Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chipper

Decided to take some time off work, and went to Grapevine Botanical Gardens to relax and take pictures today. It's a small, quaint garden, so it didn't take long to go through it. As I was about to leave, a squirrel came out to eat some corn that was lying near a pumpkin. He was a pretty good distance away, but I continued to slowly creep up on him. That corn must've tasted really good because he kept munching no matter how close I got. Every once in a while he would stand straight up and look alarmed. Eventually, I switched to my 300mm lens and got about 10-12 feet from him. I was shooting like I had a machine gun, using the rest of the memory on my flash card - about 100 pictures just of him. I'm calling him Chipper. He made my day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thrown

Spenser's passing was much more difficult than I imagined, but it hit Chance the hardest.

The first night without Spenser, Chance slept on Double D's bed. All night. As some of you know, Chance never, ever, gets on furniture. We've never scolded him for it, but for some odd reason, he's always seemed frightened of it.

The next night, Callie came over to play. This made Chance happy, and was a welcome distraction.

Last night, the third night, Chance became confused on where to sleep. He kind of stayed out in the hallway, in between the bedrooms, with a lost look on his face. I know he was asking "What happened to my buddy? Where is he?" I coaxed him into my room and he jumped on the bed, but I could tell he wasn't comfortable there, so he jumped down and went to Double D's room. He wouldn't get on the bed there either, but kept poking his head out the door as though hoping to see Spenser.

Chance always took his cues from Spenser. Wherever Spenser went, Chance followed. He would not even poop until Spenser pooped. Would not eat until Spenser ate. Would not lie down to sleep until Spenser did. You get the idea. They were like peas and carrots. Like Bert & Ernie. Like Cheech and Chong without the pot.

Chance has doe eyes like Bambi. If you look into them for very long, they will melt your soul. His eyes have the capacity to soften the hardest heart. Sometimes I feel he is soul searching me. Dogs can do that, I think. He's also the mildest mannered dog you'd ever want to meet. His sweet disposition coupled with the inability to communicate what's happened, make this a somewhat difficult ordeal.

It's hard to watch Chance these days without his sidekick. I'm sure he'll adjust, eventually. In the meantime, I'll just take a little stroll down memory lane.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tripped Up by Xenu

Like many of you, I am fed up with our current political choices. As a result, I decided to research other candidates that are on the November 4th ballot. Ordinarily, I would go to the polls and vote a straight ticket. Stupid, I know, but I am now reformed and intend to be INformed for all future elections.

The Dallas Morning News has a candidate comparison mechanism on their web site which is extremely useful. I decided to give the Democrats a chance, comparing them to the Republicans. Guess what? They have similar polished crap as the Republicans, if crap can be polished. Out of sheer desperation, I clicked on Yvonne Schick (LIB) who is running for U.S. Senate, thinking, 'oh, what can it hurt'? As I read her answers to the questions, her views struck a chord in me. On a whim, I emailed her, basically saying what a breath of fresh air her views are. She wrote back almost immediately to thank me and said comments like mine "make the battle worthwhile". She also sent a youtube link that a supporter made for her, urging me to watch it and pass it along.

Unfortunately, in the "Related Videos" section, there was a glaring youtube about Mrs. Schick's Scientology beliefs. It is public knowledge that Scientology members have a history of infiltrating the U.S. government for the purpose of promoting the teachings and practices of Scientology. Schick is a ranking member of Scientology, Operating Thetan Level VI.

How can these people be taken seriously with titles like that? She might as well have stepped off an alien aircraft for all I know.

I debated whether to email her back or not. After all, I am a person of my word, so I felt I at least owed her an explanation. Her beliefs were not revealed on the web site and even though she may have no intention of "infiltrating" our government, she can't be trusted. Besides, if I'm now on some kind of list, I want to be crystal clear that I am not a Scientology sympathizer or supporter. So I replied back to her email thanking her for the youtube, but told her about the "other" video I uncovered. Scientology, I explained in no uncertain terms, is a deal breaker for me. Thankfully, I have not heard back.Googling unearthed this blog post entitled "No Money, No Xenu" which humorously explains how much of a money-sucking cult this organization really is. Two girls from Manhattan went undercover out of curiosity to see if there was some merit to Scientology. All they were told over and over by recruiters was how "life altering" Scientology is, but offering no other details to substantiate their claims. Books, dvds, and other paraphernalia were foisted on them time and again, even though they repeatedly stated they had no money. Excerpt: Without the means to purchase the endless LRH (L. Ron Hubbard) endorsed products, the secrets to living a “happier” and “better” life were not available.

Even though my first experience with Libertarianism was a bit of a shocker, I am still investigating their party. Libertarians seem dedicated to adhering to our Constitution, cutting government out of the private sector, and letting the free market take care of itself. This I like. It remains to be seen if I totally abandon the Republican party or not. Perhaps if I can just clear the engrams from my reactive mind. *ponders*

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Love of Dogs Explained

After being expelled from the garden, they missed God's constant company. So the Lord of compassion created an unconditionally loving companion for them. God said, 'because it mirrors my love for you, let's call it Dog'. ~ author unknown

More Butterflies

Despite a rocky start getting inside the Arboretum on Sunday (long story), I had an amazing time capturing all the beautiful Monarchs. I hadn't cranked out my 300mm lens in quite some time and from what I remember from previous attempts, the results were less than stellar. Not this time. I am so thrilled with the clarity and colors. I did end up touching up some of them, but tweaking was very minimal. The slide show is the best way to see all of them. Oops. How did he end up in here?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pic of the Day

Taken at the Dallas Arboretum with Canon Rebel XTi, 300 mm zoom lens. No post processing - straight from camera.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

LSU Lakes

These are some of my favorite photos taken last month in Baton Rouge at the LSU Lakes around sunset.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Chance!

