Sunday, February 27, 2005

Gwen, Part Three

Gwen had her big debut at the Frederick PetsMart yesterday, and I must say, I felt like a roadie at a rock concert. Everyone stopped to pet her and tell her how beautiful she was. We had to expand the sliding door last night just so her ego would fit through. Now she's making eccentric demands ("I want nothing but perfectly square kibble pieces in my bowl!" and "Mastadon bones only!") and getting her body pierced in unspeakable places.

Okay, truth: she came home and slept for seven hours straight, other than waking up to eat dinner. It's a tough job being a star. Of course, when she finally got up at 11 pm, it was time to play, not time to go to bed, so she was not at all thrilled to be stuck in her crate and expected to sleep more just because everyone else was. It's like having a little kid sometimes. But she finally settled down after several minutes of whining, barking, and Wookie-like grumbles.

Several people applied to adopt her, so she'll probably go to her forever-home next weekend. I will miss her. I even considered adopting her myself, since she meets the two nonnegotiable criteria:

1) Good with cats
2) Doesn't chew Meadow's stuffies

But adopting her would have sort of defeated the purpose. I don't want to have three dogs in the house, so if we adopted one, that would end our fostering. Besides, Chris said no.


Thursday, February 24, 2005

The one we've been waiting for (trumpets, please)

It's gonna snow, ho, ho
Right here in Dixie
All will be white overnight
It will be cold
On [Thursday], hey, hey
Right here in Dixie
We'll do-si-do in the snow
So I've been told.
--the Mayor, Year Without a Santa Claus, by Jules Bass

--"Stopping by the SuperFresh on a Snowy Evening," Author Unknown

(The second song is attributed to some guy who worked at my husband's company but left before Chris started. It was passed down by his coworkers in the oral tradition, like all classic works of the great bards.)

My boots were made for trudgin'. Let it snow, Father Sky, let it snow.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Syntax of Fate

Dame Fortune is a fickle gipsy,
And always blind, and often tipsy
--Winthrop Mackworth Praed, "The Haunted Tree"

I'm a huge fan of fortune cookies. I adhere to the superstition that no matter how full of lo mein, egg rolls, and sesame noodles your little tummy is, you have to eat every crumb of the cookie to make the fortune come true. If you don't like the fortune (e.g., "you are hard-working and a stickler for detail"), don't eat the cookie. Have the orange slice instead.

The really good ones I keep. There's one in the see-through part of my wallet--where my driver's license resides--that says, "Your dreams are never silly; depend on them to guide you." I see it every time I show my ID--to board a plane, to cash a check, and those laughably rare occasions I get carded.

Lately I've been getting even more cheerful fortunes in my cookies than usual. But what I want to know is: does incorrect grammar affect the power of the fortune?

Example: "Good things are coming to you in due course If time."

Hmmm...that word "If" casts a shadowy doubt on the sunny outlook. If time? What is "If time"? It sounds like something out of a Madeleine L'Engle novel. Maybe it's that alternate reality for people who spend their lives wondering what could have been. "If only I had married Sarah instead of Bertha," "If only I had taken that job in Oakland," "If only I had ordered the linguine." Etc.

The take-away message could be this: If you don't live in "If time," good things will come to you. As long as you look forward instead of backward, you will see the opportunities as they come barreling or tiptoeing down the road.

Here's my favorite, favorite ever: "Good lucks after you especially."

Somehow the plurality of luck and the missing verb make the statement even more powerful. That one was written for me. I consider myself a phenomenally lucky person, and I do believe in luck (all the lucks, just like all the Internets). Maybe it's karma or the will of God or even Manos, the Hands of Fate. People who say, "I don't believe in luck," or "You make your own luck," cling to this pathetic notion that we are in control of our lives and our world. My husband didn't do anything to ensure that there were no tractor trailers coming when the butthead in the Camaro spun him across four lanes of interstate. But here I am bringing him Advil and ice packs instead of a wreath of flowers.

How many people met their mates by pure chance? I have a friend who met her husband in a restroom of a crowded bar (he actually wasn't her husband at the time). They had no mutual acquaintances--the only thing they had in common was that they had to pee simultaneously. (Okay, the fact that they were in the same bar to begin with says that they had the whole being-young-and-cool factor in common. Neither of them was spending Saturday night at home watching The Profiler. So it wasn't totally random. But still...if either of them had just crossed their legs one more time, their future kids will never have existed ["will never have"? Speaking of bad syntax...)

