Aug 1, 2011

Bad Cat!

Maia Louise Being a Good Girl (for a Change) and Staying Close to Home

Maia Louise has been a royal pain in the ass of late, making her escape whenever possible in a bid to get to the ever-growing number of birds in our backyard since we added several new feeders to the big old crab apple tree, and being a cat, who can blame her? I'm very diligent about keeping her indoors, safe and sound, but sometimes she manages to make a break for it anyways and when she does it can be hours before we get her back inside. If I'm lucky enough to catch her fairly early in the act, and being the elderly cat she is and knowing she no longer can move faster than me, she'll gaze wistfully at the avian cafeteria ahead, sigh deeply, and with a sad little meow turn and skulk back to the house. But should she get free without my seeing her right away, she'll stay gone till long after her old body has grown tired and craves a nap and I worry endlessly for her safety. I long for cold winter days when her stiff achy bones prefer to do nothing but laze by the fireplace rather than plan a prison break every other minute.

Jul 12, 2011

Chihuahua Art

I adore this work! There's such joy on Norman's face, it's palpable!

Norman, by Rebecca Collins courtesy of

Jul 11, 2011

Chi Propaganda

I love the idea of a tiny chihuahua leading the doggie revolution to world domination!

Jul 4, 2011

Out for a Stroll

As neat as the shopping cart cozy has proven to be (see "Riding in Style, April 27, 2011), not all shops have shopping carts. And then there are the endless antique fairs throughout the summer which are far too crowded to allow two little dogs to walk on their leashes, lest they nearly get stepped on and flattened by one overly zealous treasure hunter after another. And have I ever mentioned those stores where dogs really aren't allowed? Well now I can usually get away on a technicality provided the men are zipped into what amounts to a mesh canopied cage on wheels. Canopy down for those days that are either too sunny or too rainy, canopy down and soft-sided mesh zipped up for stealth shopping in no-no stores, or canopy up and all sides open for the perfect (and safe) ride anywhere at all. And I totally dig the crazy plaid fabric. Here's to two little boys riding everywhere and anywhere in mega-style, safe from indifferent foot traffic and less than friendly store managers. Yay!

May 7, 2011

Bath Time!

Bath time is an event in our house, with one boy loving it and one boy hating it. Edison is not a fan of baths (and just about everything else, for that matter) and spends the entire time he's in the kitchen sink making these odd little old man whining sounds. It actually takes two adult humans to keep him in the makeshift bathtub, lest he leap out and seriously injure himself. Or worse. The joy he feels when he's been rinsed off, removed from that torturous water, toweled off and finally- at long last!- set free is palpable. Bram, on the other hand, loves the bath. But then, with the possible exception of children and Griffin's girlfriend, he loves everything anyways. Bram also needs two adults to supervise him, but only because while one quickly bathes the little monkey, the other has to perpetually keep him from eating the shampoo, drinking the yucky bath water, and any other thing Bram could possibly get into while immersed in a tub of warm water. The two boys are handfuls in their own unique ways.

They have their own sets of brightly colored and luxuriantly thick (and soft) bath towels and face cloths, as well as dog perfume to mask that corn-chip-and-dog-fart scent all dogs seem to develop as they ripen between baths. I'd been using a lovely sun-kissed raspberry scent on them till I found the only bottle of lavender-rosemary I have ever seen. Oddly, the first time I used the lavender fragrance on them, both boys instantly smelled exactly like the sort of lime rickeys you could only get at an old soda fountain/luncheon counter. Remember those? The lime rickey dog scent is actually quite delicious-smelling, and then it occurred to me: if I sprayed the lavender-rosemary perfume on them and then sprayed the sun-kissed raspberry over it, would I get two chihuahuas who smell like raspberry lime rickeys??

I can't wait to try this, but I'm going to wait till just before their next baths, lest I end up with two small dogs that smell not of sweet raspberry lime rickeys, but rather some heinous brew of multiple dog fragrances and dog farts, too

May 4, 2011

Your Friend

He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.


