Dust.

When you dust off a blog that’s been fairly unused for a while, you tend to kick up some dust.  It’s just like cleaning out your mom’s attic, or going through those boxes that you never unpacked the last time you moved 5 years ago, or cleaning out your car because you’re getting a new one.  You find bits and pieces of memories scattered about that mean something to you that you had forgotten you had, or thought lost, or hadn’t realized would bring up memories of happy times.

In sprucing up and dusting off this blog both before and during my adventures in Brazil, I’ve come across quite a few things which made me smile and laugh, experiences I’d forgotten I’d written about, pictures I’d taken.  I wanted to share one of them with you all, since it’s about a thing I’m finding I sometimes miss quite a bit here:

Jessie vs. Snowpocalypse, The (Silent) Movie.
Edited, filmed and produced by me. Shot on location in Portland in front of my house during Snowpocalypse, 2008.

CatDogManRat

Hello my little intertribe!

Intertribe (n): the internet tribe of lovely talented fabulous people who read my blog.

I have a Very Special Treat for you today!  It’s not often that I have a guest blog post.  Actually, it’s pretty much never.  At least up until now it’s been never.  Because, you know, everyone I know already has their own blog.  You have one, don’t you?  You’d tell me about it if you did, right?  Because I want to read it!  I’m always looking for new fun blogs to read.  Hook a girl up!

Where was I?  Ah, yes.  MY VERY FIRST GUEST BLOG POST!

Now I wouldn’t have just *anyone* write  a blog post on my own very dear to my heart blog.  Oh no.  But this story was hilarious, and has a great message, and is TRUE.  It happened in my house while I was away doing work-type things in far off places, but I wish I could’ve been here to see it all go down.  So without further (verging on excessive, I know) ado, let me introduce my very own roomie, Louie, and his recounting  of this fine tale of inter-species partnership.

Author’s Note: YES I use capitol letters in some funny ways. Just imagine I am from the 1820′s.

A Man, a Cat, a Dog, a Rat.
Adventures in organic pest control.

“Lo in some cave long ago, there died a caveman who did not listen when his dog suggested they were all about to be eaten by a Giant Bear. We are NOT his descendants.”

It was Jessie that noticed first. She seemed sure that there was something interesting behind the china cabinet.

“hey!” says Jessie, “over here over here! something is interesting!” she said in fluent Dog. However, interesting for Jessie might be scraps – once stuffing – of some dearly departed stuffed toy. Plush Guts.

I glanced at the cats, especially Her Mu-Ness, Puffy the Slayer, the Murderous Muffin, Scourge and God of mice and voles and terror even unto the very squirrels.

Nothing. She said “Wuh, huh? Oh no, nothing about, not for days, the dog is daft.” Amazing what a cat can say with one open eye and a body loaded with cat comfort.

I saw nothing, the cats ears were not swiveling and the toy focused canine returned to her investigation of the underside of the china hutch.

“hey hey hey!” her eyes and face say.
Oh be still jessie be still.
*wiggle wiggle wag wag* “but but come see come see come see!”
hush, puppy.
*Yip* “I am Not Kidding”
oh alright, I’ll come look, remove the Object of Attention, peace will reign.

Except it wasn’t plush guts.

It was not a big rat as rats go, ordinary, not even old enough to have developed evil genius cunning. But a pretty professional rat just the same.

>Insert Classical symphonic scores here, Peter and the Wolf meets Night on Bald Mountain<

To get a better look I slid the china hutch a bit. The rat flipped me off and shot as though from rat-gun across the floor wall edge.

Lets clear the air a minute. I enjoyed The Secret of NIMH, Flushed Away and Ratatouille. But real rats (not the caged kind) are not cute, not funny, not “just trying to live their lives”. They do not live happily in Nature. They are devoted to eating what we have, living in our houses crapping and peeing on every thing they walk on or by. They have evolved to Live Off of Us. The bring us plague, Leptospira, Rat-Bite fever , Salmonellosis and several forms of Typhus. Fleas and intestinal parasites come with them as well. A pair of rats can produce enough offspring to fill your house in a mighty small spot of time. They are dangerous to your pets, your home and your self.  They will bite your baby and kill your chickens. Rat traps and rat poison are dangerous to use, and they have not yet come up with that better rat trap we all hear about.

