Thursday, February 23, 2012

Yummy Spheres O’ Delight

Today I made three grain-free recipes, two savory, one sweet. Oddly, all the food I cooked had the same round, single-serving form.  There is something very attractive to me about single servings and the roundness comes from the easiest shape to make freehand as in the case of the Italian Scotch Eggs, or cooked in forms, such as the Greek Meat Muffins and the Gingerbread muffins.

The first two recipes were from Melissa Joulwan’s fabulous cookbook, Well Fed, and the third was from this blog under flourless gingerbread.  All are delicious!


Here are my flourless gingerbread muffins but I didn’t have any maple flavoring and I don’t use stevia, so I substituted for both with 2 Tbsp of maple syrup. There is only one of a dozen muffins left and there are only three people in the house and that’s all I’m saying.


Italian Scotch Eggs: I add my favorite red sauce and it tastes like a Chicago-style pizza (you know, if you haven’t ever had a Chicago-style pizza – but it is really good.) This picture makes it look much more anemic than it is in real life, but that does give me even more of a hankering to make corton which looks rather gray on its best day!


Greek Meat Muffins made with one addition: feta! Spinach, lamb, and feta! Hello! What's not to love? These are delicious and so conveniently packaged.

As I was rolling the egg in its Italian seasoned pork blanket and realized that the gingerbread muffins were also round individual servings, I couldn’t help but think of Cher in Mermaids. Does anyone remember that movie? In addition to sharing screen time with the erstwhile Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling in the only other role I've ever seen him in), Cher, as the single mother of two girls, knows only how to make party finger food and that’s what she feeds her family.

Today, as so often happens for various reasons, I felt like Cher. I think we’re all just glad I didn’t get it in my head to use a cookie cutter to make everything shaped liked stars (or dogs). 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

WKC or WTF

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post this afternoon. The WKC has just jumped the shark in placing an alien footstool (thank you Eric Asimov) on the same pedestal with such dog greats as Uno, Carlee, James, not to mention Rufus! This little dirty-cotton-candy-dragger-gone-bad dustmop shouldn’t even be in the same species as the regal Rufus.  If I were a cussin’ gal (and I am) I might scream out WTF WKC!?!  But as this is a family blog (sort of), I’ll constrain my colorful language to initials. Still, I try to remember that like the Poodle, the Peke-devil may be in the do.  (Of course that doesn't explain its motion like that of an inanimate object under the influence of dark magic.)

At least you could see its eyes. Malachy or Malarkey?

Now that that unpleasantness is out of the way, let me get to some of the good parts of the show.  In the Sporting Group, where there are lots of nice, real dogs, I would have chosen the black and white Pointer, the Weimaraner, or the Field Spaniel.  But the judge went with the gorgeous-but-dumb Irish Setter.  Sure, she’s a working mom as David Frei pointed out last night, delivering a little of 15 puppies last May(!), but that hardly makes her the best dog choice. It’s also possible that due to my past bad experience with the Irish Setter, I may have an irrational hatred of this beast.  At least that’s what my daughter said. Of course, that’s easy for her to say, she’s never met one, let alone been herded by one!  

Next group, the Working Group, held many of my favorites.  From the noble looking Anatolian Shepherd Dog to the fierce looking black box (aka: the Black Russian Terrier) these were dogs that you could be proud to share your life with! Sadly, I think that I am falling out of love with the Cane Corso as he looked more morose and drooly than strong and confident. But, finally, there was a group judgment I could agree with! The sleek and well-proportioned Doberman Pinscher, Fifi, won the group!!! Yay!
Photo from NBC Sports
Fifi and owner sharing a little rest in the benching area.

While I've always liked the apparent focus of the Dobermans, I think that I am leaning more toward their breed traits in my next dog search.  (For the record, only in times of severe stress would I agree to sleep in the crate with my dog.  Thus, it is essential that I get a bigger dog than I have now for the years ahead.)

Finally, the tenacious terriers trotted into the tournament ring. Yeah. I wasn't so much charmed by this lot this time either. I liked the Airedale, the Irish Terrier, and of course, the Colored Bull Terrier, and  I enjoyed seeing Adam, the Phantom of the Opera-faced smooth fox terrier again, but none really struck me as the one. Okay. Maybe Zeb, the Australian Terrier, with his wind-tunnel front stood out from the pack a little. 
But the judge chose Kerry Blue Terrier. Meh.

