Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Time to Play

Hi! It's me! (Not many photos today; Mom is knee deep in her mosaics.) She said her cousins asked about me at the family get-together, so I thought I'd tell y'all what I've been up to. Mainly, I've been growing! I'm 6 months old, and I weigh almost 8 pounds. I don't eat much, especially since it got so hot outside, but I've got Mom feeding me peoples food one bite at a time, and she keeps organic puppy chow and filtered water down all the time. She says I'll grow a little more but not much. Geesh! I was sure hopin' I'd get big enough to reach those door knobs......

I've started liking people, a lot, no matter who shows up at our door. Back when I was a li'l kid, like last month, I thought everybody was here to steal the peanut butter, and I'd bark and growl at them till they went away, but now I know they just came to play with me! Well, most of 'em do, but like the guy who came to look at the carpet and the ones who hang out with Dad in his shop, not so much. And then there are the ones like Shawn......when he came for supper, he got down on the floor and let me give him kisses and threw the ball for me and rewarded me with Cheerios! Only trouble is, they always leave.

I am not loving this Arkansas summer, though! Excuse me! Whose idea was this? I mean if you're butt nekkid, or close to it, this 100 degree heat and humidity might be almost bearable, but you try playing out there in a double-layered fur coat and see how much you love the good ol' summer time! Dad says it will only get worse thru September, so I'm stickin' indoors, except for quick trips out to do my business. In the mornings, the dew is so heavy that I come back lookin' like a drowned rat, so I mostly play in the backyard in the evenings after the sun has set. You just wait till winter. You guys will be sitting around shivering, and I'll be the one all toasty and rearin' to go!

Dad didn't stay mad about the little bit of tinkle on the bed, and I've been sleeping with them a lot! It's my most favoritest thing! I start out at the foot of the bed, being all nice and quiet and chewing on Mickey Mouse, but towards morning, I get a little bored, and whenever one of them moves or makes noise, I think maybe they want to play! So I move up and kiss them on the face, but usually they say, "No, Marley!" all grumpy like. And then it's just me and ol' Mick again, all alone in the dark. People sure are serious about their sleep.

Mom is still tryin' to leash train me. I get Cherrios for not biting it, but mostly I bite it and roll up in it. A Shih Tzu will do whatever you ask him long as that's what he was planning to do anyway. Well, it's almost time for Dad to come home. He only works 2 days a week, but he's my best play buddy, so I miss him really, really bad! When I hear his truck pull into the garage, I go bonkers......I think that's him! Omigosh! Omigosh! See ya!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hypertufa Workshop

It was a dark and stormy Saturday morning..........Lou Madrew (yes, her name rhymes) and I had planned to go to an all-day workshop to learn how to make hypertufa, and with an 80% chance of rain predicted for the whole day, we considered cancelling, but when I called Kandy, she said, "It's not raining here! C'mon, and we'll have a great day!" So, we went, thinking maybe she would reschedule when the rain moved back into North Little Rock. But the rain never came (no more than a few drizzles), and we did have one of the most fun workshops I've ever attended.

I won't go into the history, recipes and techniques of hypertufa, but Google will pull up over 400,000 sites where you can learn more if you're interested. Basically, it's a medium using Portland cement, vermiculite, peat moss, and sand and can be poured and molded into all kinds of troughs, bird baths, flower pots, and decorative pieces, but unlike cement alone, it's light and quite movable; and in time, it takes on a beautiful, weathered and ancient look.

I got totally inspired, even before the workshop began, wandering through Kandy's leafy, shady, tall-grassy backyard and discovering her handmade, eclectic treasures; I loved every inch of it. There's even a hypertufa waterfall with gi-normous goldfish in the pool below.

Working with hypertufa is muddy, messy fun, and I was transported back to making mud pies with my sister and cousins on our grandmother's front porch. I did a few mosaic stepping stones last year, but Kandy takes it to a whole 'nother level, and now I've got a mosaic dulcimer and pink mosaic flamingos on my to do list. And those leaves! They were our favorites and just screaming for all manner of artistic applications and interpretations. I've begun looking around for huge leaves, like elephant ears, banana trees, rhubarb, etc.; when I find a stash of them, I'll have an afternoon of leaf casting in my own backyard.

She served us lunch of chicken salad and fresh strawberries and told us stories about her historical home and intriguing life. She has reason to believe that she's Al Capone's unacknowledged grandchild. I kid you not. Her husband, Jimmy, is an actor and set designer in the local theater and has been for many years. He showed us how to pour hypertufa flagstones in minutes that look exactly like the real thing. Hypertufa is hard (as a rock) in 24 hours but requires 28 days to cure.