>Sports announcer over the dramatic soundtrack<

“And Jessie moves to Intercept, she’s on it, No, Rat has backflipped to duck under the curtain edge. The Murderous Mu has exploded onto the field, and is in hot pursuit!”

>crowds cheer<

“Rat to the corner, pressure is on, Man to the left, Dog to the right, looks like.. NO! Rat has evaded behind the couch but that is not stopping our Miss Muffin Mu! Man and Dog are flanking the couch, Rat runs for it and slips past Jessie, narrowly missing the snap of teeth. Pressing from Jessie, troublesome shelving. Jessie looks like she wants the score for herself!”

“Yeah but Rat’s extreme maneuverability lets him scoot back to the couch, scuffling, fierce squeaking tell us that he has run into … The Power-Puff! But this Rat is not down! Spectacular Acro-Ratics – who thought that rats could fly! Rat Looks Rat-tled though, signs of intimate contact with the claws of Mu. Rat has found every spot the cats paw and dogs maw cannot reach.”

“The Man has gotten a Stick! The Man has gotten a Stick! Comments Jim?”

“Well the Man is clearly the underdog here, no offense Jessie, and a stick is a traditional tactic. He will probably use it to displace the opposition from those claw and snout proof positions. My guess is it may also be useful in the Terminal Moment. Rat is making a move! A bold attempt! Feint to the curtains, a mad dash for the china hutch! But man has beaten Rat to the Hutch and slides it out far enough for the Power team of Mu and Jessie to get right inside! the crowd (all 2 of them) is Going wild!”

“Jim, this classic grudge match was first fought about 5,000 BC. That was about the time Cats joined up. Till then, man and dog played against the rodent team without this specialized player.”

“Well times may have changed Bob, but these are tried and true plays, first developed in the early days of the game and OH Boy the break seems to be over! Looks like rat is fully cornered… MU moving up Jessie is on guard. Man and stick are closing in and..

Thats it! the 967 millionth Rat bowl is over!

>crowd of two cheering<

Our lives are covered with technology, much of it unseen and subtle, some of it overt and obvious. In spite of the recent invention of Laser mosquito killers, I feel we are far from replacing the exquisite intricacy and infinite flexibility of one of our oldest technologies, other species. In this advanced world, we would do well to remember that most of our problems are still best addressed with what millions and billions of years of biological adaptation can give us.

The three of us bonded during this adventure. When all was over and the offensive carcass removed, Miss Muffin Mu, Jessie the Bold and Your Author had the most satisfying mutual pet-rub-snuggle session. Man and Dog and Cat all in a happy pile of purring and wiggling and self congRATulations.

We humans did not get here alone. We had help. Man and Dog and Cat evolved together. In mutual support, we have come to a future where dog and cat can largely retire and enjoy being pets.
I am fine with that, they have paid their dues. Again.

My dog is too sexy for Wil Wheaton

There I was, just standing there, minding my own business.

Well ok.  There I was, just standing there wondering if I should have someone take my picture with Wil Wheaton.  I was leaning towards no, because I’m just not the fangrrl type most of the time.  I don’t take pics, I don’t ask for autographs, unless it’s like a book signing or something.  I figure it’s kind of an invasion of privacy, and while it’s one that celebrities are accustomed to and expect, I don’t like to add to it.

But then, the coolest thing happened.  Because my dog is so freakin adorable.

Wil turns to me and says “Hey, you mind if I pet your dog?”

“Sure!!” (I mean, what else was I gonna say?  “Sorry, Wil, my cute adorable friendly dog does not want to be petted by some crazy celebrity writer guy.  Move along now, move along.”)