I’ve already told you who won, so except for the 10:55PM emergency late-night phone call of shared outrage from my daughter at college, the rest of the evening was a serious downer.  

I think my next WKC adventure might be with the World Kettlebell Club. THAT’S how disappointed I am.

To end on a positive note, however, you can read some funny live tweets from the Guardian. Sadly, this does not change the outcome. You have been warned.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

WKC Dog Show 2012 Monday Night Results

The Hound Group went first and it was a little disappointing. For the second, or third year in a row, I liked Chanel, the Whippet (who took third), and the PBGV (who took second), and much to my surprise, I really liked the longhaired dachshund!  She was very alert and peppy and walked so beautifully which are some things that I never say about the stunted little dogs!  I was most impressed with the Plott, a relative newcomer on my radar with a – dare I say – f’ugly breed name, unless you name her Plan and so can introduce her as “my Plott, Plan.” (A little civil engineering humor for you there.) Everyone in the house agreed that the Rhodesian Ridgeback was a stunning dog. (Hey – I used to know a civil engineer who owned a Rhodie!)


Alas, my picks were not to be for the wire-haired dachshund took first place in this group! That’s right, the squatty little professor of English Lit-ra-chur looking beast won.  Harumph.
Then came the Toy Group which was my chance to escape to make cookies. I understand the irony in my wanting to escape this judging because I own a toy dog. In my defense, she is the biggest of the Toy Group (or so I discovered last night), and really, at twenty pounds, she’s a beast compared to some of these pocket dogs. Actually, it wasn’t their teeniness that bothered me so much as the pushed-in faces. Again – the irony does not escape me – but my dog has a nose; those poor toy spaniels clearly did something to spite their faces.  (But the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was still squee-worthy.)
And clearly, the judges never want the toy group to be taken seriously for they chose the possessed hassock to win the group! AGAIN! Seriously. Can’t you envision that thing in the Beast’s castle after the staff gets turned into furniture? As my daughter’s understated question implied upon looking at the thing roll along, What makes it a dog (instead of a possessed piece of furniture)?

My biggest surprise of the night came from the Non-Sporting Group (really, they must get a better name for the miscellany that is this group). First, when a naked Georgio Armani took to the ring, I was not only not repulsed, but somewhat attracted to him. I mean, it.

Xolo, Georgio Armani.  Nice Birthday Suit!


And then a Ruffian with a spotted past won the group.

Finally, the dogs of the Herding Group were driven in. I like these dogs. They work. I could not keep one because I’d have no work for them. But I can still enjoy watching them.

The Belgian Malinois

The Belgian Sheepdog (Groenendael)

The Belgian Tervuren

Again, I loved the Belgians because of their appearance and because they seem to be using their little grey cells. They’re just beautiful in addition to being keenly alert.

I was completely delighted by the Beauceron and know that I’ve seen them in Shutzhund competition videos.  I’m going to learn more about that breed.

But a traditional favorite, the king of the Schutzhund, the star of the silver screen, the German Shepherd Dog took first place. Here is Captain Crunch in all his sloping glory representing the versatility and hard working dog that is the GSD.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Gearing Up for the Dog Show


Dog jammies – check.
Dog socks – check.
Dog cookie cutters – check (well, 2 of them).
Bone Silly Bandz – check. 

from the WKC website:
Broadcast Information 

The Hound, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding group competition will be televised live Monday on USA Networkfrom 8-9 PM ET and continuing on CNBC from 9-11 PM ET. The Sporting, Working, Terrier, and Best In Show competition will be televised live Tuesday on USA Network from 8-11 PM ET. 

Breed judging highlight videos are available throughout the day on Monday and Tuesday on the Westminster Web site. These highlights will be available after the show, as well. 

To our West Coast viewers: Please note that the West Coast telecast is delayed for your time zone. Since results are posted to our Web site as they occur live, if you want to enjoy the drama of the moment, please avoid the Westminster Web site after 5 p.m. Pacific Time on each evening. 


Wherever you are over the next two nights, I hope you get a chance to enjoy a little of the variety of man's best friend offered for your inspection through the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. I learn something new every year just by watching it and that activity alone has become a really fun family tradition. 

Next year, maybe we'll even add boxers or boxer briefs to the gear. (Not really. I just think they're funny.) 


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Courage and True Chivalry

The following is a story reprinted in the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals monthly publication, Our Dumb Animals, 1887 under the title "Courage and True Chivalry." Except that I found it searching for court cases relating to the intrinsic value of pets, it has nothing to do with dogs, but I thought it was sweet.

