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.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Gifts of the Cat

ats whose guardians allow them to wander outdoors are known to return home with assorted kills. For many cats, this is meant to be a gesture of giving rather than a stash to consume later.

One such kitty is profiled in Susan Chernak McElroy’s Animals as Teachers and Healers. Sammi and her person lived in the country, where every morning began with the chattering of Sammi at the front door and her gift of a (dead) field mouse. Her person lavished her with praise for her efforts, which Sammi reveled in.

Then the pair was forced to move to a small place in a city—no more countryside for Sammi to roam in, no more field mice to hunt, hardly a tree to climb. Her person worried that Sammi would have difficulty making the transition. She needn’t have fretted, though. The cat adapted to the nature deficit without a hitch: Each morning, Sammi chattered at the front door and presented her person with…

a couple of pine cones. Sammi was just as pleased with these inanimate objects as she’d been with the tiny rodents. And her person must have been more pleased.

How sweet is that? Sammi made do.

As I searched for a photo to accompany this tale, I found The Happy Cat, the feline pictured here. His person explains that Happy Cat has a special fondness for squirrels—likes to carry them around by the scruff of the neck as if they were his own kits. Sometimes he places them at his person’s door, quite alive and never hurt. But as soon as the squirrels realize their good fortune, they race off. Yet Happy Cat doesn’t try to stop them or pursue them again.

I’m not sure what to make of this. I wonder if something’s missing in Happy Cat’s life. All the same, I do admire his unique approach to gift-giving, and his reminder that every animal is an individual.

[Drop cap by Jessica Hische; photo by Fred Griffin.]

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Booze and Books

“I am simply a ‘book drunkard.’ Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.”
—L. M. Montgomery

Pictured is NoMad Hotel’s Library Bar. A place where real people go to read real books and drink (and be seen doing it). A place I would have loved back in the day.

I once lived on the same block as the Commodore Hotel in St. Paul—of F. Scott Fitzgerald fame. I was a nanny at the time, and hanging out in the rundown deco bar reinserted me in a grown-up world. I wasn’t much of a drinker, could nurse a Smith and Kearns for an entire evening, but like Ms. Montgomery, I was crazy for books. I didn’t think it strange then to read while I drank. And people-watch. It seemed a perfect way to unwind.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Clueless and Curious—A Bad Combination

As I’ve written before, my beloved first cat was not the sharpest of our menagerie. She was a porcelain figurine come to life—small and delicate of frame, glossy white coat, emerald eyes—and had no idea how to be a cat. She’d been weaned too early, was abused and brain damaged, and by the time I met her at four months of age, had become an adoption failure (she was brought back to the shelter by one family for not being energetic enough). Miss P saw the world through a much different lens than other kitties, a lens perhaps unique to her alone.

But what she lacked in feline savvy she more than made up for with her sweet, sweet temperament and uncanny empathy. I thought of Miss P when I saw this picture, for she certainly would have been the cat curious about the Big Sparrow:

Friday, February 8, 2013

Recipe Instructions I Understand

“I mix flour, yeast and water, then climb on the counter and knead on all fours, trying like hell to pound some sense into my world.”
—trishawinn, brief nonfiction from Creative Nonfiction

[Artist unknown.]

There’s a Place for Us

My mind’s all mushy thanks to this lousy flu bug. I’m afraid Lull will continue to be Lull Lite for a bit longer.

Thought I’d share a song from West Side Story with you today for no particular reason. It’s actually an award-winning ad from Animals Australia.

[The song runs for about two minutes; what follows is educational and unsettling if you’re not familiar with factory farming. Watch at your own risk past 2:18. Or go to Make It Possible if you’d prefer to read instead of watch and find out how you can change the world.]

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

It’s a Matter of Perspective

I liked this photograph at first glance because it has two of my favorite critters in it.

 But then I saw its message and liked it all the more.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sharing the Stage with Groundhog Day…

Today is World Wetlands Day, a single day reserved to rouse awareness for the importance of wetlands—not just for the plants and creatures who reside in them, but also for the critters just passing through (like these Whooping Cranes migrating through Kentucky and searching for a resting spot).

You can spread the word about wetlands by sending a favorite someone an e-card.

“[T]he meeting of land and water…keeps alive the sense of continuing creation and the relentless drive of life. Each time I enter it, I gain some new awareness of its beauty and its deeper meanings, sensing that intricate fabric of life by which one creature is linked with another, and each with its surroundings.”
—Rachel Carson

[Photo of Purple Gallinule in the Wakodahatchee Wetlands by Jake Paredes; photo of migrating Whooping Cranes from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.]

Second Amendment Twist

“Support your right to arm bears.”
—Cleveland Amory

[Photo by Lil Polley.]

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Surprise from the Library

We rode our bikes to the library this past weekend. My husband stayed on his, but I, alas, wound up on the ground. No, there was no other cyclist or driver involved. Sometimes Gravity likes to perform a pas de deux with me. (Which is to say I’m a lousy bike rider. You know how folks say, “Don’t worry! It’s as easy as riding a bike”? That never puts my mind at ease.)

Anyway, we picked up the special-request book I had waiting for me and returned home—much more slowly than the first half of our trip. As it turned out, we brought home a lot more than that single book.

What populates libraries on a grander scale than books? Germs.

Yup. We both have the flu now. I guess as long as I’m sore from the fall, I might as well cough like a seal too. I just wish we had a trio of Florence Nightingales like the ones pictured to be our caregivers.

Hope you’re staying well this winter…

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