Poor pup though…she was already a little spooked by the Umbrella Guy statue.  She eyeballed him but good.  So when I got her to sit, and Wil started talking to her and telling her what a good girl she was, and patted her little head, she just ignored him.

Mostly.

Cuz my dog’s too sexy for Wil Wheaton…so sexy oh yeah!

Thanks again Wil for coming out and saying hi to all your adoring geeky fans!  Portland loves you.

Wil who?  ::yawn::

Wil who? ::yawn:: (thanks to @bmw for snapping this pic!)

A Tale of Three Bamboo

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

For some reason, even though that first line from A Tale of Two Cities resonated in my young brain so loudly, I just couldn’t get into that book.  Never did.  I’m sure I read that first page at least a dozen times.  Maybe I should try again.  But this, dear interwebs, is A Tale of Three Bamboo.  Or is it Bamboos?  Whatever.  Our story opens…

The Triff...er I mean Bamboo

The Triff...er I mean Bamboo

Despite numerous warnings that I was insane to even contemplate the idea, I planted bamboo in my backyard.  And not even the relatively safe kind, i.e. ‘clumping’ bamboo.  No, I planted the ravenous, crawl into your house in the middle of the night and kill your pets kind of bamboo.  The Day of the Triffids bamboo: timber bamboo.

(Side note: OMG!  The BBC is going to film a new version of Day of the Triffids! W00t, I say.  Wewt even.)

But on the other hand, this is the same kind of bamboo they make floors out of.  And utensils.  Gorgeous ones!  Or at least that was the counter argument in my head when I was rationalizing this step in my Eternal Project.  Seriously, everyone I talked to thought I was insane:

“And then, I’m gonna plant some bamboo along the fence here…”

“You’re going to plant bamboo?”

“Yeah.  The big kind.  Timber.  Black, and Tiger.  They’re so pretty!”

“You’re going to…plant.  Bamboo.  Willingly.  In your backyard.”

“Um, yeah.  Pretty much.”

“Do you KNOW what bamboo does??”

“Yes…I’ve taken precautionary steps.”

“Yes but…it’s crazy!  It gets into EVERYTHING!”

“Yes, I know.  Like I said, I’ve taken steps.  Two sides are going to be surrounded in concrete, for starters!”

“Well…I still think you’re crazy for even considering it.”

“Thanks.  Your concern is duly noted.”

That’s how most of my conversations went.

But I did it.  It’s done.  And so far, all my pets are still here.  Or, well, they didn’t die of bamboo related injuries, at least.

I can’t say the same for my poor bamboo though.

I did my research, you know.  Like I said, I surrounded the planting area on two sides with concrete.  The other two sides, a foot and a half deep bamboo barrier, especially made for the task.  I planted them in little mounds, so the runners would be easy to spot.  I fertilized only the top six inches of soil or so, so the runners would stay close to the surface and be easy to maintain.  I check all the runners twice a year, and trim the ones that are heading in the wrong directions.

I did not, however, protect them from my dog.

I started with 3 bamboo.  Two black and one tiger, just like I wanted.  (Interestingly, both are classified as  Phyllostachys nigra.) Jessie and I drove waaaay out to Hillsboro to the Bamboo Garden Nursery (Yes, Jessie and I did meet Oggie the Bamboo Dog).  We were driven around the woods in a golf cart by the nice and helpful bamboo guy, who helped us pick out two black bamboo and one tiger bamboo. We carefully drove them home, planted according to directions, watered and carefully watched over my new charges.  Well, watched them except while I was at work.

I guess Jessie was still in her destructive stage, because it wasn’t long before one of the black bamboo was ripped out of the ground.  And replanted.  And ripped out again.  And replanted again.  And ripped out AGAIN.  And replanted, but by this time, it was becoming clear that the poor thing had met its match.  Eventually I had to admit that the plant was dead, and had now become a doggy chew toy.

