Thursday, March 28, 2013

Petit Jean Mountain

These are my humans.  They are not a bad sort, in fact, I love them.  I love them so much.  But sometimes I think they are dumber than dirt.

Let me introduce you to them.  First, there is the male.  I can’t call him Master because, I’m a YORKIE…and nobody truly ever masters a YORKIE.  But if I DID call him Master, I would have to say he’s a good one.  He’s the one who gets up and feeds me every morning.  He’s the one who makes sure I have water in the bowl.  He’s the one who greets me FIRST when he comes in the door.  Oh, he’s also the one who gives me those horrid baths, and nasty hair cuts.  Well, no one is perfect.

Then, there is the woman.  Now her I like a lot.  She understands that my place in on the furniture and in someone’s lap.  She knows I get bored sitting around the house and that as smart as I am, I need outside stimulation.  Hence she will take me riding periodically.  She even understands that once around the block is not sufficient and that I don’t really like to chase squirrels like the male keeps trying to get me to do.  When the weather is nice I let her take me on walks, and I will sit for hours and let her brush me.

The two kids?  Well, let’s just call them princess and the photographer.  See if you can guess which one is which.   They’re mine and I love them, but so far I haven’t found a use for them.

Here’s where the dumber than dirt comes in.  For the entire time they have been my humans, we've been a resort family.  We do resorts.  We don’t do camping.  We don’t canoe, or climb mountains.  I KNOW they knew this.  They have taken me on a few great trips and when I didn't want to go, they let me stay at another of my human’s place…with someone they call Granny.  Or better yet, they take me to Grandmom and Granddad’s (that is a place I love ‘cause I get to rule over the other three dogs trying to boss me just because they are bigger).

But this year, they decided to grow.  To expand their horizons.  To be more active.  To that end, we went camping on Petit Jean Mountain.  Camping.  Hello…..WE ARE NOT AN ACTIVE FAMILY…WE ARE HOUSE POTATOES.  Not just COUCH POTATOES…HOUSE POTATOES.  We hang around the house really well.  I have three different spots I must warm daily.  I've got all the furniture marked exactly like I want it.  Do you KNOW how many spots needed marking on Mt. Petit Jean?  THOUSANDS.

Not only were they ill prepared, they treated me like a dog.

They kept saying things like – He’s a dog, he’ll love this.  He’s a dog, he brought his own fur coat (well I might have but you SHAVED it OFF).  He’s a dog…he’s got 4 legs.  He’s a dog – YORKIES were bred to hunt.

Listen up humans…I may have 4 legs but they are only three inches long.  And yes, my ancestors were bred to hunt…BUT SO WERE YOURS…You don’t hunt to eat any longer, why do you keep acting like I should know what I’m doing.

I am not happy with these humans.  I will take about 2 weeks of sulking before I let them off the hook.  For years Humans have trained and bred us to be LAP dogs…we LIKE that.  I allow you to be my humans because I thought you understood. Don’t be changing on me now.

I still love them and I’m glad they survived the wilds of camping, but I MUST insist that they realize - we don’t do camping….we do resorts.

Bear (oh my human woman calls herself Debora)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Why Should I Learn to Run Now?

I have reached that time in my life when things are beginning to fall into places here before not believed.  I am still growing unbelievably, but instead of up... I'm growing out!!  So it was time to do something about it.

A fabulous friend talked me into learning to run with her.  My whole life I could never run, not even a mile!  I was a sprinter never a long distance runner, couldn't even imagine being physically able to run that far without side crampsOn our first run, she tells me we will be doing intervals.  Three minutes of running and then one minute of walking for 3.3 miles!!
Talk about intimidating!!   

I start off jogging for the three minutes... guess I'm in better shape than I thought.  That one minute of walking didn't take that long to get to... by our third  interval... I am soo ready for the one minute walk!!!
Panting and holding my sides through out the fourth interval I manage to get through to the one minute again.  Who knew this would be so hard?  I DID...  That's who!  Now I am starting to think I'm going to die before we get to the last lap around the park.  
But then... it happens... the second wind!!  Course it is the downhill part of the run so maybe that's what it is... but I'm okay with that... and then just like that, its over.

I can't believe I made it the whole time without passing out!  I didn't need an ambulance to take me to the hospital.  Beyond belief, I actually felt energized.  Excited for the next run.

Why I thought it would be that easy the second time around  I don't know.  But I really did think it would be easy again.  Off we go, same intervals, three minutes of running, one minute of walking.

