Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: They smell kind of like Frito's too.

She's still there, isn't she?

Micron is excited about the impending Halloween celebration this afternoon at P&G Pet Care.  Really, he is.  This is his oh-my-dog-bring-on-the-kids face. See it?

Well, he'll perk up in a couple of hours anyway.  Sure enough, as soon as the offspring of we P&G'ers start trolling through the office in their finest holiday wear, Micron will be all over this thing.

Trick or treat! Smell my feet!, says Micron. No really, smell 'em, kids. They smell just like popcorn balls.

Oh, not to worry, little ones. We gotcha some chocolate bars, too. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Do dogs dream in orange?

Have you ever had one of the those days? I ask my Favorite Kid. Where so many weird things are going on that you start making mental notes so you can blog about it later? And then you wake up?

No, Ma, says my Favorite Kid. I haven't.

Hang on, don't leave just yet. I say, following him out of the living room. Heh, this one was a doozy, kiddo. Lemme tell you what happened in it. 

Please don't, Ma. he says.

Every dog should have a chance to be this happy. 
What is it about stairs and escalators anyway? Elevators, too. Some sort of transport that is so complicated I can't figure out how to get to where I need to be. That has to be symbolic in a recurring dream, right? I ask him.

Because the kid graduated with a double major in psychology and sociology, so he must know this stuff. Surely they covered dream symbolism in some college course. Because why else even have this field of study? And whether he wants the job or not, the kid is stuck as my sounding board as I recount my subconscious goings-on.

And food buffets, too. I say. Always food. And something always keeps me from having any. What does that mean, do you think?

It means, he says. Whatever you want it to mean. It's different for everyone.

Huh, I say. Well, that's helpful not at all. And now I'm hungry.

I head back to the kitchen for my secret chocolate stash*.

Hey, but there's usually a dog or two with me, I say. I guess you don't need to be a psych major for that one, do you?

No, I guess not, says my Favorite Kid. Well done, Ma. See you've figured it out all on your own. Good talk. So can I go now?

And you, dear reader, may relax now as well.  We won't be delving any deeper into the dark soul of the overly active id of my subconscious. Well, at least not right now. This split personality will likely come up in conversation again.  After all, our alternate world of dreams takes up about a quarter of our lifespan, right?

But sure, it's true that dogs accompany me in my dream world. And how cool is that?  I can pretty much count on the presence of a faithful canine all the time.  Like 24/7. Yep, envy me y'all.

I wonder, too, what my dogs dream about. Wouldn't you love to be a fly on their nose during their diurnal REM transactions? I sure would, because if the twitching snooter and freely running legs** are an indicator, I really don't think they're slogging through worlds of inaccessible destinations and deprivation of pleasure as some of us human beans are wont to do.

Instead, could our dogs be reliving their awesome day, only better? More intense odors upon the air, longer walks, three tennis balls to chase at once and other wondrous things? Maybe rides in the car where the Food Lady really, really lowers the window so they can stick more than a nostril out?

Oh hey, speaking of nostrils, d'ya ever stick a dog cookie under that twitching nose pad of a sleeping dog and they wake up in momentary disbelief and blink their eyes and then think oh my dog dreams really do come true? That's good times all around, people.

It's entertaining to me to think that Micron has rich dreams. Built on the memories of people he's met and the places he's been.

Like, fer instance, our annual road trip to the pumpkin farm.

Could a visit to the pumpkin farm bring upon an enhanced dreamscape of a field of huge orange tennis balls?

Dream big, says Micron.

Or on the other brain node, maybe one of those big orange tennis balls has gone very, very wrong.

Giddyap, my li'l doggie friends, drawls the cowpokin' scarecrow.

Taking a pass, says Micron.

I close my eyes and still see it, cries Micron. Thank dog
the thing is lasered in on Fergo.
And with that last vision making its rat nest inside the subconscious canine neurons, we add the capriney aroma of horned goat creatures to create perhaps a whole nuther kind of animal in the mind's eye.

