Saturday, July 26, 2014

"PORTRAIT OF MADAME FRERET DERICOUR," by Joseph-Siffred Duplessis

This painting is in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, where my mom works.  It shows a pretty, older lady who looks like she is a very nice person.  The way we know that she is so nice is because she is holding her dog.  Anybody who likes dogs and wants hers to be in a portrait has to be a very good person.  At least that's my opinion, and I believe that it is a very good opinion.


I'm not totally sure what kind of dog Madame Dericour is holding, but it might be some type of little spaniel or maybe a Maltese.  Anyway, I think that dog was lucky to have a mom who could afford to wear such fancy dresses and probably buy yummy dog food, too.


The artist who painted this picture was named Joseph-Siffred Duplessis.  He was born in 1725 in a town near Avignon.  His whole family was artistic, and his father gave him his first art lessons.  Later, as a young man, he studied with some famous artists in Rome and southern France.

Louis XVI, 1775

He exhibited in Paris and soon became well-known for portraits.  After he painted a picture of King Louis XVI in 1775, Duplessis was appointed peintre du Roi.  Besides painting the royal family, Duplessis made portraits of the opera composer Christoph Willibald Gluck and American diplomat Benjamin Franklin.  The picture of Mr. Franklin is the one that now appears on our $100 bills.

Benjamin Franklin, about 1785

Towards the end of his life, Monsieur Duplessis painted a self-portrtait.

Self-portrait, 1801
He died in 1801.  This is sad because if he was still alive, he could paint a picture of me sitting on Mom's lap, and then we could hang the portrait above our sofa, where Mom sometimes sits and holds me on her lap.





Wednesday, July 23, 2014

EVERYTHING KEEPS CHANGING!

I don't like it when things change.  I prefer nice, familiar routines that I can always count on.  When things aren't always the same, I don't feel safe and comfortable anymore.  I'm pretty sure most dogs feel this way, and some people do, too.  Mom should understand how it is with us, but I don't think she does because she keeps making changes in our lives.  And I don't just mean little changes like rearranging the furniture.

Uh-oh, what now?
The biggest change that happened yesterday is that our rat terrier sister Jane went back to her rescue group.  Mom had already decided a week or more ago that this needed to happen because things weren't going well between Jane and the cats.  Okay, Jane was actually fine with some of the cats, but Jane and Jason totally hated each other.  We don't know why or who started hating first, but the two of them got into some really nasty-sounding fights, and Jane kept ending up with scratches on her nose.  Jason ended up on tall pieces of furniture with his hair all fluffed up.  And also, he didn't want to eat his dinner.

The Evil Jason Cat
Besides that, Jane was chasing the kittens and trying to get at Charlie's cat food, which is different from the other cats' food, so he has to eat in the bedroom when the other cats are eating in the cat room.  And then Jane was fence-fighting with Henry, the soft-coated wheaten terrier next door, which Marius and Tristan also do.  Mom hates it when the dogs fence-fight because sometimes one dog will turn around and attack the dog next to him.  And usually it's the biggest dog who attacks the smallest dog.  Not to mention that it makes a lot of noise when three dogs are barking on one side of the fence and another dog is barking on the other side of the fence.

Me and Marius, Tristan, and Jane
So last week Mom called Aunt Ginny, who runs the New Beginnings Dog Rescue, which is where I also came from.  And Mom told Aunt Ginny that things were not working out with Jane and the cats.  At first, we were going to keep Jane until they could find her a home, but then Mom called back this morning and said we couldn't really have Jane here much longer.  Then, since Mom was going over to the Humane Society to take our foster kittens to get their rabies shots, she met Aunt Ginny over there and gave Jane to her.  Jane will go to a nice place to be fostered, and we hope she will be adopted very soon.

Aunt Ginny asked Mom if she wanted to adopt Daphne instead of Jane.  Mom and I met Daphne when we went to PetSmart to meet Jane.  We liked Daphne a lot.  She is a little chihuahua with blue merle markings.  She's kind of shy, but she seemed to like it when Mom cuddled her.  We don't think Daphne would chase cats.  But Mom said she didn't want to try adopting another dog right now.  Mom did not ask for a refund of Jane's adoption fee, so Aunt Ginny said that if we wanted to adopt another dog later, we wouldn't have to pay the fee.