By the second interval I think that I have been running for 8 minutes straight!  I can't believe that it has only been a few moments.  Seriously?  Why am I in worse shape than our first run?  I straggle on for the rest of the runs.  It is hard to believe I actually finished, but I did.  Pride made me finish.

We ran three times a week for the next month.  Then one day I say, whew, this three minutes feels so much longer than before... she turns around and laughs... then she says " We have been running for three minutes and thirty seconds for a week now."  And the whole time I didn't notice.  Every week she raises the time we run, by just a little.  While I am still very tired out during our runs, I am showing huge progress.  I actually managed to get 10 miles in the other day... I was totally worn out by it, but I managed to get it done.  So glad that I have a great friend who has helped to push me to getting into shape!

Thanks K. Clark you are amazing!


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Colors, Cats, and the Curious

Goooood evening ladies and gents!

I've been in a very inquisitive mood this past week. Today I thought I'd share a two of the more interesting things I've learned. Although they have nothing to do with each other, here's some food for your noggin. Bon appetite!

It's been bothering me. You've probably seen or read it a dozen places lately. Check Pinterest, Wanelo, Twitter, Etsy, Ebay, and anywhere else. You'll find "ombre" products to be highly popular.

Ombre is like this:

Just Dwell


Diamond White Silver Bridal Flower, Wedding Hair Accessory, Peony Fascinator, Upcycled, Pearl Feather Wedding Hair Clip - "Ode to Joy"
So. Where does this crazy Spanish-sounding word come from and why can't we just call this new color trend a "blend" or a "fade"? It sounds silly. (I really like the visual effect though.) I know I sound like someone's grandmother complaining about how times are changing and how I hate them. I just don't like being surprised with odd words. So I thought learning its origins would make me feel better. Surely someone didn't just make this up last week, right? So I thought about it. My thoughts went like this: Ombre sounds like "hombre" which is Spanish for "man", which makes no sense. So, scratch that.

I went digging and, after reading about the old card game of the same name, finally came up with this from Webster's.
French, past participle of ombrer to shade, from Italian ombrare, from ombra shade, from Latin umbra. First Known Use: 1893
So there you have it. It still sounds funny, but the word actually has quite a history. Now the only mystery is why it has resurfaced in pop culture.
Parasites to make you brave.
Sooo, there's this parasite. It comes from cat poo, and it really makes things sound like cats might be taking over the world after all. Toxoplasma gondii, which lives in cats, makes it way to other animals from the cat's poo. It gets into your brain, but don't panic! because you can live with this parasite just fine. Many people don't really show many symptoms. They just suddenly like cats a whole lot better than before. They also might be braver.
This sounds nuts, yes? Parasite of Bravery!

But there have been studies on this parasite in rats. Check out this Time article for a good synopsis. Basically, the parasite raises dopamine levels in your system, which theoretically lowers your fears/inhibitions. In rats, this means the animals are less afraid of their natural predators, which makes them lunch. (Or breakfast, or dinner, or a present at your doorstep.) In people, the studies have suggested that you love cats more, but seem to be more inconclusive about the bravery thing. Also, there's a very small chance you might trigger schizophrenia by being infected. Weird, yes?

[Photo courtesy of a certain crazy cat lady I know and love.]

Hope I brightened your day ;)

Friday, March 15, 2013


Carved Lintel for Community Center Project

Some years ago, following my urge to cut carve and gouge, I became one of a group of apprentices participating in a Community Center Carving Project.    The group project was led by George Norris, a celebrated artist, sculptor and carver.   I longed to learn carving from a master and our task was to carve intricate details in yellow cedar posts which would serve as broad wooden lintels for doorways placed throughout the Community Center.  Before we were allowed to work on the lintels we were required to do a series of carving exercises on a block of wood. Once we learned and completed the exercises of carved wood patterns and George felt we were capable, we could then work on the yellow cedar posts.  George shared many insights with the group, from his rich career of carving, among which was an important lesson:  Don’t bleed on the wood as it penetrates the grain.  Unfortunately there is only one way to remove blood stains from wood and that is by removing the blood stained area, hence the wood itself. 
Blood Stained Number 7 Carving Tool

I learned this important lesson by experience while blood spurted wildly from a hand wound, caused by my ineptness with a lethal weapon aka “the number seven carving tool”.  I mention that it was a number seven so that anyone who is aware of carving tools can appreciate how hazardous this tool can be in the hands of a beginner. 
Anyone who can’t imagine the damage that it can cause may want to check out my scar, a rather large one, to validate this.

