Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday Snow Day

We all woke up to a nice Minnesota snowfall - our first measurable snow since last February! Since it was Sunday, there was no wondering what to do about it. So everyone rolled over and went back to sleep.

My peeps really need a snow day. Dave is still suffering from general malaise. His feverish glow gives the Christmas tree some competition. Especially since the top light strand pooped out.

Boy#2 was up all night barfing into a bucket. Generally, I approve of barf. The cats supplement my meager rations by leaving piles of yum all over the house. But this was different. Boy#2's mother got kept getting up - to check the bucket for his innards, I guess. It sure sounded that way. But then, I sleep about a foot from Geo's head - so it was pretty spectacular.

Needless to say, we are all pretty tuckered out. Except for Boy#1 who seems to be powered by plutonium or something. Even after shoveling out the neighbors corner lot and part of ours, he is bouncing around like Tigger. He's my man for walkies, today!

His mother is nostalgic for the days when the boys would run to the window barking with delight at the first snowfall. They'd bundle up and head out for hours. Our backyard is pretty quiet these days. Younger generations have taken up the snow fort construction business.

The neighbor girls.

I did do some bounding about in the snow. It isn't too cold. The smells are great in fresh fallen snow!  My friend Niko was out a lot today too.

Havanese dogs may not be the best snow dogs.

I hope Niko got warmed up. The best part of going outside in the winter is coming back in!

Happy Sunday snow day!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Burger Dreams

And after I eat my turkey bacon, I will need a nap in my burger bed.


Turkey Bacon

I wouldn't complain if someone tossed me some turkey bacon, even if it isn't as good as the real thing. But here is turkey bacon I can certainly endorse.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Portrait of Anne-Marie-Louise Thélusson, Countess of Sorcy and Carmella-Estelle-Charlotte

Portrait of Anne-Marie-Louise Thélusson, Countess of Sorcy, and Carmella-Estelle-Charlotte
Jacques-Louis David
Content and Criticism
Portrait of Anne-Marie-Louise Thélusson, Countess of Sorcy, and Carmella-Estelle-Charlotte (1790) is a painting by the French artist Jacques-Louis David. David is better known for his paintings La Mort de Carmella and The Death of Socrates and His Little Brown Dog but the artist also painted formal portraits of the cultivated upper classes and aristocracy.

In 1790, a year of social calm before the French Revolution, David painted two portraits of the Rilliet sisters: the Marquise d'Orvilliers and the Countess de Sorcy. David painted Jeanne Robertine and Anne-Marie-Louise, both married to rich and titled husbands, sitting with dignity and ease, wearing the simple fashions of the day. Anne-Marie-Louise also insisted her little brown dog Carmella-Estelle-Charlotte sit for her portrait.

Portraits of aristocrats with their dogs were quite popular in the 18th century. Lapdogs were beloved companions. They were something to talk to and interact with long before there were smartphones.

This pug is another fine example of dogs in 18th c. portraiture.
Princess Ekaterina Dmitrievna Golitsyna (1720–1761) by
Louis-Michel van Loo

In addition to their entertainment value, lapdogs (or in the case of Carmella-Estelle-Charlotte, larger but more attractive companion dogs) were also said to attract the fleas off their human friends. With her fine head of fur, Carmella-Estelle-Charlotte no doubt performed this service doubly well.

Portrait of the Marquise d' Orvilliers by Jacques-Louis David.

Anne-Marie-Louise's sister Jeanne Robertine did not like dogs.
She was also resentful that Anne-Marie-Louise and Carmella-Estelle-Charlotte had superior hair.
It is likely the Marquis d'Orvilliers suffered greatly from fleas.

More Art Hound (by artist)
Jacques-Louis David's Portrait of Anne-Marie-Louise Thélusson, Countess of Sorcy


Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Death of Socrates and His Little Brown Dog

The Death of Socrates and His Little Brown Dog (1787) - click to enlarge
Content and Criticism
The Death of Socrates and His Little Brown Dog (1787) is painting by the French painter Jacques-Louis David.