We can't know how lucky we could have been. But we can all think of at least one instance where we found something or someone precious by pure chance. Ponder that a bit. Gratitude, I hear, does wonders for the blood pressure.

May good lucks after you. Especially.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Gwen, Part Two

A tired dog is a good dog.
--Every trainer who ever lived
The pupster got her spay stitches out last night, so now she can run and romp with Meadow. They're outside right now playing ball with Chris. The routine seems to be:

1) Chris throws ball.
2) Gwen chases ball.
3) Meadow chases Gwen.
4) Ball lies forgotten while Meadow and Gwen wrestle for ten minutes.
5) Chris gets ball.

Repeat until one or more dogs collapse.

The vet tech confirmed that she is about 7 months old (Gwen, that is), which according to Puppies for Dummies is part of the puberty stage. Here's a quote I need to tape to my forehead (backwards, of course, so I can read it):
The toughest thing to control during puberty isn't your dog; it's your temper. Having the right attitude is extremely important. We humans are a control-oriented bunch and we want our dogs to come when called, stay calm in exciting situations and control their gamy impulses. But these dogs want to play! Have fun! Chase a butterfly! They are often unimpressed by your frustration.

Okay, now they're running around the yard displaying their breed-specific behaviors. Meadow the greyhound is running in a large, swift, counter-clockwise circle, and Gwen the collie is running a smaller circle inside Meadow's circle, looking like she thinks she's in control of this large, skinny, freshly sheared sheep.

Another cute thing about Gwen? Next to Meadow's sleekness, her fluffy coat makes her look like she's wearing puppy pajamas, as if there's another dog inside her wearing a costume.


Monday, February 21, 2005


"Some may never live, but the crazy never die."
--Hunter S. Thompson
July 18, 1937 - February 20, 2005

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Gwen, Part One

"Dogs got personality. Personality goes a long way."
--Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction

Here's one reason I haven't been blogging much this week.

We brought home our new foster puppy, Gwen, Sunday night. She was found as a stray in Mercer County, KY, eating out of a garbage can. She was in a "high-kill" shelter that needed the space, so Tails of Hope offered to take her.

Background: Tails of Hope is a local animal rescue organization that we foster for. ToH takes animals out of shelters where they are in danger of being euthanized due to overcrowding. The shelters in our area of Central Maryland are rarely near capacity, so most of our fosters have come from a distance--Western Maryland, West Virginia, even Tennessee.

(I read an article yesterday on dog rescue "underground railroads" which said that due to spay/neuter laws and changing attitudes, the Northeast has relatively few unwanted, adoptable pets, so they have to be "imported" from the South.)

The shelter told us a couple of weeks ago that Gwen was very shy and scared and needed to learn that humans were a source of happiness rather than fear. We have a relatively quiet household, so we were chosen to foster her so that she would have a chance to come out of her shell.

What shell? Gwen is friendly, outgoing, and confident. She doesn't seem to be afraid of anything. If there's a loud noise, she might jump away out of reflex, but comes right back to investigate. She was probably just scared in the shelter because, well, shelters are scary places.

She's not wild about being in her crate, but they rarely are. We're working on this by giving her treats and meals inside it.

Because of her natural intelligence and curiosity, she doesn't like it when I'm in another room doing something without her that might be fascinating (or involve food). But if I go downstairs or leave the house entirely, she stops whining, as if she's accepted the fact that I no longer exist. So I think the behavior is brattiness as opposed to anxiety.

Gwen is half-Collie, half Golden Retriever, so she can't decide what she wants to do with her mouth--carry things in it, or use it to herd everything and everyone. Inner conflict probably goes something like this: "I love carrying this leaf around--given that I spent five minutes rooting through a pile to find the right one--but Meadow is going the wrong way and I need to stop her!"

Collies love to bark, but some have a hoarse voice that is merely annoying, not ear-piercing, which I believe to be one of many proofs of a benevolent, loving God. Gwen is one of these dogs--her bark sounds more like a cough.

She gets her stitches out from her spay operation tomorrow, and hopefully the vet will tell us she can resume normal activities. Then she can run and play with our dog and become terminally tired. There's nothing so quiet as a sleeping puppy.

