Monday, April 25, 2011

More Roses

Mr. Big and I went back to the park on Easter Sunday so I could take more photos. I love the park on major holidays like this. Families start setting up their spot to picnic before 7 a.m., when I arrived. Blankets, chairs, chaise longues, huge coolers full of food, tables, grills, tents--this year, everybody had a tent. They eat and play and talk and laugh--a wonderful way to celebrate the holiday. One family already had staked out what I'd consider the prime spot: between the rose garden and duck pond.

Many of my rose photos did not come out well. My camera is just a small point and shoot, and I have new contact lenses with a stronger bifocal, and my eyes have not adjusted to them yet. Between these two, fuzziness rules the days right now. I'm not sure why blogger insists on turning the horizontal photos during the upload process, but I've loaded, deleted and reloaded photos so many times, I'm giving up. Turn your head sideways to view some photos.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

In Full Bloom

My local rose garden, happily just one and half miles from my house, so I enjoy it frequently. These photos are from 7 a.m. this morning, with the garden half lit by sunlight and half still in shade. There were already two people there taking photographs--I'm sure theirs came out much better with their fancy camera. By the time I left, a half dozen more people were enjoying the fragrant, early morning coolness and stupendous beauty. I have four rosebushes in my yard, but I'd love to have even more.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

More Evidence the Universe is Rocking, and, Mr. Big Meets One of His Own

Still don't believe that my winning the NCAA pool (a whopping $60! And no, I didn't spend it all in one place; I bought me a hula hoop--see below--and lunch.) is an indication that universal vortices are spinning out of control, that black holes may imminently suck up the Milky Way, that Big Changes May Be Coming?

I was able to trim both front paws--both!!--of Stripey Girl, at one time, the other night. At one time! Both! At one time! Usually I can only manage 1 or 2 toes, at most, before she hisses, spits, and flees.

If that is not a sign, I don't know what is.

What craziness I'll do for my dog:

Sunday, I had just pulled out of the parking lot at the park when I spied a small SUV driving past, with a beautiful, spakling white Samoyed hanging out the front passenger window, going in the opposite direction. "Hold on!" I yelled, and turned Big Red around to follow it, T and dogs grabbing the sides of the car to hold on as I hurtled after the SUV. I pulled in behind that car, jumped out, and said "Excuse me? I saw your Sammy, and had to show you what's in the back of my car..." She turned, her beautiful Samoyed turned, and I opened the back window. The two Sammies took one look at each other and went leaping for each other. Mr. Big stood on the back gate, tail wagging at super canine speed. Her dog dragged her across the driving lanes to my car and tried to leap into the back (but couldn't). The two of them thrust their heads into each others' fur, sniffing like mad, tails almost wagging completely off. No barking, no growling, not a sound, just huge smiles, dancing eyes, and excited tails whirling at 90 mph.

I refuse to believe anyone who tells me that a dog can't recognize its own breed. This was not his normal reaction by my dog to a dog. This is way he always reacts when he meets another Samoyed. So even though they may not look at themselves in the mirror, or evince any evidence that they recognize self in a human way, clearly, my dog knows one of his own kind when he sees him or her. And it makes him happy.

(By the way, it turns out I'd met this Samoyed before on the river walk, two or three times, when I was helping J train for her 3-day cancer walk. We cover such long distances that Mr. Big never walks these with me, as his back left leg can't take that stress. I didn't recognize the human at all, though. Who looks at the human when there's a beautiful dog to look at?)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Doggie Dam

I took Mr. Big out to breakfast this morning with T and Bertie after we met up to walk around the duck pond at the park. I wanted to walk through the rose garden, but it was still locked at 7 a.m.. This is the duck pond that Mr. Big leaped  into 6 or 7 years ago, after one of the aforementioned ducks. I'm not sure I'd want to eat one of these ducks, but then again, Mr. Big eats dog poop and lizards, so our gustatory delights are very different. How tasty can an urban, desert duck be? The edges of the pond are very shallow, but it's a man-made pond, so it's not just a shallow rise to walk out of but a step up and out. I had to haul him out of the pond. And he didn't help, he just stood there, with a look on his face, as if to say "What did I do? How did I get into this mess of stinky water? How do I get out of here?" He was green with slime, and stunk to high heaven. We had to sit in the park for an hour, waiting for him-and me-to dry. Never fear--no ducks were harmed in the canine diving and swimming event.