Enjoy.

Miss Comfort Walker went boldly ahead, opened a first-class boarding-house and made money. 
"Men go on credit," said she, "and why shouldn't women? At the year's end, if I can't any more than pay expenses, I'll try something else." 
But at the years end there was a snug little balance in Miss Comfort's favor, so she took heart, and continued. 
"Oh, its you, is it?" said Miss Comfort, as she perceived Ellen O'Brien, the washerwoman, in the basement hall. 
"Yes, it's me, worse luck, Miss Comfort," whimpered poor Ellen. 
"And what's the matter?" 
"It's me bill up stairs, Miss Comfort - the boarder in the second story front, with the gay goold shirt studs an' the green and yellow stones in his sleeve buttons. Nine dollars and sivinty cents, Miss Comfort - six weeks' washing and ironing - and now, when I makes bould to ax him would he be pleased to pay me, he tells me it isn't convanient. And when I tell him how sore I need the money, he up and gets mad and says I shan't have it at all." 
Miss Comfort stood listening, with knitted brow and troubled eyes. 
"Have you your bill with you, Ellen?" said she after a moment's hesitation. 
"Jimmy wrote it out, all nate and proper," faltered Ellen, producing a crumpled slip of blue paper from her pocket. 
"Give it to me," said Miss Comfort, "and you come here this evening at eight o'clock, and you shall have your money." 
Ellen shook her head disconsolately. 
"And thank you all the same, Miss Comfort, dear," said she, "but you can't get it no more'n we can get blood from a stone." 
"We'll see about that," said Miss Comfort. 
She went slowly up stairs, with the little piece of paper in hand.  
"It's a shame," said Miss Comfort. 
Leotard Carlyon was Miss Comfort Walker's best boarded, with the single exception that, up to the present moment, his twenty-five dollars a week had been in the future. Now, it so chanced that one reason for her reposing so much confidence in Mr. Leotard Carlyon, the new boarder, was that he was the nephew and heir apparent of Caleb Carlyon, the rich banker, from whom she rented her brown stone house, at the trifling consideration of $3,000 per annum. 
"He can't be a thorough-going imposter," said she to herself, "with such a relation as that."
So she went bravely up to Mr. Carlyon's room and tapped at the door.  
"Come in," he called out. "Oh, it's you, Miss Walker, is it?" 
Miss Comfort advanced valiantly with the bill in her hand to where Leotard Carlyon reclined languidly amid a heap of sofa pillows, with a newspaper in his hand. 
"Don't you think you could settle this little account, Mr. Carlyon?" she said. "The poor woman needs it very much." 
"She has been to you with her story, has she?" snarled he. "No, I can't settle it! And I wouldn't if I could. It's worth more than the money to me to be so badgered and beset. Have the goodness, Miss Walker, for the future to remember that I am able to attend to these little affairs for myself, without any interference." 
"That means that I am to attend to my own business," thought our little housekeeper, as she retreated, coloring and rather indignant. "Well I will." 
So Miss Comfort tied on a little brown velvet hat she had trimmed with scarlet poppies and brown autumn leaves, and set out bravely for the Mount Orient Bank. 
The clerks stared at her a little curiously as she was shown into the president's room at the back, where Mr. Carlyon sat, straight and upright, with blue eyes like a falcon's and hair slightly sprinkled with gray. 
He elevated his brows at sight of Miss Comfort Walker. 
"I believe your rent is not due for a month yet, Miss Walker," he said, with the cold courtesy, which always made her feel as if he were encased in an armor of ice. 
"No," said the little lady, courageously; "but it's about your nephew, Mr. Leotard Carlyon," and she told the story of Ellen O'Brien and her wrongs.  
"He ought to pay the money," said Miss Comfort, excitedly. "He must be made to pay the money." 
"Ma I ask, Miss Walker, why you interest yourself in this affair?" the banker asked, with a cold, measured calm that contrasted strangely with the little woman's heat and flurry. 
"Another way of telling me to mind my own business," said Miss Comfort to herself. But she kept up a bold front and answered: "Because I think no man has a right to cheat a poor woman out of her hard-earned money."
"Cheat is a strong word, Miss Walker," observed her landlord. 
"It's the only correct word in the case, Mr. Carlyon."
"Perhaps he is owing something to yourself?" questioned the banker keenly. 
"Yes, sir;" Miss Comfort answered, "But it isn't that I came about. I am able to lose a little if it should be necessary; but this poor woman is friendless and alone." 
Mr. Carlyon glanced at his watch. Miss Comfort turned toward the door. 
"I'm sorry that my time is no longer at my own disposal," said he courteously. 
And Miss Comfort went away almost crying. 
But that evening, just as Miss Comfort was beginning her account book, a ring at the door, and Mr. Carlyon, the banker, was shown in. Miss Comfort rose, confused and fluttering. 
"Miss Walker, pray don't let me disturb you," said the banker. "I have only dropped in for a little call. You showed yourself to me to-day to be a true-hearted, noble-natured woman! You need no longer distress yourself. The bill is paid. And now, if you are at leisure, I'll just take my evening cup of tea with you. 
How pleased Miss Comfort was, as she poured the fragrant Young Hyson into her great-grandmother's china cup, decorated with butterflies and oblong scrolls of gilt and violet. And how she kept wondering all the while how Mr. Carlyon, the great banker, could take such an interest in her little affairs.
But if she had only known it, Mr. Carlyon seldom came across a true, real heart in his complicated business transactions.


