Saturday, September 19, 2009

Toads in the Holes

The recent rains have brought out not only rain lilies and little green sprouts of grass but also toads.

The first evening after the heavy rains, the amphibians started leaping up out of the deep, drought-hewn cracks in the trail, especially along 45th Street. They must have felt the vibrations of my walking because they'd hurl themselves out of the holes and nearly land on my feet, causing me to gasp and flail my arms like a girl. Muzzy and Roma paid no mind to either the toads or to my distress. Question: Have the toads been lurking in those holes all summer? Freaky.

Tonight was the first time I was able to catch one of our toad friends in action.

Once the flash on the camera started popping, Mr. Toad hit the road.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Dog Parkist: What Exactly Is the Problem?

Q: I just love the Dog Park! In fact, I can't get enough of it. I'm there morning and night. And even when my dogs are tired of walking, I won't let them go home. I make them lie around on the grass while I chat with other people and pet other dogs. Is there something wrong with me? Is my life somehow incomplete? Is there something I can give my dogs that will make them share my passion for Dog Park?
—All Dog Park, All the Time

A: My dear ADPATT, the Dog Parkist fails to see your problem. In fact, she suspects that you are trying to manipulate her into telling you to get a life. In truth, she cannot but think that you have got a pretty sweet deal this time around on the karmic wheel, and you know it. Clearly, you have the financial means to spend your days bumming around an unused urban alottment, and you have the cheerful demeanor and mild temperament that makes you feel attracted to both people and dogs. Lucky you! If they reciprocate your interest and attention, then you have pretty much got life making you lemonade. So, please, don't whine.

If you are truly worried about your dogs, you might consider getting more and then taking them to Dog Park in shifts. Or, better yet, offer to escort your neighbors' dogs to Park. There are several dogs in the Dog Parkist's neighborhood who languish for lack of daily exercise and stimulation. Imagine the difference you could make in their lives.

If, however, all you want is validation, then by all means spend each and every day at Dog Park. Pack a lunch (but please do eat it in your car) and bring a book. But the DP-ist must insist that you not overtax your animals. Leave them at home or take them to doggie day care rather than cause them suffer from overexposure to heat, dust, and your vibrant personality. Have a lovely day!

Q: Why does the sign say "No Barking Under Trees"? Shouldn't it say "No Parking Under Trees"? —Noticed Your Sign
A: Friend, please avail yourself of the services of an opthamologist near you. Please do not drive yourself or operate heavy machinery on the way. Good luck!

Q: Why does the sign say "No Parking Under Trees"? What happens if we park under the trees?—Idle Questioner
A: Dear I.Q.—how inaptly you are named—, the oceans will boil, the human race will be cast asunder, and life on this planet will end. In addition, the weight of your vehicle will crush the tiny rootlets that conduct water and sustenance to the tree, thereby killing it. Parking = death. The Dog Parkist can't make the equation any simpler. Thanks for writing!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ready for His Close-Up

Birthdays gifts are always a dilemma for me. I always fret about finding the right gift—the thing that expresses my affection and also reflects the birthday gal or guy's personality, style, and taste. It's been a tricky thing this year, too, because finances. It occurred to me, though, that most of my friends are dog lovers and that they might appreciate drawings of their favorite animals. I love to draw, and, as you all know, I love dogs, so doggie portraits seemed a perfect way to say "Happy Birthday." 

So now when  a birthday comes up, I break out my charcoals and set to work. Above is a photo of Tony. It's a good one. Tony looks so regal and content. Below is my interpretation. 

I loved working on this rendering. Of course, it does not do Tony justice. Tony's black fur, with its reflections and ridges of old-man whiteness, was a real challenge, as were his eyes. As you can see in the photo, his right eye isn't even visible, but it seemed weird, even disfiguring, not to have one in the portrait. And it took me a long time to get the left eye to express Tony's insouciant stare. Do all artists fall in love with their subjects, I wonder? I was smitten with Tony after staring at his photo for more than an hour. Who's the good boy?


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Dog Parkist: Workplace Dimwit

Q: I am wondering if you could give me some advice. There's a woman at work who drives me insane. She is bossy, dim-witted, and overbearing. I have tried being rude, I have tried being nice, I have tried ignoring her—all to no avail. I am becoming obsessed with how much I dislike her, so much so that I hear her shrill voice in every night in my dreams. I haven't walked my dogs in weeks. I just sit at home and stew. Please, help! 
—Losing All Perspective

A: My dear LAP, the Dog Parkist knows exactly how you feel. It's bad enough that you feel trapped at the work place, stuck as you are in a small, badly lit cell and forced to toil among unequals. To feel as though one of those unequals is ruining your day is a constant irritation that is bound to get you down. Now, you are an intelligent person, LAP, and, intellectually, you know that Bossy Dimwit constantly interrupts the boss at meetings, natters on about the quality of her coffee, and refers regularly to her previous employment at prestigious university press simply because she feels inadequate. Similarly, you know that she can't help that incessant coughing caused by allergies, and yet every percussive little spasm of her throat travels down the hallway and spikes you in the back of the head like a bully throwing dodge balls. Of course you feel resentful and cranky.  And of course these feelings spill over into the rest of your day, including your time with your dogs. You know better, but you can't help it. Who, besides Barack Obama, could? 

Here's what I suggest, my dear. Take a deep breath and think of your dogs. Dogs are very clear about when they do not care for an individual, be it human or dog or cat or squirrel or postman. They  do not necessarily react in a vicious or even overt way. They may bare their teeth, but at the first opportunity they turn away and blithely move on to investigate the next smelly thing. 

Do you do yoga? I suspect that you do. Keep in mind that the downward dog position is not just about looking like a stretching dog and certainly not about acting submissive; it's about experiencing the Zen of dogness.  Think of Bossy Dimwit as a passing annoyance, like the meter reader or that annoying cat that sits on the fence and smirks or a cloud on a sunny day. Eventually she will pass, like a kidney stone or a car commercial. Just bark and move on, my dear. Or, if you are in a meeting, just think to yourself, "La, la, la, I'm such a lovely dog with a long, flowing tail and beautiful, brown eyes. Oh, there is that annoying woman again. Hey, I'd really like to chew on the boss' shoes. La, la, la." Remember, there are so many more interesting things to chase and sniff and pee on than your co-worker. Thanks for writing!

Dear Readers: As you can see, the Dog Parkist's expertise extends to the wonderful and wacky world of the workplace. Don't be shy, my dears! Write to her about work-a-day woes! You won't regret! Ta!

Monday, September 14, 2009

"Don't Ask Me Why . . .

. . . There's no sun up in the sky—stormy weather."
Sarah (Tony) didn't think her phone camera could do justice to the magnificent cloud formation over Dog Park last night, but see for yourselves. We stood for half an hour with her friend Eric and the  dogs, watching the clouds shift and shimmy in the evening sky. This view is of the north. To the east, there were rainbows. Pretty amazing. Thanks, Sarah, and happy birthday (a day early)!