Monthly Archives: March 2007

Miss Violetta Q. Biscuit


I just adopted a little adult Havanese/terrier mix dog. She was
surrendered to the local private shelter because the family layed new
carpeting and didn’t want to deal with the occasional poo that comes in
on a long-haired dog’s behind. Can you imagine? Clean bill of health
from the vet. She’s a doll and Ricky is dealing with this pretty well.
Her name was Biscuit, but I’m calling her Violet. She deserves a bright, pretty name.

I don’t have pics yet, but you can check out her petfinder entry.

I’ll tell you the full story this weekend.

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One Brief, Shining Moment

Ricky, the beagle/husky mix I adopted in June ’06, is just about the perfect dog. He’s quiet in the house, well mannered, doesn’t beg, and doesn’t chew on things that aren’t his toys. He does, however, chase my two cats. Constantly. And because the cats run, instead of turning and scratching him, he figures that chasing is what they’re for. So for the past 8 months, the dog has lived upstairs and the cats have lived in the basement.

In an effort to secure my own peaceable kingdom, I purchased a spray training collar for Ricky. This collar, which has a remote control, sprays harmless citronella* in the dog’s face when he performs unwanted behaviors. So for the past month, whenever Ricky has so much as looked at one of the cats, I’ve sprayed him. The cats have become much more brave about coming out of the basement, and Ricky’s cat chasing episodes are down by about 85% (sometimes Astrid asks to be chased. She sits and stares until Ricky goes after her. Heck, I’d chase her. Bitch).

This evening, as I sat on the sofa watching the final episodes of Buffy season 3, Ricky snoozed on the cushion beside me. Zeke the parrot was on my knee. And then Astrid jumped up on the arm of the couch (with me between her and Ricky). Ricky tensed, looked at me, but put his head back down. Still tense, but holding. Astrid stayed for a few pets and then took off, no doubt feeling the tension. But hey, we had multi-species couch occupation with no barking and no chasing.

Peaceable kingdom, here we come.

*Plus, my house smells really good.

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lookin’ fer luv

Now, when I moved to Storm Lake, Iowa — population around 10,000, 60 miles to the nearest bookstore, jazz bar, and ethnic food other than Mexican, I knew that chances were slim to nil that I’d find me a man. I mean, I’m over-educated, over-tall, overweight, over 40, and living in the middle of nowhere. But I had no real idea of the dating desert I had entered.

So, I’m at the dentist, getting my first check up in 4 years (grad school. ’nuff said) and the dentist and her assistant are chatting and I’m joining in as the hands in my mouth allow. It seems the assistant, about my age and with kids, no less, met a guy a few months before and they are quite happy. When my mouth is free, I ask, “where does one go to meet nice, single men in Storm Lake?” and she answers, without a hint of sarcasm, “I met him in Truesdale (nearby small town) at the midget wrestling.”


Good thing Ricky loves me. And hey, he may chase cats, but he doesn’t hog the bed, he doesn’t whine, he doesn’t make plans that require me to bring a hot dish and then forget to tell me, and he’s always up for a walk. Not bad — and I even met him online!

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Well, on Monday I had two of the cutest little shepherd-mix puppies at my house….for about 1/2 an hour. Then the nice police

man took them to our local no-kill shelter, where I’m sure they’ll find a good home.

I was walking Ricky that morning and these two puppies came dashing out of an open garage to ambush the Rickster. It was clear that now that they’d found us, they were going to follow us to the ends of the earth or home, whichever came first. I checked the garage, then asked at the attached house — not their puppies. Nor the next door neighbors — the pups, which were filthy, had probably just gone into the garage to sleep after running who knows how far. So the pups came home with us and I put them in our garage and fed them, then called to make pup placement arrangements.

Oh, neither had collars, but the male had a cord so tight around his neck I thought I’d have go into the house for scissors to cut it off. It pulled off finally, and he was a very good boy during the procedure.

Ricky was glad to see them go, and made it quite clear to me that a puppy would not be a welcome addition to our fambly. But I gotta tell you, if I had been dogless, I’d now have two new puppies. They were pretty darn cute!

Here’s some pics (click to enlarge). The spotty one is male and the German-shepherdy looking one is female. They would wrestle with one another at the drop of a hat.




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On Becoming a Quaker

My convincement as a Quaker has garnered several responses from family and friends. Well, friends anyway. My family has been silent; if they think or wonder about it at all, I suspect my Quakerism has been mentally filed away with my other odd behaviors over the years: successive tattoos, work as a community sex educator, funky haircuts, various college degrees, marrying-divorcing-marrying-divorcing the same man, acquiring innumerable cats/dog/birds, etc. Lots of etc. Of course, I could be wrong and my family just doesn’t care or *gasp and feelings of complete betrayal* they don’t read my blog, or they’re waiting for my internal weather vane to shift, at which time I’ll shave my head, drape myself in some tasteful sheets, and declare I’m a Buddhist. I don’t think that’s going to happen,* but if any relatives want to chime in about this whole thing, I’d welcome it.

Friends and colleagues, now, have had some things to say. Several have asked me if I became a Quaker because I own a quaker parrot, Zeke.

They are joking, I hope, because otherwise the comment is a bit insulting. Actually, I think the link between Quakers and quaker parrots is drabness — Quakers were known in the past to dress in a limited color palette, including a lot of gray; quaker parrots, also called monk parakeets, are drab colored when compared to the riotous plumage of most other South American parrots — hence the association with Quakers or monks. At any rate, I can guarantee that the link between Quakers and quaker parrots is NOT an ethic of nonviolence; Zeke uses that pointy beak to great and bloody effect at times and I have the scars (yes, real scars) to prove it.

