Friday, March 17, 2006

The Birds!

When I was child, one of the scariest movies to trouble my safe little world was Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. Today the movie just seems hokey; then it gave me pause. Every time I saw more than a bird or two roosting in the towering maples outside our home, I was certain what I'd seen in the movie was about to be realized in my front yard. ;o)

It's amazing how childhood memories stick with us through our adulthoods.

Earlier this week, when it was in the 70s here in SE PA, I felt like enjoying a few minutes with the doggies out on our back deck. The sun felt good; the air smelled sweet with the promise of spring. My revelry in the pleasant outdoors lasted about three seconds; then the birds came.

They were just starlings, I believe. And they meant no harm. But thousands upon thousands (I kid you not) flew in droves over our backyard.

Sometimes a few would stop to rest in the trees on our back hill. But mostly they just flew over, cackling as they flapped overhead.

That's how I knew they were coming: I heard them first--just like in the movie.

Talk about a throw-back to childhood memories. The BIRDS! ;o)

My gut reaction (childhood fear) gave way almost immediately to fascination. And I wasn't the only one intrigued by the birds' arrival: Baxter, Elsie, and Ridge stood fascinated, silently tracking them in the sky.

Elsie has the strongest hunting and retrieving instincts of the three. Baxter and Ridge soon grew bored. But Elsie could've stayed and watched for hours.

Thankfully, after literally tens of thousands flying over in several, punctuated waves, The Birds phenomenon stopped.

It was quiet again. And still.

Amazing, isn't it, how noisy nature can be! I never really thought about it before. But nature can create quite a ruckus.

It's a ruckus the canine kids enjoy. This was one ruckus, however, that my childhood mind can live without!

'Til next time,
Joan Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A Lab Point of View (Part Two)

You can tell me to stop helping you put out the bird seed, but...

it's just in my nature to help. :o)

You can work at the computer, but...

only if you let me nudge your mouse hand and only if you explain to me what you're doing.

Ha! You can say this is your recliner, but...

we know differently. Move your feet, lose your seat. :o) Posted by Picasa

A Lab's Point of View (Part One)

You can read, but...

only if you let me nudge and butt the book or magazine enough so that you finally give up reading and pay attention to to me. :o)

You can eat, but...

only if you're willing to share. :o) Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Back from the Flu

Sorry it's been a while. I've been down and out with some sort of virus (low-grade fever, chills, sweats, aches and pains, whopping headache, dizziness, weakness, exhaustion, etc.). It hasn't been fun; and it's going on six days now, although today I'm starting to feel human again. Not 100%, but definitely better.

Poor kids: they're feeling neglected. I've been sleeping most of the last five days away (and sleeping soundly all night--if that says anything).

Elsie's depressed. She hangs out on the doggie bed by the fire and yawns a lot. Poor girl wants to be touched and held and played with. I just can't do it when I'm sick (the last thing I want when I feel lousy is face washes by dog tongues and 80 lbs of Lab on my lap ).

Ridge is depressed, too, but he hangs out on the couch cushions. He's gentle with me and seems to know I don't feel well.

Nothing seems to get Baxter down. He's as relaxed and low-key as ever (Mr Sprawl seen here on the recliner). And he's as sweet with me as ever.

At least the kids got their usual romp in the woods today with Dad. So everybody's content for the time being.

Hopefully I'll be back to form in the next day or two (this being sick thing is getting old). Then the kids and I can romp (it's good for them and good for me). :o)

'Til next time,

Monday, March 06, 2006

Too Much Stuff!

"Oh no! What's Lab marketing come to!" Posted by Picasa

Lab Stuff

If you've read any of my posts here you'll know I love Labrador retrievers: not just my three, but the breed itself. It's a fabulous breed, one my husband and I will stick with for our lifetimes.

But one part of Labdom drives me a little nuts: Lab stuff. Not Lab supplies or training materials or even a few select items that display a love for Labs (baseball caps, t-shirts, jewelry, or maybe even a decal or two, etc.).

But do we really need these items (found in a recent general search on eBay):

Lab puppy bookends (and I'm a book lover and addict! I'm even an author, but bookends?)
Lab Franklin Mint collector plates
Lab puppy belt buckles
Lab roller-ball pens
Lab collectors' bottle openers
Collectors' 18-wheel truck with Labs painted on the side
Lab-decorated cigar and pill boxs
Tin "Wanted!" sign for Labrador retrievers
a Neimann-Marcus Five-Dancing-Labradors statue (they don't even look like Labs)

I can understand Lab-decorated neck ties, keychains, portraits, socks, Christmas ornaments, door mats, leash hangers, stuffed animals, notecards, wall-paper borders, figurines, playing cards, and the like (all quickly found through an eBay search) ; they make at least a little sense to me. I can see why people would buy them

But roller pens and toy trucks?

Just when is enough stuff enough? Just when has breed marketing gone too far?

