cosmic overwhelm, I’m stricken
by the ricochet wonder of it all: the plain

everythingness of everything, in cahoots
with the everythingness of everything else.”
—from “Diffraction (for Carl Sagan)” by Diane Ackerman

Thursday, April 11, 2013

One Small Step Toward a Better Dog Shelter

The facility for my local humane society is only five years old. At that youthful age, you’d think it would actually be as “state-of-the-art” as it’s described on the organization’s Web site. Sure, the colorful murals of the lobby warmly welcome visitors and the classical music playing in the dog wing shows consideration for the comfort of the animals; the staff’s upbeat and caring attitude is commendable. But none of these conceals the harsh environs the architect thought appropriate for homeless canines.

The adult dogs reside in a large, open concrete-block room in rows of cages with concrete floors that are separated by concrete block walls. Lots o’ concrete and NO apparent soundproofing, which makes for a VERY noisy habitat. And to a pooch who’s scared or nervous or troubled in any way, the din of the room must be unbearable. Especially when the barking begins, and it takes only one tiny terrier yelp to get 100+ dogs going. The music meant to calm the residents only adds to the cacophony. Between the noise and the concrete greyness/hardness, the place can really do a number on you.

But last month, the shelter held a special fundraising drive for one purpose: to purchase a bed for each dog cage. Donors were asked to contribute $50 per bed. And what do you know? In no time at all, caring folks met the quota.

Now each pooch has one soft place to go to relax or seek solace. Isn’t that wonderful? It’s such a simple effort, but one that makes all the difference for these homeless creatures as they wait for their future to begin.

[Top photo from Sweet Nothings Designs; dog photo from the Lexington Humane Society.]

Monday, April 8, 2013

Life Instructions

The nest in the photograph is atop a young oak tree across the street, spread across branches that aren’t much more than twigs. What I am unable to show by camera, though, is how amazingly minuscule the nest is. I could hold two of them in the palm of one hand.

It’s not a new nest, and when I recall how many terrific winds have gusted through the neighborhood this year alone, the engineering of the bird home is all the more remarkable. Whose is it? Will they be returning to it, as so many birds do?

I’ll start monitoring it. As the oak begins to bud and leaf, I expect that’s when the home will be reinhabited. I’ll keep you posted.

Until then, I aim to follow these wise words from poet Mary Oliver, and I encourage you to do the same:
“Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

—from “Sometimes,” in Red Bird by Mary Oliver

Thursday, April 4, 2013

We Lost an Original Today

“ ‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs. … We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”
—Roger Ebert

[Photo from Wings of Desire.]

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Seeing Red—and Pink

Years ago, when part of my job was to research best practices in business management and leadership, one controversial topic was benefits for same-sex partners. But it wasn’t controversial for the reasons you might expect. Morality and religion were absent from the conversation.

Instead, HR directors were fearful that any couple—whether homosexual or heterosexual, committed to one another or not—could file for benefits. People could even PRETEND to be part of a couple and get benefits. Give same-sex committed partners the privilege of receiving benefits and you open the door to providing the same to noncommitted same-sex couples, which opens the door to opposite-sex committed unmarried partners receiving benefits, which naturally snowballs into noncommitted unmarried opposite-sex couples getting the same, and pretty soon everybody is getting benefits.

I laugh about this now because the solution is so easy: equal marriage rights. Benefits go to married couples, not longtime partners or faux couples. By making marriage lawful for same-sex couples, corporations won’t have to fret over how to determine whether a couple is bona fide. If couples want protection and recognition under the law, they’ll marry; if not, they won’t.

The issue becomes black and white. Or red and pink.

Isn’t it time for us to stand on the right side of history?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Forsake Not Your Peeps

At the drugstore yesterday, I walked down the Easter aisle in hopes of picking up a bit of seasonal chocolate. But the rows and rows of shelves that earlier were brimming with candy were EMPTY! Across the aisle, next to the lonely leftover toys and baskets, stood the boxes of Peeps no one wanted.