One punkin' head too many here, say
the goats.
Or the heck with rolling down the car windows. Micron commandeers his very own monster truck with no bothersome barriers whatsoever. 

Finally, sighs Micron. I can feel the wind in my ears. 

I call this My Mister Mighty Micron Mad Max
 Muscle Machine with a Huzzah 
, says Micron.
Or mmmmmmmmwah for short.
It's funny to me now that, as I share these thoughts with you, Micron is sound asleep on the loveseat and his snores have turned into soft, bwoofy barks. The dog only barks for two things ... dog cookies and, well, ok. Only one thing. Must be a really good dream, this one.

So what to do, but gently place a dog cookie in front of his adorable boop button.

And make his dreams come true.
*Cleverly hidden in a complex system within the pots & pans drawer. Good luck stumbling across that stash, Men o'The House.

**And that one time as we were watching Yaxley lie flat on his back with legs galloping onward, we wondered if perhaps he was dreaming he was flying. Like a pegasus or something.

Halloween Memories of Yore

Other stories celebrating this mystical time of year. Grab yourself one of the season's ubiquitous pumpkin spice beverages of choice and enjoy these past posts. 

A true-ish ghost story at Ghosts in the Walls

A troubling Halloween night babysitting gig when I confirmed the theory that an opposum in a cornfield sounds exactly like three men with an ax at Spirits of the Season.

A Mom Fail story that I somehow segued into Yaxley's first Halloween at When Spots are Scary. It's a gift, this ability to segue two totally random things together. Or a fluke. Either one.

And a couple of short photo posts involving bananas and sharks, but not at the same time. Because that would be messed up, people. At A Vengeful Spirit and Land Shark

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Don't be late for the Cool Bus

You know, it's not like it's a challenge to make it look like a golden retriever is driving a school bus.

No, it's more like nearly flippin' impossible. But thanks to my ever diligence in lowering my standards, I convince myself that I'm rather happy with the results of this photo op.

We can pretend that our Cool Bus is transporting kids to some British-ish institution of education, say like Hogwarts.  Because where else but a school of magic would a golden retriever be at the wheel on the right side of a school bus. With his five-fingered hand braced upon the dashboard for support as the bus balances on two wheels along those sharp turns.

And who is dropping off that last kid on the bus route. The one kid who sampled the ageing potion in chem class against all warnings that it wasn't quite ready yet.

Because you know. Hogwarts.

This photo is brought to you courtesy of Micron and the Husband.  Both being good sports in public, while I direct this whimsical scene at our favorite pumpkin farm.

Make it look like the dog is driving the bus, I said.

Ok, he said.

Really? I said. Alrighty then.

Huh. At least that part was easy.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Would you rather: Princess or Demon?

Which will it be?  Demon?
So, my friend asks, turning to me during a companion animal nutrition presentation at the office. Which you rather be called? 

Which what? I whisper back. The presenter has been going on about answering the nutritional needs of the lactating feline and canine. Queens, to be using the appropriate terminology for the maternal cat. And of course . . . oh don't make me say it out loud. You know, a girl dog.  A beech, or something.  Great, now I'm blushing.

Would you rather be a Queen? he clarifies. Or a Beech? 

Oh that. Good question, I say. The apex of personality tests, this query. Taking a moment to ponder the implications of each position of status . . . a queen can govern over man and country, but a beech, well ... done properly a beech could quite possibly rule the world.

It's all about choices, isn't it?  And motivation. That too.

I think, I say. I would like to be a baroness.  A lady both titled and a landowner. The wealth is implied, right?

Not only is this dialog a for real reenactment, but it continues as a long running conversation among co-workers. Such is the life in the pet food business.  A true story, y'all.

I'm reminded of this conversation, not because there's a direct link to anything here, but rather it rose above the detritus of my muddled mind as I'm reviewing the photos for this week's post.