Accused by the Athenian government of denying the gods and corrupting the young through his teachings, Socrates (469–399 B.C.E.) was offered the choice of renouncing his beliefs or being sentenced to death by drinking hemlock. David shows him calmly discoursing on the immortality of the soul with his grief-stricken disciples. 

In this painting, a red-robed disciple hands a confident Socrates the goblet of hemlock. Socrates' hand points to the heavens indicating his reverence of the gods and fearless attitude to his death. The painting also depicts both Crito and Plato, with the former sitting ruefully at the edge of the bed and the latter clutching the knee of Socrates.

Socrates' faithful hound Carmella waits patiently under the bed, ignored as usual, while he pontificates. The dog's own bowl of hemlock is placed unceremoniously on the floor and she waits for a signal from her beloved master that is is time to drink.

Contemplative in the shadows, perhaps Carmella represents Socrates' self-doubt and fear, which he never shared with his disciples. Yet the artist's placement of the little brown dog lying on the open shackles reminds the viewer that Socrates and Carmella are bound not by iron chains, rather by the strength of their resolve.

More Art Hound (by artist)
Jacques-Louis David's The Death of Socrates

Sister Hound Maddie

I came across "Maddie the Coonhound: a super serious project about dogs and physics" a few months ago when my Dave sent Susan a link that made her bark out loud.

Last minute costume idea from Maddie. Happy Halloween! credit

You can check out more photos of Maddie on her website. There is also a book and even an app. She is a very patient gal. I guess she loves treats as much as I do. Maddie is most known for her balancing but I like her serenity. She is quite beautiful - she looks rather like me!

Maddie on Things

The Maddie the Coonhound project is an off-shoot of her person's project This Wild Idea. Maddie and Theron spent a year traveling all the states and collecting stories. I haven't had time to peruse them yet but I bet they are pretty cool.

Here's a nice interview with Maddie's person about how he and Maddie work together.

"It's pretty simple, and I think she's always up for it, especially since the photos only take 30 seconds. Over time she has learned when I pick her up I want her to stay. She knows if she stands still she will get a treat and eventually a "Go!" command allows her to run around really fast. She really loves that command." Maddie's person Theron

Maddie the Coonhound    credit

I expect she got the bacon, in the end.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Fat Cat Art

I always keep close an eye on cats. Especially when they sidle into my territory. I know I am hardly the only dog on the interweb who's into art. But this Russian cat gives my Art Hound chase. Well done, Zarathustra!

Here are my three favorites.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Dreams

Thanksgiving is a great holiday. A roast bird and family. What more could a little brown dog ask for? How about an invitation!

I spent the day sleeping at home. The pack came home smelling of poultry and young cats. I suppose it would have been a lot to ask of me to not chase Grandma and Grandpa's new cats. But it would have been a awesome calorie burner.

Since I didn't get to join this day of eating, I spent some time dreaming. There are some great ideas out there, in case you want to give me a Christmas present.

Meat gadgets: No one would ever really wonder want happened to the remote if it was made of meat.   credit

Take me to the Meatloaf Bakery in Chicago. I will have The Mother Loaf ®, please. credit

It has been made perfectly clear that I am not allowed in the furniture. But how about if I eat it?  credit

Shall I fetch your shoes for you?       credit

A dog can dream...       credit

But back to Thanksgiving... Here are five things I am thankful for:

1. My family - even if they only feed me one cup of dry dog food each day.
2. Walkies - even if often there are only three.
3. Clawless cats - even if they stare at me without blinking.
4. Peanut butter - even if it only comes in jars that don't fit my head.
5. Squirrels - even if they mostly don't fall out of trees.

I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Love, Carmella

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Global Warming

Gather round this lovely fire pit and tell spooky global warming tales to the kids.

The Third Rock Fire Pit can be yours for just under $1500.

It would also be a perfect way to roast hotdogs at the Sherwin Williams Paint employee picnic.

I think I prefer it without the fire...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cover the Earth

My family was on the road last week and passed a whole slew of these Sherwin Williams Paint trucks.

