Sunday, February 16, 2014

A break from all that white stuff (and House of Cards)

I admit it.  I binged on "House of Cards" on Netflix.  It is embarrassing to admit that I finished the entire season in two days.  I'm over it now and I don't need to watch television for a long, long time.  The result was a desperate need to get back to nature.

It's hard being stuck at home on a holiday weekend mid-winter.  Others are either off on skiing vacations where everyone embraces the snow or they have donned flip flops and sunglasses and headed for the tropics where it's warm and colorful.  This time last year I was watching whales and soaking up sun in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

In lieu of beaches, whales, skiing and sunning, Washington, DC offers plenty of free museums and places to go on the weekend.  In the midst of messy piles of greying, melting snow, next to the US Capitol, is an oasis known as the United States Botanic Garden.  Envisioned by George Washington as a place to demonstrate and promote the importance of plants, the museum was established by Congress in 1820.

 On a cold but partly sunny winter's day, it is a place of wonder.

The Orchid Symphony exhibit was the first thing I noticed when I walked into the garden.  Beethoven's Fur Elise (a piece all piano students learned when I was growing up) was playing and instruments made of orchids and other natural materials (like the harp strings made of Spanish moss below) were featured. 

Also very prominent were the fruit trees with oranges, grapefruit, lemons and kumquats.  Some had  blossoms with scents that reminded me of growing up in Central Florida.

Best of all was the color.  Everywhere we turned there were colors from petals and buds, berries and leaves.  It was so nice to see green after the brown, black and white of the city and suburban landscapes of the long winter.

 It is a great place to let your imagination take off.  Envision new Sesame Street puppets based on some of the sassy plants.  

The desert room filled with succulents was pleasantly warm and dry - a great improvement over the weather we have experienced in the past week.  Even in the desert the colors and shapes are so inspiring and great to look at.  

 Here you can find a new color scheme for your home or just enjoy a nice, warm walk.

One of the educational exhibits listed the plant ingredients for different food items - such as Cajun Gumbo pictured below- and offered opportunities to sniff the fragrances as well as see what the spice looked like before it was ground.  This is a great place for students young and old, with hands-on exhibits and plenty of room to roam.  Teachers and parents can find educational materials on the website.
 The orchids have to be my favorite.  They always remind me of ballerinas and other sorts of fairy people and ladies in old fashioned dresses with hoop skirts.

This visit was just what I needed to help face the snowy and cold days still remaining in our winter repertoire.  If you don't live near Washington, DC, but are tired of winter, seek out nature as a cure for the winter blues.

Some of the other Botanical Gardens in the United States include:

Sunday, August 18, 2013

#2 and Proud of it!

Hi everyone it's me Mia, the adopted #2 dog.  Just because I arrived second, do not think I am not important nor assume I am a gal who lets anybody push me around.

So far I only feel like #2 when Dudley body slams me to get to a bush or patch of grass when we are on a walk, or when it is treat time and he juxtapositions to get the first one.  I derive pleasure in knowing he has no clue what "juxtaposition" means. 

My arrival was preceded by a very long van ride in which I had to endure a lot of barking from other orphans who would soon have families.  Unfortunately they were mostly those little things with high-pitched barks that make big girls like me want to put our tails in their faces.  But I am too nice for that.  I just tried to go into my little doggy Ohm meditation and deal with it until we finally got to meet my new Mom!

What did we do right after I got out of that truck full of yappers but ride in the car for almost two hours. Aunt Debbie talked to me and scratched me and that made me feel tons better.  At least it was quiet.

On arriving cold on a frigid night in late February, Dudley and I were introduced and then turned loose in the awesome back yard.  There was a pond. I LOVE water.  So I went swimming.  That got me in some trouble and I stank like frogs and rotting leaves, but it was great fun before I realized how cold it was.  Mom had towels so all was well.
Mom worked from home for the first few weeks after I arrived, so we had tons of time together and walks all around town.  It took Dudley and me a while to get comfortable with one another and he stole my bed almost immediately.  It was just a power play so I acted like his bed was better and slept in it.  Really any bed is an improvement over a cage in a truck full of yapping height-challenged brothers and sisters.  Besides, I am taller and heavier than the Dud and he knows it.  So in the end, after crawling in bed with him to show him I knew which was mine, I won my bed back. 
We sit together on the deck overlooking the garden and make sure it is free of rabbits.  We chase birds and occasionally find a vole.  When we do, we play with it until it gives up.  A few days later it creates the most wonderful perfume that we roll in before presenting ourselves to Mom.  I've learned that she's not as excited about our fanciness as we are, especially when we roll around on the rugs inside before she discovers our scent.

Dudley is pretty easygoing and slow and I just love to annoy him by attacking him when he is sleeping or biting his ears when he is just walking by.  Then we fight and run and chase until he is worn out.  I never get tired. 