People always ask me, "Isn't it hard to give them up when they go to their new home?" After I pick myself off the floor and catch my breath from the laugh riot, I tell them no, that's the best part. The hardest part is the first week with a new foster, when it feels like there's a stranger living in our house. Our movements are limited because the dog has to be watched constantly, and until it learns to relax, the mere act of me getting up for a drink of water can rouse it out of a sound snooze and make it want to throw a party ("Oh boy oh boy oh boy, we're going in the kitchen!!! Now we're going back to the table! Think I'll chew on the chair leg. No, wait, I have to go potties. There.").

That being said, Gwen is amazingly well-behaved and easy to handle. More updates on her later, if you can stand them.


Wednesday, February 16, 2005


There is no hockey because two suits who don't care enough about hockey killed it. Two guys who see this as only a business and not a sport, who saw these negotiations as a personal test of wills rather than a partnership, who cared only about individual glory and not passion, tradition and history.
--Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
--Matthew 6:19-21

Since I was amiss in noting the deaths of Ossie Davis, Johnny Carson and Arthur Miller in my blog, I didn't want to let this one pass.

As of 11 a.m. today, the 2004-2005 National Hockey League season is officially over. No, you didn't miss the playoffs, because there won't be any. There won't be an opening night, either. The Tampa Bay Flash-in-the-Pans won't get to raise their Stanley Cup flag (although they will get to keep the Cup itself for another year).

Is anyone else tired of the commodification of, well, everything? Whether it's art, entertainment, or "professional" sports, it's all about making a buck. Nothing is for the sake of itself anymore.

What the maestros of manipulation don't understand is that when the only value you place on something is a monetary one, the value of that thing instantly plummets. Why? Because fans place a different kind of value--an intrinsic value--on what they love. I've never bought one dime's worth of Raven paraphernalia, but they provide me and the rest of the Baltimore area with a priceless sense of pride and unity.

Sports isn't just a business. It's more important than that. A fan has an emotional relationship with his team--he rejoices in its victories and laments their losses as if they were his own. Everyone has a favorite team; no one has a favorite company. No one cheered and shook styrofoam fingers in the air when Verizon bought MCI the other day.

Note to the world: money is for enjoying life, not the other way around.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Pardon the Interrup--

I'm supposed to finish at least one page of my novel during this hour while our foster puppy is sleeping in her crate. But before I could finish the page, I just had to read this very important New York Times article on how computer interfaces encourage interruptions and distractions.

Oh, drat. The puppy woke up.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Geekhood at its furriest

Yessir yessir yessir, it's that time of year again, folks. For those suffering from the post-Super Bowl blahs, 2005 is particularly glum, as the NHL looks to hammer the last nail in the season's coffin this weekend. March Madness is over two weeks away, and baseball won't start spring training until--oh, who cares. Randy Johnson is a Yankee, so that game is dead to me forever.

But fear not, sports junkies, for the brisk winter wind brings a spectacle from the Big Apple so riveting, so competitive, so dramatic, it makes the Pistons-Pacers rivalry look like your Aunt Mildred's Parcheesi club.

I'm talking, of course, about the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, appearing Monday and Tuesday nights at 8PM on USA Network.

Three new breeds will compete in the ring for the first time this year: the Black Russian Terrier (which looks like the Kerry Blue Terrier), the Glen of Imaal Terrier (which looks like the Cairn Terrier), and the Neapolitan Mastiff (which looks like a lava flow with legs and a tail).

In case you're not satisfied with merely watching the best of each breed compete for Best in Group and eventually Best in Show, you can now see highlights from the breed judging through streaming video from the Kennel Club's website. The WKC has teamed up with Dreamworks to provide an animated commentator in the form of Grommit from the Wallace & Grommit TV series.

Click here to see the judging schedule. You may think that once you've seen 26 Portuguese Water Dogs, you've seen them all.

You be the judge.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Happy Holidays

A drunken man who falls out of a cart, though he may suffer, does not die. His bones are the same as other people's; but he meets his accident in a different way. His spirit is in a condition of security. He is not concious of riding in the cart; neither is he concious of falling out of it. Ideas of life, death, fear and the like cannot penetrate his breast; and so he does not suffer from contact with objective existence. If such security is to be got from wine, how much more is to be got from God?
--Tao Te Ching

Jockomo Feeno Ah Na Nay,
Jockomo Fe Na Nay
-- "Iko Iko"

I just found out from that tonight is not only Mardi Gras but also Chinese New Year, seeing as it's the second new moon since winter began.