Anyway, we still have two foster kittens left from our "tea" group.  They are Pekoe and Darjeeling, and they are 16 weeks old now.  They are just big enough to be total pests and get into everything, especially Darjeeling.  When Mom is using the computer, Darjeeling will not leave her alone, so Mom has to shut her out of the room.  At night, we dogs sleep with Mom in the bedroom with the door closed so that no cats can come in.  This makes things easier, at least while the kittens are here.

Valens and Verbena

But guess what!  When Mom came home from the shelter, she had three new foster kitties with her -- a mama cat and two tiny kittens.  The kittens are only a couple of weeks old.  I haven't seen them.  I have only smelled them under the door of the kitten room.  The mama kitty is named Valeria, and the two kittens are named Valens and Verbena.

Valeria

So that was another big change for us.  Jane just sort of went away and didn't come back, and instead we have new kitties.  We all felt kind of weird and clingy last night.  Tristan didn't eat much of his supper, he didn't bark a whole bunch like he usually does.  He might be afraid that Mom will send him away next, but Mom said the rest of us get to stay.  So maybe Tristan is just missing Jane, even though she used to hump him all the time.  I sort of miss her, too, but Jason doesn't miss her at all!


Saturday, July 19, 2014

CLYDESDALES

1904 drawing of an English Clydesdale mare
Clydesdale horses started out in Scotland a long time ago.  Farmers who lived near the River Clyde in Lanarkshire imported Flemish stallions and bred them to local mares because they wanted some work horses that were bigger and stronger than the ones they already had.  Happily, this breeding program gave the farmers just the kind of horses they wanted.  The first recorded use of the name "Clydesdale" for the breed was in 1826 at an exhibition in Glasgow.








A modern-day Scottish plowing match
The local agricultural improvement societies started holding breed shows in the 1830s to choose the best stallion.  The farmer whose horse won got some money as a prize, and then he was supposed to take his stallion to visit the local mares in a designated area.  In this way and also by purchase, the Clydesdale type of draft horse spread through Scotland and northern England.





In 1877, the Clydesdale Horse Society of Scotland was formed.  Two years later, the American Clydesdale Association was founded, and it served both U.S. and Canadian breeders.  The first American stud book was published in 1882.

During World War I, thousands of Clydesdales were conscripted to help haul military equipment.  About the same time, more machinery started being used on farms, so horses weren't needed as much.  This caused a decline in breed numbers that continued between the wars and afterwards.  In 1946, there were more than 200 breeding stallions in England, and by 1949 there were only 80.  The Rare Breeds Survival Trust decided in 1975 that Clydesdales were vulnerable to extinction.









Meanwhile, during the 19th and early 20th centuries, lots of Clydesdales had been exported from Scotland to New Zealand and Australia.  Many of these horses were bred, so that there were quite a lot of them, but breeders in those countries also wanted to go on importing Clydesdales from the U.K. to help keep their stock pure.









http://thejaggythistle.blogspot.com/2009/05
The total number of Clydesdales worldwide in 2010 was thought to be fewer than 10,000.  The Rare Breeds Survival Trust still classifies the breed as vulnerable.  The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy has given the Clydesdale a "watch" status because fewer than 2,500 horses are registered annually.






Originally, Clydesdales were used for agriculture, for hauling coal in Lanarkshire, and for heavy hauling in Glasgow.  Today they are still used for some draft purposes, for logging, and for driving.  Many are shown or ridden for pleasure.

Back in the 1920s and 1930s, Clydesdales were much smaller and more compact than they are now.  This is because in the '40s, people started breeding the horses to be taller so that they would look more impressive in parades or shows.  The modern Clydesdale is 16 to 18 hands (64 to 72 inches) tall and weighs between 1,800 and 2,000 pounds.


