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Today my bruise is a purple nebula with a black halo. Like a shifting tattoo, its pointillism has revealed images of a horned goat’s head, a sheep, and The Great Gonzo. This alone is well worth the price of admission. Add to that the shock value: I derive a perverse thrill from flashing it at unsuspecting victims to see their expressions of horror. I will miss it when it’s gone.

Life has only gotten stranger since I fell into the bucket. We have suffered a series of unfortunate duck mishaps in the last few days– some too tragic to detail here. In a nutshell, I’ve lost three ducks this week — all members of Generation Z. We almost lost a fourth. Somehow this duckling, who is at that awkward, in-between stage of ducky adolescence, managed to get his silly duck head wedged in between two loose boards in the barn. He must have been stuck there for awhile because he had worn some of his neck feathers away trying to free himself from the gap. After I gently helped him get loose, he stumbled drunkenly around the pen, unable walk straight or keep his head up. So I scooped him up and carried him into the house for rehab. He’s been living in my bathtub getting physical therapy for the last three days. Sadly, I’m not kidding. He was put on a regimen of neck stretching and strengthening exercises. Today he seemed much better, so I put him back out in the pen with the others. The reunion was incredibly strange to watch. His family gathered around in a crescent to inspect him. While he stood there quack-quack-quacking they listened. He quacked and quacked and quacked some more as if he was telling them all about his abduction by the crazy lady. Eventally they started quacking back, walking around him, checking him out, and kinda poking at him softly with their bills. I hope he lives. By the way, his name is Michael Jackson. I didn’t name him. I’ve been asking my little preschooler and kindergartener friends to name the ducks of Generation Z when they visit. The names they gave the remaining 6 are Lily, Muddy, Jelly, Sparkles, Willie Nelson, and Michael Jackson.

Moon Pie has added a new skill to her reportoire.

…or maybe El-D has a new bandmate.

 

Need more Moon Pie?   Check out the links below….

Moon Pie is a Genius

Project Moon Pie and Other Puppy Stuff

My Dog is Smarter than the Elitest Jerk’s

 

 

They Called It Puppy Love

They Called It Puppy Love

In case you don’t know yet, that’s my doggy, Moon Pie.

Let’s geek out for a bit, shall we? I filmed the above video today. Moo Moo is three months into her training. She is doing better with action words than nominals. Her repertoire of action words includes: Sit, Down, Off, Come here, Get, Outside, Touch, Drop it, No, and Listen.  She’s currently working on Stay. Her nominals include: Ball, Panda, Yip, Nickel, Kitty, and Squirrel.

Due of my own training, my approach with Moo Moo relies heavily on behaviorial theory with a linguistic spin.  Recently though, I’ve been learning about “dog psychology” from Cesar Millan.  Skattur has been telling me to check out this guy for awhile. She watched his show religiously, despite the fact she doesn’t have a dog. I finally broke down and got his book, Cesar’s Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems. It was fabulously undogtrainingguidebookish.

I abandoned most of the dog training books in my gianormous stack within a few chapters (and sometimes within a few pages) because they were horribly boring or just too campy.  But Cesar Millan’s book was different.  First off, he does not consider himself a dog trainer.  He describes himself as a “dog psychologist,” which for me instantly brought up a mental image of a dog reposed on Freud’s couch. Based on that image alone I was prepared to not like this book. Then there’s the fact that he works with all these celebrity people and he frequently uses the word “energy.”  Psychology, celebrity, and energy — the combination of the three made me roll my eyes in self-righteous derision. So, I surprised myself when I stayed with this book until the end. I was even more surprised when I realized I like him and his book. Millan is a ballsy guy who bootstrapped his way to success. His insights on dogs are based on sound experience.



The only other book I’ve found about dogs recently that I liked was a work of fiction — Nora Robert’s The Search.  The blogger behind roughwighting.net recommended it. I haven’t read Nora Roberts in years, so I was due for one.  The woman has written about a bajillion books and her writing style has definitely evolved since the last one I read. Romance isn’t my usual reading fare, nor is it my go-to genre for dog information, but I felt strangely compelled.  This was no ordinary romance novel.  There were serial killers, murders, a bit of mystery, and lots of dog training tid-bits. The romance seemed ancillary, though there were steamy parts.  Table sex was involved.  It was a good read on all counts.

Back to Moo Moo.  More videos of Moo-Moo’s genius may be found in the following posts.  I highly recommend viewing them at work due to their Power of Kawaii (Nittono, Fukushima, Yano, & Moriya, 2012), which improves your productivity. More information on that following the reference. 🙂

This Week on the Farm:Dreams, Rescues, Attacks

This Week on the Farm: Project Moon Pie

Just Another Day at the Office

Reference

Nittono H., Fukushima M., Yano A., Moriya, H. (2012) The Power of Kawaii: Viewing Cute Images Promotes a Careful Behavior and Narrows Attentional Focus. PLoS ONE 7(9): e46362.  doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046362

We are very busy at work this morning doing urgent, important things!