It's been six weeks since he had a bath, and he was quite gray, which is not a Samoyed Club of America-sanctioned coat color. It's been so warm the past few days, and he dries very quickly, that I decided, out of the blue, or gray, to bathe him. He's so big, even having lost 6 lbs. this year, that he created a doggie dam in my bathtub. Behind him, the water was clean. In front of him, it was gray.

He doesn't like baths. Oh, he's not as bad as Pupgirl was--she would scream like a banshee when she got wet in bathtub, while trying to scramble out to dry safety. Mr. Big has better manners than that when being bathed. He gets this resigned look on his face, and just silently bears it. His rear leg weakness (that repetitive muscle injury he suffers) makes him very skittish about not having good traction, so he was most definitely Not Happy when I lifted him into the tub. No doubt, he was also thinking "D*^!!" Doggie dam indeed.

So white you almost can't see him on the almost-clean floor!  That's my handsome boy, gone from gray shaggy mess to wet, res-like (reservation dogs are notoriously skinny, mangy, and dirty) mongrel, to sparkling white fluffiness.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It Sparkles

One of my coworkers, another S, started hooping (hula hooping to oldsters like me) two years ago, and has become very proficient. Almost obsessed. She brings her hoop to bars to dance with it while her husband's band plays. She joined a hooping group that meets in the park. She convinced J, who works in the same lab as her, to get one and before you can say Presto! Kazam!   Hooping fever was sweeping work. L started, L's husband started making and selling hoops, it was a hooping craze.

I resisted. After all, I already indulge my inner child by jumping rope for exercise, sometimes regularly, sometimes not. But J talked recently about how she feels hooping has helped her lower back, so I thought, "Hmm, I have a bad back. My sides are always in need of stretching. And I just won this NCAA pool, so why don't I splurge and buy one of the hoops S now makes."

So, ta do, here it is! My favorite colors, blue and green, with sparkly green tape wrapped first so it flashes a little.

It took about 5 minutes for me to get the hang of it again--hey, it's been probably close to 35 or 40 years since I had a hula hoop. My first attempts ended in the hoop slithering immediately off my hips onto the floor, or flinging out of control and wiping out everything on the coffee table. Darn near decapitated my cat, too. But two minutes later, I was happily hooping away. The best place to do this is probably going to be on my patio, so while I watered the roses this morning, I hooped away outside. (I'm not sure if that's the right verb used by the hot urban hoopers leading the trend, but hey, I admit to being happily middle aged and curmudgeonly and anti-trendiness.) My neighbors are used to me doing crazy things out there. Just two weeks ago I entertained them by chasing after Mr. Big with a ladle, still dressed in my pajamas, trying to get a urine sample for the doctor, at 6 o'clock in the morning. So hula hooping? Relatively normal after that.

Monday, April 11, 2011

It Was a Dark and Gloomy Morning...

This past Saturday was cold and rainy. As usual, when that happens, weather was met with great rejoicing by the desert denizens. But that meant that Sunday dawned as you see above--gray, cold, and damp. And it was Race for the Cure day. Normally, it's warm on race day; some years, it's been so warm that people have fainted and had other weather-instigated health issues. Not this year. When I walked Mr. Big pre-race, I realized I'd need to bring my gloves this year. That's a first!

This year's race had special meaning for me, as one of my best friends from high school was diagnosed with breast cancer last summer. Race organizers encourage racers to put the names of people they are celebrating or remembering on their backs. Normally, I list the women on the block I grew up on who died of breast cancer back in the 1970s and 1980s, or L's sister G or M's mom, who have both survived. This year, I put a photo of M and me taken two years ago, when I was back in the home state, and the three amigas met for lunch. She's just finished her chemo and radiation, and her hair is growing back--yea!