Seven years ago today, I adopted Chance from a pet rescue organization in Lewisville, TX. He was one year old at the time; a scrawny, timid, worm-infested mess of a dog. They said he was part Finnish Spitz and part Golden Retriever. I had never heard of a Finnish Spitz, but I figured I'd study the breed and learn. I think he also has some Chow because his tongue has black markings on it.

Chance spent most of the first year of his life roaming the streets with another wild dog, who, it turns out, was not adoptable. But Chance (Rudy then) had something special that the rescuers felt would make him a good companion animal. And they were right. I'm so glad they took the time to get to know him because he is the sweetest dog I've ever had.

When I first brought him home, he had no manners. In fact, the first day in our house, he stood up to our kitchen counter and nabbed the sandwich Double D had just made for himself. Knowing this was probably a carryover from his life on the streets, we gave a gentle correction right away, and he never did it again. Same for potty training: he lifted his leg on our exercise bike (I felt the same way anyway about that machine), and after only one correction, he was trained.

Double D says Chance is co-dependent, but he actually has sheparding qualities. If one of us is upstairs and one is downstairs, he will get somewhere in the middle so he can keep watch. If one of the other dogs leaves the house, he whimpers, whines, and mopes until they return. He's also the house informant, keeping diligent watch at our window for any possible intruders. If a stranger is nearby, he alerts the rest of the pack with a high pitched bark, then an enthusiastic bite to get their attention. I guess he doesn't feel the bark is adequate enough.

I used to think that animals at rescue organizations were troubled mutts. This experience changed my views completely, and oh how glad I am to be wrong. I have rescued 3 dogs since Chance and they are ALL wonderful, life-enriching companions. Please adopt and give a shelter animal a chance!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Proud

Tonight I walked ONE MILE! Honestly, I couldn't believe I made it. Not only that, I was thoroughly enjoying it. Well, until I developed blisters on my heels 1/2 mile into it. If it hadn't been for the blisters, it would have been perfect. New shoes are in order.

Double D had Spenser and Chance on a two-lead leash and I had Sparky. The dogs had big smiles on their faces. It's true; my dogs smile when they get to explore the neighborhood. It truly made me happy that we were all doing something so healthy. And I didn't die. At first, when I got to the end of our street, I thought to myself, 'I'll never make it'. It really pissed me off that I was already struggling so soon. Then that other voice I've heard before told the negative voice to suck it up and DO IT. Suddenly, I hit my stride and forgot about dying.

Also tonight I tried to duplicate Chick-fil-A's Chargrilled Fruit Salad and I came pretty close. I left out the cheese, granola, and mandarin slices, but other than that, my version was awesome. Double D even remarked several times how good it was. If you know Double D, you know that some of his previous comments about my cooking caused me to go on strike for nine months.

If you'd like to try it, mix together the following (enough for 2):

4 Chicken breast tenders, browned with salt, pepper and basil, thinly sliced
Strawberries
Red grapes
Diced apples
Mixture of baby spinach greens, radicchio, carrots
Sunflower seeds
Croutons
Low fat raspberry vinaigrette

Chick-fil-A's dressing is called Berry Balsamic. The balsamic really has a nice punch, working very well with the fruit. The raspberry vinaigrette was okay, but didn't deliver the same wow factor. At any rate, it felt so good eating this for dinner. I wasn't weighed down at all, which is why I was able to walk a mile.

I'm really going to walk at least a few times a week and fix a healthy meal every night. My tuna lunch is ready to go in the morning, so no more fast food! With a little preparation, I should be successful. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Quivering Tongue

As you all know, Izzy has an enormous tongue that dangles from her petite mouth. I inadvertently discovered a trick for her abnormality, and it was like I found a new toy. Yeah, I’m a dork and have no life. :-p

Last night, as I was reclining and smacking unladylike on my gum, she climbed on the chair and settled on my chest. Paws perfectly, genteelly placed in front of her, she watched intently, exuding an animated, hopeful expression. She knows I don't normally chew food for that long, so I think she may have been intrigued, especially since there was no plate or bowl in front of me. In any case, she was patiently waiting for some sort of handout, whatever it may be.

I blew a big bubble and then popped the gum, thinking it might scare her off my chest. Instead, as soon as it popped, her tongue seemed to flicker. At first, I thought I was seeing things. I wasn’t.

I spent a good part of Sunday evening trying to see if she would ever NOT do it. Every single time I popped the gum, her tongue quivered. Or maybe flutter would be a better description. I couldn’t stop laughing. She just sat there staring with that serious face. I swear it was like pushing buttons: Blow. Pop. Quiver.

Maybe you had to be there. :)