Friday, April 25, 2008

Dog tolerance guidelines.

It's been forever since I posted anything about my favorite topic, pit bulls! I noticed that Bad Rap has updated their page on dog-aggression in pit bulls, with pictures! For example:

Isn't this great? Among other things, it shows that with careful management, you can get a bunch of pit bulls, of various dog-tolerance levels, to pose together for a photo (I imagine there were treats involved - look at those intent stares!).

It is important for pit bull lovers and advocates to remember the breeding of these dogs. To put it bluntly: Dog-aggression has been bred into these dogs for centuries and is relatively common in pit bulls. Dog-tolerance varies from dog to dog, can be managed, and should not discourage anyone from adopting a pit bull. But responsible pit bull owners need to be aware of the issue.

(Pits are naturally very people-friendly. Human-aggression in pits is a sign of defective breeding and temperament. Human-aggressive pits should be humanely euthanized. Well-bred pits make terrible guard dogs.)

After mature, unneutered males (fix your dog, people!), mature females are the most likely to display anti-dog-social behavior. Dog tolerance can decline with maturity. For example, our Omie was dog-social as a puppy, but has matured to be dog-selective at best. She gets along well with her dog "friends" who, like her lil' bro Crouton, are almost all male, but needs to be closely supervised with other mature female dogs. As Bad Rap says: "Can be described as 'bitchy.'" That's our Omie!

So, if you come to visit us, please don't surprise us by bringing your mature, female dog in tow to "play" with Omie! We don't like that kind of surprise. A nice bottle of sparkling wine, on the other hand, is always welcome.

I'm obviously a big fan of pits, but I think it's important to discuss the difficult aspects of the breed as well as the more snuggly aspects. I don't want to give my readers the impression that I believe that all pit bulls are all love-bugs in all circumstances. The truth is, this is an unrealistic expectation to carry about any breed of dog. But because of the stereotypes and media hype, pit bull owners need to be especially conscious of their dogs' breeding, and train their dogs accordingly. Denial doesn't do the breed any favors. Bad Rap does such an excellent, evenhanded job with this. Yay, Bad Rap!

That should satisfy me for a while on the pit bull front. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Berkeley Sacred Harp - on the Radio!

Late last night, a group of Monday night sacred harp regulars performed on KUSF, the University of San Francisco college station. There were fourteen of us in a tiny, acoustically deadened, and extremely warm room. It was way past my bedtime. The equipment was primitive. As in pre-stereo. But singing your heart out with your friends is fun no matter what the circumstances!

Listen to a recording of the show.

I think because of the acoustics of the room (or more precisely, the lack thereof), the sound is especially naked and raw, even by sacred harp standards. Of course, in my book, "raw" = "cool."

At the very, very end, I lead 49b, "Mear." This is an example of a "crisis of faith" song - minor, mournful, profoundly unresolved, and thus, naturally, one of my favorites. Indulge me:

Will God forever cast us off?
His wrath forever smoke
Against the people of His love,
His little chosen flock.

And still to heighten our distress,
Thy presence is withdrawn;
Thy wonted signs of pow’r and grace
Thy pow’r and grace are gone.

No prophet speaks to calm our grief,
But all in silence mourn;
Nor know the hour of our relief,
The hour of Thy return.

Now that you're feeling a little vulnerable and worried, let me invite y'all to the Golden Gate Singing this Saturday in Portrero Hill! If the gorgeous, powerful music doesn't soothe your theological angst, the amazing potluck spread might do the trick. Newcomers are more than welcome - it's free and loaner books are provided! Persons of all faiths (or no faith) are welcome and represented. Most importantly: we don't care if you can sing (we can't)! Drop by!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Catch-up 2.0.

I've been hermitting lately. I haven't been picking up the phone (sorry Stefani, Mom, Kim, and Ida). And I haven't been posting here. I don't know what my excuse is - I'm busy, but not that busy. Here's the update:

  1. Buying no new clothing has been a piece of cake, because I'm not really leaving the house right now.
  2. We've been doing pretty well with the 100 foot diet challenge, although it's getting a little boring. There's only so much lemon and chard you can take. I can't wait until we have peas, beans, tomatoes, and squash!
  3. I have been baking bread the past couple weeks, and organizing at least one messy corner while the bread rises. Here's today's work - the cookbook niche in our kitchen:

I'm not saying it's clutter-free or anything (we don't really do "minimalist" in this house), but it's much better, right?

I also organized my bookshelves, trying mightily to put books into intuitive, easy to remember groupings. Like contemporary fiction, modern fiction, 19th century fiction, and pre-19th century literary works. I also created a crafts and gardening section, which looks like this (there are old editions, childrens' books, and environmental books mixed in there too):

Hardly something you'd see in Better Homes and Gardens, but it's a major improvement (especially once I upended the pumpkin again). I was too embarrassed by the "before" to take a picture.

You wouldn't believe the amount of dust and dog hair I found mixed up with all of my books! This was a two-Claritin project.