Now, I have a fence around my bamboo.  They’re probably safe at this point, but I’m not taking any chances.  I have since replaced the unfortunate black bamboo with some free golden timber bamboo that I found on craigslist.  One of my favorite things to do around this time is to look for all the new little bamboo shoots popping out of the ground, letting me know that my mission of creating a privacy screen between me and my neighbors is coming to fruition.

So far….nothing.

Sigh.

Grow faster, bamboo!  FASTER!

Apparently my endless reserves of patience do not extend to plants.  Or actually, weather.  Because you know once the weather warms up for a couple weeks, those bamboo are going to be all crazy in yo face growing fiends.  Unkillable.  Unstoppable.  With poisonous whip-like stingers.

Hmm…perhaps I should get a really big machete.  You know, just in case.  Plus, it gives me an excuse to go to Andy and Bax!

Stay tuned for the next chapter, wherein my bamboo start growing at a rate of 2.65 feet a minute for the entire summer, and I next complain that they’re growing too damn fast.  Yay, gardening!

Duh, what’s up Doc? Duh…

I had a pet rabbit once.  Rabbits are stupid.  Yes, they’re cute and fuzzy and soft, but underneath the surface…they’re cute and fuzzy and soft.  In other words, there’s just not a lot of synapses firing in there.  I dunno, maybe I had a particularly stupid bunny, but from what I’ve seen and heard, it was pretty average.  And by average, I mean stupid.

Case in point:

NOM NOM NOM.  From my new most favorite website, http://www.epicpicsofwin.com

NOM NOM NOM. From my new most favorite website, http://www.epicpicsofwin.com

This of course does not include bugs bunny, who is very very smart, not to mention delightfully snarky.  But then, he’s a cartoon character, not a real bunny rabbit.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, is my dog.  My dog is a FREAKIN GENIUS.  People ask me if my dog is smart.  In answer, I tell them she does my taxes.  They laugh, because they think I’m kidding.

I’m not.

Ok yes I am.  But if she could grasp concepts like the US Tax Code and the use of a computer, I’d totally let her do my taxes.  I’d probably get more money back.  I could start up my very own tax consulting business, and I’d give her her very own office complete with buckets of liver and salmon treats and her very own ball boy to toss her tennis ball three times a day for an hour.  And a wading pool.  And sticks to chew on, that won’t get all splintery.  She’d do people’s taxes, and then play with her tennis ball, splash in the water, and I’d be rich, because duh, my dog can do people’s taxes.  And people would pay me to have her do their taxes, and they’d tell their friends that a dog does their taxes, and they saved OODLES of money, and how cool is that?

Don’t believe me?  Well, forget about the fact that she knew more commands at the age of 6 months than any stupid rabbit.  Forget that she is probably the most awesome dog on the planet.  You want unbiased proof, well here you go.

I took her to the Doggie Dash on the waterfront when she was 15 months old.  They had a frisbee competition that day, and any dog could register to compete.  I knew she was a fetching fool with balls, but she’d never even SEEN a frisbee before.  I’d read that it’s not a good idea for young pups to jump too much, and frisbee is just begging for jumps, so I hadn’t exposed her to that yet.  This would be her first time.  15 months old.  Never seen a frisbee.  And competing against probably 20 other dogs, many of whom have seen a frisbee, and knew what to do with it.

My dog came in FIFTH.  FIFTH!!!!!

So there.

Check out my post on OurPDX.net about the 22nd!!! annual Oregon Humane Society Doggie Dash, coming up on May 9th.  Jessie will be there, but she’s pretty good about not being all elitist and rubbing your face in the fact that she’s a genius.  Me, I have a bit more trouble with it.  Proud mother, I guess.  But…

<whisper whisper growl grunt bark bark grunt>

Um.  Jessie says I should quit being a crazy proud doggie mom.  So, sorry.

House cleaning

This is a post about cleaning house. Not like, you know, vaccuuming and mopping and dusting, although that is where it starts; more like cleaning out all the random thoughts and stuff lingering around in my head that I’ve been wanting to share. Stuff that just didn’t warrant a blog post of its own.