What are you up to today?

Overlapping Seasons

It is spring again.  The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart. 

–Rainer Maria Rilke

It snowed this weekend…right atop the autumn leaves, budding roses, and daffodil blooms.

snow

Fall leaves, winter snow, spring daffodils

Fall leaves, winter snow, spring daffodils

The Duck Report

mallards

mallards

We lost one of our ducks, Baby Gold, to a raccoon who found a breach in El Diablo’s Duck Defense System (DDS).  The perp was apprehended and sentenced to exile.

The seven remaining domestic ducks have been joined by three mallards (two males and a female) who have taken up residence in the pond. Not to be outdone by P. Recious Rainbow, Kiki Duck is now nesting with a *crazy* number of eggs beneath her feathers.

Project Moon Pie

We’ve introduced another label (ball) and another action word (touch) to Moo Moo’s repertoire.  The ever-determined Moo Moo has taken to watching videos of her performance trials to improve her skills.

Moo Moo the Genius

Moo Moo the Genius

…and speaking of improving performance, here is:

Good News for Crazy Cat Ladies

Thanks to researchers in Japan (of course) we now have scientific evidence that looking at cute kitten and puppy pictures/videos facilitates performance in dexterity and focus tasks.  I am not making this up…click that link and you can read about it for yourself.

 This is exactly why you should read my blog. I post cute baby animal pictures regularly. I can help you at work. I bet you’ll even snag a raise.  Subscribe today!

The purpose of this post is to antagonize the Elitest Jerk, who had the gall to laugh at me when she saw how OCD I am about Moo Moo’s training.  In full disclosure, it’s true, I have a ridiculously tall stack of dog training books and I have been keeping a journal documenting the data from our daily trials in obnoxious detail.  When I justified this admittedly peculiar behavior by explaining that “I can’t help it — it’s the scientist in me” she just laughed harder and told her mom, who also laughed at me.

I have no idea what is so funny.  Afterall, I DO have a Ph.D.  I am a scientist!  And as such, I am amassing evidence that my little Moon Pie is smarter than her Cupcake.  In conclusion, I have three videos documenting the brilliance of Moo Moo. I leave you with the words of Bernadette of the Big Bang Theory, “…get a doctorate. I have one; they’re great.”

Yip

This is my cat Lelelelelelele Yip!

Last night a crowd of crazy cat ladies (and men) descended upon the Memphis Brooks Museum for the Internet Cat Video Festival.

While a DJ blasted tunes like The Siamese Cat Song and The Meow Mix Song, attendees prowled around the lobby in leopard print skirts and cat ear headbands.  We purred happily over sparkly feline baubles as we lapped at our  “furballs” – a pink concoction involving rum, coconut milk, cranberry juice, and whip cream.

Then came the main attraction: internet cat videos.

Internet cat video aficionados (Yes, aficionados. I get to use my fancy words because we were at a museum) had already viewed many of these videos at home (or at work).   But gathering together to watch these videos in a theatre packed with like-minded individuals lended the whole affair a certain je ne sai quoi in terms of public image.  It was validating.  High brow even!

It took me back to my belly dancing days on a Costa Rican mountain top when we danced to the beat of thunder pounding on the roof of our pagoda.  (That is a true story I have always wanted to tell in an affected British accent at a cocktail party.  It would make me sound so much more interesting than I actually am. Sadly, I have never been invited to said cocktail party to tell it.  But that’s ok because I’m way too busy at home watching fancy internet cat videos to attend your silly cocktail parties anyway.)  One day during my Costa Rica adventure, I sat in a room with 60 other belly dancer women and participated in a three minute laughing meditation. If you have never participated in a group laughing meditation, let me tell you, the first time is incredibly weird. You will be instructed to basically fake it ’til you make it.  That’s right – just fake laugh nonstop with everyone else until the silliness of it all carries you into complete hysterics. It’s quite a catharsis really.

At any rate, sitting in the dark laughing for 15 minutes nonstop with crazy cat ladies was just like that but weirder and even more wonderful because there was no fake laughing involved.  I watched grown men laugh until they cried over cat antics. And then I laughed until I cried. We all laughed and cried and it was this amazingly beautiful communal experience.  It was!

And so I will leave you with a few of my favorite videos from the evening.  For best results, make them big screen and gather a few friends (or strangers) to watch. Enjoy!

Goaty Goodness

Goaty Goodness

Dreams of Goaty Goodness

Spring is around the corner and Goaty Goodness is afoot. I can feel it. My kids are out there somewhere.

