Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Stand By Your Man?

(You gotta clicky click on this for the full horror.)

Then rip off that apron, toss the dishes in the crib, kick that husband in his Brooks Brothered ass, grab Sven the tennis coach, and book it to Vegas, baby.

That is all. I simply have no. More words.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Snow Day

After two to three weeks of temps in the 60s and 70s, we woke to this:

About six to eight inches in spots.

While we need the moisture, I would have much preferred it in the form of rain at this point in the year. The roses were budding. The tulips peaking. The lawn greening. Le sigh.

The dogs LOVE it, though.

That's where they were playing. With each other. Can you believe it? I'm so happy for them. We may not be able to teach The Ivanator any new tricks, but he seems perfectly capable of remembering his old ones.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Half Full, Lemonade, Silver Lining, and All That

Recently, the awesome Miss Heather Cherry – distinguished by the fact that she both knows on which side her Louboutin Mary Janes are buckled and she can manage to wrangle hilariousness out of something as mundane as eyebrow tweezing and white gumballs – gave me the above Bloggie Award for showing attitude and/or gratitude or inspiring sweetness in life.

I'm supposed to move this award along to ten other of my most fave bloggers but, really, if you read my blog reading list, all those folks to the left are worthy of this award in some way, so it would be impossible to, uh, cherry pick.

Instead, why don't you leave a comment about what you have done most recently to show some 'tude – either attitude or gratitude – and the result thereof. Did you thank someone for opening the door for you and they rolled their eyes? Did you send a former paramour the entire contents of your cat's litter box for his/her habit of sleeping with every single one of your friends? Did someone say something to you yesterday that made you feel good, that made you think, huh, perhaps I am one of the sharper tools in the shed? Or at least one of the most inoffensive?

Today, I'll be busy house cleaning and crate training a dog. The skies have greyed again, the wind is whipping, and it's supposed to snow. So here I am now; entertain me.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New Dog

Right about now, you may be asking yourself: What on earth is a pit bull person doing with a Border Collie? Well, the only thing I can answer is, sometimes you don't pick your dog. Your dog picks you.

Her name is Maddie and S.B. and I have known her since she was a pup. Back then, she was so small it seemed she could fit in the palm of your hand, and she was left to languish in the backyard across the street from us by an overworked night shift nurse who could barely care for her spastic 10-year-old son, much less a dog. Much less a Border Collie dog.

The woman also had a cat who likewise was left on its own. Sure enough, one late fall Sunday afternoon, Ivan ran it up a tree and S.B. went and told the woman to come quick and coax it down otherwise Ivan would make it his supper. So she came lumbering over, eyes heavy from mid-day slumber, to here-kitty-kitty the critter down while we locked Ivan in the house. It was then she told us she'd gotten Maddie from I-can't-remember-where as a companion for her son. Near as we could tell, though, said son promptly spent one day engaged with the little dog before moving on to something else and Maddie slipped his mind forever.

With no one or nothing to guide her, Maddie made her own rules. On my days out to run, I'd sometimes find her wandering the main road that ran perpendicular to our street. She'd cower obsequiously and let out a small stream of piddle whenever I approached to pick her up to carry her back home. Once there, I'd have to stuff her back through the hole in the fence she'd crafted as her escape route, and then hurry up and pile rocks in front to temporarily block any subsequent jailbreaks.

"I found your dog wandering the street this morning," read the note I pinned to the home's door after the first time I rescued her. "I blocked the opening with rocks, but you may want to do something more permanent and secure." I left my name and phone number, too, but never heard from Maddie's owner.

A few months later, we experienced one of those dramatic spring freezes that can hit with no warning, a sharp reminder not to get too comfortable, because winter has not yet fully let go of its grip. It was about 8:00 at night, and the thermometer outside read 10 degrees and I knew it was going to drop at least another ten and I had Maddie on my mind. I tried not to think about it, but I finally bundled myself up and worked my way down the driveway and out the gate to her yard. I found her balled up tight under a tree, the house behind her dark and quiet, the only sound her soft warble of recognition. I had two options: unlatch the gate and take her away with me or have faith that surely her owners would be home soon to take her in. Any idiot knows you have to shelter your animals once the temps get below freezing, right? I went back to the house empty-handed.