One of the things that sold me on my house was the wood floors throughout nearly the entire thing. They’re so easy to clean, right? I mean, with carpet, you never know what can be lurking beneath the surface of those little fibers. They remind me of cilia. Or, you know, the ocean floor. And we all know what sort of beasties can hide under there, right?

Ok ok maybe I’m exaggerating a touch. I don’t hate carpet. I quite like it in fact. But I digress. (I do that a lot, though. Oh look shiny! Anyway…)

So when I bought my house, I also bought myself a fancy shmancy vaccuum cleaner that claimed to do wonders with wood floors. I used it religiously for the first couple years. And then I quit. I don’t know what it is, but one time I just didn’t want to drag the whole thing out, deal with the cord leapfrog game, yell at my dog for attacking it, which 1. she’d been getting much better at, having figured out how to attack the switch that kept the bagless dust collector compartment attached and flipping it – I’m telling you, my dog’s a Freaking Genius, and 2. loudly, since of course the vaccuum is running, etc. I just whipped out the broom and swept. And discovered something interesting: sweeping is kinda cathartic. I find that my floors feel cleaner, since I know the broom didn’t spray crap out the back vent. I also start thinking about stuff while I sweep. Anyway. I swept my floors tonight, and starting thinking of all those little things I’d like to mention, such as…

What? It’s a new year?

Whoa, where did the year go? It’s been a year of lessons for me, emotional ones. A lot of growth, which is never bad. I may go into more detail at a later date on that. And I found out I’m going to get my very own nephew, complete with a Baby Decoder Ring and Binky accessories! How awesome is that? I’ve made some career decisions that may or may not have been good for me, but that remains to be seen. My dog somehow found herself on the news, Live @ 7 with Steph Stricklen, but then she is pretty damn cute. I bought an iPhone, restarted my blog after a 2 year or so hiatus, and met oodles and gobs of cool Portland tech and blog folk. Not a bad year. I wouldn’t put it on the top 10, but certainly the top….err..30. Ok ok 20.

Happy birthday to my adorable little pup!

im000103

Ahhh!! The cuteness! It burns!

Yes, the jessinator turned 3 this week. Happy birthday to this fuzzy little creature, my little life saver / loyal companion / partner in crime / exercise slave driver. You are one in a million! For her birthday, I took her to our doggy daycare, Dogs Dig It, and she got to pick out a free toy of her very own when I came to get her. She picked out a duck, which she’s been carrying around ever since. Well, as much as she carries around toys. It’s not quite like a ball, I guess. But she did carry it all the way out to the car before she forgot about it, and carried it all the way into the house before depositing it on the kitchen floor. It’s love, I tell you.

I had my mad skillz affirmededed

After much convincing from @djtv, (ok really not *that* much convincing), I signed up for a class on DJ Mixing at SPUN Academy. Taught by the one and only @MrBallistic, that veritable icon of old skool DJness and a fellow Twitterer along with @djtv, the class had us on turntables the first night. At first I was all, you know, thumbs. Or well, jerky. As in not smooth, and clueless. But by the end of the class I was mixin up some killer tunes and had the pitch control nearly figured out. Mad skillz, I tell ya. Mad. Skillz. Crap. Now I need a catchy DJ name. And Nita, if you read this, for the last time NO. Suggest that one more time and no mic for you!

And finally…

I enter this new year full of hope for the future, fearful of being disappointed once again, but determined to not let that stop me now, as ever. I leave you with a few words from those lovely English boys, the Chameleons, ever the thoughtful blokes:

It’s just coincidence / Well you can talk that way / But I have to say / I don’t believe in it / And with the chill of chance / I decided to dance / The days away… / But I wasn’t worried at all / Dreams are what you live for /

Here’s hoping dreams come true in spades this year.