Or princess?
And, as I allow myself the luxury of a deeper thought, perhaps it's because I offered a similar persona-style choice to Euka in the way of the imaginary world of Halloween.

Ah, the magical and mystical holiday of Halloween, where you can let your creativity flag fly high. That one day where you can go about in confidence that it's socially acceptable to don the attire of your alter ego. Impress friends and family as a caped super hero or a favorite celebrity? Or go all creepy with a stumbling zombie or toothy vampire? Maybe you can breath new life into that age old debate of which is more awesome - Pirate or Ninja?

Oh hey, what about a princess or a demon?

Which would you rather be?

If nature takes it course as we would expect things to be, Miss Euka will miss the usual autumn festivities here at Sword House this year. I honestly don't have the energy to go into the drama of it all just now, but clicking on last week's Story Sunday post, Then this (ugh) happened, can fill you in on our mandatory change of plans for my favorite time of the year.

So after dragging the Halloween costumes from the basement storage, I was rather jazzed to see our little girl had several choices available to fit her small frame. Yet as fast I'm pulling the costumes from the box, I'm dismissing the options just as quickly. I want something to stand up to Euka's unique personality.

Jager's old costumes are summarily considered, then set aside. The skunk would likely fit body-wise, but no, it's not the right look for Euka.  Same with the banana outfit. That one's a spit take to see Jager sporting, but again, not for our spunky girl.

Hmm, how 'bout the pretty, pretty princess dress? This was Inga's first Halloween costume and the lovely pup just rocked it. Ok sure, let's give this a try. I secured the gown's velco and cinched up the tie to the girly-girl pink and pointed hennin*.  And ...

Gads, she looks miserable. Right?  This image was brought to you by the courtesy of Iams biscuits. Nothing less would get that outfit on her.

Fine. I peeled the thing off of her before she could do it herself.

Ok, let's see what else.  There's the orc riding Warg from Lord of the Rings. But Jager wants to wear that one all the time.  There's festive belled collar for the court jester.  That felted wonder was hand-made in a short-lived burst of fine motor skills one Saturday afternoon. And it too was set aside atop the pile of rejections.

And oh yeah. The demon costume.

Alrighty then. On with the cape and devil horns. I'm not surprised to find these all slip on the pup like a second skin.

No squirming. No complaining. And no dog cookies as a bribe.

She so owns this look.

Oh, but what do you think, dear reader?  Do you prefer the princess for our delicate flower?

Or is this spirited personality totally rocking the demon look?

I have a contract for you to sign. Trust me. Here, use my pen.

*The pointy princess hat is a hennin. I know, I'm such a nerd.  I really need to work out getting on a trivia game show, like Who Wants to be a Millionaire.  Then I could stop this nonsense about dreaming about being a rich baroness and just live the life.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Head rest

You know, says Micron. If I squish the sociopath to the floor, he can't bite my ears.

Wait, says Bodine.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Then this (ugh) happened

Then this happened.

Uh huh, you say. Of course it did, sweetie. Now might you clue us in on what you're on about now? Because this is making absolutely no sense.  You know that, right?

No no, it's ok.  I can explain.  Really.

You see, it all started when I was finalizing travel plans with the puppy raiser of Euka's littermate, Ella, for the following day. This effort of carpooling coordination is worthy of due diligence. Should traffic karma be on our side, the drive to Dublin for the Canine Companions for Independence's Walk'N Roll fundraiser is darn near an hour and a half.  Or it could take longer if I-70 snarl-ups arise. And those are the times when it's important to really like your carpool partner.

As a final thought as we close our IM conversation, Maggie says to me so Euka still hasn't started her heat cycle yet?  Are you sure she's not already pregnant? When are the puppies due?

I know, right? I'm hoping for Rottweiler Labrador cross, actually
, I say.  A Labrottie.  Cuz it sounds like an Italian race car.  Then I make rrr-rrr-rooombaa race car sounds.  Which Maggie can't hear because we're IMing.