The usual colors for the breed are bay, roan, black, gray, or chestnut.  Most horses have white markings on the face, feet, and legs.  Sometimes there is also white spotting on the body, especially on the belly.  Clydesdales have a lot of hair on their feet.  This is called "feathering."









Photo:  Freekee
Probably the most famous Clydesdales that everybody in America knows about are the Budweiser Clydesdales.  They made their first public appearance on April 7, 1933, to celebrate the end of Prohibition.  Ever since then, they have been a symbol of the Anheuser-Busch company, and are used to advertise Budweiser beer.  There are several "hitches" of 8 horses each that travel around the country and take part in parades and special events.  Also the horses help make commercials, especially for the Super Bowl.

There are several farms in the U.S. where Anheuser-Busch keeps or breeds Clydesdales.  All together the company owns about 250 horses.  In order to be part of a hitch, a Clydesdale has to be a gelding with an even temperament.  He has to be 4 years old, at least 72 inches tall and weigh between 1,800 and 2,300 pounds.  He has to be bay in color, meaning he has a reddish-brown coat with a black mane and tail.  He is also required to have a white blaze on his face and 4 white stocking feet.

Photo:  John Ehlke, Bay City Times
In the early days, the Budweiser Clydesdales traveled by train, but now they ride in style in 50-foot semi trailers.  Every hitch has two semis to carry the horses, and a third one for the wagon and other equipment.  Ten horses travel with each hitch, even though only eight are harnessed to the wagon at one time.  A hitch may be on the road for 10 months at a time.  An individual horse eats as much as 20-25 quarts of whole grains, minerals and vitamins; 50-60 pounds of hay; and drinks 30 gallons of water every day.  Special handlers travel with the horses to take care of them.  The wagons are Studebaker wagons that have been modified to carry beer.  They were first manufactured around 1900.


http://fenwaythedog.com/2012/03/08/spotted-at-jetblue-park/

Another part of each Budweiser hitch is an obedience-trained Dalmatian.  Having these dogs on the wagons has been a tradition since the 1950s.  Back in the old days, the role of the dog was to guard the wagon while the driver went inside to make a delivery.  Nowadays, the dog's role is to sit on the seat beside the driver and look handsome.






Photo:  Ananova

The only other thing I need to tell you about Clydesdales is that if you are a small animal such as a mouse or a cat or a chihuahua, you should stay far away from the Clydesdales' feet.  Those crazy horses weigh like a ton apiece, and if they step on you, they will smash you as flat as a pancake!  Here's a picture of a chi named Berry who got his head stepped on by a Clydesdale back in 2009, and amazingly, he lived to bark about it!  But I still don't think you should press your luck.  Just saying.




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

WHERE TO FIND YOUR MARBLES

A lot of people worry about losing their marbles, but now I can tell you where to go to get new ones, if you need them.  The place is called the Moon Marble Company, and it's in a small town called Bonner Springs, Kansas, just west of Kansas City.  Last Saturday Mom and Aunt LaDene went there.  The Moon Marble building is long and skinny.  It is on a long, skinny piece of land between the highway and the railroad tracks.  Just beyond the railroad tracks is the Kansas River.

The front door

The Moon Marble Factory was started by a man named Bruce Breslow and also some other people.  They were making wooden toys and game boards, but they couldn't find the kind of marbles they wanted to use with these toys -- the kind of marbles they had played with as children.  So they opened the Moon Marble Store, and brought in lots of machine-made marbles in all colors.  And they sold them there, along with other toys.


Then Mr. Breslow started learning how to make marbles himself, and now he makes and sells them at the Moon Marble Factory.  He gives demonstrations there to show people how a marble is made by hand, because most people have never seen that.


I wish I could have gone to visit the Moon Marble Factory, but dogs aren't allowed there.  Well, Mom said she didn't see any sign that actually said a dog couldn't come in, but she was pretty sure she would get in trouble if she brought me there.  Also, it was really crowded, and I could have got stepped on.  But Mom took lots of pictures and told me all about the place.