Other friends have said, “Quakers — aren’t they like the Amish?” Well, yes and no. The two came from different religious movements, the Amish being Anabaptists, a movement which originated in Europe in the 16th century; Quakers, or the Religious Society of Friends, grew out of English religious reformation during the time of Cromwell in the 17th century.** Quakers and the various Anabaptist sects, including Mennonites, Brethren in Christ, Hutterites, and some others are known as the historic peace churches because of their ethic of nonviolence and conscientious objector status often invoked during war time. So that’s one similarity. Another is the refusal to take oaths, on the basis that one should be telling the truth all the time anyway. The other big similarity is — or rather, was — clothing. Old Order Amish continue to be recognizable by their plain, old-fashioned clothing; Quakers in the 18th and 19th centuries dressed plainly, eschewing bright colors and current fashions, but did not adopt the uniform sort of appearance of the Amish and some other religious groups.

Plain dress has evidently been an issue of contention among Quakers since the beginning of the movement. When plain dress was first proposed, Margaret Fell, the “mother of Quakerism,” called it “a silly poor gospel.” Later, rich Quakers were criticized for wearing clothing that was plainly cut, but made of the finest materials. Today, most Quakers seem to dress for use rather than fashion. Many strive to avoid clothing made by sweatshop labor and/or depend on a smaller amount of clothing, so that fashion and expense don’t become the center of the wardrobe and the wardrobe, therefore, a center of one’s life. There are young Quakers who are wearing the plain dress of an earlier time, including bonnets and Amish-type hair coverings for women. They do receive some criticism from other Quakers, along the lines that 1) wearing such conspicuous clothing draws as much attention, and can spring from the same self-centered gratification, as being ultra-fashionable, and 2) that head coverings and dresses-only for women symbolize the second-class status and religiously-imposed subjection that so many women, including Quakers such as Lucretia Mott and Susan B. Anthony, worked so hard to overcome.*** On the other hand, if these young people truly feel led by God or the light within to dress in such a manner, most other Quakers will accept it and them. They know their own God-business best, just as I feel I do for me.

Now, those who know me IRL may be wondering how I’m dealing with the idea of a limited, less fashionable wardrobe and presenting a modest appearance, given that

  • I have a BS and MS in Clothing and Textiles and used to teach fashion merchandising and history of costume and I adore fabric and clothing just on general purposes;
  • I have lots of jewelry, BIG jewelry, earrings and rocky, knobby necklaces and sterling silver cuff bracelets that one could use to signal passing jets;
  • I’ve spent a significant portion of my waking hours in search of the perfect pair of jeans.

Well, it’s come in steps. Returning to grad school at midlife, with the associated poverty and weight gain,**** and living in the middle of nowhere reduced my idea what makes up a necessary wardrobe a couple of years ago (I’m 6′ tall — I can’t buy my clothes at places like Target — and the nearest Target is 60 miles away anyway). I don’t dye my graying, dishwater blond hair any more (although I still sigh when I see a particularly rich shade of red on someone else. Sigh.). I wear jewelry to teach, on the principle that it helps attract my students’ magpie attention (and yes, just because I like the jewelry), but I don’t wear as much at once, nor do I work to acquire or make more jewelry, an avarice that used to take up a fair portion of my time.

So yeah. I’m a Quaker, but not because I own a quaker, and I dress more plainly, but I’m not going to trade my jeans for a skirt or my 2005 Scion in for a buggy (although I always wanted a horse….). I do a fair amount of religious reading, but I still read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy, too. I’ve come to truly dislike playing violent computer games (which I used to love), but I just used some tax return $$ to order the complete seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

And now, I’m off to pick up dog crap in the back yard. You know how many religions, including Christianity and Buddhism, stress humility? Nothing like dog crap, a soiled bird cage, and two litter boxes to remind me that I live to serve.

*I flirted with Buddhism ages ago, sillies, pre-blog. A wonderful religion/philosophy, and nicely in tune with Quakerism, as it turns out. But no Christ, a sticking point for me.

**That does mean that the thinking/thinkers that created Anabaptism pre-existed and were probably familiar to George Fox, the founder of Quakerism.

***Yes, I fall into this camp.

****I’ve struggled with weight and body image all my life, dieting down to WAY too skinny several times. Now, I’m comfortable and, by Hollywood standards, fat, which is to say, not quite medically obese, but baby, I ain’t thin.

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General Reportage

This entry is just an mulligatawny of what’s been going on lately in and around "Oats":

  • Storm Lake has dug out from the blizzard, although I haven’t had a mail delivery or pick up since Wednesday. My goal today is to dig the interior of the house out from dog hair.
  • My account of my breast lump surgery was selected for last week’s Grand Rounds, "the weekly round-up of the best of the medical blogosphere." Yay to my pal Susan for suggesting I send it in.
  • Speaking of Susan, there’s an interesting conversation on her blog about the relationship between Belief (capital "B" for spiritual belief) and willingness to suspend disbelief in reading fiction. Check it out.
  • In an earlier post, I describe how people NOT looking for "Sowing Mild Oats" or "Left of the Mississippi" (old blog name) end up here due to internet search terms. I thought I’d share with you the most recent non-Oats/Mississippi search terms that landed folks at this blog: "Breast can smashing" and "dominatrix tongue depressors." I can only wonder.

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