If you, too, have excess Easter Peeps at your house this week, get creative. Try your hand at a collage or diorama with them; use them as building materials. For examples, just search “Peeps art” or “Peeps diorama” and Google will oblige with numerous contests and exhibits.

Peeps are more than cute little sugar boosts. They can be the key that unlocks the artist in you.

[Art by Kathy Ansell and Chris Broquet.]

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Real-Life Velveteen Rabbit

If you clicked on the Animal Rescue Site button on the right of Lull today, you might have read Rusty’s story.

Abandoned in a Florida park, the red bunny was noticed by passersby because he sat calmly in the same place day after day, never moving from his spot. (You might ask, Why didn’t anyone help him?) One day a passerby saw the bunny with some soccer-playing boys—whose ball was none other than the little cottontail. Thankfully, that passerby intervened and changed the cottontail’s life.

The passerby contacted H.A.R.E. (Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education) and the organization got Rusty the medical attention he needed. Turns out Rusty has congenital hip dysplasia, making his hind legs splay out uselessly. What’s more, he once had a broken femur that had healed crookedly. The bunny had already been through so much that surgery didn’t seem a good option. So he was fitted with braces.

Braces? For a rabbit?

Yup. (Hey! If a goldfish can swim in a harness, a bunny can hop in braces.) And Rusty gained more than mobility: He became an ambassador at H.A.R.E., where he’s befriended and calmed rabbits of all types and personalities. He has friends!

Rusty is no longer seen as an object or a used-up pet. He’s deeply loved by humans and peers—a real bunny.

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become real.”
—from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

[Illustration by William Nicholson.]

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bunny Tutorial

At first glance I thought this child was reading to the furred crowd. Then I saw the pointing finger.

Do you think he’s giving the cottontails last-minute instructions about Easter?

[Artist unknown.]

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

It’s Ba-aaaack: The Big Egg Hunt

Easter’s on its way and London is once again festooned with colossal, artful eggs. I wrote last year about the inaugural event sponsored by Fabergé; this year, chocolate giant Lindt is sponsoring the Big Egg Hunt.

If you’re anywhere near London, please take advantage of this playful outdoor art exhibit.

[Pictured is one side of Equinox by Barbie Harrison.]

BOOKreMARKS: Camels in Cars, Dogs in Zoos

You couldn’t turn to a media outlet this past week without hearing about the anniversary. The tenth anniversary, that is, of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Why did we do it? What did we accomplish? Was it worth it?

To mark this milestone, I have a book recommendation for you.

War is a topic I typically avoid when choosing books and films. But last month, a friend shoved a library book into my hands and said, “Here—I want you to read this. I loved it! Didn’t do anything for two days but read it.”

“Oh-kay…thanks,” was all I could muster. I didn’t want to dampen her enthusiasm. Yet I also didn’t a) want to be responsible for her library book; b) read about a war zone; and c) follow animals kept in a zoo. Reasons B and C promised gloom and doom.

I read it anyway, and I’m thankful I did.

Babylon’s Ark is a memoir of one man’s mission in the early days of the Iraq War to save the animals of the Baghdad Zoo. Lawrence Anthony left his home in South Africa, where he ran a wildlife preserve, armed only with knowledge about and compassion for large, wild animals—plus experience in negotiating on the fly.

This is not a sweet animal rescue tale. It’s full of adventure and darkness and provides some insights into the culture of Iraqis and their relationships with animals. Here are a handful of things I learned:
Until Lawrence Anthony created one, an agency overseeing animal welfare didn’t exist in Iraq. There was no ASPCA equivalent.
To much of the population, dogs were curiosities, hence their inclusion in zoos.
Black market trade in exotic animals thrives in Iraq.
Like royal families of millennia past, the Husseins had numerous private zoos on their palace grounds.
Improvisation is critical to rescue operations—which is how a camel ended up a passenger in an open-topped vehicle.

