Archive for March, 2010

  • Photo Archives

    Date: 2010.03.29 | Category: Photography | Response: 0

    I’ve added a new Photo Galleries page! Click on the link at the top of the blog to view photos from the shoots I’ve showed on my blog!

  • Dog Day Afternoon

    Date: 2010.03.29 | Category: Bonnie Barrell, Dogs, Kitties, Leela Fish, Pets, Sam Cat | Response: 4

    This weekend my friend Angela asked if we would mind watching her dogs while she took a short vacation to Dallas. Being the great friend she is and the dog lover that I am, there was only one obvious answer… “But of course!”

    Now we have two border collies and we have gotten very used to their border collie ways. For instance, no matter how exhausted they are, they will still chase after that dang frisbie. And when it’s time to go inside? They drag their feet, pout and continue to gaze at the tree tops just in case one more squirrel happens to make a dart across their line of site.

    The two we watched this weekend are very different. They actually take breaks when they are tired and don’t have that, “omg I can’t focus on anything else but this toy” syndrome. It was neat getting to spend time with two other breeds.

    Aria is a toy manchester.

    And she is tiny! At first she was very nervous about the whole new situation. She is so fast and tiny that we couldn’t keep up with her. But after the first night, she decided that Mark and I were acceptable and made our laps her new favorite resting place. She was particularly taken by my lap because I had a blanket she could snuggle under and hide from the rest of the dogs. I have never had a little dog, so it was fun to have such a portable little dog around the house.

    And, as you can see, the cats didn’t find her the least bit threatening… but maybe that’s because they both outweigh her by a few pounds.

    Lola is a weimerainer, and I know about weimerainers. My aunt has an entire herd of them. And the thing about weimerainers is that they love big, cushy surfaces, like an oversized chair for example…

    Even if it already has a person in it. And they have a lot of energy. So she absolutely loved playing with the border collies, though the catching of the frisbie proved to be slightly difficult, especially with two obsessed border collies waiting in the wings.

    Susan brought her two over Saturday morning for a big play date. All six enjoyed the time together and quickly paired off in a ball chasing formation that matched their personalities:


    Aria and Sable took to the front. This way they could keep an eye on the ball and not actually have to run in the middle of the wild dogs. Really, they just want to catch the ball in case Susan accidentally dropped it.

    Lucky and Leela took the premium ball catching position. They could run to the front, either side, or use their their speed and agility to get around the two in the back.

    And Lola and Bonnie took to the back, catching any that the middle team let get through.

    It worked out well and we were able to successfully wear all six of them out.

    It kind of makes me want to buy a dog ranch even more. One where I can have all the dogs I want. Small dogs, big dogs, sweet dogs, lazy dogs and more border collie dogs.

    p.s. How sweet are these faces?

  • I-S-what?

    Date: 2010.03.24 | Category: Family, Photography | Response: 8

    I like to take pictures. I have always loved having a point and click at the ready.

    But then I got this job and they wanted me to take real pictures. Like pictures that would be published in a magazine of various events. I had no idea how to go about this. But they, bless their hearts, had faith in me. So they handed me a Canon SLR and dropped me into an environment where I wasn’t allowed to use flash. It’s easy, they said! Just bump up your ISO a little bit. I-S-what?

    And that was my introduction to photography. I quickly turned to Google and Barnes and Noble and educated myself on things like f-stops and ISO. And while it took me a long time before I figured out how to take a decent photo, eventually it became easier as I got to know the camera. Not long after I purchased my own SLR and continued to educate myself. And I still am educating myself.

    My whole family and friends had faith in my photography ability and have really encouraged me. They’ve even let me do important things for them like senior pictures, engagement photos, and *gasp* even a couple of weddings.

    My youngest sister is beautiful and a big ham for the camera. She was one of those who had full confidence in my abilities before I even did. She declared to mom and dad that they would not, in fact, have to pay for her senior photos. “Why?” they asked. “Because,” she said, “I want Jessica to take them.” I was flattered. And she was full of great ideas.

    So we did two sessions and had an absolute blast.

    Here are some of my favorites.

    MC SmileMC Hat

    MC TrainMC Tree

    MC MonkeyMC Grass

    MC Circle1

    I enjoyed one of my first attempts at portrait photography. Of course it helped to have a beautiful model.

