(Wordless Wednesday) Chicken Slushies

April 30, 2008


A Musical Interlude

April 29, 2008

Hi everybody, and Happy Laundry Day!

Some of you had fun adding extra bits — bumper stickers, theme songs, URLs — to your Famous Dead Person Blog Contest entries. And I was reflecting this morning that I already hear a particular pop song in my head for two of your real-life blogs. So I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to play around on YouTube and discover other theme songs?

I had three criteria: I really like the song; it has to come from the country where the blogger lives; and it can be located on YouTube.

Today’s list, then, is:

Theme Songs for My Blogroll

1. Checkers’ World. Checkers knows how to relax and have fun, to lie in the sunshine or walk barefoot in the park. My theme song for him is the Lovin’ Spoonful’s What a Day for a Daydream. I’m sorry this video leaves Fido at home, but the stop action is kinda funny.

2. Cody Bear’s Friends. I started with the Captain Kangaroo TV show opener, and soon found Dolly Parton singing the perfect song on his show! Someone else has posted a much better, non-Captain version. Here’s Cracker Jack, goin’ out to Goodbear!

3. Dog Daily Photo is all about the Beautiful Pupple, as seen by the puparazzi. I chose Steely Dan’s richly-layered song, Peg, for this dog blog.

4. Drawing the Motmot. When I think of New England, I think of Robert Frost. I found a slide-show video with Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening set to music by a guy named Dan Sample.

5. Laugh in the Sun. This one is dedicated to Alyson and her husband and kids and chickens and horse and garden and canning and writing and housework and… Anyway, here’s the Little River Band’s Help Is On Its Way.

6. One Little Detail. Livingisdetail’s selected theme song is already a theme song, for an Australian television series on their goldrush days. I don’t quite remember what the show was called; the German who posted the video on YouTube shows German credits, with the title meaning “A Handful of Gold.” The song is Golden Pennies.

7. The Aged Cat. I couldn’t think of a better choice than The Byrds singing Pete Seeger’s Turn, Turn, Turn.

8. Themarvelousinnature. Again, there was one obvious choice: Gordon Lightfoot and Pussywillows, Cattails. I read somewhere a long time ago that he wrote this song for his grandmother. The guy who posted this one, thomasj157, has lots of nice slideshow presentations using Lightfoot’s music.

9. The Right Blue. Three times lucky! Here’s John Denver singing Calypso. (No, he’s not imitating Harry Belafonte; Calypso was the name of Jacques Cousteau’s ship.)

10. The Unwound Road. Eyegillian writes about current issues with a slight philosophical slant — and once in a while, allows a peek into how she really feels. I’ve chosen Bruce Cockburn’s Wondering Where the Lions Are because it employs the same deception, using a bouncy rhythm and cheery tune to half-conceal some pretty deep lyrics.

11. Urban Observation. This one, along with Checkers’ World, are the two blogs for which I already had theme songs. Boy, was I surprised to learn that both songs are by the same group! Here once again is the Lovin’ Spoonful, with Summer in the City.

12. Yasashiikuma.  Shelley can rhyme off all the dogs who ever played in the Canadian TV series The Littlest Hobo. Youtube has the original version from 1963, and the one from the 70s. Travelin’ around from town to town…

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s concert. Thanks for listening!

Paris Pennies

April 28, 2008

well-feathered nest

A little nest for a little nest egg.

Sometime last fall, E.g. and I started planning a ten-day trip to Paris, which quickly expanded to include my mother and Jack’s mum and Jack. After much sifting of web sites, we chose a three-bedroom apartment in the 2nd arrondissement where we could all stay and share the rent. Short-term rental is less expensive than staying at a hotel, and less grotty than staying at a hostel.

Still, it’s a good chunk of cash. It’s an even bigger chunk temporarily, because the damage deposit equals the rental price. So we’ve been trying to be a little more careful with our money.

It’s interesting to me to notice how little care is generally taken with that lowliest piece of money, the penny. It’s hard to go for a walk without seeing one, or even several, abandoned on a sidewalk, on a manhole cover, or in the gutter. It may be jagged from being run over countless times, or half-sunk in asphalt tar. They’re everywhere! So I decided to collect them.

I told E.g. and Jack about my project. I took a sturdy plastic container that used to hold laundry detergent, and put some dollar-store bags of coin rollers in it. Jack found a little cardboard box at home, cut a slot in it, and labeled it PARIS PENNIES in thick magic marker. Gillian started filling a little metal coin bank with change from her wallet.

Sometimes I found nickels, and oftener dimes — maybe because they look more like pennies. I found some British leftovers from a standby weekend in London, put it in an envelope, and set that in the plastic container. Since some of that “change” was a ten-pound note, I was inspired to add a few of my own notes — a bit of babysitting money, a little catsitting money, some of my petstore wages.

Yesterday, E.g. was making little worried sounds regarding Paris and other expenses looming on the horizon. I decided to count what had been stashed away. I totted everything up, and had Jack carry the plastic container to E.g. “I need Jack’s help,” I told E.g., “to carry 500 pounds.”