1000 Acres, or Hiking With My Were-Dog

Dogs are fun.  Smart dogs though, can be challenging.  I sometimes wish I had one of those sleep all day, lounge around the house, climb in my lap kind of dogs, but alas, that is not the dog I requested.  I requested a smart dog who loves to fetch, and by golly that is EXACTLY WHAT I GOT.  Except apparently I failed to analyze the implications of such a request, and now have a dog which I must exercise daily, or else…well, suffice to say even my Jewish imperviousness to guilt is no match for the infliction of guilt my dog can bring to bear.

So picture this:  Dog that needs exercise + Snowpocalypse 2008.  BAD.  Oh bad bad bad.   I can only brave the snow and ice of my neighborhood so much, right?

So!  I came home last night, and got the guilty puppy dog eyes, and promised – nay, swore – that I would take her out today. 

So this morning  afternoon I got out of bed, tossed dog and myself into car, and headed to the 1000 Acre Wood

And found out that my dog turns into some funky were-dog pelican/chickadee hybrid creature when she encounters puddles, like so:

1. Dog runs at (usually large) puddle

2. Dog hits puddle at full velocity

3. Dog turns into a pelican, opens mouth and skims surface of puddle scooping up a billfull of water

4. Dog stops, ruffles feathers fur, preens and looks quite smug.

I submit the following evidence:

img_03491

The pelican swoops

Jessie in flight

Jessie in flight. Notice puddle in the rear...

In case you weren’t aware, the Sandy River Delta, otherwise knows as 1000 Acre Wood, is a fabulous place for off leash dog happiness.  Today, even with the hail:

Oh, Hail!!!

Oh, Hail!!!

…I still saw quite a few people.  I estimate the ratio of dog to owners around 1.39:1.  It’s often MUCH higher.   It’s a pretty awesome place, even with the power lines that bisect it in several places.  I encourage you to get out and enjoy it.  Just be prepared for muddy paw prints on your clothes.
Um, not going *that* way today...

Um, not going *that* way today...

prettiness.  And iPhone cameras are pretty cool.

prettiness. And iPhone cameras are pretty cool.

badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger...

badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger...

Coming up next: eTown PDX, or How I Nearly Got Ejected From the Schnitz.

Scenes from SNOWPOCALYPSE!!!! 2008

Yeah, I know everyone’s doing it.  But far be it from me to not partake in the extreme weather catastrophe spirit!  Therefore, I humbly submit my entries for the SNOWPOCALYPSE 2008 photographic and video archives:

Will my rhodies survive the winter?  I have a hunch they will!

Will my rhodies survive the winter? I have a hunch they will!

 

This next shot required a bit of laying down on the job.  During which time the denizens of the pictured yard came outside:

Denizen:  “Hey, you ok there?”

Me:  “Oh yeah, just taking some pictures here…no worries!”

Denizen:  “Um.  Ok. “  <strange look as he reenters his domicile>

You gotta take some risks when you’re an amateur photog, you know.  Great pictures require gettin down and dirty.  In the mud.  And snow. 

 

Brrr.  Portland grass yelling WTF?!?!!

Brrr. Portland grass yelling WTF?!?!!

 

And the pièce de résistance:  My latest Jessie video, entitled SnowFace.  Enjoy.

I <3 Portland

I love this town called Portland a heckuva lot.  So, in honour of the upcoming 18th anniversary of my arrival in this great town, I thought I’d toss out a list of five things I love about Portland.  I know, the usual list number is 10. However, I tend to espouse, at great length, about things I like, so in the interest of keeping this to a nice, blogworthy length, I opted for half the items, but all the love. So here it is…5 things I love about the city formerly known as Stumptown.

#5: Rain.

rain

Rain. Duh.