Come June, the woman and her son were gone. In her place, the property's actual owner. S.B. met him first and said he'd been renting the place until he could make the move over. I ran into him a few days later as he was headed out and I was headed in and after a few pleasantries I told him straight up I was glad that tenant of his was gone because I couldn't stand the way she treated her dog. He blushed and tugged at the brim of his hat and told me, yeah, it had bothered him, too, so much so that he kept her and now she was his along with a sharp eyed little Aussie Shepherd named Toby. Together, he and Maddie spent a good two years running our neighbor's three acres and dogging his horses and playing tug of war and doing whatever it is that dogs feel free to do when their lives are safe and secure.

And S.B. and I hardly gave Maddie another thought, except on those days when she wiggled herself out from under her gate to greet us while we were out for a run or walking Ivan or checking our fence.

Toby died last year, leaving Maddie once again alone. Still, our neighbor loved her and cared for her and she continued to run her acres and dog her horses and sneak out on occasion to wander the neighborhood and taunt its other canine denizens, locked morosely behind their fences. And because Ivan goes on a walk-about on occasion as well, he and Maddie got acquainted, too, but in that nonchalant way dogs do when they have no territory to defend or agenda to propagate – a quick sniff at each others' hind ends and off they go.

Seems Maddie can't catch a break for long, though. Last November, her owner lost his job in construction and, after months of no such luck finding another one, decided to put his house up for sale, have another neighbor care for the horses, and get himself back to long haul trucking. But what to do with Maddie? The neighbor across the street didn't want her, even though she has a male Border Collie who would most likely love the companionship. There was the possibility that a relative somewhere in Colorado would agree, but with the caveat that Maddie remain outside at all times. Uh. No.

"We'll take her!" said S.B. and Moi, the words spilling out of our mouths before we could question whether or not we really could.

Ivan might not like her.

She might not like us.

She might be too confused to stay on our property, crawling instead under our own gate to run back to her former home.

Then I remembered that evening when I found Maddie shivering in near minus zero temps and I did nothing about it.

So. We took her.

And, yes, Ivan doesn't really like her. But he'll probably get over it. And, yes, we have had to fetch her from her old house several times over the past couple days, attaching her to her hated lead, encouraging her with uplifted voices at the edge of panic as she slinked along reluctantly behind us.

But when we woke this morning, Maddie was waiting for us at the foot of the bed. And she went walking on the trails and ate her breakfast right up afterward and played ball after that, even though Ivan got snarfy about it and we had to stop. So she chased a squirrel back under the pool instead and charged the birds and raised a ruckus at the trash truck and then ran inside to beg for a bit of my toast, Ivan on her heels. When neither dog, it seemed, would be getting anything extra to eat, Ivan shuffled off back outside to nap in one of his holes and I went into my office, figuring Maddie would now get bored and make her way back to her old house and I'd go get her after lunch. Thirty minutes later, I went to nuke my coffee and this is what I saw:

She's still there.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Horse Sense

Three weeks ago, I had to make a trip out to Escabosa, a small community to the south of where I live, to photograph another historic church for a magazine article I was writing. As usually happens, I ended up learning more about my subject after I started. Mostly because, well, like most writers, you can give me a lead time stretching into infinity and beyond and I'll still wait until the last minute to start an assignment.

Sure enough, with a week to go before deadline, as I was finishing up research I discovered I had neglected to include a couple churches that formed part of the Holy Child Parish, the main parish that covers over 300 square miles out here in the East Mountains. I sent the photographer out to grab one of them and I took the other, since it was closer to my house than hers.

Cool Church Factoid: San Isidro de Labrador in Escabosa, New Mexico was built around 1932 by local families who each brought in five wagon loads of rock for the construction. Dances were held to raise money for the lumber to build the roof.