Five hundred and forty-eight, to be more exact. At least in British currency. We had collected $1,104 (1090 American, 1162 Australian, 1389 New Zealand). The stash included 32 rolls of coins, of which 14 were pennies. That’s 700 of those neglected little copper pieces. An old adage comes to mind.

Dead Heat (Contest Results)

April 27, 2008

playing with the borzoi

Dog owners have widely varying tastes.
It was a lovely Spring weekend. Dog parents were everywhere. Unlike last time, when I was nearly reduced to paying a street person to check off a ballot sheet, this time I cornered  Coco’s daddy, Buster’s mummy, Flip’s mummy, both mummies of the Thundering Herd, Dover’s daddy… every last judge was a dog parent.

Okay, I’m lying. One of my co-workers has a Maine Coon cat; but she loves playing with all the dogs that visit the store.

Anyway, by 3 pm today I had a nice sheaf of checked-off ballots. Rubbing my hands in demonic glee, I sorted them into teeny little piles, counted them, and who do you think was the winner?

No one. It was a three-way tie. And everyone else came in second. I think from this experiment we can conclude that among dog owners, there are as many opinions on what is funny as there are breeds of dog.

Now, for the limericks… By posting one per week until they’re all up, I would be making some of you wait two months for yours, which I think is kinda cruel. How do you think I should organize it? Should I post three per day, making my entries all-limericks-all-the-time for three days running? I would also continue my pattern of having a different one in my sidebar on each monthday divisible by seven. Duzzat work? You would each get your week-on-the-sunny-log, but would already know your limerick before it goes up to bask.

Chris, you haven’t given me a word for a limerick, and Shelley and Checkers, you each have leftover privileges from the first contest. That’s three more words. And a certain evil genius from the first contest suggested “blogosphere”, which I haven’t completely ruled out…

But today I’m kinda tired and not making much sense. Must be all that fresh air.

The Speckled Ones

April 26, 2008


I won’t go into why I wrote this; I’ll simply say that I’m finding the story a comfort just now, so I’ve written a loose paraphrase of it. It’s from the second half of chapter 30 of Genesis.

Jacob had been working hard for years. He had given a lot to his boss and father-in-law, Laban. An awful lot. He had worked twice as hard as any other of Laban’s workers, because he loved Laban’s daughter Rachel. Really, Jacob put up with a lot of sheep manure.

One day, Jacob thought maybe it was time for him and Rachel to leave and settle down on their own bit of turf. Laban said, “Sure! What do I owe you?”

Jacob said, “I don’t want any money. I would just like the rejects from your flocks of sheep and goats. You know, all the speckled ones, the spotted ones, the striped ones, the brown ones. They have so much less market value than the pure white ones.”

“Fair enough,” said Laban. “Tomorrow morning, we’ll go see the herds and you can take all the rejects.”

Unfortunately, Laban wasn’t much of a family member. That evening he went to the flocks and separated out all the speckled ones, the spotted ones, the striped ones, the brown ones. Then he got a few of his underlings to drive the rejects out to a place about three days’ walk away.

The next morning, Laban and Jacob went out to see the flocks. They saw white sheep and white goats. “Wait a minute,” said Jacob. “Where are all the speckled ones, the spotted ones, the striped ones, the brown ones?”

“Oh, those,” Laban answered. “They’ve all wandered off somewhere. Now, what were the terms of our agreement? Lemme get the affidavit out here…”

Jacob sighed. “You know what? I think I’ll work one more year for you — since you’re such an honest employer, and good father-in-law. I owe you that much at least.”

Laban agreed. Over the course of the year, with G*d’s help — obviously, since having white sheep mate in the shadow of a whittled stick doesn’t ordinarily produce un-white babies — Jacob bred lambs and kids. There were speckled ones, spotted ones, striped ones, brown ones. Jacob loved his rejects. At the end of his allotted employment extension, he had the biggest flocks around — way bigger than Laban’s. One day he called his family and his flocks, and off they went with songs of thanksgiving.

Moral: Those who love the spotted ones, the striped ones, the speckled ones, and the brown ones will be blessed.


April 25, 2008

play again?

Those eyes speak volumes.

Ears erect and forward, head swinging on his neck like a tetherball on its pole, Cai is talking to me. He’s saying, “Are you sure? Where? Where is he?” Suddenly his ears flatten back for full aerodynamic capacity as he breaks into a gallop, his whole body shouting, “There he is! There’s Jack! I see him! Oh joy, oh joy, oh joy!”

For all that we humans pride ourselves on our vocalizations (and therefore scold dogs for competing with us), anyone who owns a pet knows how much can be communicated through body language. In fact, so much is conveyed by the height of an eyebrow or the speed of a tail wag, that a human can grasp the message without paying much conscious attention to how the dog has “spoken”. I have to really think, then, in order to describe Cai’s movements. Let’s see…

Here are two scenarios that begin the same way, but Cai asks a different question in each one:

  • I’m in the living room watching Cai on the balcony, who in turn is watching the neighbours go by. As he shifts position, he sees me looking at him. He enters the apartment and approaches me, eyes meeting mine, ears tilted slightly backwards, mouth ajar, eyebrows playing volleyball with each other.
    • Interpretation: “Hi Mum, did you want me for anything?”
  • Cai sees me watching him and enters the apartment, heaving loud, breathy whines, his vertical ears  twisted outwards. He runs to the balcony door, to me, to the window, to me.
    • Interpretation: “Ple-e-ease can we go out and play with Peanuts and Cindy and Boomer and Tango and Coco, ple-e-ease?”