 What?? What did you say? Rain, are you serious? This, from the girl who lists as one of her most traumatic childhood experiences being caught in a NYC deluge? Yep. It was an epiphany level experience when I realized I actually kinda like the rain now.  Let me clarify: I like Portland rain.  Not torrential downpour, soaked to the bone southeastern US rain, no way.  But the misty, pervasive showers, the gentle sprinkles, they cleanse the air and don’t make me feel like I’m about to drown, which is how I felt during the above mentioned deluge.  Granted, I’m a bit taller now, so my fear of drowning by puddle is somewhat reduced, but still.  Also, the myth (Yes!  Myth!) that Portland gets oodles and buckets of rain keeps people away, because we all know that once they get here, they never wanna leave.  Like me.

Powell's Books

Deep in the stacks @Powells

#4: Powell’s.

Ok I know what you’re all saying.  Yawn.  Of course Powell’s is on the list, EVERYBODY puts Powell’s on their list, can’t you be original?  From my perspective though, I keenly feel the humongous slap upside the head that Powell’s is to other major book sellers (::cough:: Barnes & Noble)  Some of my favorite things in New York when I lived there were Blimpie for the subs, catching a Mets game at Shea Stadium (insert heartbreaking sob here), and going to Barnes & Noble.  B&N seemed like a reader’s mecca to my young, book-loving soul.  Plus, it was in New York, so how could anything else possibly measure up?  Now picture me walking into Powell’s the first time.  No lie, I swear I could hear a choir of angels.  And I remember thinking, clear as if it was yesterday:  “Barnes & Noble, you SUCK ASS.”  Thankfully, my appreciation of Blimpie subs faded long before that.  My Mets fandom however…I’m sad to say is still alive and in mourning.

#3: Dogs.

Jessie

Jessie @ the Sandy River

Portland is not the number one dog-friendly city in the country.  I find this extremely hard to fathom, as does my dog.  She has a tendency to get quite squeaky in the car when we pass by locations of particular canine interest that she likes.  Therefore, she tends to maintain a fairly constant level of squeekiness as I drive around Portland.  Between our usual hangout at the dog park at Mt Tabor, the constant dog cookies the mailman brings, the occasional splashdown in the uber dog-friendly section of the Sandy River, the thrice-yearly baths at Lucky Lab Dog Washes (Dogtoberfest, Multnomah Dog Days, Tails & Ales)…the list goes on and on. 

 (Err, correction, Jessie says that the Lucky Lab dog baths are NOT on her list of faves.  But they have beer! I insisted. And live music!  And free doggy samples!  She just glares at me.) 

There is nearly always some dog-related event going on around town.  Not to mention all the dog parks scattered throughout the metro area (Mt. Tabor is our fave!)  So what if they’re not exactly welcome on public transportation, like they are in Chicago or whatever.  Or Austin Texas.  Really??  Austin Texas??  Portland dogs are loved, and everyone knows it.  Screw the rest of the ‘we love dogs’ cities…if I were a dog, I’d want to live in Portland.

#2 Nature vs City.

Nature in the city, how I love thee…let me count the ways!  I love how Portland has so seemlessly blended the need for expansion with a very green sense of the need for parks, and greenspaces, and community gardens, and, well, nature within the city limits.  I mean, just consider some of the bigger natural spaces within the city:

Cherry tree near Lloyd Center

Cherry tree near Lloyd Center

That’s the short list.  It doesn’t include the hundreds of city parks and recreation spaces scattered all over.  I’ve never lived anywhere in this city where I wasn’t within a few blocks of a park, and all super nice (at least during the day…).  Having such a plethora of natural spaces, I think, creates oases of calm for a city’s residents; a place to recharge, to introspect, to run and play and love and think.  Perhaps that’s one of the reasons Portland is so progressive, sustainable-conscious and green:  There is evidence of nature’s power everywhere you look.  Nature is perpetuating itself in Portland.