Now, I need to go check on my bread.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hobbit house.

Speaking of homesteads, I'm so in love with this handmade sod house in Wales. It looks straight out of Tolkein, right? Isn't this exactly the house you would have chosen for yourself at age 10? A family made it from scratch and they're living in it now! Click on the picture for more details and pictures of the inside! The rafters are trees!! Argh!!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Meanwhile, back at the urban homestead.

While I was plotting ways to get out of work early on this glitteringly blue, downright hot spring day, a wandering swarm of bees was taking over our back garden! Steve bloggeth (I'm sorry, bloogeth).

Since I couldn't leave work, I blabbed to my coworkers and emailed half my friends to share our exciting news! We have a swarm of bees, everyone! Reactions varied from "I think there's a special kind of Raid for bees" to "You'd look really good in one of those beekeeper outfits" to "I want some honey!"

But in the end, I missed the show - the bees moved on to a neighbor's house before I got home. Further evidence that having a job means you miss out on everything interesting.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

"Deconstructing Barbie."

This is the creepiest, most disturbing, and let's face it, coolest, collection of wearable art I've seen in a good while. Click on one of the pictures to be linked to the Etsy shop and more information about the artist, Margaux Lange.

My dear departed friend Marc Salak would have appreciated this very much. He once decorated his Christmas tree with Barbie-leg and Barbie-arm ornaments. Okay, it wasn't really a Christmas tree, it was a heap of elk antlers piled in the shape of a Christmas tree (the leg and arm ornaments looked strikingly like icicles, actually). Anyway, wherever he is right now, he's likely moaning, "Barbie eyeball jewelry?!! Why didn't I think of that?"

And I happen to be the lucky person who inherited his Barbie doll and assorted Barbie doll parts collection (okay, I got it because everyone else was too creeped out by it). Hm ...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

100 Foot Diet, Week #1 (Lemontastic).

Kale with kalamata olives and red pepper flakes, served with lemon wedges. (Kale and lemon from the garden.) Loosely taken from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison, but we ignored most of the actual instructions.

Macaroni and cheese from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. (Okay, none of this came from the garden, but it was tasty.)

Meyer lemon bars, from Alpineberry. (You guessed it, lemons from the garden.) Intense, but delicious!

My cheap digital camera chose this moment to give up the ghost, but Steve took a picture of the Meyer lemon bars, which turned out way more beautifully than any of my photos anyway.

The real challenge.

The 100 foot diet project is relatively easy. I mean, sure, I'm planting some extra veggies this year, so hopefully we'll be able to make at least a few meals almost entirely from the backyard, but using something from the garden every week? We already do that.

So here's the real challenge. I'm a little scared to record it in such a pubic area, because of the rather high chance of public failure. But I hope sharing the challenge with y'all will help me stick to it.

Here are the rules:

1) I will buy NO NEW CLOTHING,


Second hand clothing, thrift stores, and sewing are allowed. Occasional purchases of new pantyhose, etc., are allowed, in an emergency, but only with Steve's permission. The permission issue has nothing to do with permission, of course - it's simply a matter of forcing me to be honest about my purchases and not sneak around.

(I've perfected various sneaky shopping techniques over the years, including leaving things in the car for several days before bringing them in, putting full bags of new things in the back of the closet, and of course, the "what? this old thing?" response to questions. This would be screwed up enough, but it's especially weird given that Steve is generally supportive of my shopping. Can we say issues?)

Mostly, it would just be awesome to have a little more money for a few months. I mean, I have tons and tons of cute spring outfits. I don't need any more. If I must have more, I can thrift for more.

No more Anthropologie. No more Urban Outfitters. No. No. No.

I'm marking June 5 on my calendar. That's the goal.

A few exceptions have already been discussed. For example, I can buy shoes, but only to replace the shoes my dogs chew up. This is a fairly generous exception, given how tasty my dogs seem to find my footwear.

Coming soon: Whiny progress reports.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The 100 Foot Diet Challenge.

I've decided to take on the 100 foot diet challenge - make one meal a week from as many homegrown products as possible. (For more details, click on the poster.) Now, we do not grow our own wheat, nor do we have chickens or a dairy cow, so there are limits to what we can cook solely from our backyard. But as long as the challenge is "as much as possible," I think we can do it. And as Rebecca points out, we definitely won't have to worry about scurvy. Not that scurvy is a major killer of land-lubbin' vegetarians.

Also, I love the poster! Garden propaganda is so cool!

Anyway, by late-summer, this'll be a piece of cake - by then, we'll feel guilty if we eat a single tomato- or zucchini-free meal. The fun, challenging part is right now, when it's slim pickin' out there. Kale and chard with lemon and chervil, anyone?

We have one gourd seedling!

Update: Shortly after I hit the books on how to germinate African hard-shell gourd seeds, one of ours sprouted! I am hopeful that the others will follow suit, and we may yet have a back fence covered in bird-house and swan gourd vines.