I'm feeling a "Caption This" post coming on.
This a running joke between us, the puppy due date thing. Our delicate flower, Miss Euka, is the last girl in her litter to, well, become a woman, as they say.  All the girls have either started their first estrus cycle or have finished the process to return to the business of growing up to be service dogs.

Wait just a sec, you say. Not only does that have no connection to the enigmatic photos you keep throwing on here, but what's this about service dogs in heat? We dedicated readers are all over here thinking you might want to cut back on the cold meds a little.

Ah, yes. I love that word, enigmatic, too. It's no mystery it makes me rather happy to see you use it, hahaha [snort]. And I appreciate your concern over this nasty cold bug I'm trying so hard not to spread to friends and family. Even though one of you gave it to me first. And I know who you are, buster.

And hang loose here, people.  I'll tie all this together for you. Just give me a minute willya, sheesh.

About that going into heat thing ... Euka and her sisters were selected at birth as possible future breeders of possible future service dogs. I'd love to go on and on about CCI's stellar breeding program, but after just a few sentences I'd be making things up. I'm simply not that close to it. Let's just stick with the facts here then.

From CCI's website:
Best of the Best.  Breeder dogs and their puppies are the foundation of our organization. We carefully select and breed Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and crosses of the two after an intensive evaluation process.
Our breeding program staff checks each dog’s temperament, trainability, health, physical attributes, littermate trends and the production history of the dam and sire. Only then are the “best of the best” chosen as CCI breeder dogs.
Did you catch that?  Best of the best, y'all.  Now as a possible future breeder, Euka was determined to have the right stuff, genetically speaking, to be considered a candidate for the breeding program.  She will be evaluated as she matures and this assessment will continue after she begins Advanced Training at CCI.

That is, we carry on as normal with this puppy raising business. Because even though she is a candidate, the odds are very much against her. The dogs in the final selection for the breeding program are held to some very high standards. Only a small percentage of potential candidates are selected to make more service dogs for CCI.

And when I say, we puppy raisers are tasked to carry on as normal, what I really mean is exactly that. Until our little girl goes into heat, that is. And then things take a sharp left in the fork of Puppy Raiser Lane.

Ok, heads up. Here's where we connect all the dots in this story for you. Ready?

Recall that Maggie and I were joking about Labrotties in our IM?  I'm still making stupid race car sounds, when I reach down next to my chair where Euka is napping.  A casual peek just to double-check the status of the girly goods and . . . Maggie? I gotta go. I'll call you later. 

Growing up on the farm, it was a Rated-R experience when any of our dogs started a heat cycle. We had dogs we'd never seen before visiting our place like it was Discount Day at the brothel or something. And with that psyche damaging childhood experience, I am fully aware of the dangers of Italian race cars.

Nothing to be done about it but deliver Miss Euka to the safety of the CCI regional center. The Spa Experience, we call it.

And because Euka will likely be at the Spa for the next three weeks, we'll miss her lovely presence at the various and sundry Autumn season festivities. Only my favorite time of year, no big deal. So I'm grieving over the loss of photo ops at the pumpkin farm with Euka. I have to accept there will be no shots of her admidst the painted autumn leaves. No girly girl Halloween costumes.

Wait, what? No costume photos? Oh nuh uh, that ain't right. I look at the clock. Between the revelation of our situation and getting Euka to the Spa, we only have about two hours of daylight left. But in those two hours?  One of  'em is the photographer's favorite.  The Golden Hour of Light.

I'm so getting a Halloween photo of the princess. This will happen. Oh yes, y'all, this will happen.

I have a lot of frames that look pretty
much just like this one.
But yeah, before that happened?  The stuff in the above photos happened. I just wanted a shot of Euka all back lit by the setting sun.  With devil horns on.

And this happened.

I blame the hormones.
She tossed those babies off her head and, with the devil horns clamped in her maw,  proceeded to run about like ....ok, like the devil was hot on her tail.

