Gobble Bawk!

Have you ever noticed that, although your train of thought may seem logical to yourself, if you were to describe it to somebody else it would probably have no sense at all?  That’s the way my brain works most of the time.  But somehow it brings some interesting ideas to mind and some wonderful reminiscences.

I don’t know what got me thinking about my eating habits today, but that’s what was on my mind while I was changing my sheets this morning.  I was turning over in my mind the idea of whether or not chickens are emotionally attached to all of the eggs they lay, fertilized or not.  Some people argue that taking any egg from a chicken is cruel because the chicken will become depressed and mourn the loss.  But that’s a lot of mourning going on in one lifetime considering the majority of a chicken’s eggs are not fertilized.  And how do so many people successfully raise chickens and take the eggs without having sad or angry chickens?

Yes, I think about these things in my spare time.  It explains a lot, doesn’t it?

Anyhow, this train of thought some how chugged along to an evening years ago when I was high school.  This was one of the funnier moments with my group of friends, but what do you expect from poultry?  One of my friends at the time surprised the rest of us with a statement that she will obviously never live down.  Mind you, this is an extremely bright girl who was in advanced classes, many clubs and volunteer programs, etc.  Because I don’t remember who asked which questions, I will simply refer to the unfortunate friend as “Her” and the questioner(s) as “Us.”  We were discussing the holidays and turkeys.  This friend and her sister gave names to all of their family brought in for the holidays.  Of course I found this a bit disturbing considering my stance on eating turkeys or any other animal and the fact that she was naming something she would soon be eating.  But we quickly noticed that every name she used was a male name.

Us: How do you know they’re all boys?

Her: All turkeys are boys.  Turkeys are male chickens.

Us: What do you call a rooster?

Yes, we did break the news to her.  And had some really good laughs.
And now, while cleaning the rest of the house and watching the news to find out what kind of damage the storm last night wrought on the city, I can’t help but think about turkeys and chickens and turkens.  Or would they be chikeys?

I can’t really blame her, though.  Until I studied abroad in London and visited the English countryside, I didn’t know that sheep were actually born with tails.  But I blame that on a messed up agricultural system in this country.
While searching for a picture of a tailed sheep for you all, I found this amazing blog post http://for-the-pits.blogspot.com/2011/01/sheep-tails-and-magical-hybrids.html

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring

It’s rained massively the past few days.  Today is bright and sunny and the grass has a nice green tinge to it mostly yellowish brown.  We’ve been dry and hot for a long time.

The rain came with immense bolts of lightning producing thunder which shook our house and had my mom, the two dogs, and I in the same bed Wednesday night.  My dad was out-of-town, Bill had on his Thundershirt, and with the greatest crash of lightning all four of us nearly hit the ceiling and the power went out.  It was only out for a few minutes, but when it came back on, things were on that hadn’t been on before.  My bedroom fan and light turned on, my parents’ bedroom light turned on, and all the next day my mom and I found different lights and appliances around the house that were on but had not been the day before.  Beware of the Lightening Ghost!  We all survived, but my pea and bean plants look even worse than before.  And it poured again the next night.  I am grateful for the rain, but perhaps less dense and spread out over a period of time?

You could say I am late or you could say I am early in passing this message along, but as a daily reader of The Daily Dog Blog, I particularly enjoyed the idea of passing this post along–http://www.thedailydogblog.com/dogs/be-the-change-for-animals.  I do believe there is a furry soul mate for everyone– actually soul mates.  My family has had 5 dogs so far and I cannot image life without any of them.  I could share the adoption story for each and every one of them, but that would be boring for you and only one of the stories is more interesting than the rest.

My parents started visiting shelters and rescues a few weeks after Becki passed away.  She was our 15-year-old German shepherd mix, the smartest dog we’d ever had, and the heartiest dog we’d ever had.  It is hard even for me to describe just what was so special about Becki.  I would have to say she loved us unconditionally, protected us, and was all but human.  To say losing Becki was a blow to our household is a gross understatement.  Nothing was right anymore and our sunshine was a little bit dimmer.

As much as Becki didn’t get along with other dogs (aside from the golden retriever we had at the time we adopted Becki) we all had a feeling that she’d want us to save another dog and to put our energy into loving another animal the way we loved her.  At the same time we were grieving our loss, our family friends got two miniature dachshund puppies.  Becki had been the smallest dog we’d ever had weighing 35 pounds at her lightest with us, endless layers of fur, and definitely beyond lap dog in size.  Dachshunds were small dogs.  But my parents were smitten as they visited their friends and played with the oddly proportioned puppies.

Then they went to Kay’s Animal Shelter.  I’m not fond of Kay’s because they do euthanize animals and it’s not the best looking place.  We don’t donate to kill-shelters.  I’m not sure what prompted my parents to stop there that day other than they had stopped everywhere else.