  • The Furry Little Monster That Stole My Heart

    Date: 2010.03.21 | Category: Kitties, Pets, Sam Cat | Response: 5

    I was going to tell you Bonnie’s story, but then I thought I should probably tell you Leela’s since we had her before Bonnie. But really, to be fair, I should tell you about Sam Cat because he was the very first pet Mark and I ever had together.

    Back in 2003, Mark and I started dating. I was a Sophomore in college and living in the dorm room with Susan. Being raised around border collies my entire life, I was having acute pet withdrawal living in the dorm room. Mark, however, conveniently had a town house less than 3 miles from campus. I brought up the idea of getting a dog. Mark wasn’t interested. After all, dogs were a lot of work and he had grown up with cats. Being a fairly new relationship (3 months) and in desperate need of furry affection, I agreed. A kitten it was.

    Shortly after Mark’s mom told us a friend of her co-worker had rescued three kittens in their neighborhood. They sent us this photo and wanted to know if we would take him.


    I mean, how can you possibly say no to that? It tugged at my heart.

    So Mark and I agreed to take him. We went to the lady’s house, and there he was… sitting on the back of her couch scratching the hell out of it. Mark’s eyes got as wide as saucers and immediately said, “My new furniture….” But he couldn’t deny his pet-starved new girlfriend the sweet little kitty she had fallen for. And so we took the little fur ball home.

    Now I had never had a cat in my whole life. I had no idea what to expect.

    So we got the litter box and food and got him all set up. We quickly discovered what a talker he was. He meowed all the time at everything. A constant, “Look at me! Look at me!” And sure enough, he started in on Mark’s new furniture. Getting underneath it, claws up and tearing it apart. He was so hairy that we sometimes had to, um, help him after the litter box.

    But he grew quickly. And soon he had the longest tail we’d ever seen! People would walk in and be amazed.
    cat fish

    And his hair got shorter. I was shocked. His little teenage awkward years were so funny.

    And finally, his full coat grew in and he showed what a big tom cat he really was. He had the best personality. He never met a stranger, he greeted everyone, and affectionately shoved his head in your shoes if you happened to take them off. Yes, we’d grown to love the big Sam Cat.


    The only problem? He was still tearing up the furniture. I couldn’t in good conscience agree to have him declawed. So after about a year, I suggested the next logical answer to this problem… get him a friend so he’s entertained and will stop being viscous. And I think it worked like a charm, but that’s Angie Cat’s story, so I’ll stop there.


    I must say though, now that we have a seven-year-old Sam who can go outside and sit in the window all day, we love him even more. He literally rules the roost, keeping both dogs in check. He will even let you pet on him and he loves the furminator. He still has his amazing, dynamic personality and fears no one. I love our little resident badass. Truly there will never be another one like him.


  • A Dig Through Memory Lane

    Date: 2010.03.18 | Category: Books, Nostalgia | Response: 2

    My mind is still warped by this time change. I can’t get over how late it is when it’s so sunny out. When it’s sunny I feel like I should be doing something. Working, cleaning, cooking, something.

    After work today, I decided I’d go dig through some of the boxes I’ve been slowly rescuing from mom and dad’s. Boxes that contain things from my high school and early college days.

    And I had so much fun. Boy was I a nerd. I’m not just saying that. I mean Matrix action figure, anime drawing nerdiness. And the thing is, seeing it still makes me smile. So, I decided to document some of my favorite discoveries.

    Behold: The Nerdiness!

    Well, you knew there would be books…

    Lots of fantasy books…

    And some Calvin and Hobbes thrown in for good measure.

    Speaking of fantasy books, I found this! It is a German kinder egg box full of Lord of the Rings toys.
    I mean, that’s got to be worth something right?

    And then there are the action figures.
    From left to right: Aragon from Lord of the Rings, Neo from the Matrix, Hermey from Rudolph and Morpheus from the Matrix.

    Are you dying from the nerdiness yet? Are you? Are you? Good, because I’m not done.

    I found this little jewel. That’s right, a drawing book I decoupaged.
    Yes that’s Ben Affleck, and yes those are Sailor Moon and Winnie the Pooh stickers.

    But it gets better, because I drew in this drawing book. All sorts of things.
    From my fellow high school classmates…

    To Harry Potter a la anime…


    And then there were the magnets from my college days. One of which features my youngest sister at age 3.

    And my first Christmas present from Mark
    Boy he thought I was weird after hearing They Might Be Giants.

    Angie Cat had to bale when I was digging. It was too much for her.

    But my favorite thing I stumbled upon was my scrapbook from when I went to New York with my grandparents. I was 16. We visited the twin towers.