My Carving Exercise Block
As you might imagine I yelped a little when I stabbed my own hand, drawing the attention of the master carver who quickly came to my side to observe, not my wound, but the yellow cedar post where I had unknowingly leaked some blood. 
While I staunched the flow of blood as best I could, George quickly drew up a plan to remove the bloodied wood and in haste created an altered carving design to accommodate the removal of the bloodstain. 
There was no denying that my bloody wound came second to the importance of the lintel being carved. 
Artists and artisans often recall with fondness the words of wisdom from a mentor and for me the words I remember most fondly as my first words of professional advice were - DON’T BLEED ON THE WOOD!

Author:  Trish (BlackCrowCurios)

Link to George Norris Artist:
What words of wisdom do you recall from a mentor?

Monday, March 11, 2013

My Fitness Goal For 2013... Tough Mudder!

"Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie. With the most innovative courses, 700,000 inspiring participants worldwide to date, and more than $5 million raised for the Wounded Warrior Project, Tough Mudder is the premier adventure challenge series in the world. "
My husband and I were talking about how we wanted to challenge ourselves physically this year, and have something that would motivate us to get into shape. One day as we were talking, he said "I want to do Tough Mudder!"  I looked him square in the eye and said "That's awesome, you should definitely do that!"  He looked me back in the eye and said "When I said I, I meant 'we'."  This continued back and forth, with him getting more and more excited and me calmly telling him he would have lots of fun, and I would definitely be there to cheer him on.

Over the next few weeks, my husband does everything he can to convince me, from just automatically assuming I will do it to including all of my friends in the invitation to getting our Crossfit coach to talk me into it.  The next thing I know, I am registering myself for Tough Mudder thinking "Oh my god what am I doing??" 

Despite the feeling of insanity I had after registering, there really were lots of positive reasons for making the final decision to do it.  First, it is completely a team event; the teams start together and finish together, helping each other along the way.  We challenge ourselves and each other but we don't compete within our teams.  Second, it is the first time I have ever done anything that physically challenging and that scares the crap out of me... don't ask me why that's a positive but it is!  And finally... everyone that has done it has said they have had fun doing it, which is the ultimate goal in any sporting event.

Curious to see what it's all about?  Check out this video, courtesy of the Tough Mudder Website.

Was I in shape when I made this commitment?  NO!  At least a year away from the gym due to chronic pain in my neck and shoulder, with sporadic exercise before that, so pretty much as week as a kitten. Am I training for this?  YES I am training for this, and training hard... while I realize it isn't a competition, I want to at least be able to finish the race!  We are currently doing Crossfit and running several days a week to get in shape, and I am sure our coach will ramp it up even more by the end of this month.

I am anxious, excited, terrified, exhilarated... so many emotions!  Definitely looking forward to keeping you all updated on my progress over the next few months!


Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Legendary Murder Mystery Party

How to throw an amazing Murder Mystery Costume Party that will be so legendary  that friends and family will be talking about it for years to come…I know this because I’ve done it and am now able to brag that I am in the Hall of Fame as far as party throwers go!

Last year for my husband’s 34th birthday I wanted to do something really special. He was getting ready to leave for a one year deployment and I wanted it to be memorable and fun…something completely unique. I thought why not a Murder Mystery Party!!!! I’ve never done one nor had any of our friends or family.

Here is how I did it with links and many many must do tips….

First off, since nobody I knew had ever thrown a Murder Mystery Party, let alone had ever been to one, I started with the internet and settled on This website had sooo many amazing parties to choose from it was difficult to narrow it down. I did eventually and went with The Roaring 20’s Murder at the Juice Joint!!! The best part about this website is that the parties are NOT scripted; they give each person a character description and traits…no robot voice reading the prewritten lines.

Each package is a downloadable PDF file for anywhere from $45-$80, depending on the amount of people. The PDF comes with detailed direction of how to exactly host the party from the Invitation template, character descriptions and printable decorations!!

So I narrowed it down to, for sure attending, 22 people, assigned characters and mailed each person (about 2 weeks before the party to enable enough time for them to buy or rent a costume) their character descriptions and the background of the ‘”Story” in the form of the Gangster Gazette.