"It's not true," said Mr. Leotard. "My uncle would never make such a fool of himself at his age. Why, he's fifty if he's a day." 
"Only forty-four," said Mrs. Creswick. "But, of course, it must be a great mortification to you, Mr. Leotard, who have always been looked upon as his heir, to think he is going to marry that little woman who keeps the boarding-house. But it is true! I saw the wedding-ring myself." 
Leotard Carlyon gnawed silently at his moustache. If he had paid that washerwoman's bill, Miss Comfort Walker would not have gone to his uncle; and he would have been the rich banker's heir.
He wished he had paid the washerwoman. - Hartford Times. 
__________ 
The above story reminds us of an incident in the life of General Andrew Jackson. When President of the United States, a poor woman at Washington, who had a large board bill against a department clerk which she could not collect, sought in her despair an interview with the President and told him of her trouble. The President told her to go to the clerk and get his promissory note, then come back. When she returned, the President took the note and wrote across the back Andrew Jackson
In due time the note was placed in a bank for collection and the clerk notified. He paid no attention, but when informed who had endorsed it, quickly got the money and paid the note. Next day he was notified that his services in the department were no longer wanted. 
We do not know how others may feel about it, but we read this little incident with as much pleasure as anything in the life of Andrew Jackson.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Putting the Dash in Dasher: The Finnish Lapphund

Just when you thought you might have a handle on identifying the various spitzes (#3), they go and add another one or two to the mix. I think the foxy collar of the Norwegian Lundehund is distinctive enough to stand apart from the other spitzes - especially in the non-sporting group - but the impressive array of acceptable colors and markings of the Finnish Lapphund just confuses the issue further for me.  A medium height dog, the Lapphund can be black, blonde, brown, tan, cream, wolf sable, blue, brindle, and saddle! With that standard spitz smile, triangular ears, and curled-up tail, how is one to distinguish them from the other spitz types?

Surprisingly NOT a Samoyed!
(Wikipedia commons)
It appears, that except for the all cream color  (looks like a Samoyed to me), the Lapphund is likely to have some amazing facial markings.  Check out the spectacles and eyebrows on these beauties:

Cool spectacles!
(Wikipedia commons)
Spectacles and Eyebrows!
(Wikipedia commons)


Members of the Finnish Lapphund Club of Great Britain Photos.

Apart from this noticeable physical distinction, these dogs were bred and are still used as reindeer herders! That’s right. They keep Santa’s team in line up there in Lapland. If you couldn't tell by its name, its fluffy double coat signifies that the Lapphund is a cold weather dog, but they are reported to make very nice family pets as well.  

I’ll be looking for this dandy who puts the dash in Dasher on Monday night as part of the herding group.

For more information, you check the usual sources, and The Finnish Lapphund Club of Great Britain which seems to be the only national club that has any useful information including rescue. 



Tuesday, February 7, 2012

19th Century Japanese Goofus and Gallant

Were you a kid going to the dentists anytime in the 60s, 70s or 80s? I don't know what the connection is, but it seems that dentist's waiting rooms during that time were lousy with Highlights magazines. If you were lucky enough to be one of those kids whose regular oral hygiene checks included a significant stay in a magazine filled room then Goofus and Gallant may just be among your early memories of behavior models.  Pronounced Ga-LAHNT, because GAL-ent never occurred to me, the well-behaved twin modeled perfect behavior while Goofus - let's just say, did not.