    It was very surreal looking through everything. I think Becki would appreciate a lot of it.
    And yes, I was a little weird, but just looking through all this stuff makes me smile.
    Now, if I can only figure out where to display my action figures in our new house…

  • Victory! Victory! And a minor upset…

    Date: 2010.03.15 | Category: Bonnie Barrell, Leela Fish, Pets | Response: 7

    Susan and her dear, dog-lovin’ mom, Mrs. Leigh, are big proponents of local pet events. They are the key motivators behind me putting Leela in obedience back in the day, and attending such events as the Barkus and Meoux Mardi Gras parade. Both have been actively participating in Therapy Dogs for some time now and getting great joy out of it.

    Slowly Susan started cornering me on certifying Leela as a therapy dog. (Ok, maybe I asked about it and she reeled me in). But I just didn’t know if Leela could do it. I mean she’s wonderful and sweet and cuddly and loves old people, but she’s not the best heeler. She just gets too excited and wants to make out with all the other dogs. But, after some prodding and a lot of interest from the hubster, we decided to go for it.

    We arrived bright and early Saturday morning (after a quick trip to the vet’s to get her shot records). At least I thought we were early… turns out we were last to sign up because the other local dog lovers knew to get there super early. That’s ok though, I figured that as the crowd thinned out the less Leela would be distracted. And so we went outside and practiced… and watched the¬† other dogs.

    There was a little terrier who looked like Toto who performed absolutely perfectly… a little gray dachshund that refused to sit or go down who failed… several big hairy dogs that were nonchalant about the whole thing and passed with ease. Susan and Lucky did great and showed everyone the appropriate way to turn.

    And then it was our turn. Mark went first… and he got in trouble from the examiner because he wasn’t being firm with Leela. And sure enough, he told her to stay and she got up and followed him. He failed. Oh dear oh dear. I stepped up though and told her that I signed up to test with Leela as well and I would do it.

    So we did. Paw, ear and brush inspection went well. Heeling and turning went relatively well. She flew through the wheelchair and equipment test with flying colors. Then we had to show off her obedience work. And just like that, she passed through it with no mishaps what so ever! She greeted the “friendly stranger” didn’t balk at the jogger, skirted the dropped bowls and completely ignored the food bowl. She didn’t panic when she was taken away from me… and just like that, she was certified!

    Canine Good Citizen

    Now Mark doesn’t take well to being bested. And since Leela was certified through me, he got another chance. And the second time he did it perfectly! So now me, Mark and Susan are certified with Leela and Lucky. Some paperwork to send in, then we can start visiting nursing homes and hospitals with Miss Leela.

    And because Leela did so well at her test she got a treat… well two treats. And she has to share with Bonnie. But I don’t think she minds too much.

    After all, she got a squeaky squirrel, which she lovingly shows off here…
    Leela and Squirrel

    And a flipper flopper frisbie…
    Flipper Flopper

    And Bonnie says, “Thank you for sharing! I LOVE you!” (In Dug’s voice from Up, because that’s how she talks).
    Bon Bon

  • My Book Thing

    Date: 2010.03.11 | Category: Books | Response: 7


    My Book Shelves

    So I have this thing with books.

    I love them. Love them to the point of near obsessive hoarding.

    Some people collect dolls, some people collect stamps. Me? I have to have every single book in a series. (That is if it’s a good book series of course. And sometimes, if I’m into the series deep enough, I keep collecting them just because I have to have them all).

    This compulsion began in junior high school. The small amount of money I earned babysitting helped populate my GIANT Goosebumps book collection. From there I started accumulating Animorphs books. I grew up a little, and then it was the Magic Kingdom of Landover and Shannara books. Lord help me, I moved onto The Sword of Truth Books and so on and so on.

    Needless to say my collection easily overran my closet at mom and dad’s growing up. When I left for college, mom boxed them all up and put them in a closet for me, in hopes that I would one day take them off her hands. Because there was absolutely no way I was letting her get rid of my collection.

    I took a long break from my hobby in college. After all, there was so much compulsory reading that I didn’t have the time, or the money.

    I did however acquire a list of the top 100 classics of all time, which I’ve been slowly reading through and crossing off.

    Once I graduated though, my compulsion quickly resumed much to Mark’s chagrin. My friend Liz turned me on to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Books. If you are familiar with the series, you are probably filling sorry for Mark about now. Pratchett is a hilarious and satiric writer, but there are TONS of books from that series.