Photo of painted dog courtesy of idyllewilde on flickr.

Apr 27, 2011

Riding in Style

Trying to juggle two antsy (and usually barking) chihuahuas, carrier bags and a purse while out shopping with the boys is frequently more than I can handle. I can't carry them both loose at the same time and while Edison will happily ride in a doggie purse (see "Christmas Tree Shopping, Doggie Style," December, 13, 2008), Bram wouldn't get into one if his life depended on it. Shopping carts are often the answer (when stores have them- and most stores that allow pets do), but the boys' feet are so small they just slip right through the holes in the bottom of the cart. It isn't particularly comfortable for them to shop while immobilized to the tippy tops of their thighs, legs dangling through the cart and out the bottom, not to mention that I'd be terrified of an injury to one or more of their tiny legs.

The remedy? Whip up a quick cart cozy, quilted to keep tiny bums comfy and fleecy soft in the event anyone might wish to lie down and take a quiet snooze while riding (yeah, right). It can be rolled up, secured, and even worn over a shoulder for hands-free carrying while walking the boys into a shop or across a busy street. It weighs next to nothing and is the perfect solution for all three of us being able to enjoy our shopping experiences together. Now all I need is to get Bram to stop lunging and snapping at every small child he sees. Man, does that boy hate kids.

Apr 22, 2011

Portrait of Maia Louise II

Another portrait of Maia Louise, this time in nearly three-quarter profile and also drawn from those photos that appeared here a few weeks back (see "Maia Louise," January 4, 2011 and "Portrait of Maia Louise I," February 27, 2011). I've been commissioned many, many times to draw dogs but no one ever hires me to do a portrait of their cats. I wonder why this is? Even I never draw my own cat. While I enjoyed the novelty of working on a cat portrait (or two), her stripes were far too fussy for my liking for just a couple of drawings in a sketchbook. Sorry, Maia.

Portrait of Maia Louise, graphite on paper, 2011

Apr 17, 2011

Spring Afternoon

Two boys enjoying a quiet moment in their favorite chair in the afternoon sun. There's often much vying for the choicest sun spot here where it's all warm and cozy, from lunchtime till the sun dips below the horizon at the end of the day. As usual, Edison is showing his quiet manners nicely, while Bram hogs the camera, front and center, always Mommy's little ham bone. Frankly, it'd surprise the hell out of me were they to behave any other way.

Apr 10, 2011

Baseball Season's Begun

This billboard is actually from last season at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. And while we have just two Chik-fil-A restaurants in my entire state (neither of which is near me and neither of which I've ever seen. Who knew? I had to look it up on the ever-useful web to discover this fact) I certainly wouldn't be at all bummed if a billboard like this went up around Fenway this season. Heck, I'd love to see a cow actually charge the mound in protest for eating beef. Honestly, how awesome would that be?

Apr 4, 2011

Edison's Fourth Birthday

Despite all the stress of the last few weeks, I did manage to take a little time to celebrate Edison's fourth birthday on the 21st of last month. I can't believe my little man is this old- sadly, time flies by far too quickly in our little ones' lives. Lack of time prevented me from making them more intricate party hats this time around, so the boys were forced to wear simple clown cones made of iridescent paper, but with the addition of some bright blue marabou trim to jazz them up a bit. The boys enjoyed a tiny homemade blueberry cake and shared some spring-themed gifts, including a crocheted squirrel holding a large (also crocheted) acorn. And no holiday would be complete without a new catnip mouse for Bram, who prefers small cat toys to all others and has quite an impressive collection of mice. This latest one is a bright sky blue one that is morbidly obese, quite unfortunate for the little fellow as due to his enormous belly, his tiny feet come no way near to touching the ground. Happy birthday once again my little man!