Anyway, when Mom and Aunt LaDene got to the room where the demonstration was, there was no place left to sit.  So they just stood in the back and watched the end of the demonstration.

Bruce Breslow making a marble

People watching Bruce Breslow make a marble

After all the people cleared out, Mom and Aunt LaDene got seats in the front row and waited for the next show to start.  While they were waiting, Mom took a few pictures of marbles that Mr. Breslow had already made.  They are very pretty and if you want to buy one in the shop, it costs $75 or so.



The designs inside the marbles are made with colored glass from little rods.  Here are some short rods:


And here are some longer ones:


The glass has to be heated up really, really hot so that it will melt.


Mom thought maybe Mr. Breslow said 1600º but it might have only been 1400º.  Anyway, you would not want to touch the marble until it has cooled off a whole bunch.


After the demonstration, Mom and Aunt LaDene went shopping in the store, and Mom bought a paperweight.  Mom has decided that she will start collecting paperweights, but I don't know why she would collect such useless things.  She says they are pretty, which I guess they are, but it would be better to collect dog toys or dog treats or at least dog statues, if you ask me.


You can't tell from this photo, but Mom's paperweight is 3" in diameter.  Mom went to the Moon Marble place thinking she would buy one of their smaller, $40 paperweights, which she had seen on their website.  However, she ended up stupidly wasting $125 on one of the expensive ones.  And it wasn't even made at that factory.  It was made by somebody in Seattle.  I thought maybe the paperweight had worms in it, like those bugs that are inside a chunk of amber, but Mom said they are not worms.  She said they are pieces of colored glass rods.  I guess she's right, but they still look kind of like roundworms to me.


Besides expensive glass stuff, the shop had tons of toys.  The toys were what you would call "traditional," instead of being modern, digital video games or anything like that.



I think my doggy siblings would really like playing with these toys, but I have to admit I'm not too interested in toys, personally.  I'm not sure why Mom didn't buy any toys for us dogs, or at least some marbles for the cats to play with.  I think maybe she was just being selfish.  Or maybe she read this warning that was on the wall in the bathroom:


Another thing Mom saw in the bathroom was an old print of some boys playing marbles.  You can see from looking at the print that one boy has been to the market and is supposed to be taking the vegetables home to his mother.  Another boy should be delivering papers, and a third one is going to school or coming home with his books.  Meanwhile, a girl watches the boys play, but you can just bet that the boys will never ask her to play with them.


It seems like boys always have all the fun, which is so totally not fair.


Sunday, July 6, 2014

AUNT CHERYL IS HERE VISITING US!

I know that I have been a bad blogger because of not having written any entries for a long time.  But the truth is that it's very hard to find time for blogging while I am spending so much time and energy trying to be a charming hostess!


Aunt Cheryl got here a week ago Monday, and she and Mom have been out doing important stuff such as shopping in thrift stores and antique malls.  Also, they went to a garden center and bought some plants. One day they went to Loose Park and spent a couple of hours pulling weeds in the hardy garden that the cactus club made last year.  And they planted a few new cacti and succulents while they were there.


At the antique mall, Mom saw a picture of some dogs, but she didn't buy it, which I think is very sad.  The more dogs you can have on your walls, the better.  At least that's my philosophy.



Here's Aunt Cheryl shopping at the antique mall.  She is mostly looking for metal souvenir buildings, because that's what she has been collecting lately.  They're hard to find, and if she does find them, they are sometimes really expensive, so she doesn't buy them.


On the day before the Fourth of July, which was the third of July, Mom and Aunt Cheryl went to Powell Gardens.  The weather was very nice, and not too hot, so they walked around quite a bit.  I wish I could have gone, but dogs are not allowed there.  I think they should at least let girl dogs go to the Gardens, because girl dogs would not lift their legs and pee on all the pretty flowers.  But that is just my opinion.

Here are some coneflowers, which grow wild on the tall-grass prairies.  You might have heard them called echinacea.  Some people think echinacea can cure the common cold and maybe also cancer, but there is no proof that this is true.