If I were the publisher of Babylon’s Ark, I’d also market it to a secondary audience: business professionals and leaders. It would be a great book to discuss in a corporate book club or leadership seminar because every step forward (and five steps backward) taken during the mission was the result of a negotiation or barter. Diplomacy, communication expertise, and psychological/cultural considerations were always in play. Nearly every obstacle recounted in Babylon’s Ark demanded careful communications and collaboration with someone whose goals and perspective were at odds with the animal rescuers. Even the animal rescuers were at times at odds with one another. Plenty of these scenarios could easily be applied to a business environment. Of course, the additional benefit of marketing to this audience is attracting new animal advocates and more people committed to becoming better stewards of our planet—which would have pleased the author no end.

Had he lived to see this tenth anniversary, I’m sure Lawrence Anthony would have plenty to say about it. I’ll leave you with this excerpt from Babylon’s Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo.

“This was to be our stand. This was more than just a zoo in a war zone. It was about making an intrinsically ethical and moral statement, saying: Enough is enough. You just can’t say to hell with the consequences to the animal kingdom. It’s all very well getting rid of a monster like Saddam, but that doesn’t mean we can forget what we are doing to the rest of our planet. It doesn’t excuse a zoo getting trashed just because nobody had the foresight to put a basic survival plan in place for hundreds of animals utterly dependent on humans.”

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Saving Nature with Art

While reading about octopuses yesterday (and yes, it’s octopuses and not octopi—something about avoiding a Latin-Greek mashup in the currently accepted scientific taxonomy), I came across the ice sculptures of Basia Irland.

Before your imagination starts conjuring winter festivals or cheesy centerpieces on cruiseline buffet tables, look closely at the photograph. It’s a BOOK and it is complete with CONTENT.

Irland embeds her works with the seeds of plants indigenous to the particular river region from which she launches each book. As her books decay, they disseminate content and restore watersheds.

Watch an Irland-narrated video about her work on the Orion magazine Web site. Or explore the artist’s other projects on her Web site. If you’re a book or nature enthusiast, you’ll appreciate her innovative ecoactivism.

“[I]n Wildness is the preservation of the World.”
—Henry David Thoreau

Apple Bites

Yesterday I called my phone service provider for help. The voicemail messages people were leaving for me were consistently truncated. No sooner did they say who they were and two words toward why they were calling than the system cut them off. It was a growing frustration for both parties. The callers were never aware of the insult for there was no indication at their end that anything was amiss. (My mother believed I was SELECTIVELY ignoring her). Clearly, it was time to resolve the problem.

During the course of my technical support call (which included getting disconnected from ATandT), the courteous rep shamed me into upgrading the operating system on my iPhone. I told her something bad always happened during upgrades, but she’d have none of it.

I’ve been an Apple advocate for more than 20 years, but my evangelism is fading. After installing the latest upgrade, I discovered that the videos on Lull disappeared when viewed on an iPhone or iPad. I can see them on my computer, I can see them on a Droid phone. But on an iPhone or iPad, there’s only white space now. Click on it and you get…white space.

If you know a workaround, please tell me! Until then, I’ll provide links to any videos I post in the future (and keep kicking myself for upgrading).

Thursday, March 21, 2013

What Makes You Happy?

As you know, if you’ve been reading Lull for any time, much of my reading focuses on animals. Which means that much of my reading also focuses on a subset of the human species that exhibits uncompassionate, psychopathic, or capitalistic behaviors toward animals. It wears me down.

So imagine my delight to see news about a little goldfish whose guardian was determined to help her have a better life. The finned one was buoyancy-challenged—she couldn’t float properly in the water. Instead, Ada spent her days at the bottom of the tank, watching her friends do what she couldn’t. Until her guardian made a floating device for her!

In a world that assesses animals in terms of convenience and cost benefits, it’s refreshing to come across someone who deems the life of an animal companion—even a small, furless, other-abled creature—as inherently valuable.