Mar 17, 2011

A Brief Hiatus

I've been post-less for almost two weeks now due to a family crisis and most likely won't be back for some time to come (hopefully not too long though). There is just no way, given the circumstances I am dealing with, that I can focus enough to actually write something worth reading. I hope you'll bear with me during this difficult time and will still be here waiting for me when I return. Take care and much peace to you all!

Mar 6, 2011

Victorian Chihuahuas

Chihuahuas from more than a century ago, living in Victorian elegance.

Photos courtesy of

Feb 27, 2011

Portrait of Maia Louise I

The first of two portraits of Maia based on some photos of her recently published here (see "Maia Louise," January 4, 2011). I managed to effectively maintain her haughty, obnoxious attitude in this drawing, which is so important as it's her defining characteristic.

Portrait of Maia Louise, graphite on paper, 2011 (detail)

Feb 20, 2011

Edison in the Land of Oz

Edison has liked to watch The Wizard of Oz since he was a baby and even now at nearly four enjoys sitting on my lap and joining me in a viewing. In fact, we've watched it twice in the last month alone. He loves the munchkins and all the kooky things in the busier scenes, like those that take place in Munchkinland and those within The Emerald City. He likes to watch Toto, any birds that appear in the film (he loves all birds anytime, anywhere), and he really enjoys the Wicked Witch. Her flying monkeys send him into paroxysms of joy. However, for reasons known only to him, he hates the Tin Man. He gets especially upset when the Tin Man is first introduced and goes into his "If I Only Had a Heart" song and dance. Edison goes absolutely berserk while watching the Tin Man clanking about on the Yellow Brick Road and banging here and there on his body. He poofs up, growls and snarls at the TV, eventually escalating into uncontrollable barking. The hysteria ends abruptly when the Tin Man toots steam out of his little hat, at which point Edison not only shuts up in mid-bark, but visibly flinches and jerks backwards with a look of amazement on his tiny face. When the dancing resumes, so does the crazy-dog mania. After this scene, those lucky enough to watch the movie with Edison have a slight reprieve, but only a small one, as from here on out, every time the Tin Man can be heard clanking about in a scene no matter what the character is doing or not doing, Edison ramps up the crazed shouting once again. And on and on it goes till he exhausts himself and takes a blessedly quiet nap.

Feb 15, 2011

The Eccentric Mr. Fish

Mr. Fish, usually being an in-your-face sort of chap, suffers from a bit of camera shyness as he swims away from his nearly constant face-pressed-to-the-glass pose.

Mr. Fish's actual name is Mr. Sparkle Fins (whose brother is named the rather unfortunate Senor Rainbow Fish Sparkle Fins II), but for obvious reasons I prefer to call him simply "Mr. Fish." He lives in a small tank in a sunny spot on the kitchen counter as he found it too cold in one of the bedrooms upstairs where he briefly lived. This is actually his second tank, the first one having been knocked off the counter by Maia Louise at 4 am one morning as I showered the day's art filth off of me. I heard a muffled crash, leaped out of the shower and ran dripping and naked through the house, only to find a broken tank, an insane amount of smelly fish water covering the entire kitchen floor complete with gravel and plastic plants floating lazily around in it, and Mr. Fish flopping madly while being volleyed about by an ecstatic Maia Louise. I managed a quick pick up to make do till a more reasonable hour and followed it up with a second shower. But I digress.

Mr. Fish is a very weird little fish. Unlike every other fish I've ever encountered in a tank anywhere, Mr. Fish never simply goes about his fishy business unaware of the humans doing their own personal things around him. Mr. Fish watches everything you do. And I mean everything. He constantly moves from one end of his tank to the other, following your every move, never once taking his tiny black eyes off of you. He's enthralled by ordinary kitchen-y type objects (utensils, food packages, et al) placed on the counter near him. He's especially fond of things that are yellow, though why he is is anybody's guess. I've discovered that if you stand in front of his tank while he's staring you down, and you wave to him, he gets so excited he spins in a circle like a puppy.

