Friday, September 22, 2006

Some grateful bitches

The other day one of my most favorite bloggers (bitch phd) included a "Grateful Journal" post--the Oprah thing where you record five things you're grateful for each day. She posted a friend's posting--not her own exactly. But since Ginger's blog also did it not too long ago I guess I'll join in--especially since it's the end of a very long day when I probably ought to be reminding myself about the abundance of the universe and all that.

5 Things I'm Grateful For Today

(1) B-dog, who is snoring on my comfy chair across the room, who gives me his presence as often as I'll let him and has become my whole heart.

(2) My soul-bitch, P-dog, for demanding my attention outside my own head, where I so often get stuck.

(3) For strong and true female friends who don't need me to be anything but myself and who give me courage to face a different sort of future than I'd planned.

(4) Aura Cacia organic geranium essential oil.

(5) A job I love with students I truly enjoy even on days when everything else is just too much.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Eating lamb spleens

How can this be good for my dogs?

I look at the list of ingredients on the fancy all-natural foods I give my dogs--both made from lamb because the fancy dog food literature talked me out of any product made from "chicken meal" or "chicken parts" which mean beaks and feathers and rejected flesh and bones and such and then there's the whole mad cow thing. But when I read ". . . lamb hearts, lamb lungs, lamb spleens . . ." on my dog food I have to pause. I mean it's bad enough that I'm supporting an industry that treats one cute, furry, domesticated species as agriculture to feed a more favored distant cousin. Somehow when I visualized the dogs eating sirloin steaks and lamb chops it didn't seem so bad.

But spleens?


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Yet another reason dogs should be invited into the garden . . .

As you might expect, I'm a practitioner of dog-friendly gardening.

I have two gardens: the "bird garden" to attract wildbirds (initially created to entertain P-dog while I'm away at work), and the "dog garden" that serves as basically a wildflower jungle for the canines and doubles as a cutting garden for me.

About two months ago yet another "volunteer" plant appeared in the bird garden.

The foliage was pretty and the stalk was strong and it came up right where the volunteer sunflower had been so I decided to just watch and see. A few white and pink flowers appeared--unusual flowers with a jagged edge--then a second plant just like it appeared a few feet away. I figured it was another robust sort of weed but since the heat fried my strawberries and veronica I figured I should be grateful for anything that could make a go of it. So even though the things became rather shrub-like and weren't at all in keeping with my blue, silver, and purple "moon garden" theme I resisted the urge to pull them out.

A dozen times I figured I'd maybe take a stalk to the nursery to find out what they are because, I mean, get real: what are the odds that I'd just recognize a specimen while flipping through my Gardeners Encyclopedia? The only flowers I know for sure are the ones I planted this spring.

Heh heh heh. I guess there's one more specimen I know by sight after all.

As I sat in the mulch tonight B-dog zoomed by with a white fluffy thing affixed to his collar. He'd been bounding through the semi-dog-proof gardens all evening. I removed the white thing. Cotton! How cool is that?

What's especially neat is that I'd already marked the page in my encyclopedia because I wanted to try growing it next year in the dog garden. I was wondering if I'd be able to get it to grow. (Of course if the rule of Gardening Irony prevails I'll have no luck growing it on purpose!)

I found all this so exciting that I sent this story and a photo to my family. (Yes, such is life.)

Tomorrow I'm bringing it to school to show my students where t-shirts come from.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


. . . about the gendered dynamic of home repairs.

I feel violated--by the men who talk too much and show up late and know it all and never leave, by the ones who try to sell me $9.99-per-month "VIP Service" plans (it is NOT A COINCIDENCE that they make this sales pitch late in the consultation when you are tired of listening to your "options" and about how much pride they take in their work and are trapped in an enclosed location within your own house with the serviceman smiling between you and the nearest exit) and by the ones who stand too close and by the ones who ask probing personal questions ("No way! I thought college teachers were all old men with beards. You can't be that old!" and "You're a smartie, eh? Is your husband a smartie too? What does he do?") And I hate HAVING SO MANY THINGS THAT NEED TO BE FIXED BY MEN in my life. My car is now making clickety sounds like an old Model T, and the side mirror is dangling like a cheap earring and I know when I go it'll be several hundred dollars and men men men telling me what I need and what it'll cost.