But creator, Dr. Gary Cleveland Myers, was not the first to use pictures of boys with contrasting behaviors to highlight good behavior. An earlier instance can be found in the work of Utigawa Kuniyoshi, a Master of ukiyo-e, who created the Moral Guidelines for Good and Naughty Apprentices in the mid 1800s.

This shows a good apprentice doing his master's errands,
while the bad apprentices are harassing, baiting, and beating the dogs.
This shows the good apprentice feeding the dogs while the bad
apprentices are beating the dogs.
This shows that a good apprentice doesn't forget to say thank you,
while bad apprentices kick puppies!!!
And you thought it was hard to find good help these days. Apparently those mid-century Japanese apprentices were more than just goofus, they were downright repugnant! Kicking puppies!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Inspiration During the Superbowl



I'm talking about this dog's inspiration to move its body. I'm a sucker for that hard physical workout montage accompanied by the urging, peppy music and ending triumphantly with a new, stronger body (cue Mr. Incredible).

The game inspired me to eat cookies and be disappointed. :(  I'm going to have to roll that ball down the stairs a few extra times this week.

Now, where to find that perfectly compelling, but upbeat music . . .

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Today's Big Bowl Odds: 11:1

That's right, friends and dog lovers! The anticipated number of viewers of Superbowl XLVI to number of viewers for the PuppyBowl  VIII is 110 million to 10 million. I hadn't realized that the underdog's popularity was even that high!

What's the PuppyBowl you ask?



If you have more interest in flyball than football, are still bitter about your team's loss, or just don't want to look at Madonna, tune in to Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl.  If, during the game, your still find yourself wondering, What exactly is that PuppyBowl? you should, as my friend Amy urged me in 2009, "Go turn on Animal Planet right now and find out!"

This year promises to be bigger and better!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Someone Get This Dog a Coat: The Show-Low

(WKC photo)


Now that you’ve read the title, you will never be at a loss for syllables when identifying this unique dog. The Xoloitzcuintli (actually pronounced “show-low-eats-queen-tley” - gesundheit) is the national dog of Mexico – and has no hair! In fact, you may have heard of it as the Mexican Hairless, but someone decided that name didn’t have enough gravitas, so Show-Low it became. Maybe the pup’s PR manager had the right idea, because after more than 3000 years of showing evil spirits the door, the Xolo is now showing its stuff at Westminster this year (more than 50 years after being dropped by the AKC for rarity and perceived extinction).

"I love your eyebrows.
We'll call them Frida and Kahlo"
Name the movie.

Xolos remain relatively unchanged from the naturally selected state of its ancient breed native to Central America. In addition to its likeness found on 2-3000 year-old pottery and its carcass served on Aztec banquet tables, the Xolo was widely thought to possess magical powers – not only in the primitive cultures from which their likenesses can be found in but also today as healers of asthma and other ailments.  I suspect it’s the lack of hair that helps to clear up the owner’s breathing problems right quick rather than an actual mystical power. Others are less impressed by their mysterious powers except those to incite violent reaction about its appearance. 
Even the most ardent admirers of the Xolo concede that the dog is plug-ugly. One description of this hairless canine of ancient lineage, a national treasure in its native Mexico, characterizes the Xolo as a hot water bottle with pig eyes, bat ears and a rat tail. That is being polite.  NYT 
While dog hair and mismatched socks are the bane of my existence, I don’t think I’d want a dog without hair. It seems kind of creepy and unnatural – like having both matching and dog-hair-free socks.

Far be it for my feelings on the furless to refute the fitness of the Xolo as a family pet, however. To better understand the finer points of the pooch, the Xolo Club of America has a really good “A.K.C. Standard Visualization” which helps explain where and what the judges look for in this specific breed. It includes this tidbit on its temperament: 
Typical Xolo temperament is calm, tranquil, aloof, and attentive. Expression is thoughtful, intelligent, vivacious, showing the breed’s noble and faithful character.
Sounds like an excellent companion dog! But don’t be fooled. Xolo puppies are loud and obnoxious (paraphrased from Wikipedia article) for the first two years.  I should mention here that it’s been my experience that most puppies are loud and obnoxious for the first two years – except maybe my sister-in-law’s Havanese.  

And while there are three acceptable sizes of Xolos, like the Poodle, toys, miniature, and standard, there is only one group for the breed judging.  Look for one of the ten Xolos registered to win Best of Breed and compete for Best of Group on Monday night in the Non-Sporting group as well.