Tip #1-Make sure you provide chauffeured service!!! We did it in the form of two teenagers, all dressed up of course, in my gigantic Suburban!  Completely worth $$ to have the kids drive around pick everyone up at their houses and dropping them all off at the end of the night. It gave our guests the ability to drink and not worry about how to get home…plus how fun is it to be driven around all dressed up!!

Tip #2-Take photographs of each couple as they come in the door. We provided a brick wall plastic backdrop and boxes to look like alcohol crates, with the PDF decoration printouts.


Tip #3-Have drinks ready!!! Most people are not naturals in drama class. It’s going to take a drink or two to relax and get into character. And yes start the night out in character!! I had a tasty concoction of one part Whipped Cream Vodka and one part Orange Juice in a few ice tea dispensers.

Tips #4-As the host make sure you start drinking with everyone else!! I don’t know about others but hosting 22 people, some of which flew in from other states, is very stressful. So calm the nerves and have a drink, it will be fine!
Tip #5-Provide dinner if you can. It makes the experience so much more memorable! I used pretty plastic ware, plates, napkins, center pieces, table clothes and cups from the Party Store.  I rented or borrowed fold out tables and chairs from a nearby Events & Party Store, the tables were $5/day and chairs were $1/day.
For an elegant dinner, yet surprisingly easy we started with a raspberry sunflower seed spinach salad (shredded cheese and cherry tomatoes) with strawberry vinaigrette....YUM! Cornish game hens sliced in half (spiced with cajun seasoning), bacon wrapped brown sugar asparagus, and garlic mashed potatoes. I prepped all of this before everyone arrived and had it cooked and warming in the oven…all while I sipped my delicious drink.  My servers were also my teenage drivers ohhh yeah!!

Tip #6-Make sure you keep the plot going, as the drinks flow and the characters take over, it may become hard to focus and solve the mystery. At that point most did not care who dun-it, they were having too much fun. But once solved, all can just mingle, and if you so choose to, stay in character:)

Take lots of pictures!!! There cannot be too many pictures with a Party like this!

This was by far the best party I have attended and/or hosted. I can’t wait to do it again….my only fear is that I won’t be able to top this one. GOOD LUCK!!!!




Sunday, March 3, 2013

YOU! Parent Your Children

Too many people have chosen to bear children without giving enough thought to parenting.  Yes the pregnancy is so exciting, and then the birth can be fun and exhilarating (not for me necessarily, I’m a wimp.  It hurt like a big one!) but after that comes parenting…for at least the next 18 years.

 Have you thought about it?  Have you decided upon disciplinary tactics?  Have you talked to your spouse about it?  Is yelling acceptable?  How about hitting or spanking?  Time out?  What about goals for your child?  What if he/she is artistically inclined but you think only practical skills are necessary?  Where will they go to school?  How much will you help with homework?  What about values?  What will you teach them about skin color and sex? How will you teach them financial responsibility? Laundry? Kindness? Humility?  The list goes on and on.

These are all thoughts that need to be had and conversations that need to occur but too many of us don’t get past the cute baby part before making decisions about having children. Then the cute little being is here and we fall in love.  And he/she grows, and we’re exhausted, and it’s much easier to just give in than stick to our guns about whatever goal/rules we've decided are important.

Society has sold us some big lies.  “Children are resilient,”  “You CAN have it all,” that caregivers other than parents are just as effective.

None of them are true.

Children are very fragile.  You remember, you were a child once…remember that hurtful thing your mother said when she was having a crappy day?  You are really not stupid (or ugly or fat or clumsy etc.), and she never really thought you were, she was just tired. Because society told her she could have it all, a great figure (she starved herself), a great job (she worked long hours), a beautiful home (she slaved to keep it clean) and cherubic children….you haven’t forgotten that comment or attitude though have you?  You were fragile.

Nobody on the face of the earth loves your children the way that you do.  Nobody.  I’m quite sure there are some great caregivers out there – but why did you have children if you weren't planning on parenting them yourself?

 I know right now I just offended a bunch of you.  I’m sorry.  I apologize.  Many parents CANNOT financially afford to stay at home with their children though they would dearly love to.  I understand.  But there are some out there that have chosen to work for better THINGS; to live in a better neighborhood, to drive a newer car, to have a cell phone.  Yes, a cell phone.  And their children are getting left over parenting;  left over time, energy and thoughts. 
Our children are the most important people in our lives.  They deserve our time and attention.  They are NOT an afterthought to a marriage, a day, or even an event.  Don’t expend all your energy and patience on your job, other relationships (other than your spouse of course), hobbies or chores.  Step up and parent.