My new best friend is Emma.  She lives next door and loves to run.  I didn't know people liked to do that too (Mom isn't a runner).  Emma sometimes invites me out and we run for miles and then I come home and get a cool down rub and extra food. Dudley has to be kept somewhere else when the extra food comes out; he is a little chubby and doesn't deserve extra because he does not run.  When Emma comes over I jump for joy and twist in the air when all four feet leave the ground.  I can hardly stand my excitement and I get very impatient while she puts on my leash. 
I love walks and I always have to be in front.  I admit it that I am fast and I want to be out there.  When Dudley tries to nose ahead I have to pick up the pace. It is my job to show that girls can keep pace or even move ahead of the dudes.  Part of the reason of course is that I don't stop to pee all over everything.   That seems like such a waste of time.

Here are some things I think you might want to know if you are thinking of adopting a second dog.  Some of them are things Mom says.
  • The second dog is exponential in terms of time, money and love. 
  • Girl dogs are easier than boys.  We are far more accommodating and just want to get along. 
  • Everyone else's toys always are more interesting looking than our own.  And we might tend to hoard just a little bit...because we have been deprived.
  • It takes us about 3 months to be pretty sure you aren't going to give us away or dump us like we have experienced in the past.
  • When we finally are comfortable that we get to stay, then we will play and eat more and even start to bark; Mom was ecstatic when she first heard me bark.  Then she knew I was going to be ok.
  • If you can trust us, try not to make us go in a cage.  Thankfully I got a Mom who doesn't use them.  We have our beds and Dudley taught me all about procedures.  That probably means that if you have one bad dog, you can be sure that the new dog will learn from them (and you; lots of bad dog behavior has more to do with human behavior).  Thankfully Dudley has been a good teacher.
  • If you teach us manners from the start we will not forget them.  I know I have to sit when we are on the leash and Dudley stops for another bush-wetting.  And most importantly, I know to sit before crossing the street; Mom says that will save my life someday.

So now we are on our second half-year.  Dudley has stopped acting like Eeyore and has accepted me.  I know my boundaries with Dudley and Mom.  My only wish is that I catch one of those brown bunnies we see in the neighbors' yards.  I really want one.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

I Never Asked for A Sister by Dog #1

I was sleeping soundly one evening when Mom came home with Mia and called her my sister.  We sniffed and then she went for my squeaky frog.  Wouldn't you know she would claim my favorite toy.  Right from the start she has been in my business.
Me with my frog

Who is Eeyore?
On the first day Mom started calling me Eeyore. When she says it she seems to be teasing and I don't get it.  Sometimes she calls me Napoleon and I don't get that either.

Around the 'hood

Mia is very tall and, well, truth be told, I am vertically challenged.  But I make up for it in the bigness of my demeanor.  It is important to let everyone know who is in charge so I always try to be there first to guard the door, protect Mia from the black lab next door, and make sure that the treats Mom hands out are safe to eat.

She bugs me.  She's younger and less mature and she nags me to play and teases me by taking my toys, biting my neck, and running with them.  Every now and then I like to run and chase, but not as often as she wants.
Keeping the house safe

Keeping her bowl clean
Mom thinks I don't realize that Mia gets more food than I do.  I see how many scoops she gets and I know I don't get that much.  But I do her a huge favor and clean out her bowl after every meal so it is ready.

She hoards toys.  Not just a couple of them but most of them (notice I got my squeaky frog back).

Sharing the new bed
She got a new bed.  I like it and I sleep in it when I can. Sometimes she crawls in bed with me.  I don't really mind because I can sleep through most anything.

Me and Miss Nosey
I definitely won this fight
If I sniff, she sniffs.  Nothing gets past her.  Well she stuck her nose in my business one too many times and I peed on it.  She didn't seem to notice.  Dumb or what?  Girls are so confusing.

She is the only one with a pinch collar - she pulls too much
People stare at us when we walk down the street on our split leash.  Sometimes people ask if I am a puppy and she is the mom.  It's so embarrassing.

We are a pretty good team when we hunt rabbits in the back yard.  It is important to note that I caught a rabbit by myself when I was an only child; together we have never caught one but we have fun trying at least.  

She walks fast.  Her walk is a trot for me and I have to work harder.  I just try to look elegant when I move along beside her.

She doesn't understand dudes.  She is impatient when I mark (ok a lot) trees and bushes while we are on our walks.  Because we have the split leash, she can pull me along when I am the most vulnerable.  It is really annoying.

Here she is trying to hog the treats

I sometimes wish for a little more peace and quiet.  She thinks she is part of the bark patrol and often tunes up when I am asleep and don't always hear the mailman.  I just want to note that the mailman  never got past the door on my watch before and I really don't need her to try to take over my job.

Sometimes I let her spend a little time alone with Mom or the boys but mostly I feel it is my job, my right actually, to intervene so they don't get too close.  Sometimes I miss the good old days of being an only dog.
With MY buddy

Oh boy did she get hollered at when she tried to dig out part of the pond to get a bullfrog.  I kept my paws clean on that one while she was covered in mud.  She didn't pay attention when I tries to warn her:  "ix-nay on the ond-pay."  I don't think she understood.  After that, trouble.

Me, with the headless bear
Ok so I beheaded her favorite toy that she brought from her foster home.  It was annoying and I had to get her back for taking my stuff.  Now it is two toys.  Most of the fluff is gone, too.

If I had a choice in the matter I probably would have said "no" to getting a sister.  But now that she is here, I guess I would miss her if she disappeared.  But don't tell her that.