El Diablo has in his head that we’re getting a pygmy goat. It’s so cute how he comes up with these wild ideas. He thinks a pygmy will be “less trouble.” He came to this conclusion after listening to tales told one wintery eve by a fellow traveler who had bought goats during what she described as a mid-life crisis. In an attempt to dissuade me from following in her missteps, she told a succession of horror stories about her experiences with her goats. The moral of her story was: get sheep, not goats, because sheep are a lot less trouble.

While I would consider sheep in addition to goats, I can’t consider them a replacement.  A mid-life goat crisis is not something that can be lived vicariously.  I want to have my own.  There is no substitute for Goaty Goodness.

So, I’ve been reading up on goats lately trying to figure out which kind would be the best addition to the farm.  I keep coming back to Angora goats. I have an elaborate fantasy of sitting at the spindle and spinning their fur into mohair yarn to dye and knit.  Yeah, I know someone has been watching too much Once Upon a Time lately. You can call me Briar Rose. If you’re going to dream, dream big.

Operation Panda Rescue

In other news, Moon Pie is a freakin’ genius.  We have been playing a fun new game in which her favorite toy, Panda, is in peril and only she can rescue it. It took her five trials to figure out how to break Panda out of jail.  I’ve posted two videos (Trial 2 and Trial 5) of her training below. Trial 2 was an unsuccessful attempt to get Panda free, but it features her stealthy army crawl technique.

 

 

Trial 5 demonstrates her brilliance and bravery. Mission accomplished!

 

The Duck Report

The baby ducks are going through an awkward phase.  They are growing all long necked and legged, but they are still too short to scale the pool walls on their own.  So yesterday as I was changing their water I had this bright idea: Wouldn’t it be great fun to catch a baby duck and let it go for a swim?

“Fun” is not quite the right word to describe what happened next. Baby ducks run remarkably fast for having such little legs.  After chasing ducks all over the pen for a good five minutes, I finally managed to catch Mistletoes.  Mistletoes went from cute little peep-peep-peeps to frantic cries of “PEEP! PEEP! PEEP! PEEP!”

And that’s when P. Recious Rainbow Queen Mother stopped running away and went all “momma bear” on me.

She came barreling at me with lightning in her eyes and malice in her squawking.  I guess she called on her pterodactyl ancestry because she somehow transformed herself into a huge winged monster.  I stood deer-in-the-headlights frozen by the sight of her as she grabbed a hold of my boot with her ferocious bill and viciously yanked at it.  All the while she was flapping and hissing. I was screaming and flailing. Baby duck was PEEP! PEEP! PEEPing.

Moo-moo was out the outside of the pen, going crazy.  All of our Panda Rescue Missions had been leading up to this moment.  She went barking up a storm, lunging at the pen in an effort to save me from my attacker.

In trying times you learn who has your back…and who does not. While all this was going on, El Diablo was standing outside the pen laughing and fumbling for his iPhone in an effort to video the spectacle. (This is exactly the sort of behavior that earned him the name “The Devil.”) Lucky for me, he didn’t have his phone on him.

Mistletoes did not get to swim in the pool.  He was returned to Moma Duck and I got the hell out of there.  Getting your ass handed to you by a duck is a humbling experience.

Yes, it’s another post with duck pictures.  Hey, don’t you roll your eyes at me!   Yes, I know, I might seem a little overly preoccupied with ducks lately, but today I have good reason:

P-Recious Rainbow Queen Mother *smiled* at me.   She freakin’ smiled at me.

I’m not kidding.  See for yourself…

Clearly, that is a smiling duck.

Clearly, that is a smiling duck.

I mean come ON — look at that smile all coy and shy-like.

Of course, you would probably smile too if I talked to you like I do to her.   At the time I was going on and on (and on) about how wonderful she is, how pretty, how sweet, and how she is such a good momma.  And then she gave me that “Aw shucks” expression you see there.

And then there are her golden yellow babies with their shiney new bills that also keep me preoccupied.

Frank & Myrrh adorable baby ducks

Frank & Myrrh – adorable baby ducks

My week hasn’t been all about ducks though.  When I haven’t been in the barn providing Queen Mother positive affirmation, I have been contemplating why there is a dead crawdad in the bird bath.

This is a crawdad

This is a crawdad

And pondering the comment elicited by dead crawdad: “Pair that with some corn and mashed potaters and that’s good eatin’!”

In other news,  I have been taking private yoga lessons from Moo-Moo this week. As soon as I stepped off the mat, she got on to demonstrate a perfect Salamba Bhujangasana (aka Sphinx Pose).

yogi pup

yogi pup showing me how it’s done

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