I hate it that I'm totally at their mercy--they could say something will cost $10 or $100 or $1000 and I have no idea what they're doing or what things should cost--unless I take more time out of my work day to do evermore research on home repairs and have other workmen come to give counter-estimates and whatnot, which is the LAST thing I feel like doing when I've already warped my day to accommodate their "2-hour window" and made the ultimate sacrifice of banishing my dogs to a kennel across town so strange men can climb all over my home and quote me prices for work I must trust them to do--and then of course having them do the work means they're going to spend MORE TIME HERE with me and that I'll have to spend more time schlepping dogs to the kennel when all I want to do is STAY HOME ALONE WITH NO MEN and be with my dogs.

I'm so sick of men. Pushy alpha males and relentless runts and silver-tongued scamps who are ever-so-worried that I'll panic without VIP-level service in the event of a woeful weather incident.

I feel like I need to do a New Agey smoke and sage cleansing ceremony to get them all out of my house.


Tomorrow I begin consulting lesbian friends about handypersons.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

The American Response to Any Problem


Yes, in addition to researching and writing an article on my newfangled Zen-dog rituals, I'm taking P-dog shopping tomorrow for her new Therapy Dog backpack. B-dog already has one (vivid red with a white cross on the side--think Swiss Army Dog).

I purchased the backpack for B-dog as a way to add weight-resistance to our walks, to give him more exercise on days when I can't walk a whole hour with him. I noticed his demeanor changed immediately after donning the backpack. He didn't seem uncomfortable, just more cautious and attentive to me. Like he knows it's a uniform that signals a different kind of activity. He walked more slowly, at my side, and paid more attention to me--all things I'm supposed to be reinforcing. So I'm going to get a pack for P-dog also, even though I know she'll hate it. (She doesn't like outfits--not even bandanas.) My plan is to have them wear the packs for our Zen outings. We'll do regular strolls without the packs. The packs will reinforce the message that we're doing something different.

The packs might also make us seem less weird when we go to the dog park to follow the trainer's instructions: strolling on the perimeter without interacting. We'll look more like we're in training. Truthfully, I still want to train P-dog and maybe B-dog as well for therapy work, and P-dog is eligible to test for Therapy Dog certification now. So if people ask what we're doing I'll say "We're training to be a Therapy Dog" and not "We just got rejected from Camp Bow-wow."

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Academic's Response to Any Problem

I've decided to write an article about the "Gotta get Zen with your dogs" incident.


Perhaps not for College English, but I might try The Bark or some kindred publication.

The thing is: I realize the most important thing I can do to bring my dogs back into balance--to a place where they're "comfortable with themselves" as the trainer said--is to establish a more balanced routine at home and to project calm assertive leadership. I've read, literally, several dozen books on this subject but implemented very little of it. Evidently it's time. And I've found a way to make myself accountable for working on it:

The Academic's Second Solution: Attach it to a Class

In my grad-level tech writing class I'm doing a little creative-writing experimentation this semester. The majority of my students have expressed that they loathe writing and experience tremendous anxiety about it. (The class is a requirement for their curriculum in the B-school.) So I'm injecting some activities and assignments intended to help them alter their relationship with writing--find more enjoyment and comfort in the process of reading and writing and working with words. To model this I'm keeping a writing journal along with them and I'm encouraging those so-inclined to also maintain journals as a low-pressure place to experiment with poetry and other genres outside the conventional realm of business and technical writing.

I'm already using the journal to log my scholarly reading on a collaborative research project that I wanted to track. So I'm now devoting a section to writing about my Zen Dog Project--establishing a daily routine of work, play, and meditation as well as ongoing reading and writing (which I do anyway). Guess I'll have to get a creative commons license for this blog now :-D