Well, if you count 20 minutes over back country roads close. Out here, things aren’t measured in miles. They’re measured in how much of a 64-ounce Big Gulp you can finish before reaching your destination. Californians got nothing on rural New Mexican drivers. Our state is so sparsely populated, with only three communities that officially qualify as cities (and two of those just barely), that we’re all pretty much used to the long stretches of space in between things. We think nothing of driving twenty minutes to get a pizza. Forty-five for a haircut. Two hours for a visit with family.

Unlike Californians, however, our vehicles, regardless of age, make, model, or class, all look like vehicles belonging to some bizarre 21st century subspecies of itinerant. They’re always dinged. Dented. Covered with a thin film of dust or drying mud splatters. The windshields bear evidence to the fact that our highways spit up more rocks per capita than any other state in the union.

And because you never know what a road trip will conjure – a semi-trailer pile up, a freak snowstorm, cattle crossing, never ending orange barrels – our vehicles are always loaded with provisions: blankets and books on tape, sun-faded Starbucks travel mugs and fray-edged maps, crumpled breakfast burrito wrappings and flashlights the size of suitcases. Our glove compartments not only hold registration and insurance cards, but also Leathermen tools and hand guns and discarded stubs of entry to national parks and CDs whose covers have long disappeared to the effluence spreading out from under the passenger seat. Our trunks contain tow ropes and bungee cords and charger cables, full sets of tools and cans of oil and flats of drinking water.

In fact, if you see a bright, shiny, sparkly vehicle on a New Mexico back road? Either it was purchased that day, washed five minutes ago, or it belongs to a real estate agent new to town. Either way, it won't last long.

Luckily, though, the weather is likely to be just terrific about 90 percent of the time. The other 10 percent? Are usually days like the one I took to head out to Escabosa. Typical late winter days, with bathwater colored skies, wind-whipped eddies of dirt dancing along the side of the road, the air heavy with allergy-inducing micro-particles of juniper, mulberry, and cottonwood dust that work their way into one’s nasal passages and don’t leave until sometime around, oh, October.

Chicago, it ain’t got nothing on New Mexico’s winds.

Once useful soil turns to talcum powder in the face of our winds:

Anyway. The drive out to Escabosa from my house is really pretty. Land stretching far and wide, juniper and piñon dotted hillsides in front of me, Thunder Mountain behind. The Sandias to the right of me, the American short grass plains to the left.

And these guys:

I got out and took their picture because I was struck by the color of their feed trough. New Mexico's traditional architecture is mostly mud-colored because we originally built most of it with bricks made from mud. Still do in many cases, but today adobe’s pretty expensive, so we keep costs down with wood framing and stucco.

A really, really, really old adobe barn.

Above us, though, the sky shimmers turquoise nearly 319 days a year, so it’s the color with which we accent almost everything. Door frames, window sills, even furniture. And this feeder. I love knowing that even the most hardy, utilitarian-minded people (and you don't get hardier or more utilitarian than a New Mexico rancher) living lonesome in the middle of where-the-heck-fire-are-we are compelled to inject a little color into their lives.

Then there were these guys. I loved painted ponies. If I had the money and the time, I’d own one and ride it every day into the sunrise and back, pretending I'm an Apache Warrior or Indian Scout or Pony Express Rider, but I don’t. Which is why I’ll always stop to talk to a horse, of course.

Anyone who’s ever been around horses knows that there is no diss quite like an equine diss. No flirt quite like an equine flirt. Horses are nothing if not particular about everything in their lives, but most especially about which humans they decide to take a shine to. When they do like you, it’s pretty major.

This guy really liked me:

He followed me up and down the fence line, flinging his mane and whinnying softly. He pawed the ground, he shoved his nose against my neck. So I accommodated His Highness and took a lot of pictures of him. His buddies? Not so much. They were mostly talk to the hoof when it came to my camera.

But I did manage to get a smile from their gate post guardian:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Can't Touch This

A little gal tried last night on American Idol. And failed miserably. This is why.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Yes, Master

I mean, no! NO!

Not while driving in a car
Not while sitting in a bar.
Not while riding in a train
Not while dancing in the rain.
Not with a lifetime of sushi, free
Or a closet full of Anna Sui.
I will not wear these harem pants
Not while alive or dead in France.

