Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Look what I found about cats

 This poem by Robert Gray was about a real cat. I took note because a friend on the Airedale list would send cards that included a photo of Marbles the Cat (RB) looking at Jerry the Fish. Fortunately, Marbles didn't share Selima's miserable fate.

On The Death Of A Favourite Cat, Drowned In A Tub Of Gold Fishes

'Twas on a lofty vase's side,
Where China's gayest art had dyed
The azure flowers that blow,
Demurest of the tabby kind,
The pensive Selima, reclined,
Gazed on the lake below.

Her conscious tail her joy declared;
The fair round face, the snowy beard,
The velvet of her paws,
Her coat, that with the tortoise vies,
Her ears of jet, and emerald eyes,
She saw; and purred applause.

Still had she gazed; but 'midst the tide
Two angel forms were seen to glide,
The genii of the stream:
Their scaly armour's Tyrian hue
Through richest purple to the view
Betrayed a golden gleam.

The hapless nymph with wonder saw:
A whisker first, and then a claw,
With many an ardent wish,
She stretched, in vain, to reach the prize.
What female heart can gold despise?
What cat's averse to fish?

Presumptuous maid! with looks intent
Again she stretched, again she bent,
Nor knew the gulf between:
(Malignant Fate sat by, and smiled)
The slippery verge her feet beguiled,
She tumbled headlong in.

Eight times emerging from the flood
She mewed to ev'ry wat'ry god
Some speedy aid to send.
No dolphin came, no nereid stirred;
Nor cruel Tom, nor Susan heard.
A fav'rite has no friend!

From hence, ye beauties undeceived,
Know, one false step is ne'er retrieved,
And be with caution bold.
Not all that tempts your wand'ring eyes
And heedless hearts is lawful prize;
Nor all that glisters, gold.

Now, a cat lover might see one thing. The Poetry Foundation sees another:

"Her plunge into the goldfish bowl is another vain dream of the desiring self. Selima wishes to possess what is taboo; it requires her engagement with a medium in which she cannot survive. Her fate is a variation on the fate of those who would appropriate that which is beyond their proper sphere."
But if you know cats, you know that they have nothing to do with moralizing.
(public domain photo)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Emily is again inspired by the original Miss Dickinson

The counter--is what I cannot reach!
The tomato and the cheese-
Provided my mom leaves them out--
Smell heavenly--to Me!

The color of the cheddar round--
The food too far to grasp--
Behind the threatening Cookie Sheet--
There--Paradise--is found--

Those teasing smells--that make me drool--
I must grow tall to grasp--
And use my paws to bat them o'er--
And bite into them at last!

It's a good thing we don't believe people can really roll over in their graves or we'd be hearing a thing or two all the way from Amherst, MA. Emily Dickinson's birthday was Dec. 10, and Emily Dickins' birthday was Dec. 4.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Emily is One!

Today is Emily Dickins' first birthday. And what did I do to prepare her? Have Sheila the World-Famous Groomer strip out all the dead fur, leaving a nearly naked dog. No biggie; she just looks like somebody with a skin disease.

As a mature dog, she prefers heavy reading material: Wolf Hall is 532 pages. No wonder she actually prefers Kleenex tissues. A talented girl, she knows how to unmake a bed, shred cardboard, and chew the corners off pillows and woodwork.


Why doesn't he have to wear a silly jacket?

Read my face. Treats, now! I may be small, but I've got Big Attitude.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Blogville Thanks-day

I started blogging as a way to keep writing. I wrote about events around the house to which I'd just moved until the day that I received a comment from Mitch and Molly's blog (when Angel Maggie was there). I discovered there were Airedale blogs all over the place. Then there were blog-hops and dogs and cats and bunnies and incredibly talented and funny people. I've been blogging long enough to share the lives and deaths of three of my Airedales and many other dogs. In Animal Blogville, a person can post about the death of a pet fish and know that everyone will understand how important that pet could be.  I am grateful for the company of fine people and animals.
Blogville nose how it is.

As card-carrying Airedales, we are naturally grateful for anything that works to our advantage. Most things do.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Miro and Emily learn to recycle

After experimenting with my cardboard box stand-up desk, I bought one that raises and lowers. It's a heavy, solid piece of equipment that sits on top of my existing desk. No assembly required! What's not to like?
Oops. Forgot about the window reflection revealing the junk-covered printer table. The Varidesk came in a Very Big Box, double sided with thick cardboard. I wondered how I'd ever get it all cut down to fit in the recycling bin. Suddenly, I had help.

 They began work on a rectangular piece from inside the box. You can see part of the box on the left in photo #1. Keeping everything on the small landing contained the wreckage--or so I thought.

 Emily paused to see why I was just standing there instead of helping.

They are researching for a term paper on deconstruction.

Then, for a moment, all was still.

Emily decided to resume work in the living room.

Now, please excuse me while I go fetch the garden rake. Good thing Thanksgiving Dinner is not at my house.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A few words from Emily Dickins

While the people complain about freezing their tushies in the cold, we Airedales love it.
Here we are comparing teeth. Mine, of course, are prettier.

Sometimes a girl likes to dress up a little, using whatever decorator items are available.
I like being able to grow my hair longer for the winter, but Mom keeps pulling it out.
Could I say, "Let's play" any louder? What does Miro do? He stands there and barks.

Oh well.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Verbless Wednesday

Pausing to think about the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month and of how the first World War changed everything.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Emily's first party

Emily's first party was a wine tasting Halloween party. Fortunately, Emily prefers beer and cheese. Show her a piece of cheese and she's yours.

Despite a band so loud that people had to shout at the tops of their voices, Emily cheerfully greeted everybody, including a Golden Lab that growled at her, causing her promptly to squat and pee on the cement floor (all the wineries have cement floors).