There's nothing like a good romp about the yard to drive out the gremlins, wouldn't you say?  Once the imps were out of her system, things settled down a little.

So, then this could happen.

Ah, a nice back lit golden hour photo of Euka rocking a set of devil horns. That's all I was after here.  Well, once I lowered my standards some.

I was successful in a couple of other costume shots too. But those photos will have to happen in a later post.

Because right now, people?  I'm missing the little devil girl and I have to go wake Micron up 'cuz he looks like he needs a hug real bad [sniffle]. And that's gonna happen next.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Walk'N Roll 2013

Rain, rain go away, shouts Euka. Come again some other day. Little Euka wants to play.

But don't come back next Saturday, she adds. Euka's chant is intended for this coming Saturday, October 12.

But being a web-toed water dog by birth, Miss Euka doesn't mind getting a little wet. She's not the kind of girl that worries about her hair or something.  And we were glad to see so many folk, dogs and human beans both, ready to participate in last Saturday's Walk'N Roll DogFest fundraiser for Canine Companions for Independence in Indianapolis.  At last count, this event raised just under $24,000 for CCI. 

We lovers of all things dog have become accustomed to pesky weather patterns, including the intermittent rain that persisted all day last Saturday. We tend to be a hearty lot, we dog walkers, and yet I was relieved when we were blessed with a break in the weather as we started the event. Not being a web-toed water person, I do tend to worry about the hair. Just a bit.

So this next Saturday, let's all shout at the rain to go away. Because we're all registered to participate in the Walk'N Roll DogFest in Dublin, Ohio on October 12.  So far, there's a promise of a gorgeous day ahead.

Join us? Local folk can get more information and register at this link: click here

And be sure to visit our CCI Walk'N Roll page to leave your kind words of motivation for Miss Euka at

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Let's talk about the dogs and the bees

An over-the-shoulder look from my classy, yet contrary model.
Because there were two kids standing there she wanted to see.

It was a little like being a kindergartner in a high school art class.

It's a picture of a bee, I said. I made you a bee. And despite valiant attempts to tamp it down, the declaration is followed by a quick and self-conscious apology. It's a little blurry.

It's a very nice bee, said the kind teacher. Now who wants to share their picture next?

Ugh. It's my own fault, I know.  I signed up for a nature photography class being led by a professional photographer that I really admire*. The guy is an artist with his camera and I was eager to learn how he performs his magic. Get me some new skills and stuff like that to add to my own personal style. 

Introductions should have been my first awakening of what I got myself into this time.  Hi, I'm Donna, I say. I take pictures of dogs.

I know I shared more than that, but I was distracted after looking about the room and just threw out some random facts. Yup, pretty sure I was the most *cough* experienced in life.  Have any of these people even held a film camera in their short lives?  Ever had the chance to fall in love with the chemical smell in a dark room? Dodge and burn an image using an enlarger? I'm guessing, with the exception of the professional fella, it's not very bloody likely.

Good grief, in my day we goofed around with the settings on the camera then had to wait days upon days to see how bad we screwed up the shot. But today everything is instant gratification, isn't it?  We decide the destiny of our snapshots with a, well, snap decision. You don't like the image?  Well, easy 'nuff to delete it. Or post it on social media.  Either one.

But no matter, seeing things with the eye of an artist doesn't have a thing to do with age or camera settings or even dark room experience. You either have it or you are good with numbers or something. This was apparent at the end of the seminar when we shared what we captured during our time with the flowering photo ops outside.

I took so many shots of this jerk that
I should have named the little beestard.
You know what? I think I will.
I dub this fuzzy fellow Fred MacBlurry**.
One after another, we all handed over our memory cards and declared our favorite shot to put on the big screen to share in front of God and everybody.

Nice composition ... I like how you set up the grouping ...  Good close up ... Wonderful job with backlighting ... Um, nice bee.

Yeah, I spent my hour tracking a stupid bee. With a macro lens. At the end of the shoot, I just did a Picard face palm. What was I thinking?  Who tries to take a photo of a moving object with a macro lens anyway?