This makes me happy. How about you?

[Art by Robert Amft.]

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Is Sprung!

According to the calendar, Spring “opens” today—whether the weather is cooperating where you live or not.

“The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.”
—Henry van Dyke

[Photo by Mark Hamblin.]

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

It’s here again—that day when everyone lays claim to Irishness: the green, the Guinness, the general revelry.

We celebrated by attending a parade yesterday. It was a sharp contrast to the South Side Chicago parade we watched years ago, where no one had to pretend to be Irish—they were Irish! This Bluegrass version lacked the drama of the green-dyed river that frames the annual downtown City of Chicago parade (the year we elbowed our way into this event the temperature was nearly too cold to enjoy the pageantry; in fact, some of the participants dropped out).

Nevertheless, yesterday’s parade had much to offer: rescue groups of Great Danes and Greyhounds, a hula-hoop troupe and a band of Renaissance Fair performers, marching bands and motorcycle clubs (one member traveled with a dog on the back, another with a wheelchair), and the requisite bagpipers and step dancers PLUS (I can’t emphasize this enough!) it was a sunny 70 degrees outside! After the parade, a vacant lot downtown took on a state-fair atmosphere. Long lines formed to purchase a funnel cake or an ale, dancers and musicians performed for free at a bandstand, and the animals from the parade—dogs, horses, llamas (it was a treat to watch the woolly ones trot down Main Street)—mingled among the crowd. All-in-all, it was a grand way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Wherever you go and whatever you do,
May the luck of the Irish be there with you.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Drawing Conclusions

In reviewing my birthday greetings to Douglas Adams, I realize an explanation may be in order. I may have been unclear or, at least, I may have made some faulty assumptions about you, Dear Reader:
1. I assumed you already knew the comic and imaginative genius of Douglas Adams (creator of the radio series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which morphed into a series of novels, plays, comics, and a popular film; also the author of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, which became a TV series).
2.You knew he cared deeply about conservation (hence his fundraising for Save the Rhino and his nonfiction contribution to the cause, Last Chance to See).
3. You know climate change has imperiled polar bears.*

The photo of the polar bear is, in my mind, tragic—and I believe Adams would concur. I didn’t intend any connection between the word laughter and the precarious position of the bear. I hope I didn’t mislead you. I hope I didn’t cause you to laugh at the stranded creature.

Though Adams and his works are immensely quotable, I chose yesterday’s particular quotation because I’ve been awed by ignorance lately—flabbergasted at what people choose to believe about animals, Nature, corporate responsibility, natural resources, poverty, and climate change. I’m waiting for the scales to tip—waiting to be more frequently awed by insightfulness and compassion and intelligence that I may revere and emulate. Of course, it’s occurred to me that I could be waiting several lifetimes for this to happen, so I’ve been researching how best to cultivate understanding—specifically regarding animals—and how I may play my part in the cultivation. This means steeping myself in the mythologies, religions, and cultural practices that threaten understanding.

If you’re already on the front lines of this cause, please tell the rest of us how we may help.

“We are not an endangered species ourselves yet, but this is not for lack of trying.”
―Douglas Adams, in Last Chance to See

* With this on my mind at the library yesterday, I checked out Zac Unger’s Never Look a Polar Bear in the Eye: A Family Field Trip to the Arctic’s Edge in Search of Adventure, Truth, and Mini-Marshmallows. Unger set up residence in Churchill, Manitoba—“The Polar Bear Capital of the World”—to investigate the nature of the bears and the validity of the media reports about their demise. I’ll let you know what he discovers in a future post.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mr. Adams!

Thank you for giving us perspective and laughter.

“I’d take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.”
—from The Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams

[Photographer unknown.]

Saturday, March 9, 2013

What’s Blooming Near You?

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”
—Rachel Carson

[Photo by N. J. Jackson.]

