Saturday, August 09, 2008

Another Puppy Finds a Home

Brownie has been claimed by another lovely couple who had to put down their 16 year old dog over three years ago. It took them a while to get to where they wanted to open their hearts and homes to a new dog.

His nose will never turn black but will remain the same brown color as his fur, which I think is absolutely adorable. Of course, in winter his nose will turn pink, which is what all Siberian Husky noses do.

And how could they resist this face? I know I couldn't. In any event, it seems that nobody wants the little girls. I feel like we are living in China. Poor little girl puppies. Maybe tomorrow someone will come over and want to take one home.

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes is a memoir I avoided. Knowing my deep desire to go to Italy, I could only imagine the envy I would feel for Mayes having the opportunity to live there. When the movie came out with Diane Lane, an actress whose work I have admired since A Little Romance, I avoided the movie as well. Then one evening I was home alone, trying to decide what dvd to watch when the movie came on. I shrugged and settled down to watch it. Cute movie. Not groundbreaking or earth shattering. A comfortable movie. So I went to my bookshelf and dug the copy of the book I had found at the local library’s books for sale shelf. I didn’t expect the book to be identical to the movie. In fact, I hoped not. I couldn’t imagine reading a book that didn’t have more to offer than the movie. What the two have in common:
  • A title
  • The main character’s name is Frances
  • The main character buys a house in Tuscany
  • The house needs a lot of work
  • That’s it. If you’ve seen the movie and are looking for Frances to be getting a divorce from her philandering husband, you won’t find it in the book. You also won’t find the lesbian couple or the outrageous actress or even the two romantic sub-plots. None of these are in the book at all. Instead, you have Mayes’ account of how she and her husband chose to buy a house in Tuscany and the process by which they eventually made the purchase of their summer home. The book details the various summer trips to Tuscany during which different renovation projects were undertaken. The two steps forward and one step back of success and failure, of trying to bridge language and cultural differences, and above all else, a growing love for the home, the town, and country in which Mayes and her husband escape from their lives in San Francisco where they both teach at local universities. So oh boy . . . let’s read the memoir about a highly educated, privileged, happily married woman who gets to buy her dream home in Italy. I mean, at least with Elizabeth Gilberts’ Eat Pray Love the reader experienced the grief of a marriage falling apart and her desperate need to pull the pieces of her life and herself together. Mayes has everything and the reader gets to indulge in the pleasures of how she got still more. Still, I read and savored every page. While not as coherent or perhaps as relevant as other memoirs I have reviewed, it is a pleasurable read, not unlike the movie. There is no depth, no real epiphany. There are, however, some recipes, and I was amused when Mayes describes how Italian recipes often lack such details and measurements. But of course! There is something organic cooking without precision. Every meal is a surprise. The recipes Mayes provides have measurements for the less adventurous chefs and they look yummy. I was envious, of course, but never to the point of resentment. I enjoyed reading about the discovery of the fresco and grew frustrated with the careless destruction things that are obviously not as appreciated by native Italians. For the reader who would find the un-translated Italian frustrating, most words are explained but not all. And this is not a book to read when hungry as Mayes delights in describing the produce, the meals, the wines that she and her husband enjoy. Throughout, Mayes makes it clear that she recognizes the blessing she has received in finding her heart’s home. She appreciates her largesse and it is nearly impossible to resent her for her good fortune. I couldn’t but I suppose some readers might. But for anyone hoping to read something that is like the movie, there is no point in reading this book. If, however, the movie made you want to know more about the truth of Mayes’s experiences this is a lovely summer’s read. (Also, on page 262 Mayes describes how Medieval women would discover the foreskin of Jesus in their mouths. I have searched and cannot find out who these women are so if anyone who reads this review could possibly tell me the name of one of these ecstatic saints I would love to know more. The peculiar nature of the miracle intrigues me tremendously.)

      Friday, August 08, 2008

      Introducing Shadow

      Today a lovely woman and her son came by and fell in love with our other black and white male and so we have another puppy with a new home. His name is Shadow (formerly known as A and Alpha) and the family bond is clearly already there. It is wonderful seeing how happy people are when they get around the puppies.

      And now we have only five puppies who need puppy homes.

      Summer Olympic Free Zone

      I will not be watching nor paying any attention to the Summer Olympics this year. If you want to know why, it all has to do with this child, who is now nineteen years old, and hasn't been seen since he was pronounced the Panchen Lama by HH the Dalai Lama. To read more about this, click here.

      Thursday, August 07, 2008

      Let's Hear It For the Boys!!!