'Cause that's what you'd have to do. Knock me over the head with something blunt, somehow un-peel me from my skinny jeans (not so easy to do to a corpse who spent her life chasing doughnuts, is it?), redress me in these hideous things, and then what? Place me in an action pose in front of Printemps in a final Fashion Felony salute to the cold, cruel world?

Why this trend now? Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe the shitty economy and grim state of affairs in our gub'ment has something to do with it. Usually when life goes south like a meth-head trying to make Mexico before the cops, fashion goes fantasy. You know, cross your arms in front of you, blink hard enough, and – poof! – all this goes away and we're once again living in a world before the one/two punch of Bushama gutted us all. Or could it be a sneaky comment on how we've all gone slavish lately?

Whatever the reason, Party People, harem pants are here with a vengeance. So much so, that even the normally laconic Anthropologie is going all yippy-skippy with their ads, pushing like I've never seen them push before:

Oh, and just when I thought it couldn't get any worse?
Behold: the Harem Onesie.

Look away, Party People. Before your retinas are ruined beyond repair.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I Coulda Had a V-8

Parents, please heed this very important warning. The photo below illustrates why you should never, EVER allow your small child to interact with a bull breed dawg:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Meaning to the Term: Nanny State

Yesterday, president Obamanator, our fearless leader into the Brave New World of Tit-Sucking and Fanny Spanking, unveiled his new edumacation plan to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. There was some tough talk about merit pay and incentives and head thumping the unions for keeping good teachers down, blah, blah, blah. But then our prez revealed his true colors with some truly alarming statments.

Summarized in an article at msnbc.msn.com, here they are, with commentary by yours truly.

• Improved pre-kindergarten programs, including $5 billion in the stimulus plan to grow Head Start, expand child care access and do more for children with special needs. He also said he would offer 55,000 first-time parents regular visits from trained nurses and said that states that develop cutting-edge plans to raise the quality of early learning programs would get an Early Learning Challenge Grant, if Congress approves the new program. (Whoa, Nelly! You mean gub'mint-appointed and trained "nurses" are going to jack boot themselves into the homes of new parents to make sure they're towing the gub'mint line regarding proper child care? Pee U. Smells like Commie Spirit to Moi.)

• Reducing student dropout rates. To students, Obama said: "Don't even think about dropping out of school." (That's pretty tough talk there, cowboy. And do I detect a hint of a threat?) But he said that reducing the dropout rates also requires turning around the worst schools, something he asked lawmakers, parents and teachers to make "our collective responsibility as Americans." (Wow. Dude actually used the words "collective responsibility." It's REALLY beginning to stink in here.)

Repeating his call for everyone to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training, with the goal of highest proportion of college graduates in the world by the year 2020. (What if we don't want to? What if we want to raise cattle on our family's ranch, or travel to Africa to help the poor, or cruise on our trust funds and hang out in Santa Fe contemplating our belly buttons?)

In fact, what if we don't want to do any of this? What if we want instead to exercise our CIVIL RIGHTS to just say NO? What are you gonna do about it, Barry?

Because the essential question underlying these particular points is: Who defines productive? Who quantifies it? Say my neighbor to the west of me, George, makes $50,000 a year as a plumber while the neighbor to the east of me, Mike, makes $100,000. Will the government penalize George for not being as productive as Mike? Doesn't matter that $50,000 is more than enough for him and his wife to live on every year, he's not getting with the program like Mike is, gosh darn it!

When the government starts setting standards for productive action – whether in education, business, or child-rearing – you no longer have the country our founding fathers fought for. You have something else. Which is fine, if that's what the majority of us want. But let's have the guts to call it what it is – fascism – and not fool ourselves any longer that we're living under a republican democracy.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

For K9

The clip is 8 minutes long, so move the cursor to 3:52 minutes and start there. Bwahahahahahahahah!

Still, I'm hanging on to the trend with clutched toes.

But, like any trend, things can get out of hand. NYD made a most excellent comment about feet laced up like ham. Ah, yup.