Friday, March 8, 2013

Life with Pie

A Northern friend of mine recently visited Nashville, where she tried to absorb the entire Southern experience. Like me, she has a fondness for pie and requested a slice of the “Pie of the Day” at a local restaurant.

The place went quiet. Obviously, my friend had committed a grave gaffe.

The waiter broke the silence: “Ma’am, we don’t serve pie now. When it’s the season, we serve peach and blackberry. Now I suppose some people might use frozen fruit at this time of year, but I don’t know why anybody would want to do that.”

Well for goodness’ sake! Have Nashvillians (Nashvillains in this case?) never heard of CREAM pies? Have they never delighted their palates with pecan, coconut cream, chocolate, pumpkin, or custard pie? At first I was angry on behalf of my friend, but the more I thought about it, I felt sorry for the deprived folks of Nashville.

“If I ran this place, pie charts would be made of actual pie.”
—Author unknown

[Photographer of pie-eating contest unknown.]

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Are You Following Your Dreams?

Sorry posts have been so lean lately. Here’s a little something for you, whether your glass is half full…

“Follow your dreams. They know the way.”
—Kobi Yamada

or half empty…

“I’m sick of following my dreams. I’m just going to ask them where they’re going and hook up with them later.”
—Mitch Hedberg

[Art by Odilon Redon.]

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Conclave of Cardinals

Birdsong near our building has grown more complex of late—meaning that birds are beginning to return to the area. We had a couple of prolific songsters the other day who I was never able to spot. I wish I’d had the good sense to record them so I could share their music with you.

My next-door neighbor’s backyard bush is Union Station to the avian population here and served me quite a treat this week: Eight Cardinals, a mix of young males and females, have been perching quietly there. EIGHT!

“I hope you love birds, too. It is economical. It saves going to Heaven.”
—Emily Dickinson

[Photo by Ken Thomas.]

Friday, March 1, 2013

“That’ll Do, Pig. That’ll Do…”

It’s a holiday today. (Isn’t every day?) To be specific, it’s National Pig Day.

There’s no official ruling on how one is supposed to honor this day. Like National Chicken Month, some folks promote consumption of the animals while others try to raise awareness about their intelligence and individuality.

As you may have guessed, I reside in the latter camp and prefer to pay tribute to the porcine clan through a blog post.

If you want to explore the subject, please start by reading The Good Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood, Sy Montgomery’s memoir about the rescue and life of her personable pig. (He’s the black-and-white real animal pictured here.) It’s good reading no matter which camp you’re in.

If you’re artistically inclined, you may want to create your own little piggy à la the felted wool (from Amber Rose Creations) and folded paper (by Román) varieties pictured here.

If you’re a carnivore, you could give pigs a break today and celebrate by NOT eating pork (or, for that matter, any of the pigs’ friends on the farm). Or you could veg out a different way by watching Babe.

However you choose to celebrate, Happy National Pig Day.

We Get By with a Little Help from Our Friends

“We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.”
—from Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw

[Sorry. I don’t know who the photographer is. Do you?]

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Leaving Your Mark

As much as it hurts me to trip over typos in literature, I heal quickly. Not so for the previous reader of the library book I just finished.

For some reason, the reader felt compelled to pencil in “correct” spellings for some of the homophones Barbara Kingsolver used in her latest novel, Flight Behavior. (Why would anyone write in a library book?) What’s more, the reader was WRONG! (I hope s/he isn’t a professional wordsmith.)

Had the corrections been right, or written in ink, I would have let them be. But they weren’t, and I felt equally compelled to right the wrongs. With my trusty Happiness eraser, I restored the library book to its previolated state and prevented future readers from unnecessary confusion.

Sometimes, the best mark left behind is no mark.

Too Many Love-A-Bulls

On a bike errand yesterday (I may not be able to stay on a bicycle, but that doesn’t make me afraid of them), I noticed a man walking across a field with a blue pit bull and a pink box. I slowed to watch them. The dog grew animated as the man put the box on the ground, for out tumbled her puppies of every color. The wee things were mostly waggly tails. I wondered whether the guy’s landlord (the field stood adjacent to a string of apartment complexes) knew he was breeding pit bulls. Or maybe this was a one-time accident and the momma would soon be spayed.