Well, me.*** 

So sure, in the end I did learn quite a bit about composition, natural lighting and how to work some advanced settings on the Canon. Maybe the most helpful is the new knowledge about taming that on-body flash that I have developed a hate-hate relationship with.

Yeah, and I learned that I kinda suck at nature photography. I simply just don't have an eye for it.  You know why?  Because I don't have a passion for the stuff, flower groupings and all that. There's beauty out there all ready to be captured, it's just that I don't see it in my viewfinder. I'll have leave it to the folk that do.

So I'll stick with what I know and know very well. That one single subject of canine goodness that I find so rich. The timing was good here, because the next day after the nature photography seminar, Euka and I were working a CCI info table at Aullwood Farm.

Thank dog, I thought. I need a self-esteem boost. With the overcast skies, this is my all-time favorite of outdoor lighting.  A wonderful diffused light that softens shadows, but still allows nice highlights.  It's gonna be a great day for a doggie photo shoot at the farm, I think.

But that happy thought was popped like a the fragile bubble it was. Miss Euka was in one of her contrary moods.  She rocks an expert level at passive-aggressive naughtiness.  Worse, what she was up to this time wasn't even a behavior that I could offer a correction for.

In one shot after another, she either squinted her eyes at me, adjusts her ears into a weird position, stretched her neck out or would drop eye contact at the sound of the shutter click. 

Oh, this isn't the sun in her eyes or the sky is too bright. This is Euka telling me she's just not in the mood for this nonsense today and can't we go back to the info table to see more kids?

I'm getting so focused on getting a shot of her with her eyes open, that I forgot about venial sin in portrait photography.

Not paying attention to what's in the background.

I know, I could crop this down some.  And end up with two stalkerish white tennies behind that lovely outstretched neck.

Or hey, there's the other option that is the hallmark of digital photographers everywhere. Just set the shutter setting to Continuous.  It's just as cheap to take fifty photos as it is only one carefully framed shot.'ll have to open her eyes at some point, girly! Cookie! 

Hah! Got it.


*Photography by Jim Crotty.  Do check out his Facebook page and see if you might appreciate his gorgeous work, too.

** Get it? A play on Fred MacMurray? You know ...  Fred MacMurrayMy Three Sons, The Absent Minded Professor (1961), The Shaggy Dog?  Oh c'mon, this has to be reaching some of you, right?  [crickets]  Anyone?  Hello ... ?

***Fixation: because just giving up is for sissies.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Pareidolia has landed

I'm aware the privacy fencing on the patio needs replacing. Oh, I do. I know this because it keeps coming up on the honey-do list, even though the task never seems to make it to the top ten of what to fix next in our quaint little abode.

Built in 1949, our house was the first in the area. And I say the place, with its time worn charm, is aging gracefully.  I stand alone with this conviction.

So instead of worrying about the awkward slant our tired fencing has decided as its position of comfort, I see a photo op in the manner of an open knothole.

And pretty sure that I can get a dog nose to poke through there.

That's Jager's snooter in the top photo.  Not exactly what my mind's eye envisioned when I set up the shot. If you look closer, perhaps you see what I do.  A pink alien head with big black eyes peering out with a sense of benign curiosity.  Now I can't not see it.*

And then this.

Yup, another grayling peeking out, this one with a more ominous gaze. Micron's boop button won't even fit through the knothole.

But because it's the mighty Micron. We get this too.

Good lord, check out the length of the shadow the thing has cast. Some fearsome alien weapon, that tongue.

Yeah, I'm done now.  Prolly should move the fence replacement up a notch or two on the list.


*The ability to see faces and other stuff in random images is pareidolia.  I couldn't remember this word, nevermind spell it, without help from Google.

But check out the ever helpful Google and its sentient attempts to guess what I wanted to look up.

Ability to see farts, people? I am not going to do an image search on this. I am not.


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