There were lots of pretty water lilies.


Also, there were some hydrangeas with huge, white blooms like snowballs, but not as cold.


And no prairie would be complete without a bison or two.  This one was only maybe half as big as a real bison.  I showed you pictures before from when Mom went out to Powell Gardens and saw the animal sculptures before most of them got set up.  But now they are all installed, and they will be there until sometime in the fall.


Okay, well, that is about all I can tell you right now.  Yesterday Mom and Aunt Cheryl and Aunt LaDene went antiquing again.  Aunt LaDene bought some earrings, and Aunt Cheryl found a few more souvenir buildings to buy.  Mom got a couple of old-time photos.  Later I will do a blog entry about Mom's antique photos.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

MISCELLANEOUS

Today I'm going to tell you about some of the stuff that's been happening around here.  First of all, on Saturday, Mom and Tristan and Marius went to the LL Dog Rescue Alumni Reunion Picnic.  I wanted to go, too, and so did Jane, but Mom said she could only deal with two dogs at a time.  Besides which, Jane and I were adopted from a different group.


So Mom took the two boys to the picnic, and Tristan got to see his foster dad, Jack.  They were very happy to see each other.  Later on, Marius got to see his foster mom, Linda, but she didn't really remember him.  Uncle Jack said this was probably because she fosters lots and lots of dogs during the year.   Marius might have remembered her, but if he did, he didn't show it very much.  Of course, Marius was kind of scared during the whole time they were there, so he was very quiet and stuck close to Mom.  Whenever he could, he sat on Mom's foot because he always thinks that is the safest place to be.  I don't know why he thinks that, but he does.







Mom paid some money so that she could get a photo made of Tristan and Marius.  The photographer tried and tried to get the two dogs to sit on a little love seat thing and pose nicely, but Tristan only wanted to watch what all the other dogs were doing, and Marius only wanted to be closer to Mom.  So finally Mom got in the picture, too.















After a while, there was some food to eat, but Mom only gave a few pieces of Sun Chips to my brothers.  She didn't give them any hot dogs at all.  This seems very greedy and unfair of Mom, but that's how she is sometimes.  The three of them left before the costume contest and came home so that we could all take a nap.  Mom especially wanted a long nap because she had to work Saturday night at a wedding reception at the gallery.














Okay, so here's some more news:  the security officers at the gallery are getting new uniforms, and they will start wearing them today.  The uniforms have men's ties for everybody, so that means the women have to learn how to tie a tie.  Mom bought a couple of ties at a thrift shop last week, and she wore one on Friday, which is "creative tie day."  It took her like 15 minutes and 4 different websites before Mom figured out how to tie the tie correctly.  She was so proud of herself that she took a selfie.

The other day, a tragic thing happened to some of Mom's money.  If you ask me, it was all her own fault, but she tried to blame it on Tristan.  Anyway, what happened was that Mom forgot to take the money out of her pocket when she got home from work.  So after she went upstairs to change clothes, she took the bills and coins out of her pocket and put it all on a little stand thingy at the top of the stairs. This way, she could take the money downstairs as soon as she checked her email.


But in the meantime, some Bad Cat, who was probably named either Latifa or Anderson, knocked the money off onto the floor.  Tristan, and maybe also Marius, found the money and started tearing it up.  Mom  rescued several pieces, and she took them to the bank, but the bank would only replace the $10 bill.  Mom says she has learned her lesson, and in the future, she will always put her money away properly.

Oh, and another thing that naughty Marius did was he got hold of one of Mom's shoes while she was changing clothes, and he chewed through the lace in two places.  Luckily, these were not Mom's work shoes, but she was not happy anyway!

Here's one other piece of news, which is that AUNT CHERYL IS COMING FOR A VISIT!  She's supposed to get here on maybe June 30 or July 1.  I met Aunt Cheryl last year when Piper and I went with Mom to visit her in Austin.  The other dogs have never met her, but I told them that they would like her.  I know I'm right about this, and I'm glad I'll have the chance to prove it to them!