And there they were, two skinny little miniature dachshunds huddled up together in a cold, damp cage.  The shelter was busy and people were pointing at dogs, “Ooo, I want that one.”  “I want the little one!”  I wasn’t there, but this is what my parents told me when they called me asking me how much money was in my checking account.  The shelter only took cash and they didn’t have enough.  Empty my account, they said, and they’d pay me back.

While I’d like to say we adopted Bill and Bailey because they were brother and sister who had never been apart with people at the ready to take one or the other, something we couldn’t fathom, I know it had more to do with the fact that my parents had weenie fever.  And doggone it they were cute.  The desire to keep them together just sealed the deal.

Bill originally came as “Skill,” but what kind of name is that?  And if you ever met Bill, you’d wonder who had any business calling him Skill anyhow.  So we went to work brainstorming names that sounded similar but were real names.  Bill fit the…well…bill!  And while we’d probably never name a dog Bailey on our own (it’s so over used, and how many Jewish Baileys do you know?) there was no good reason to rename a named dog.

Bill humped Bailey the whole way home.  That’s a habit he has yet to lose, even after a good neutering.  And even though my parents have paid me back the $300 I lent them, I still pull the, “I paid for them, so they’re really my dogs” on them when I feel the need.
But the moral of the story?  Do no adopt a dachshund (doxie, weenie, hotdog, monster, beastie…) unless you have a large savings account, are an experienced dog owner, and have a buttload of patience!  And research the breed first.  They’re cute, but they’re stinkers.

We say time and again that we’re never adopting dachshunds again, that our next dog will be a big dog, but gawsh we love those turds!

My Fair Grandmother

I spent Sunday night with a few friends having a picnic in our lawn seats at an Idina Menzel concert.  She was fabulous and quite funny, especially for being on the sick side (or so she said).

The concert opened with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra playing under the direction of Marvin Hamlisch.  He is hysterical.  And brilliant.  They indulged the audience in an instrumental medley of music from My Fair Lady, which happens to be one of my favorite musicals.

Growing up, my family would visit my paternal grandparents several times a year.  My grandmother was bedridden for as long as I could remember, so we would always enter their apartment and go straight to the bedroom to say hello.  After rocking me back and forth like a “sack-a-potatoes,” we would all chat for a while before dinner.  Inevitably there would be a movie playing on the TV, an old classic either by video tape, AMC or TCM.  My grandmother lived in the movies.  One particular visit she noticed I was fixed on the TV during My Fair Lady, the movie featuring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.  She bought me the VHS (yes, it was that long ago) as a gift, I forget what the occasion was, and all I could think was, why did she think I wanted this?  Apparently I looked more entranced in the movie than I actually was.

I didn’t sit down and watch the movie in its entirety until many years later when DVDs were the norm.  I had to write a paper and make a speech on the “Person of the Century” for World History class and that person could not be born in the USA.  When my mother suggested Audrey Hepburn, I embarrassingly asked, “What did she ever do?”  Yea, I was clueless.  But I researched her life and work and have ever since admired the woman as one of the world’s greatest souls.  I made it a point to see all of her movies (I have not yet gotten there, sad I know).  So, I sat down and I watched My Fair Lady.

What took me so long?  It was happy-go-lucky old-school musical goodness wrapped in an Audrey Hepburn packaged with somebody else’s voice because she could not sing worth a dime.  Wonderful!  I’d fallen in love.  And then I bought it on DVD because VHS had become all but obsolete.

Whenever I watch the movie or hear the music, I am transported into the classic musical world, the same place where old movies live from the day when movies were meant for simple entertainment.  There I also find memories of my grandmother and the warm and fuzzy grows because not only was she a loving and supportive grandmother, but she was a dreamer, a lover, and a creative.

No offense to Ms. Menzel, but Rent, Wicked, and Next to Normal will never beat out My Fair Lady.  (And my deepest apologies to Julie Andrews who is also amazing and would have great in the part, too!)

So, go watch the movie and sing along.  And then eat some fresh-baked cookies because your grandmother would have wanted you to.

How to Raise Money?

Lately I’ve been flooded with snail mail from nonprofits begging for money.  This is nothing new, but it seems that these organizations have a never-ending supply of paper and just keep asking for more donations.  A couple of bigger organizations sent me multiple notices that my membership was up and I needed to send a renewal donation even after I had done so.  Are they trying to trick me into doubling up on payments?