    We recently moved, and I was thrilled to finally be able to set up my book shelves and move Mark’s computer and coding books to their own shelf so I could have two all to myself. Problem is, I’ve already filled up both and half of Mark’s techy book shelf. Whoops. In the mean time, mom is not-so-subtly hinting that I need to come rescue my giant collection at her house. Oh dear.

    I think I can part with a lot of my old junior high books, but some I can never get rid of. Anne of Green Gables shaped who I am after all! I am agonizing over the clean out, but I think it will be good… and maybe a little soul searching.

    My friend Tara recently asked me why oh why do I keep all these books?! She couldn’t see ever re-reading a book. Oh but not me. Even though I’m constantly adding to my collection and reading new books all the time, I have re-read so many of them that they are falling apart. Anne of Green Gables series? I’ve read it at least 5 times. Lord of the Rings? 4 times. Harry Potter? 3 times. You get the idea. They are just such a part of who I am that I can’t bare to part with them.

  • Technicalities

    Date: 2010.03.11 | Category: Technical | Response: 2

    I know some of you haven’t been able to put in your feed readers. I’ve been working on it. Click on the RSS icon at the top right hand of the screen. It should take you to your Google reader where it can be added. If it doesn’t work, comment and let me know what’s going on so I can fix it.

  • When having a zoo gets expensive…

    Date: 2010.03.11 | Category: Kitties, Pets | Response: 2

    Yesterday Mark and I were out on the porch, enjoying the beautiful day. Sam Cat had found a place behind the bushes and was contentedly hunting lizards, the girls were chasing squirrels, when out walked Angie Cat. Angie is rather timid and rarely makes so bold a move. We were oohing and ahing over her bravery and scratching her sweet head.

    Then she turned around. And there was, um, how do I put this delicately…. worms! Gross gross gross worms!!!!

    I shrieked and hopped out of my chair, “Mark! Mark! We need to call the vet now, ew ew gross, ew!”

    So this afternoon Mark and I brought both cats in. The vet, who now knows us and all four of our pets by name, instantly said, “Good to see you again!” Ugh. I think between us and my sister-in-law we keep them in business.

    Angie refused to leave her kitty carrier…


    And Sam took sanctuary in Mark’s lap.


    I really love our vet though. Dr. Panos knows their personalities and talks to them all the while. I can tell she really cares about them, and it makes the crippling price tag on the day’s visit somewhat more bearable.

    Final fee?
    1 round of annual shots for Angie + 2 rounds of tape worm shots for both + 6 months supply of Revolution for the kitties + 6 month supply of Interceptor for the pups + two kitty checkups = $276.

    Honestly, I thought it would be more.

    But that’s not all. No, Angie, has abnormally nasty teeth. So bad, in fact, that she has cat cavities. Seriously. To the point where there may be an abscess…. which could enter her little kitty brain and kill her. Maybe. And she’s only five years old. Of course she has teeth abnormalities. Of course she does. The price tag for her surgery? It starts at $150 and goes up. *groans*

    I am watching my recently earned contract work money slowly go down the kitty drain. Goodbye new floors, goodbye new patio, goodbye Ikea shopping spree…. hello unappreciative kitty with sparkling clean toothies.

  • A Day Well Spent

    Date: 2010.03.10 | Category: Bonnie Barrell, Leela Fish, Pets | Response: 2

    Today is officially the first day that has felt like Spring all year. And after looking at the future rainy forecast for the week, I convinced Mark to put off the day’s grocery shopping¬† in lieu of spending time on the back porch with all the animals. We watched Leela and Bonnie romp in the mud and chase squirrels, and Sam Cat and Angie wander through the bushes.

    Leela was particularly excited at the very mention of her favorite prey:

    I love that Bonnie is like, “Who? What? How? Huh?”

    In fact we’ve taken to calling them “tree rats” in the house to avoid the barking.

    As the sun started to set, we decided to pull out the ferminator and get each of them while they were still outside. Leela went first, with her tail tucked firmly between her legs. Bonnie was up next, happily thump, thump thumping her tail. Angie tolerated me, and Sam positively ate it up. All the while, fur balls the size of hamsters looked like they were running across the yard and into the dog bowls. And my pants? They looked like THIS when we were done brushing.

    Hairy Pants

    That’s ok though, because after a long, busy day, the pups end up like this. I think that’s a sign of a day well spent. (And yes, she’s in our bed).

    Leela Sleeps