Nothing compares to a good diagram.
Check this one out, large.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Laid Off: The Norwegian Lundehund

(WKC photo)


The first of the six breeds of dogs showing for the first time at Westminster this year is the Norwegian Lundehund. This smiling spitz dog has a fascinatingly specific breed history.  Its job: hunt puffins.

(Wikipedia commons photo)
As puffins (lundefugl in Norwegian) are an endangered (and adorable) bird and are mostly protected throughout its range, the Lundehund is sadly out of work. Happily, its striking six toes used to help grip the treacherous coastal rocks where the puffins live and impressive contortionist abilities used to get in and out of puffin caves are sure to be an asset to any new position.  If you think those skills might be transferable to any job you might have for one of these upbeat but down-on-his-luck pooches, contact the Norwegian Lunderhund Rescue here.

(Also, if you live in Iceland or the Faroe Islands, the dog can still work in its original field.)

Like many rare breeds, the Norwegian Lundehund was saved by a few notable breed enthusiasts when its population had become dangerously low.  Now more abundant, the Lundehund is looking for work as a quirky companion.

If you’re at the Gahden on Monday, February 13th, be sure to be looking at Ring 1 at 11:15AM to see the five registered Lundehunds compete (compared with what seemed like 89 Leonbergers last year, that’s quite a sad showing).  At home you can see the breed winner in the ring on Monday night as part of the Non-Sporting group. Pay careful attention to any signs of its incredible flexibility.

For more information:

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Randsday Gift to Myself

February 2nd is Ayn Rand’s birthday. 

Explained by Harry Binswanger, “Randsday is for reminding ourselves that pleasure is an actual need, a psychological requirement for a volitional consciousness. For man, motivation, energy, enthusiasm are not givens. Pathological depression is not only possible but rampant in our duty-preaching, self-denigrating culture. The alternative is not short-range, superficial "fun," but real, self- rewarding pleasure. On Randsday, if you do something that you ordinarily would think of as "fun," you do it on a different premise and with a deeper meaning: that you need pleasure, you are entitled to it, and that the purpose and justification of your existence is: getting what *you* want--what you really want, with full consciousness and dedication.”

I LOVE the idea of doing something for myself. In fact, I love it so much that I live that way every day;  I do what I can to make myself happy on both a daily and long-term basis.

I took the Randsday idea as a challenge to do something that might save my sanity over a mid-range time period (3 to – heaven forbid – 7 years!) while my youngest daughter moves from drama-queen pre-teen through full-on rebellious teenager to the self-possessed confident young woman I see peering out of her huge chocolate eyes from time to time.  I’d like to help her plan and execute a room design where she can display her precious books, organize her out-of-control collections of notebooks, memorabilia, writing implements, costumes, clothes, etc.,  be surrounded by the things that inspire her, and rest in the knowledge that her small bit of the world is under her control.  I want to help her create a space where acting with grace and dignity is commensurate with her surroundings as she battles the conflicting feelings between the little girl needing assistance with everything and the young woman understanding her power to create not only an environment, but also a happy lifestyle for herself.

"We are those who do not disconnect the values of their minds from the actions of their bodies, those who do not leave their values to empty dreams, but bring them into existence, those who give material form to thoughts, and reality to values--those who make steel, railroads and happiness."                         Dagny Taggart, Atlas Shrugged

If I can help my daughter realize her own ability to give material form to her thoughts through a room makeover, I might have given myself one of the greatest gifts any mother could ever give herself – a child who is not only temporarily happy, but more importantly understands her ability to make herself happy long-term.

We have planned this for a while, bought the paint last week, but today, Randsday, we start that project.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Woof.

It's February.

You know what that means, don't you?

Yes, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is only days away! (Twelve days to be precise).

This year we'll be watching the show at home as usual. While this means we'll have cozy ring-side seats, lots of doggie-themed snacks, and the ability to yell comments and criticisms at the screen without interfering with our neighbors enjoyment of the event, it also means no benching area tours, no close-up and personal introductions to the dogs, and no trip to NYC (insert pouty look here).

Nonetheless, in the upcoming days I'd like to introduce the breeds showing for the first time at Westminster, share some dog art, explore the long and intertwined man-dog relationship (including dog as fashion accessory), and showcase some silly and/or fascinating dog fun.

In the meantime, in case you missed it, you can enjoy this latest episode of Castle, "An Embarrassment of Bitches."