Emily especially charmed a Japanese lady who knelt in front of her and got a big, black Airedale nose stuck in her ear followed by an enthusiastic Airedale tongue. I kept an eye on the lady's dangling earrings. Fortunately Emily wasn't interested.

I have no photos, having been too busy juggling with one hand a leash clipped to a wriggling, pulling dog and with the other a wine glass; with the third hand, treats for distracting Emily; with the fourth hand, a small sandwich that made do as my lunch.

Wait. I have only two hands.

Not all is lost. I have a photo of my new stand-up desk. You may know that research has shown that sitting at a desk all day contributes to diabetes, cancer, and obesity, none of which I have or want. Besides, sitting at the computer for long stretches is exhausting even when I haven't done anything. I looked into desks and prices, which range from $125 to thousands. The cheapest that would serve my needs was $225, including shipping.  For that price I could buy a new pair of boots to keep my feet comfortable while I stand at my desk. One does have priorities.

So I made my own stand-up desk for $0 and five minutes' assembly, which surely beats hours of swearing at incomprehensible directions and screws that don't go in correctly. I can eventually do some cosmetic improvements. The keyboard is now at a more comfortable height than it was on my sit-down desk, and I wrote this post, #600, on it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Two Airedales and a Halloween costume

I had ten minutes, just the time needed for a Halloween costume photo session. Right? Oh, you mean it takes five hours and a bucket of liver treats for one successful shot?

This is what happens in a photo session with two Airedales, one five-year-old and one ten-month old.

 Indoors. The blur in the middle was an attractive accessory.

 I particularly like this one. It characterizes typical living room activity, especially when I try to watch television.

There's better light outdoors.

It's obvious which one should be wearing the devil horns, but she doesn't stay still long enough. That was as far as we got in the costume department today.

This is post #599.  How do I mark 600? Business as usual?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Grim news

Or I could say the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime.

Not only birds are active in the fall. Raccoons are venturing beyond their usual boundaries; and for the first time in the seven years I've kept chickens here, one came into my yard and tore through the netting and wire over the top of the chicken pen.



It happened at about five in the morning. I woke hearing Miró hurry down the stairs to the main floor.  I heard one faint, distant noise from outside. It could have been a dog or cat; it could have been the person who delivers newspapers to the few of us who still subscribe. It was not at all like the noises chickens make when disturbed at night or when attacked. I listened for a while. Everything quiet. Because Miró, who barks at everything, kept silent, I figured all was well. I don't know if Emily even moved.

Really, Miro has some explaining to do.


 This raccoon tore out the throats of four chickens and disappeared.  A couple of days later I ran into a neighbor from across the street who also kept chickens. She said theirs had been killed two days before mine. Same modus operandi: no noise, throats torn out, dead hens strewn across the pen.

When my husband was alive and we kept chickens in a more rural area, we lost a bunch to predators; but no animal ever killed all the chickens and we (or I, since he could sleep through anything) always heard something, though the distance from house to pen was greater there than here.  It's very unusual to have happened so quickly that the chickens had little or no chance to squawk. Maybe there was more than one raccoon.
Edna, Old English game bantam

Most chickens live short lives and die violently, making R.I.P. inappropriate. High praise for chickens would be: they laid well.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday bath for birds

My house came with a "water feature," a series of debris-gathering pools. The water fountains into a square pool at the top terrace, spilling over onto a series of smaller pools down to the larger one at the bottom where there's a motor to recirculate the water. Naturally, the motor stopped working not long after I moved here. I have to muck everything out several times a year. I'm sure I'd like the whole thing very much if it worked and didn't require perpetual and expensive maintenance. It's useful for one thing.

A little while ago, the yard was full of twittery sounds instead of the usual crow-jay battle screeches.

 Robins, juncos, and flickers took turns for Sunday bath. Photos are from the kitchen window. (It was clean, honest! The blurring is reflection.)

This last one looks like a juvenile starling, an invasive species. After these photos, I went outside by a side door, hoping the birds wouldn't mind if I stood some distance away; but the mere hint of human movement was too much for them. I stood still for a loooong time, waiting, reflecting that this standing around is why I'm not a bird watcher, though I support the Audubon Society.

Later, as I sat at my desk upstairs to upload the photos, a flicker stopped right outside to clean the gutters.

I might tweet an ad for birds: Sherry's back yard, all hotel services provided: bath, fine dining, comfortable beds, and no cats.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Thursday, September 25, 2014

See that red dot? It's a scarlet macaw!

I went to Costa Rica with only my phone for a camera and joked with other phone-only photographers about what we'd say when showing friends our photos. No casual tourist could have captured our best sighting of the macaws when they suddenly appeared high above the Tarcoles River, the sun flashing off their brilliant red, yellow, and blue as they flew quickly over the trees. Later we saw them perched in distant wild fig trees at Punta Leona Beach Resort on the Pacific coast.

The upper center red dot is the bird; the lower red dots are hibiscus.
Here's what they really look like, photographed in the same kind of tree. Because the photo is from www.upload.wikimedia.org, I think it's open source.

I was on a 12-day ecotour. Every time the guide pointed out a bird, reptile, or mammal, we went "Oooo" and "Ahhh." Every time the guide pointed out and talked about particular trees, we listened attentively and then asked each other, "What did he say that was?"
I got close to Green Violetear hummingbirds at 7,000 feet.
Tropical rainforest with iguana.

Returning home, I sighted a couple of these:
Temperate rainforest dog.

Canis messus.
They greeted me with three seconds of jumping excitement before turning to sniff the suitcase, needing no words to convey, "Great to see ya. What'd ya bring me?"