This was on my mind this morning when I learned that today is World Spay Day. Not really a Hallmark kind of holiday, but a perfect moment to share more local news with you.

Nearly 20 percent of homeless dogs in Fayette County, Kentucky, are pit-bull mixes, and those adorable, bouncy pups I saw yesterday will only add to the problem. However, the local humane society received a substantial grant from PetSmart Charities to offer FREE spay/neuter services to pitties here through a program dubbed Love-A-Bull. Included with the spay/neuter service are FREE rabies vaccinations and city licenses.

It doesn’t get better than that! Pit-bull guardians have no excuse for not taking advantage of this generous offer. Bless PetSmart Charities for getting the ball rolling. Now let’s help spread the word.

Pitties everywhere deserve a good home where they’re loved, never exploited.

[The pile o’ pitties (and kitten) pictured are the stars of the blog My Two Pitties. For a good portion of 2012, though, there were three pit bulls: Stray and unspayed “Shaka” appealed to the blended family for help one day and they obliged. Here’s a link to all the posts related to her happy rescue story.]

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Ready, set…

This is my nod to the Daytona 500. (Really just an excuse to post this photo.)

Some family members of a friend of mine will be in the stands, while my friend stays home with everyone’s pooches—seven dogs in her charge this weekend!

Hmm. Which would you prefer: Watch tricked-out cars zoom around a track or tend to the needs of seven affectionate dogs of various sizes and breeds?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Rooting for Flower Power

After being trapped indoors for weeks now with bronchitis, I slipped outside yesterday for a short stroll in the sunshine. I was delighted to see what Nature had been up to while I moped around.

Color is sprouting! Snowdrops, crocuses, and dwarf irises are peeking out from the drab winter landscape.

Then the weather turned ugly last night—high winds, a cold front, precipitation that waffled between rain and snow. I worried about the bursts of miniature flowers I’d communed with earlier and thought this line from Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior was wise advice for them:

“Okay, look, you have to find your fierce.”

May color prevail.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Heart Attack

It’s that time of year again. As Valentine’s Day draws near, businesses of every kind try to capitalize on our affection obligations. Hearts abound—on cards, in jewelry, as the shape of cookies and pizzas. At the sight of hearts, hopeful recipients quiver with expectation; gift-givers quiver over the appropriateness of their chosen gifts.

At the sight of hearts, I fondly remember a certain pooch. Valentine’s Day can be far in the distance and I still see hearts everywhere I look—like the absent tree branch (above) I noticed during a January walk.

My beloved canine had a heart-shaped brindle patch on her left side. Children in the ’hood found it magical and often asked how and why we tattooed her. [I thought then that this was just one of those funky thought processes of young kids. I’ve since discovered that some people really do TATTOO their dogs. Ugh.]

Anyway, you’ve one more day to arrange that perfect Valentine. Here’s some humor from the Appalachians to get your creative juices flowing:

Lines for Valentines
by Anne Shelby, from Appalachian Studies

If you won’t be my valentine
The moon can’t glow. The stars can’t shine.
The corn won’t grow and the forks won’t tine
If you won’t be my valentine.

If you won’t be my valentine
I’ll hold my breath. I’ll pout. I’ll pine.
I’ll stomp and spit and swear and whine
If you won’t be my valentine.

If you won’t be my valentine
I’ll drink a pint of turpentine.
I’ll hang myself on a kudzu vine.
I’ll exhaust myself in nervous rhyme.
I’m liable to commit a crime
If you won’t be my valentine.

If you will be my valentine
On chocolate cherries we shall dine
And drink our fill of warm red wine
And not get up till half past nine

And step out light and dress up fine
And seek what’s silly and sublime
And we’ll be happy all the time.
If you will be my valentine.

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