Cai doesn’t usually care too much for other dogs, though. His main focus in life, even more than treats, is toys. Here are four games that he’s taught us to recognize:

  • We’re playing in the back field. Cai is exercising me, having me fetch the ball once he’s run and caught it. This time as I  stoop for the ball, he jogs halfway down the field and crouches stockstill, staring hard at my throwing hand.
    • Interpretation: “I’m a Border Collie! Throw the sheep — I’m ready!”
  • We’re playing in the front yard. As I reach for the ball, Cai runs behind the big Silver Maple and peeks out from one side, then the other.
    • Interpretation: “Throw the ball either side of the tree, I’ll get it!”
  • I’m playing at the computer. Cai brings the plush candycane squeakytoy that Jack gave him for Christmas and drops it beside my chair. As I reach for it, he mouths it catch-and-release fashion, growling.
    • Interpretation: “Let’s play tug!”
  • Cai brings the same toy to my chair. As I reach for it, he runs a dozen feet in front of me, three-sixties and crouches.
    •  Interpretation: “Let’s play throw!”

The final pair of examples of Cardiganese that I’d like to share with you have to do with canine emotions. I believe that Cai has a sense of compassion; I’ve seen him behave towards our kitty Cuca in the same way as described below, when Cuca caught a cold and was sneezing. I also believe — and after reading the final scene, you be the judge — that Cai has a sense of humour.

  • I step in from the balcony, put a foot on a rubber squeaky toy, and lose my balance, grabbing the couch arm for support. Cai stands on his hind legs with his front paws on the couch and stretches his muzzle into my face.
    • Interpretation: “Are you okay?”
  • Everyone’s in bed with either a good book or a good bone. Cai’s bone falls to the floor. He looks over the edge at it, whimpering softly. E.g. slips out of bed to pick it up for him. The moment she’s out, Cai scuttles up and snuggles into her pillow, his bright eyes looking at her, his mouth open.
    • Interpretation: “Fooled ya!”



April 24, 2008

hitting the books

Dogs work hard at establishing communication with their humans.

I love languages. My French is passable, I learned a little Vietnamese at one time, and last summer I ended up being a Spanish interpreter at an international quadrennial meeting here in Toronto.

Please understand, I have never studied Spanish in my life. I picked up a few phrases from some Chilean neighbours about ten years ago. As a quadrennial volunteer, I put every last scrap of my knowledge to use during registration for one nice Cuban delegate, and was punished for it by being called over anytime one of the other hosts was trying to communicate with a hispanoparlante. Luckily my impromptu career lasted only an hour or so until some bilingual delegates arrived.

Apart from that, I can say “Thank you”, “How are you”, and “Fine” in Greek, the same first two things in Japanese, and the first thing in Ojibway. I can count to ten in Hungarian. I can say “I’m a bird watcher” in German. I used to be able to pronounce “I have a little white rabbit” in Cantonese, but I only get funny looks when I try it now. Mind you, this last sentence might be a bit of a conversation stopper in any language.

 Because of my fascination with languages, I started wondering today how many human words my Cardigan Welsh Corgi knows. For that matter, how much dog language has he taught us?

Cai knows all the basics, of course:

  • ball
  • toy
  • pottie
  • walkies
  • bickie
  • shh
  • hush
  • be quiet
  • that’ll do!
  • hey!!!

He comes when I call his name in a high-pitched, singsong voice: “Cai-i!”, and he knows that “good boy” is his middle name. Being a herder and not a retriever, he is still learning the linguistic nuances of “Bring it!”, but improving daily.

Cai knows a number of words and phrases that aren’t in the manuals:

  • “Let’s go check the mail” means we’re gonna enter the building by the front door, not the side door.
  •  “Let’s take the stairs” means the side door, not the front door.
  • “Please stop chewing on your brother’s leg” means to pause a moment before continuing to rough-house with the cat.
  • One evening on the way in I remarked conversationally, “Tomorrow we’ll be going out in the car-car” and Cai turned to the back of the elevator, facing its basement-opening back door.
  • If we’re playing in the back field when Jack arrives from school and I see the boy first, my whispered “Where’s Jack?” sends Cai into a four-alarm lookabout that stops just short of whiplash.
  • Then there’s the phrase, “Oh, da scoodie-boodie-woobie-goobies”, which means, “I see you’d like someone to give you a nice belly rub. Will I do?”

I’m sure there are more words and phrases that Cai knows, but I think this sampling is a good start. Tomorrow I’ll discourse on some of the Cardi language that Cai has taught us.