J is a member of the Beat Cancer Boot Camp, and their organizer was the honorary chair of the race this year, so we had to be there, bright and early. Or rather, gray and early. Would it rain on race day?

Never fear! Just as people were starting to arrive, the sun broke through the clouds, the desert smelled gorgeous, and ten thousand people wearing pink--pink hats, pink boas, pink tutus, pink wigs, pink shirts, pink socks--started to line up to run and walk and raise money. This photo is actually of the chute into the finish line, but there were about 25 people walking together wearing bright pink wigs and hot pink feather boas--too bad I couldn't get over there fast enough to capture them

I love the air of festivity that surrounds this event. It's as if a collective humanity is saying "Cancer? Death? Not on my turf!" Babies wearing signs about their grandmas. Men wearing hot pink tutus and bras over their shorts and t-shirts. A young blond woman wearing a sign saying "I'm Racing for the Cure on my sweet sixteen!" Sorority sisters at the intersections, cheering us on, jumping up and down with pom-poms and hand written rhymes. Dads 'running' the fun 1-mile with their toddlers, who can barely walk, but they run across the finish line when they get to it. It's all very heartwarming and teary and inspiring.

Again, the Japanese drummers were there, pounding us on. This year, the university bagpipers were there, too, kilts and pipes and all. (Hooray! The latent Scottish genes in me perk up when I hear bagpipe music.) I didn't see the local Native American drummer and male dancers that have been there the past couple of years. I hope I just missed them, and that it doesn't mean the woman who walked with them, carrying burning incense, lost her battle with cancer.

The tower at the finish line (the banner is behind the mesquite tree branch). The emcee loves to call out to individuals or groups he sees from up there, making it very personal. You feel like you are racing with 10,000 of your closest friends. The Desert Voices chorus sang "We Shall Overcome" and the national anthem--and they were fantastic!

Random crowd photo.  Note people wearing sweaters, and volunteers wearing gloves. It was wonderfully chilly.

We were ideally positioned this year, so I had a personal best time for this, my twelfth Race for the Cure. Lots of room to reach my stride, and D and I left J and her friend in the dust. D's daughter and her friend took off, but we wound up outpacing them, too. Score one for the middle aged ladies.

Then off to a local French restaurant for a post-Race brunch that was delicious, if chilly as we sat on the patio. But so worth it. Everything bathed in butter.

PS: To lessen  the confusion, there are two different M's and two different J's referred to in this post. I have to get some friends with different initials.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Maybe the Universe IS Shifting

Not to make light of a tragedy, but remember reading about how the earthquakes in Chile and Japan and Haiti affected the rotation of the earth, moved land masses, and affected the length of the day? Here's another improbability, nay, an impossibility, that has recently occurred that seems to indicate some basic, central shift in how the universe works:

I won my office's NCAA bracket.

After about 12 years of coming in last, absolutely dead last.

I don't follow basketball. In fact, I was talking to someone earlier and actually said 'baseball' instead of 'basketball,' that's how uninterested I am. I pick my selections based on the oh-so-scientific methodology of answers to the following types of questions: Did I know someone who went to school there? Have I ever been there? Is their mascot cute?  This year, I picked Connecticut because their husky mascot looks like my beloved Samoyeds. I almost picked Butler because my father went to a Butler High School.

Can you imagine the rent in the universe had I picked both final teams? That would have been beyond explanation, even by Einstein or Dr. Who.

We may be imminently sucked into a black hole. I'm just saying: hold on.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I Am a Lucky Swapper

Check out the awesome package I received from my pet swap partner over at Crochetville.

 Toys for the girls.
 See girl play with toy.
 Practical stuff--trust me, you can never have too many poop bags.
 Pink granny square blankets for the girls to sleep on--pink! granny! And an adorable hook case made from cat-patterned material--with a 5-mm hook inside.
 Bandannas for Mr. Big, and a tote bag for me and the hopefully-soon-to-come golden, which will be perfect when we take obedience classes. There's even a golden in the material pattern!
Mr. Big in one of his new neckerchiefs. Puttin' on the Ritz, baby.

But, dang, now I want to learn how to sew.