      And here are our little boys. Brownie first because he was the most cooperative while I was taking his picture.

      That is, until his brother Alpha came along wanting to play.

      Then getting his picture became a little more difficult.

      So I tried to take a picture of Alpha. And that was not very productive either.

      In the meantime, Brownie went off to play with Tipsy.

      Tipsy had been playing with the green ball but was willing to share the green towel with her brother. Here's a pic I had taken of her with the green ball.

      I guess this post that was supposed to be all about the boys is losing its focus because I'm writing about one of the girls. I think Brownie agreed because he tried to pose for me. It didn't work out so well because he got distracted.

      And the next thing you know, they were all off and trying to eat . . . except there's the green towel being all distracting again.

      Puppies and Water Bowls

      This red bowl is actually Snowdoll's water and food bowl but it has pretty much been used for water bowls since the puppies escaped the bedroom. With that said, here are a series of pics of puppies with the water bowl. It's thematic!

      Brownie is pretty notorious for sleeping on the water dish. I took this one about three days ago.

      Then today he was back at it only his head was flopped over the side and onto the towel that I put under the bowls to catch some of the water spread.

      Mind you, Brownie is not the only one who thinks that being in the water bowl is fun.

      I had to wash the one bowl out because a puppy eagerly climbed into it to drink water out of the other bowl. Then she went to the bathroom in the bowl she was standing in. Ewwww . . . I took the bowl to wash it out and when I came back, one of the other puppies had climbed in the hole and fallen asleep.

      She really liked it under there because a few minutes later she had squirmed her way deeper, pushing the other bowl out of her way. Which is how the other puppy had a chance to get a drink before falling asleep with her face in the bowl.

      More puppy pics!!! Teddy Bear who refused to look at the camera. I couldn't show off her blue eyes.

      So I figured I would show off her back.

      Then her brother (already spoken for puppy) and her sister (Marita) double teamed her. Don't let this fool you. The camera died before I could get a pic of her getting the better of her brother.

      Romanov found the whole thing boring, frankly.

      So I gave up on Teddy Bear and tried to take a picture of Snowflake. She kept moving too!

      She looooves to have her belly rubbed and when I wouldn't stop trying to take her picture she plopped onto the floor to have her belly rubbed.

      Then she went to play with Snowdoll who was trying to sleep.

      This is the already claimed puppy playing with his favorite toy.

      So while I was taking that picture Snowflake sneaked off and fell asleep.

      Should You Get a Siberian Husky?

      Obviously Rob and I adore the breed but they are not the easiest dog to own. They are highly intelligent which means they are easy to train but they don't always want to obey. If you tell a siberian husky to sit when he wants to do something else, he will (literally) debate with you about the necessity of obedience. They also are affectionate and have a lot of energy. Even at seven years old people will ask me how old Romanov is and when I say he is seven they are astounded. "I thought he was younger. He has so much energy." Siberian huskies keep their puppiness forever. Here are some sites to help you make an educated decision about this beautiful breed before bringing one home: http://www.quamut.com/quamut/siberian_huskies http://www.shca.org/shcahp2b.htm The one thing you need to know is that although you will not need to bathe your husky (in fact, you should not do so except if it is absolutely necessary), they shed. A lot. There is almost a constant supply of what we call "puppy tumbleweeds" gathering in the corners. Twice a year they will have a "blow out" that goes above and beyond the typical shedding. I found this video on youtube to give you an idea of what it means to blow out.

      That's 2 minutes of plucking fur. If she had been brushing there would have been even more! And even after plucking all of that fur, the puppy still needs to be brushed. (And they LOVE to bite at and play with the pile of fur!) On the plus side, if you knit, you can have the puppy fur woven into wool and make your own Siberian Husky scarf or hat or whatever.

      This Blog is Going to the Dogs

      We had one person back out from one puppy so here are the ones that are currently available, but first, here are Mommy and Daddy!

      Snowdoll before she joined our family, still quite the puppy.

      And Romanov, looking so pretty.

      Mom and dad together in our back yard. This was taken a few months ago but they look much the same now as they did then. I am trying not to give them names but it is easier for me to give each some "identity" so this is Teddy Bear. She is just a puff ball and so affectionate. Very playful. This picture does not do her justice. She is as cute as cute can be.

      This is Tipsy and she is a lover. Very mild mannered for the most part but don't let that fool you. She is just as playful and mischievous as any of her siblings. But she is less likely to make a mess than she is to be sitting by watching others getting into trouble.