Okay (true confessions), I'll admit that hubby and Iuse three Lab mugs between us (all received as gifts); he wears one Lab baseball cap; we each own a Lab sweatshirt, and I have a Lab nightshirt. And we enjoy them all.

We also own boatloads of Lab training books, gift books, videos and DVDs, and veterinary manuals.

But I seriously doubt well ever buy a $150 Neimann Marcus Lab statue or a Lab roller-ball pen.

How silly.

I suppose one man's junk is indeed another's treasure.

At least the breed itself isn't tainted by marketing; Labs are still Labs, and will be for the foreseeable future.

What do you think about Lab stuff? Is it good, bad, or irrelevant?

'Til next time,

Saturday, March 04, 2006

We Love the Outdoors, for Good or Bad

The kids (canine variety) just love the outdoors.

It doesn't matter what time of year, what type of weather, or how cold it is. If they can be outside, that's where they want to be.

The only exception is summer heat, but that's another story for another day.

They especially love to be outside when it's messy: muddy, rainy, icy. Go figure.

Well, Don took Baxter, Elsie, and Ridge for their usual lengthy Saturday morning romp out along the dirty roads and streams near our house. And, you guessed it: they loved splashing in anything they could get their paws into: mud, ice cold water, drainage ditches.

Silly, muddy, muddy kids.

Thankfully we have a somewhat mess-free backyard. And the kids love to hang out there.
They stay pretty clean, all things considered (not that they care; I care, though, especially when they come inside!).

They stay mud-free just about everywhere in the back yard, except when they visit the lower corner beyond the crabapple tree. That's a mud pit. And, of course, it's right next to where the neighbors come and go, so the dogs loiter there so they can bark and race back and forth when the neighbors walk by.

It figures. Their one guard post happens to be the only mud pit in the yard.

So, we decided to throw some straw in the mud pit to at least tone down the splash factor.

Elsie, Baxter, and Ridge had to help, of course.

And they did.

But even two bales later, we still have a mud pit.

And muddy dogs.

I guess that's just part of living with Labs. :o)

I'll take muddy paws and underbellies with Lab kisses and faithfulness any day. To experience the good, we accept the bad (or at least learn to live with it).

Sounds a lot like life to me.

'Til next time,
Joan Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Sleeping in Peace

The Elsie girl sleeps soundly in Don's lap. It's her favorite place to snooze, and she rests comfortably there.

Always. Without exception.

Such peace. Such contentment. Such rest.

Head nestled close; feeling the warmth of her #1 human; hearing his heartbeat--she must feel secure, like a pup nuzzled close to her mother.

I suppose that's why she sleeps so well: All is well because Daddy is near; he'll protect her.

I wish Don could do the same for our girl-child.

When Sarah (the human girl-child) came home earlier this week, she'd just completed necessary tests for the new job she's taking as an EMT in Wilmington, Delaware. She's a college student, too, and works on campus as an EMT, but working for the City of Wilmington is something quite different (more like a war zone, we're told).

In the two days prior to her testing, Wilmington EMTs had to deal with a scalping (yes, skin and hair removed from the top of the skull) and a fatal shooting (two gun shot wounds). The ambulance is marred with bullet holes.

Oh, and Sarah announced on Monday that she was purchasing a bullet-proof vest to wear over her chest plate! Apparently the city requires both as part of the EMT uniform.


That's my little girl we're talking about (well, not so little anymore)!

Sometimes I miss the days when Sarah was small enough to nestle against her Daddy's shoulder and fall asleep--something she loved to do and did readily. The world seemed far less dangerous then.

Frankly, sometimes I wish I could nestle against a human shoulder secure in the knowledge that all is safe and well. But I'm a grown-up. We know better.

So I suppose I'll try to nestle into the arms of my Heavenly Father; the only One who can truly protect Sarah from harm, if He chooses to do so. Then maybe I'll sleep better when I know the sweet girl-child is riding ambulance on the city streets in Wilmington.


'Til next time,
Joan Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Looks Can Be Deceiving!

At first glance, what would you think was happening in this photo?

Nope. Baxter is NOT snarling or growling, or even unhappy for that matter.

I captured this picture of him at the end of his yawn (which Sarah is mimicing). He's only yawning while Sarah is leaning against him.

That's all. Honest.

But, boy-oh-boy, it doesn't look that way.

The false assumptions we could make about this photo make me wonder: how much of what we see in the media (print, digital, electronic...doesn't matter) is actually what's happening?

I could, if I wanted to, take this photo and present a case for the aggressive behavior of Labradors (how silly, really, knowing the breed as I do, and knowing they don't have a single aggressive bone in their bodies). The picture sure seems to make that point, though.

Knowing its context and knowing the real action in the picture, I could never use the photo that way.

But unscrupulous journalists certainly could.

Just how accurate is what we see on TV and on the news and in magazines and newspapers?

I suspect a healthy dose of skepticism (or at least critical thinking skills) is in order when it comes to photography and implied lessons or arguments made from photos.

Baxter's yawn is a case in point if I ever saw one.

'Til next time,
Joan Posted by Picasa