As I'm not a big fan of keeping any creatures that require a cage and loss of their freedom, I admit I feel bad for Mr. Fish and talk to him quite often when I'm in the kitchen, and I even take the lid off of his tank so he can see up and out the top for a change of scenery (I just have to make sure I remember to put it back before I leave the room, lest I give Maia a free shot at scooping him out and gobbling him down). And one day I felt compelled to reach in and touch him. Now honestly, what are fish supposed to do when you stick your hand into their water? Freak out and swim away in terror, right? Not our Mr. Fish who loves to have his back rubbed, so much so that he'll roll onto his side and wiggle around like a dog rolling in some sweet, cool grass on a summer's day. He's only big enough for a one-fingered rub and a very gentle one at that for fear of hurting him, but love them he does.

I dread the day he passes as Mr. Fish is unlike any fish I've ever known, seen or even just heard of. It's like there's another, more knowing creature inside his tiny fishy body, one that hates being trapped in a little tank full of water and yearns for interaction with the world outside. This is a thinking fish, a lonely fish and to be frank, a very, very strange fish that makes some people, who find themselves spending more than a few moments in my kitchen, quite uncomfortable.

Feb 8, 2011

Brammy Stays Warm

Brammy had the right idea on a recent very cold winter's afternoon: sleepily hunker down in a down-filled bed under a pile of little fleece blankets and only peep out when someone insists you show yourself.

Jan 27, 2011

Chihuahua Art

It had been awhile since I last saw some neat little art with chihuahuas as the main subject and then I stumbled across this sweet collage and instantly fell in love. The repeating chi is adorable and who doesn't like an ancestor with a helium balloon for a head?

Family Portrait/Chihuahua, collage, 2007
Photo courtesy of kaizermodo

Jan 22, 2011

Two Chunky Sweaters

Despite my lingering vertigo-type virus, I've managed to finish these two super chunky turtlenecks for my boys just in time for an insanely cold arctic blast due to hit tonight. When it goes into the low minuses for the next few days, the little men will be sitting pretty (and cozy) in their uber-thick but very soft lambswool sweaters. I made Edison's first and discovered when I put it on Bram to see if I could get away with the same size and stitch count, that Brammo's head almost completely disappeared inside the large turtleneck, thus some adjustments were made to the pattern and chubby, shorter-necked Bram got a sweater he could wear without needing a periscope to see up and out the top. I had hoped to put some gorgeous sea green and blue buttons on them to tie the two together subtly in a colorwise way, but was very unhappy with the way they looked sewn on. Love the sweaters, love the buttons, but together? Not so much. But even unadorned, these sweaters still rock and so do my handsome men inside them. Bring on the chill, baby! Bring it on!

Jan 15, 2011

A Homemade Diet: The Early Days

Bram has been struggling with intermittent stomach issues for the last few months, the origins of which remain unknown. His blood work is normal, his health is otherwise fine, but his tummy-and god only knows why- feels compelled to rebel in a very unpleasant way for both Bram and his humans. I'm pretty sure it's a new food allergy or intolerance but despite endless elimination and reintroduction diets, I've yet to figure out which ingredient it is. I'm thinking it may be more than one, with one of the culprits most likely corn, a food that is not in any of the dog food he or Edison eats but which I must admit I am guilty of feeding them in tiny amounts when noshing on my own unhealthy human snacks.

I've spoken with my vet about homemade diets, and although I'm willing to take the time and pay the expense of it all, I worry about my men getting the proper nutrition they need to stay healthy for many, many years to come. My vet has seen horror stories played out before her very eyes, and of course she shared every last gory detail with me (thanks, doc!) so I've decided to strike something of a compromise. I will continue to use the holistic kibble and organic wet food I know the little boy can eat without incident, and will also continue to add bits of human meats, veggies and fruits to their meals as well, but I've started to buy some of the better doggie cookbooks to use in creating those yummy, healthy foods to be used as supplements to dog food meal time.

