1) the state of my hair
2) the state of our laundry
3) the state of the refrigerator
4) the state of my wallet
It also means that bad luck seems to follow me (and my hair), even when I leave the state we call home. For example, today at work the rear tire on my Subaru spontaneously exploded. And then our mechanic said he wouldn’t be able to work on it for a few days because he just broke his finger!
Anyway, back to the point. When I am in a funk, I don’t like to read nonfiction books. I’d rather play Scrabble or eat Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream or crack open a Swedish mystery novel.
So, when we got our puppy Cody, Marcia took it upon herself to read several doggie books for us. They ranged from beautiful personal stories by authors we know (Mark Doty’s Dog Years) to old favorites that have been updated (The Monks of New Skete: Divine Canine) to new ones that our trainer recommended (Patricia McConnell’s The Other End of the Leash).
Although Marcia left these books sprawled about in opportune locations such as my bedside table, my desk, and the bathroom magazine rack, she eventually realized that I had not touched them.
So, Marcia did what anyone with a Partner-in-Funk would do: she grabbed her highlighter and went to town. Yes, she actually marked in pink and yellow for me every important passage I need to read in The Other End of the Leash to make life with Cody happy and pleasurable. Then she plopped the book on my lap.
One of the sections that Marcia (and through her, I) found particularly interesting deals with a human’s need for ventral-to-ventral contact. McConnell argues that humans find tremendous pleasure in relating chest-to-chest. Like our primate relatives, we also enjoy holding hands, kissing, and snuggling. The writer explains that this need for touch in us is powerful—it can actually lower our heat rate and blood pressure.
She says that young girls are particularly fond of hugging things to their chests— dolls, dogs, you name it—and so far, we are finding this to be SO true. Pearl and Carrie constantly fling their arms around Cody’s neck to hug him—tightly, furiously, as if he is their younger brother preparing to head off to boarding school or some foreign war.
The problem, according to McConnell, is that dogs really don’t like to be hugged. Many don’t even like the way we pet them. She even argues that some dogs don’t obey the “come” command because they don’t want to be patted on the head!
Since reading (the highlighted passages of) this book and
studying Cody’s responses to us, I’ve become much more aware of his body
language and ours. I’m learning to
temper some of my natural tendencies and think about Cody from a canine’s
I’m even learning a little about myself. Cody reminds me to enjoy each breeze, try new foods, and sleep with abandon. Have your dogs (or other pets) taught you anything important?
It's a quiet Sunday morning in Houston. The weather is cold again--46 degrees. Marcia is walking the dog at Memorial. Riah the cat has been sick. She's 20 years old, and I'm not sure how many lives she has left. The humans in our family are all recovering from sinus infections, coughs, and colds. Pearl is doing a puzzle without the frame. Carrie is playing with a toy dog. She has a toy crate for her pet and even lets this dog (often called Alex) play with her blankie. I've got the dishwasher, the clothes washer, and the dryer going, creating a hum. The children sing repetitive phrases to themselves as they work. Carrie's words: "I'll get small before I'm big. " I'm worrying about the cat, my first pet.
10. She Is - Pearl's Birth Announcement (March 2004) includes a recipe for smothered okra!
9. Birthday Rap - Marcia's Song for Robin's Birthday (September 2008)
8. Question of the Day: Politics and the English Language (October 2008) your thoughts on the BIden/Palin debate
4. Reader Appreciation Day (April 2008) introducing a meme for bloggers to thank the readers
This week the polls in Texas are open for early voters, and Marcia decided to check that all-American item off of her to-do list today. Pearl asked her to wait until after preschool so that she could come along. She said she was interested in the presidential race and wanted to vote too.
One of the polling places is located near the girls' school, so after the 11:30 a.m. pick-up, they went there and got into the rather long line to wait. Just ahead of them was former President and First Lady George and Barbara Bush. Carrie didn't care who was in the line. She found a chair pushed up against the wall and played with her toy dinosaurs for the half hour. But Marcia introduced herself and Pearl. Mr. Bush pointed his cane in Pearl's direction and said, "Hey there, little feller."
As you know, we're not republicans, but still it's kind of exciting to get to meet a former president. This afternoon when I asked Pearl about voting, she said she was pretty disappointed. Why was that? I asked. Well, she said, there were no runners, and we never got to see the race.
Often my own response to poverty--my response to seeing a person who's homeless or begging or sleeping on cardboard--is to avert my eyes. This reaction is a complex one which involves judgment and respect and fear and shame. Rather than processing what I've witnessed, I often move mentally a.s.a.p. to an new idea. Pretty much any idea will do.
The exhibit currently showing at DiverseWorks in Houston is called Understanding Poverty. With photography by Ben Tecumseh Desoto and text by Ann Walton Sieber, the exhibit provides us a way to examine our reactions to poverty in a safe space so that we do in fact understand better. Understanding poverty will not solve the problem but it's a smart place to start.
Photographs by Ben Tecumseh DeSoto
Words by Ann Walton Sieber
Curated by Clint Willour
Works by Sarah Whatley Ayers & Forrest Prince
DiverseWorks, Houston, TX
September 19 - November 1, 2008
If you blogged about poverty for Blog Action Day 2008, would you please leave the link so that we can read your post? Thanks!
What is this? This is Houston, 12 days after the hurricane.
About 1/3 of Houstonians are still waiting for their power to be restored. Those who have power share with those who don't. Extension cords criss-cross our neighborhoods. On busy streets they keep these temporary lines in place with duct tape. In this photo, the yellow cord connects Glenda and David to Esther. The green one ties Ken, Karen, Avery, and Vaughan to us. People extend themselves. Jessica announces on facebook: "Anyone need to do laundry? Come over now. We have beer too."I am moved by all these acts of kindness.
Every house has its own pile of tree branches and severed trunks in a neat pile along the curb. I'm not sure how all this could-be mulch will be removed. However biodegradable, it's an awful lot of stuff.
Most of the traffic lights are still broken. Travel, even short trips, can be very trying. But Houston maintains its cordiality and civility. This morning I saw three huge orange cranes that trim trees and fix electric wires lined up on 11th Street. They needed to make a left hand turn at a corner where there is no stop light, not even a stop sign. All the cars stopped to let them go first. That's another good example of Houston chivalry. We brake for tree guys.
So far, Ike has sent us only wind. Since our neighborhood is neither a flood zone nor an evacuation zone, we are packing up loose stuff (would-be missiles, as one expert put it) and cleaning up. It's been a morning of preparation. Everyone finished their antibiotics for the parasite yesterday. As luck would have it, Carrie woke up with a cold. That said, spirits are running pretty high. We made a healthy lunch and organized the just-in-case foods, first aids, etc.
Yesterday at 3:30 pm, Marcia and I realized that the kids had been at home in their pajamas all day. Marcia consulted a few websites and found a list of family-oriented activities. We decided on Hermann Park where the kids took a train ride, raced up and down hills with boys of all ages, ate a picnic supper, and attended their first live performance at the outdoor theater. We were surprised how much they liked the musical. They've never stayed up so late in their lives, and even Carrie watched and listened with complete enthusiasm.