Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Well, that was fun
I am now sitting down to recover after giving my Golden Retriever, Lucy, a bath, or actually, a shower. Let's just say it didn't go very well. After she was clean enough, I was also dripping wet from head to toe because, of course, the shower is really not big enough for my gi-normous beheamoth dog. So, she hung out of the shower part way, getting the floor completely soaked. And then whenever I'd go to wash the part of her that actually fit in the shower, I would, of course, be leaning into the shower stream, so I'm a little damp too.

Normally, I let the groomer take care of our beloved pooch. But today it was an emergency. We had just gotten back from this lovely walk in the woods, and I was sitting to have a lovely cup of coffee while writing in my lovely journal.

Suddenly, I hear snuffling and snorting in the weeds behind the house. And there is Lucy, panting with that silly grin on her face saying, "look at the neat raccoon crap I just rubbed all over my head!"

So, 4 giant-sized towels later, our dog is mostly clean. At least smell-able.

The irony is that I had the shower stall in mind for bathing her instead of the bathtub because our son's allergist said we needed to wash the cats and dog frequently to cut down on the dander in the house. Okay, fine. So, he said, just walk your dog into the shower and spray her down. He made it sound oh-so easy.

We won't even talk about bathing the cats. That's not going to happen.

Scott and I were talking about the busy squirrels in the backyard last weekend, and how they rush and run around burying their acorns for the winter. Lucy gets really agitated whenever they enter her "domain." She walks in circles around the dining room table, whines, and generally makes sure one of us are looking at this terrible thing: a squirrel is trespassing. Scott said, Hey Lucy, leave the squirrel alone. At least he's working.

It really is true that she doesn't do too much work around the house, alhtough I thought of a couple of her various jobs, like eating the occasional bug so I don't have to flush it. And lately, she's become pretty adept at breaking up cat fights. I mean literal cat fights between our two cats. Other than that, she really is pretty lazy. Okay, she's also good at rubbing her head in raccoon crap (or whatever that nasty stuff was).

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Lutheran Question
This is something I've been wondering this week. Why did Martin Luther expand on the meaning of the Apostles' Creed instead of the Nicene Creed in the Small Catechism?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Poetry and Such
Cyberstones got me thinking more about poetry this morning. I say "more" about poetry because it's really always on my mind.

Lately, I've been working on a new children's book manuscript, and have been pondering all the things that rhyme with "-ing." Now you might say: Julie, there are a million words that rhyme with "-ing": following, saying, thinking, writing, flying, etc. And those are all gerunds; think of all the millions of others. And what about all the nouns? Anything, everything, nothing, etc.

But here's the problem, and this is why the poetry post over at Cyberstones got me thinking. The challenge of writing good verse (poetry that rhymes) is that the meter has to be perfect. So, say I want to rhyme the word "sting" with "anything." Well, if "sting" is an endrhyme, then it gets the emphasis, being a one-syllable word. But with almost any gerund, the stress is not on the "ing" but on the first syllable of the word, so then the meter gets thrown off.

The other consideration to keep in mind constantly is the number of syllables per line. For the piece I'm working on right now, I'm using a 4-line stanza with 7, 5, 7, 5 syllables per line. In order to make the rhyme work, make the meter work, and stay within the number of syllables per line, everything has to align perfectly.

That's why, as one who attempts to write poetry, I am always so in awe of Shakespeare or any of the great poets. The complexity of a sonnet, for example, is incredible. Complicated rhymes, very fussy meter, all sorts of crazy limits to syllables, etc. I mean it's like these poets like to see how many hoops they can force the English langugae through in order to get their thought out.

And that's what makes poetry great. And really, really hard to write well.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Birdies, Part Two
One problem with putting out birdseed in the yard is the fact that "extra" critters that are attracted to the seed other than birds, like rats (yuck), squirrels (cute), or raccoons.

After we moved here, I filled up our old bird feeder with seed and hung it out on a regular shepherd's hook in the backyard. The next morning, not only was every bit of bird seed gone, but the bird feeder was broken on the ground.

So I went to Wild Birds Unlimited to get some advice. They said my problem was definitely raccoons. We had lots of squirrels who liked our bird seed in Pittsburgh, but it always took them at least a few days to get through all the seed in the feeder, and in the meantime, birds got to snack too. But to have all the seed gone in one night? That wasn't going to work.

They recommended I get the pole system. Here's a link. I admit that it was a little pricey to get started. But what I got was a pole which I screwed into the ground. Then I added a raccoon baffle. This is a cylindrical type thing which goes around the pole which the raccoons (or squirrels for that matter) can't get around. Then, I got a new feeder to put at the top of the pole. It took awhile to attract the birds to the feeder, but now that they've learned I have some good cooking, we get all sorts.

It's funny to look at our pole now. There are all these muddy footprints under the raccoon baffle, but only birds can get past the baffle. So, it definitely works. The cool thing about the pole system, too, is that you can add extra hooks or "arms" to the pole, and have several feeders hanging from the one pole.

The photo above isn't incredibly great, but you can see my bird feeder on the top of the pole with the one arm and two other feeders. One is a suet feeder (which the woodpeckers like) and the other is the hummingbird feeder (which I should take down because the hummingbirds are all gone now). And of course, that's Lucy our dog on the porch. It looks like she's eating a stick or getting into some other kind of mischief.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Birdies, Birdies Everywhere!
I really like birds. Well, I should qualify that. I like birds when they're outdoors. Indoor birds freak me out. But outdoor birds I like. That's why I recently got a pole set-up thing from Wild Birds Unlimited. We now have a regular bird feeder, two hummingbird feeders, a suet feeder, and a finch feeder. Two of these were gifts from my dear friend Shirley Ubinger.

When we first moved, I set out the feeder with my sunflower seed and it took FOREVER for the birds to show up. Finally, about six weeks later, the first birds came to visit. I would almost hyperventilate with excitement when they came to my feeder.

We have so far identified these birds: the Tufted Titmouse, the Downy Woodpecker (he likes the suet), sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Grackles, Mourning Dove, Black-capped Chickadee, and of course robins and crows. I REALLY almost hyperventilated when hummingbirds came to my kitchen window to drink from my hummingbird feeder. They are so fast and skittish that I couldn't move whenever they showed up. But I haven't seen any the last couple of weeks, so they're probably somewhere warmer by now.

Here's kind of a cool site on identifying birds.

I think partly I like birds a lot because they remind me of Jesus' comments about birds in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6. They truly do not store or set things by, but the heavenly Father cares for them. Every meal is provided. Here is a cool sermon by Pr. Petersen on that topic.