This conjunction of holidays occurred a few years ago, with the bonus of Lincoln's Birthday, making for a wild triumvirate involving a parade of 20-foot long dragons wearing bead necklaces made of pennies. All photos of this event have been confiscated for public safety reasons.

Speaking of delicious, for Mardi Gras I'm fixing the Soup Nazi's Cream of Sweet Potato Soup to go with a big pot of Red Beans 'n' Rice. I know, it's not Jambalaya, but it's amazing and easy enough to make while getting appropriately soused (i.e., not a single sharp implement involved).

2005 marks a significant year for me and my cohorts: Year 4703 in the Chinese calendar is the Year of the Rooster (they used to call it something else). Which means, if you know your Chinese astrology, that I'm a deep thinker, observant, eccentric, and my age this year will be a multiple of 12. And that's all I'm sayin'.

Except: try the soup.

I'm 'on dance now.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Feel the burn

Victory and happiness is the most important thing for anyone.
--Mariko Takahashi, fitness guru

Say, is your annual getting-in-shape New Year's Resolution starting to waver in the dark days of February?

Then click here for the kind of lasting, soul-fortifying inspiration that can only come from people dressed up as standard poodles.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Winter of our Content

In honor of the wet albino tarantulas falling out of the sky, Meadow asked me to post this (sung to the tune of "Winter Wonderland"):

Dog tags ring, are you listenin'?
In the lane, snow is glistenin'.
It's yellow, not white,
I've been there tonight,
Marking up my winter wonderland.

For the rest, go here.

Have you ever noticed, if you look straight up into a snowstorm, the flakes always seem to be falling in slow motion, like they think they're in a movie?

I just finished the first draft of my first original screenplay, and the "few snow showers" the meterologists called for have turned into two more fluffy inches and counting, and my dog is puffing happily away on her beddo after an exuberant run in the snow, during which she displayed the purest rapture I've seen outside of Lourdes.

It's good to be jolly. I'm going to go have a glass of something expensive and make a nice curry. Have a cozy night, y'all.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Razzies are In!

Happy 25th Anniversary to the Golden Raspberry (Razzie) Awards, which "celebrate" the worst of the year in film:

I was relieved that unlike 2003, I didn't see any of the films nominated (other than Fahrenheit 9/11, for which George W. Bush, Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, and Britney Spears all were nominated for Worst Actor/Actress awards, and Bush was nominated for two Worst Couple awards--with Rice and/or His Pet Goat).

The previous year I was foolish enough to see Razzie nominee Daredevil on opening night without reading the reviews first. I found myself editing it inside my head as I was watching it, then wishing I could edit myself right out of the theatre.

I realized later that the two moving moments during the film took place while Evanescence songs were playing. Later that year I bought their debut CD Fallen. If the gods of music had held a conference just to create the perfect band for Jeri, Evanescence was it. If Fallen had come out fifteen years earlier I probably would have had it microchipped into my cerebral cortex on perpetual Repeat, but I'm not that sad little girl anymore.

Anyway, listening to the CD helped me erase movie images of a bad Ben Affleck and unfortunate Jennifer Garner kissing in the rain and plotting to ditch J. Lo before the wedding.

I was confused and concerned about the integrity of the Razzies, however, when I saw that Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 was nominated for several awards--Picture, Supporting Actor (Jon Voight), Director, and Screenplay. In a just and rational universe, the mere mention of a sequel to the movie I can scarcely think about without wishing Thomas Edison had never been born would have resulted in not only an immediate bestowing of a Razzie, but the very annihilation of the award itself in the soul-ripping yet soothing knowledge that comes when an addict (in this case, Hollywood, and the drug is crap) hits bottom and can only go up from here.

I'm with Mr. Cranky on this one: "If there's a Baby Geniuses 3, I'm burning Hollywood to the ground."

P.S.: Mr. Cranky has one of the best riffs so far (Warning: Mature Language) on the SpongeBob "controversy" that I only wish I had room in my blood pressure safe zone to address here on my blog. Maybe someday. Soon.


This Side of Salvation

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Jeri Smith-Ready

Jeri Smith-Ready is a Maryland author of books for teens and adults.

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