Part of this is my own fault.  My name is out there as an activist, subscriber to certain newsletters and magazines, and volunteer.  No matter how hard anybody tries, your name will get out on lists for people to contact you.  I’m pretty sure I’ve never given money to or contacted the North Shore Animal League, but I’ve gotten multiple requests for donations from them.  I hadn’t donated to the Hooved Animal Humane Society in over a decade and recently received a newsletter from them.  I won’t list everyone.

It always bothered me that these groups would waste paper on request after request.  Why use snail mail anyhow when you can save money and resources by using email?  When I contacted one group a representative gave me the truthful answer–more people respond to the paper than the electronic stuff.  I suppose it is easier to delete an email without reading it than it is to ignore the snail mail without opening it.  If somebody bothered to send you something in an envelope, why not peak inside?  It gets me every time when I get mail from organizations that I am a member of such as the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States because I never know if it is a petition for money or a newsletter.  More often than not it is a petition.

The worst offense is what has been clogging the mailbox of late.  The so-called “free gifts” to get you to donate more money.  It’s usually personalized return address labels.  I have more address labels than I can use in several years time and I didn’t pay for a single one of them.  I can’t donate to all of these organizations and I don’t give money most of the time because I can’t afford it.  Going through unemployment, having a low paying job, and worrying about everyday needs in today’s economy leaves average people like myself worrying about our bank accounts and unable to worry about our favorite charities.  I feel guilty, but I don’t waste the labels because I don’t like wasting resources.  Plus, I might as well put the name of the organization out there as a good deed, right?  This kind of gift always bothered me, though.  Nonprofit organizations and charities should be using their funding for their causes, not for giving free gifts.  I would much rather those few cents or dollars used for those labels and postage be used to help a homeless animal, wildlife, etc than to give me a gift I don’t need.

And guess what?  This year I’ve gotten multiple gifts from some organizations.  Either their computers have gone wacky, or they are desperate and think wasting money on sending more address labels will do the trick.  I’m sorry, but it just gets me more frustrated with this fundraising system than it does make me want to donate.  Why would I want to give money if it will just go to making labels and gifts for potential donors?

I’m not just writing a blog post about this to rant about address labels.  One of my favorite organizations, the Humane Society of the United States, has been hounding on me for more donations all year-long.  I sadly recycle each mailing (got to be green!) and wish I could give more, but I can’t.  Then I received a big mailing with “Free Gift” written on the outside.  Ugh.  What was on the inside?  No, not address labels.  A manicure set.  Yes, you read that correctly.  They sent me a set with nail files, nail scissors, clippers, and tweezers.  Instead of using that money to better the lives of animals, this well reputed organizations is spending money on manicure sets.  Don’t worry, I’m planning a well written complaint e-mail in my head which will go out within the week.  I have to make sure it is civil and steam-less, though. There is no sense in sending an e-mail if you can’t use your senses.

But seriously, a manicure set?  That is supposed to make me want to give money?  Why should I support the gifting of free manicure sets?  I want to support the saving of animals and the promotion of better legislation!  These are the moments when I wish I could go on public television and rant to the world about how ridiculous America has become.  This is assuming other countries have not succumbed to free manicure sets and address labels.  Please world, be better than that.

Happy Birthday, USA

It’s the Fourth of July.  I’m sitting on the couch watching the Cubs lead the Braves in the 6th.  Bailey is laying on a pile of blankets next to me with her face buried.  Bill is curled up inside one of the sock monkey beds we have for them over by the fireplace.  My mom is reading the paper and my dad is working on his computer from the kitchen table.  You really wouldn’t know it was a holiday.

This is the first year in as long as I can remember that I don’t have plans with my friends to watch fireworks, or do anything tonight for that matter.  I really don’t mind, either.  I haven’t felt too well the past week and just haven’t been myself so a day off to relax and enjoy the air conditioning is kind of nice.  When you spend a significant amount of time outside everyday with little kids and the heat just keeps rising, everyone feels a little ill.  Today it rose above 100 degrees.

Despite the heat, the dogs still wanted to go out and sunbathe.  They love being roast weenies, but we do not enjoy sweating buckets to watch over them and then smell their hot fur when they come inside.  Something about a hot dog is just extra stinky.  Today we put our paws down and said NO to roasting and toasting in the sun.  Instead we gave them “pupsicles.”

Bill just heard the first firecracker.  He came to share the blankets with Bailey and me.  Bill is a wimp, to put it lightly.  I’ve blogged about it before and I could blog about it for hours.  I’ll put his Thunder Shirt on in a few minutes.  As my mom said, that will take about 1/8 of the edge off for him.  At least it’s something.

We’ll be able to see the fireworks from our deck.  It’s nice for us humans and bad for the dogs.  Once that is over, I will go upstairs and wash up for bed because tomorrow is another busy day of camp.

Happy Fourth of July, and G-d Bless America.

(and Go Cubs!)