This has to be one of the more disturbing advertising campaigns I've ever seen from a paint company. I suspect a James Bond villain may be running SWP.

Smothering the earth in blood also makes me think of Susan's and my guilty pleasure show: True Blood - which has more blood than either of us can really handle. Those vampires are messed up and Sookie should get some sense.

We both think Sookie should stick with Alcide Herveaux - the something-for-everyone werewolf.
Obviously, I prefer Alcide in his wolf phase.

But I got nothin' good to say about True Blood werepanthers... they are bad kitties.

I think Stuart might be a werepanther...that would explain the evil...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hot Dog on the 4th of July

Boy#1 and Boy#2 are at summer camp. I am not. They promised to bring back stinky BWCA/Quetico goodness. After portaging canoes, maybe they won't complain so much about long dog walks.

Not that there isn't a lot to complain about this week with temps cracking 100 here in Minnesota. The humidity is thick and the morning breezes remain wimpy so it makes sweating species pretty unhappy. Panting is tougher too as this technique also relies on evaporation to be effective. But I make do.

My Susan is a little crazy with time with her family numbers so depleted. So we have been hitting the walks to the tune of 5-6 miles each morning. Today, we hit day five of this inspired routine - which is way longer than Susan's normal attention span. I think she is also picturing the elevations of their upcoming trip to Glacier National Park (I get to go to the dog spa for the two weeks).

Today was so hot and humid that we saw only one other dog out along West River Road. It was moving slow. There were plenty of cyclists - including Dave - who generate their own breezes. The joggers looked more pained than usual.

The key to survival in the heat is, of course, lots of water. Not immersion in water - that is a horrible idea. Minneapolis parks often have these torture areas:

Those spraying spigots are terrifying. But the baby primates seem to love them. Luckily dogs are not allowed in wading pools so Susan doesn't get any stupid ideas.

I prefer my water lapped up.

Check out this very civilized dog water fountain
at Wabun Park in Minneapolis!

Stay cool and have a happy 4th of July!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Haboobs and Koalas

My friend Susan T. just got a weather station. A friend of hers wanted to know if that means she can now make her own weather. That would be nice as they seem to get a lot of haboobs where she lives.

Weather stations made me think about these Baby Changing Stations that seem to be everywhere.

Controlling the weather makes perfect sense to me. But can someone explain why you would want to change your baby into a koala? 

There do seem to be plenty of happy customers who have used Koala Bear Kare Baby Changing Stations with success. Look how proud they look with their babies!

Although some go a little overboard - perhaps vying for a reality show... or something...

I did find evidence of some failures -- the Koala Baby Changer must have gotten muddled mid cycle and the transformation was not complete. Like a transporter malfunction. Or something from The Fly...

I hope my friend's new weather station works better the Koala Bear Kare Baby Changing Station or we might end up with something worse than haboobs. What if it rained cats and koalas? 

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Morel of the Story is...

Our neighbor Mike came over to show Susan something. I watched them from the porch window as they went over to his new steps and stared at the ground. Their excitement was palpable.

This is what they were staring at...

I asked Susan what the fuss was all about. She said Mike had two dozen moral mushrooms pop up after all the rain. They look more like immoral mushrooms to me.

She says they are tasty. I say, if she thinks that, then she shouldn't yell at me for chewing up cat turds.

She says I can't tell anyone our address or mushroom rustlers will come in the night. Honestly! 

I bet Mike's dog Johann has already peed on them. Heh.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Savoring Spring

I hope everyone is taking some time to savor spring. I know the temperatures have been a bit bewildering here in Minnesota. Is it summer? Is it winter? Am I late? Am I early?

My advice is to take a break from thinking about the weather, global warming, campaign silliness, taxes, squirrels...and just be in the moment. Soak up some sun. Chew on some tender spring shoots.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bird Brained Assumptions

This morning, I read an interesting article in the Star Tribune about about white-throated sparrows, A bird of a different stripe.