You can find the Garage Sale Queen on Facebook, and she has a book that you can download. Her art is displayed around Little Rock, including pieces at the Starving Artist Cafe. She is all kinds of fun, and I can see her with her own TV show. I think most of us could teach ourselves hypertufa techniques from books and instructions on the net, but it's fun to discover the beginnings with others, and Kandy shared with us some variations that didn't quite work for her, always good to know. I went to Home Depot on Monday and loaded the back of the Kia with the makings for hypertufa, and I'll be posting my pieces here with more detailed info on how it's done. When Kandy offers an advanced mosaics class next summer, I plan to be there, rain or shine.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Turtle Surgery, Challenging Authority, & Chasing Birds

Guess what! I got a new toy. His name is Turtle. I've almost chewed his leg off, and Mom put him away till she gets around to sewing it back on; maybe I'll get it back someday. Anyway, I s'pose I ought to tell you that I've been in a little trouble lately, mostly about where I tinkle.....Mom says the internet tells her I'm going through adolescence and that I'm challenging authority, like when Dad throws the golf ball, I used to bring it back to him for Cheerios, but these days, it's way more fun to make him beg. Whoever the internet is, I like when it tells Mom about puppies 'cause it makes it okay to be me.

I mean, I got potty training down just perfect for a while, and you know how nutso Mom and Dad are about that kinda stuff, so they were real happy and told me Good Boy a lot! But sometimes it feels good to let 'er rip wherever I'm standing; I even peed on their bed (good thing Mom had a big, thick pad on it, otherwise Goodwill would have been getting a nice, new mattress with one tiny yellow stain in the middle of it this morning), and that got me exiled to my crate for the whole night, probably for a gazillion nights to come, 'cause Dad is still pretty mad at me, and Mom said I would be spending a couple of hours a day in the crate, to remind me to hold it. I don't mind so much, and I never put up a fuss; she always puts in an organic biscuit and my blue chewie dawg, and it gives me time to ponder life's important stuff, like chewing.

But hey, I play outside a lot, too, and I've discovered birds! We got lotsa birds. There's a nest of robins on the arbor, a nest of bluebirds in the little birdhouse Dad built, a nest of brown thrushes in the Chinese Witch Hazel, and a nest of noisy Mockingbirds in the Holly bush. I love to chase robins best because they're brave and cocky, and they steal the worms from our yard, all day long! I'm 'bout the fastest dog in the world, but I haven't caught one yet because just about the time I'm closing in and ready to nab one, it cheats and flies off! Watch out, suckas, one o' these days.......

Sometimes I wonder how Mom ever made it without me, though. I help her do everything, like sorting dirty laundry.......well, not actually sorting it, but I do grab socks and take off with them; it gives Mom exercise when she goes to find them. When she writes checks, I like to sit on the desk. She says I make a cute, fluffy paper weight; I'm very good and don't bother her papers, but I love smelling them. Did you know our mailman owns a cat? I can tell just from smelling the letters. I watch the writing as it comes out of her pen. Maybe I'll be able to make it write when I grow up.

So, that's how things have been going, workin' on the ol' potty training again, chasing ornery birds, helping Mom with the chores, and hoping Turtle gets well soon. (P.S. Mom says don't worry if you can't see my eyes. I can see fine, but we're trying to let my face hair grow out. I'll look totally awesome!)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Of Living Stones and Cacti

I love you all and thank you for your encouraging notes about the mammograms, this year and last. I haven't heard from the lab yet, but that's probably a good sign because the phone calls come faster than the letters. Letters~good; phone calls~not so good. Update! The mail just came, and the letter says I'm normal! That's great, seeing as how I've never considered myself normal before.....

Here's what I've been playing with this week, other than Marley: I found shelves of Living Stones (Lithops) at Lowe's, and I've been making small, rocky landscapes with them and a few cactuses I already had and some gem stones and geodes I had collected for just such an occasion.

As with everything, I went overboard, (4 trips to Lowe's) but here are photos of a few that I took in the glistening morning sun under the arbor, partly shaded by the ever attentive Harry.

Sometimes it's difficult to tell the difference betwixt flora and mineral.

They come from distant lands, like Africa and Afghanistan, so I've never seen them growing in the wild, but I think they must look amazing.

Their botanical names are Greek to me, but they have cute common names, like Chocolate Soldier, Split Rock, and Baby Toes. I think a couple of them look like the goofy plant in The Little Shop of Horrors. I'm taking a couple of the pots to Dave, Deb and Molly when we meet tomorrow at the park for a picnic because they like unusual plants, too.

I'm just very drawn to all these tiny plants.

Anyway, this is what has held my attention for a moment. I'm taking a class (big surprise there) May 15, and it's a brand new adventure that I'll tell you about later.