The boys have had their first organic chicken livers; a meat that I really struggled with poaching while suffering from a flu-like virus. I've found that boiling fresh organ meats requires a stomach of steel, at least in my kitchen at any rate. They've enjoyed the recent addition to their diets of grass-fed sauteed buffalo and next we'll be testing the tummy waters with some salmon and possibly a bit of fresh tuna. Veggies are always welcome (except for the much-despised peas) and fruits are being kept to a minimum till Bram's stomach is fully settled.

As someone who was raised by an executive chef and who has an almost obsessive need to keep buying and using new cookbooks, moving into the realm of fine doggie cuisine is not only going to be healthier for my boys, but absolutely hands-down fun-as-hell for me too.

The Healthy Dog Cookbook: 50 Nutritious and Delicious Recipes Your Dog Will Love, Jonna Anne with Mary Strauss and Shawn Messonnier, DVM, Ivy Press Limited, 2008

The Natural Pet Food Cookbook: Healthful Recipes for Dogs and Cats, Wendy Nan Rees with Kevin Schlanger, DVM, Wiley, John & Sons, 2008.

Photos courtesy of Barnes and Noble.

Jan 9, 2011

The Stuffed Duck, Part One

We had a very special little Call Duck who passed away last month after a very long and very blessed life. His previous owner had had many of his most special birds stuffed, thus preserving them for all time, and so we had talked about doing this ourselves for little Pibb when his time came, provided he was to pass while he was in fine feather. Well, he did and he was, so we took him to the man who had worked on so many of Pibb's predecessors.

As someone who doesn't like to see dead animals, or even think about them suffering or being killed in any way, I wasn't sure how I would handle being in the same room with a bunch of them. Oddly though, I generally like taxidermied animals (even the badly done ones), probably because they're a happy combination of a creature looking beautifully alive and acting as a piece of art all at the same time. I surprised myself by not having any trouble maneuvering through a minefield of bloodied and decapitated bodies and heads piled here and there on the floor waiting for their turn to be immortalized. In fact, I was fine with everything: the ugly untreated bits and the gloriously gorgeous creatures in the showroom: everything from the giant moose down to the tiniest birds and everything in between.

The only thing I didn't do so well with was when the man's very young daughter excitedly told me the story of how she had just made her first kill and that daddy was going to stuff her buck for her. Keeping a smile on my face and looking happy for her wasn't the easiest thing I have ever done. Hunting an animal for sport is not something I want to hear about, but a child hunting an animal for sport and being so pleased with herself was almost more than I could bear. But alas, bear it I did for our little Pibb, who I simply can't wait to have back here at home with us, fat little body, bent little wobbly leg and all.

Pibb! When will you be ready for us to come and collect you, little man?

Jan 4, 2011

Maia Louise

Maia was being a fairly good girl for a change, sitting quietly in her bed, transfixed by a fly that was buzzing around on the light fixture on the ceiling above her head. (I'm not sure how a fly managed to stay alive in the frigid winter temperatures we're currently having, but power to it for making it this far into the season). When I saw how sweet she looked while not tearing up a pillow she isn't supposed to be on while sharpening her claws, rabbit kicking a magazine to shreds with her back feet, venomously swatting at shiny chihuahua eyes, or sundry other rotten cat behaviors she enjoys indulging in, I ran for my camera. Her giving me the cold stare in one of the photos aside, followed rapidly by her realizing that the fly was now a mere inches from her bum in the other photo, she posed rather nicely. For a cat.

Having now managed to get the rare couple of photos of her not in a blurry swirl of whiskers and fur, and given doctor's orders to rest through a nasty virus I'm now suffering from, I plan on sitting quietly for the next few days, wrapped all snuggly in a blanket with the boys, and sketching her up from these pictures, a rare treat from the usual dog portraits.
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