I like these sparrows because they have a nice song that reminds me of being called for dinner. They are also fun to watch as they fling things around on the ground looking for bird chow. I am always sad when they head north for the summer.

Some white-throated sparrows have crisp white stripes and others have muted tan stripes.

I always thought the guys were the loud ones with the white stripes and the gals were more retiring, with tan stripes. This is often the pattern in the bird world. But apparently this is not so for white-throated sparrows.

"White-throated sparrows might have bright white head stripes or drab tan stripes. This is very important to the sparrows, which almost always will pair up with a bird of the opposite head color. White stripes are worn by aggressive, dominant birds, while tan stripes indicate a less aggressive sparrow, one that will make a good parent. So white-striped males almost always choose tan-striped females as mates, and tan-striped males choose white-striped females. If two white stripes paired up they'd be too aggressive to form a bond. And if two tan-striped birds paired up they'd lack the moxie to defend a territory. In either case, half of their offspring will have white-striped heads and half will be tan-striped."

I am a little embarrassed that I made assumptions about the white-throated sparrow in  regards to appearances, gender and partnership roles. I love that these little sparrows are born male or female, with white stripes or tan stripes, dominant or more laid back - and then they find a complementary partner. Having one in a pair with "moxie" and the other more laid back (and able to put up with all that moxie) seems to work for these sparrows.

This morning, I also read an article about a local Catholic school holding a mandatory "marriage talk" assembly for their soon-to-voting seniors, DeLaSalle kids have a few words with archdiocese at marriage talk. The archdiocese sent some of their folks remind this captive audience about their expected point of view, no doubt trying to build support for the upcoming Marriage Amendment vote this fall.

I was pleased to hear that some of the students spoke up in defense of the wide diversity of successful partnerships. I was heartened to read that a brave few pushed back against the narrow, condemnation broadcast by the archdiocese. I hope these dissenting young voices will keep building in strength and clarity. I hope that folks left the assembly with some of their assumptions challenged.

We all have to be open to changing our old patterns of thinking, no matter what the topic. Today, you will find me sitting on our deck watching white-throated sparrows as I do every spring -- but with a shifted perspective on what makes for successful bird partnerships.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cat on a Stick

Susan and I went on a chilly walk the other day. The wind was stiff and I trotted along diligently, head down, ears back. I like walks, of course. But I was happy enough to turn back towards home. 

We've passed this mailbox hundreds of times. It makes me smile to think of people putting things inside a cat. Like stuffing. 

And, as any Minnesotan knows, anything on a stick is more fun.

But today, this kitschy mailbox was unsettling. Maybe it was the flat, cold gray of the day echoed in the gray metal stripes. Or the catbox's discontented, slightly crazed gaze. Yellow eyes followed me as I hurried past. I could feel the malevolence of this cat trapped, stripped of dignity, and forced to perform such an un-feline task for all eternity.

Really, I think my discomfort was probably just the combination of two of my less-favorite things in the world: mail and cat.

Mailman approaches my place EVERYDAY and EVERYDAY I have to drive him away. Except for Sundays because on Saturdays I am extra stern. He's a cheeky fellow though. Each time he leaves behind a little pile of scented paper to taunt me. Smells like cigarettes and smugness.

My less than favorable view of cats needs no explanation. They are just plain creepy and they get away with things I would never dream of doing. 

OK. So maybe I dream.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tough Hands

I came across this ad in our newspaper.

The in-your-face cracked fingers made me cringe - as no doubt they are meant to. I can only imagine how these cracked paw pads must feel - even little cuts hurt like the dickens when I trot through sections of salted sidewalks. Cringing now?

When I turned to the next newspaper section, I had to laugh at the ad I found there. Good thing they had the sense to not place them side-by-side.

This image also rather disturbing. Mostly because the combination of tape, glue, and fur is never to be taken lightly. But I do think this gorilla might appreciate it if someone gave him some O'Keefe's Working Hands cream.

If you are still cringing, take in this image. Aaaaah!

Although you still might want to handle with care.