#1: Community

Some of my friends

Some of my friends

I’ve lived in a lot of places, but I’ve lived here in Portland longer than anywhere else.  I remember coming to a realization once, long ago, while living in Syracuse NY (aka the armpit of NY state.  Trust me).  I realized that no matter where you go, where you lay your hat down at night, that the place you live really makes very little difference in your life, when you boil it down.  The place is not you, and you are not the place you live in.  It can have its effects, true, but they tend to be minor; the thoughts you have and the life you live and the problems you face are universal.  I was convinced that that was a statement of truth.  Not anymore.  There is something about Portland, something about the particular combination of sun and sky and rain and mountain and ocean and desert that make up Portland and the Pacific NW that surrounds it, that make it truly a unique place.  And it attracts truly unique people.  Never in my life have I encountered so consistently such caring, thoughtful…good people.  I have had good friends while living outside of Portland.  But never so many, who are so dear to me, and who I would honestly entrust with my life and those things I treasure the most.  I love this place, and all the people in it, whether I know you or not, because you make Portland what it is.  I will be happy to die here, someday.  Um.  Someday not too soon, that is.  Dammit where is that salt…anyone have any wood I can knock?!?

Well there it is.  5 things I love about Portland.  Love Portland too?  Then get involved, and get out there and enjoy it!

Canine Sociology 101

So you all know that I love my dog.  I especially love watching her deal with new dogs, because it amazes me how she’s able to handle pretty much any dog that comes her way.  Case in point:

We’re at a dog park playing fetch.  Enter stage right: new dog, about her size, kinda brown/fawn colored, with owner.  Looks like a big jack russell with maybe some german shepherd thrown in for spice, and colored like a pit bull.  Jessie ignores new arrivals like she usually does for the most part, her motto is “See the ball, be the ball, ignore everything but the ball”.  She’s in the middle of running back with said ball when new arrivals reach the edge of the field, and owner removes leash from new dog.  Jessie arrives at my position, and after her usual 10-15 seconds of chomping on the ball to transfer the maximum amount of droooly happy dog slobber, drops it and prepares for the next volley.  New arrivals are pretty far away at one end of the field to the right, while we’re in the middle, so I launch the ball with my trusty super Chuckit across the field, in the same direction as new arrivals but to the left corner.  And now the fun starts.

New arrival takes off after Jessie like a rocket.  I’m not sure if it’s the ball or the running dog, but it’s making a beeline straight for her.  Jessie doesn’t notice until she reaches the ball, picks it up, and starts heading back.  She sees new arrival tearing for her and stops dead, ball in her mouth.  New arrival stops dead as well, about 15 feet away.  The eyeballing begins.

Jessie stands just looking at new arrival, occasionally chomping her ball.  New arrival stands looking at Jessie, with a kind of possibly aggressive/possibly playful but certainly jumpy stance.  Jessie’s stance seems pretty neutral.  After about 20 seconds of staring (no kidding!) Jessie makes a move to continue to bring the ball back slowly.  New arrival shoots forward, and Jessie stops dead again.  New arrival then walks over to her, and starts sniffing at the ball.  Jessie stays completely still, and after about 2 seconds drops her ball in order to lick at new arrival’s muzzle – a clear calming signal.  New arrival seems to relax a bit, and jessie takes a shot at a friendly butt-sniff.  New arrival is pretty jumpy still, and twitches.  Jessie just stands there, not looking at the dog, while it checks her out.  Apparently satisfied that she poses no threat, but understanding that there’s no interest in playing, new arrival trots off towards owner (who was not paying any attention to this whole exchange).  Jessie watches new arrival until he/she is obviously not interested in her anymore, goes back and picks up her ball (she almost never forgets her ball!), and proceeds to run back to me, slowly at first, but picking up speed. 

And that is how my dog deals with all dogs she’s unsure of.  It’s amazing how she completely smothers any aggressive interest any dog has ever exhibited towards her, without being a total “lay on her back and show her tummy” submissive dog.

Another thing I’ve learned about dog communication is that everything that a dog would do to say “Hey I wanna be friends, maybe you could chill out and then we can play huh?” are nearly exactly what a cat does to say “GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!!!”.  Which causes some fairly major communication breakdowns in my house, and generally makes my house pretty lively on occasion.

Aren’t pets great?