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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 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


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


 To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a little better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. 

This is to have succeeded.

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am so happy to be celebrating the success of a friend.  She has certainly succeeded by Emerson’s standards — and tomorrow my shimmy sister, Debra Parmley, releases her fourth book, Trapping the ButterflyThis one is set in the 1920s in one of my favorite weekend getaways: Hot Springs, Arkansas. I cannot wait to read it!

Last night she had a radio interview about the book, which you can listen to HERE.

You can watch the book trailer from her third novel, Aboard the Wishing Star, below:

And be sure to check out her blog!  She does a fun series of interviews called “Cover Model Corner” with those hunky men of romance novels.

Just in case you missed the other book trailer I posted (I love these things), you can find it HERE.

Yay Debra! You’re awesome. 🙂

A dear friend has recently had her second book published.  I’m sooooo excited for her!  The book trailer appears below.  Check it out! 

This was the first book trailer I’ve seen.  How about you?

You can purchase her book at

I went through a strange romance novel-horror story phase in early adolescence.  While other girls my age were reading Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, I inhabited a literary world of heaving bossoms, throbbing members, kitten-killing ex-Nazis and evil clowns. Danielle Steele and Stephen King make strange bedfellows. My mother frequently confiscated this contraband and bought me titles like Exodus: The Story of Moses and Kittens! Look and Learn! to read.  Fortunately, I knew where she hid the banned books, so I read what she wanted me to read when she was looking and read what I wanted to read when she wasn’t. This odd combination of influence in my formative years probably explains a lot about my psyche. 

Eventually I phased out of the romance novel-horror story combination when I realized romance was too fake and horror too real. This was around age 16. I moved on to mystery novels and other genres. 

These days I take a more mystical approach to reading:  I read what finds me.  Though it’s usually random, sometimes themes emerge.  Here are some of the books that found me this summer. 

  I kicked off my summer reading with The Red Diary, a romance novel that a friend had passed on after she’d read it. It has been years since I read the genre.  Things have changed.  Someone should do a study on how the lexicon describing body parts in romance novels has evolved over the last two decades.  I flew through the novel.  It was more modern than I expected. The plot was simple: Rich girl falls for her house painter. It was light and fluffy, yet full of all the sexual tensions you’d expect in the formulaic romance plot. Honestly, it was a nice change from my usual fare.


Next came Go Tell It on the Mountain.  This one was recommended by blogger Robert Bruce of 101 Books, who is currently reading and reviewing his way through Time Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest novels since 1923.  His review of the book sparked my curiosity, so I checked it out of the library and  read it on my way to the ashram.  I finished the book as the plane’s wheels touched down in Florida. It was a churchy book with a dark, despairing tone that resolved in a sort of redemption-through-surrender ending. The language was lovely.  My favorite line was, “She moved in a silent ferocity of dignity which barely escaped being ludicrous.”


Oddly, the spiritual theme continued with strange contrasts and parallels in the book Georgia Bottoms.  I finished reading this one exactly as the plane wheels touched down in Tennessee on my way back from the ashram.  I grabbed this one from the library because I liked the pair of shoes on the cover. Plus the title was cute and there was a review by Stephen King on the dust jacket: “Funniest novel I have read in ten years!”  I didn’t find the book all that funny.  Maybe Stephen King was in on some joke I wasn’t.  Still, it was an enjoyable enough read – very Southern, sassy, and irreverent.

The main characters in Georgia Bottoms and Go Tell It on the Mountain couldn’t have been more different.  Miss Georgia Bottoms is a white, small-town, church-attending prostitue, while John is the illegitimate son of a  black inner-city preacher. Despite the drastic difference in character and tone, both books address hypocracy, faith, redemption, and what it means to be a good person.   Both books were relevant reading for my own physical and metaphysical journey.   They got me thinking about all the weird stuff we do to try to understand this crazy world and to simply deal with being human and all the conflict that entails. All the different language, metaphor, and ritual  — how divisive those things can be!  How we latch on to made-up ideas and refuse to let go. How we go to such great lengths to defend what is largely a figment of the imagination (i.e., language, semantics, concepts, ideals, etc.).  It’s kinda weird. Ok, ok, enough waxing theologic.  Moving on the next book…

There are romance novels and then there are tales of love.  Of Love and Shadows is the latter.  It is about the kind of messy, horrible love that leaves battle scars on the soul.  Isabel Allende is rapidly becoming my favorite author. She is a master story-teller.  Brilliant.

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