      This is Snowflake and she is absolutely Mommy's little girl in every way. Look at those ears! She is grey and white and she is very pack oriented, which is natural for the breed. But she is rarely alone and prefers to be with others.

      And this is Marita, who is about as affectionate as can be. She loves to lick noses and nibble toes. She has her favorite toys and favorite places to be. Without a doubt, she will bond deeply with whomever takes her home.

      Here is A, the first born puppy. I call him Alpha but he isn't the most dominant puppy in the litter. He is, however, not one to ignore a puppy pile of playfulness and will bound in with exuberance, quickly biting and pouncing on his siblings.

      And last but not least is Brownie. He was the last born and our surprise because he alone is brown. Once again, this pic is not doing his puppy cuteness any justice. He is definitely a high energy puppy. He and Teddy Bear are the ones most likely to be up and running.

      Monday, August 04, 2008

      Whatever Happened To . . .

      The short story? I took it down, as I said I would. Today is Monday. I'll post other short stories over time, perhaps. It depends. Customer service? I could write a very long post about my various doctors but a more recent event occurred on Friday when Rob and I went to choose a new cell phone. After going through the rigmarole of a sale's pitch and ultimately choosing what we knew we would choose before we walked through the door, the sale's person said they did not have our cell phone in the shop but would get a new shipment the next day and would call. Ummm . . . This may come as a shock to you Mr Cellphone Salesperson but you can't call me because my cell phone doesn't work!!! We give him Rob's cell phone number and await his call. Saturday comes and goes. No call. Rob even calls him but he's at lunch and will call when he gets back in. Sunday, still no call. Guess which salesperson will not be making a commission on the new cell phone I'll be buying at a different location? Really, I should write about what happened with my doctors because that is far more frightening, given that my health and wellbeing are involved. Frankly, I'm tired of complaining about doctors and their offices.

      Sunday, August 03, 2008

      The Game of Life by Florence Scovel Shinn

      The third of the Transformation Book Circle books is The Game of Life by Florence Scovel Shinn and my first disappointment in the collection. Honestly, if I had read this when I received it, I might have considered canceling my membership altogether. Hopefully the rest of the books won’t disappoint as much as this one did.

      The first part of the book is the original text, followed by a new interpretation. As before, there is a cd included. This book was chosen by Louise L Hay, a teacher my mother personally cannot abide. If you mention Hay in my mother’s presence, you may as well sit back and be ready for a clear explanation of why she thinks that Hay has caused more harm than healing. I know that others would disagree with my mother and would likely laude Hay for helping them find healing where none had been experienced before.

      After reading this book I can say that Shinn’s teaching is “convenient.” She quotes from the Bible, taking verses completely out of context to support her arguments. She misapplies the “Law of Karma” and what worthy teachings she may be presented are outweighed by the unfortunate errors of a woman who picks and chooses without offering any real depth. I can see where it would appeal to those who have embraced the Law of Attraction and that is probably why it was included in the collection where it was, building erroneously on the teachings of the previous text.

      But worse, the “new interpretation” is so completely unnecessary as to be insulting to the discerning reader. If it was necessary to remove the sexist language from the previous book to make it more accessible to the contemporary reader, is it any less sexist to remove any reference to the masculine by making each and every example female? What purpose does this serve? And if readers were not offended by this then they should perhaps consider that discrimination can work in all directions and by removing men from a text one is no less sexist than male chauvinism. The editors should be ashamed for being so narrow minded or should be abused for thinking their readers would be so immature as to not notice this hypocrisy.

      I looked forward to the cd which, unlike the unnecessary audio recordings of the previous two books which merely repeated portions of the text’s exercises, because it is a cd of affirmations by Louise L Hay. I have heard so many good things about this woman’s teachings, my mother’s opinions not withstanding, and I figured that affirmations could not be too disappointing. Having never listened to an affirmations cd before I can’t adequately gauge the quality of this one, however I would have to say that it is tedious and somewhat cheesy. The music in the background is annoying and incredibly distracting. Hay’s voice is pleasant, even soothing, but the redundancy of listening to the affirmations is mind-numbing. I timed it and, what with the repetition of each affirmation, it takes one minute to repeat two affirmations. I didn’t object to anything I heard, per se. I just found it all very boring. On the plus side, it puts me to sleep. I know this because I have tried to listen to the cd several times now and every time I inevitably fall asleep.

      Unless a cd is meant to help with insomnia or is a collection of lullabies I think it is safe to say that by stating it has put me to sleep every time I’ve tried to listen to it that it is not one I would recommend.