Monday, April 30, 2012

Being a Bee is Serious Business

Last year, no bees visited my potted plant garden.

This is because I did not cater to their specialized interests.

When I bought a friend some salvia, I decided the plant was so pretty I should buy one for myself. Then I saw a tiny lavender plant and obviously had to buy that too.

I am pretty certain the bees just followed me home.

Within minutes of putting the salvia outside, four bees arrived. They must have done their waggle dance and told the world, SALVIA! SALVIA! GOOD SHIT!

The lavender I placed a few feet away and no one visited it. I felt sad for the lavender, not being pollinated.

Now let me be clear, I am not usually a bee fan. In theory, I like bees. They do the world's pollinating. That is pretty impressive. But sometimes they swarm and eat you. Just saying, it happens. Not the eating part, but I can't tell the difference between a sane honeybee and one of those serial-killer bees.

But all these bees on the salvia were so, well, lazy. They just floated from flower to flower. When I got near, they ignored me. When I got inches from them with my giant camera, they could care less. Later, when I planted the lavender and salvia into their own pots, not even my shaking and earth-moving phased the bees. This means these bees are my new best friends and so long as they don't sting me to death, life will be good.

This is my favorite bee, who I will never recognize again. She was super into this salvia flower. I told her about the lavender three feet away, but I guess three feet is a long distance when you have an effing SALVIA to stuff your proboscis into. Finally, I went over to the lavender, picked it up and placed it right next to the salvia. See? I told her. LAVENDER!

Bee and salvia

 Then she was like, don't mind if I do, beatch, and stuffed her head into one of the lavender flowers.
 Bee and Lavender
These non-killer bees are kind of the best. Until one stings me. I mean, it will suck for me but she'll freaking die, and then I'll not only be in physical pain but I'll have guilt for inspiring a bee to fear for her life and sting me. So let's hope that doesn't happen.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ten years ago Mina would have literally eaten this crate to get out, now she likes to go in it, fuck up the blanket and then snore.
It's hard to see, but there's a Pit Bull in that snazzy orange crate.

I tried to crate-train Mina. She broke out of every single one. When it became obvious that she would self-mutilate rather than be in a crate, I stopped. We never looked back - Mina is trustworthy loose in the house.

As she aged, I've noticed at work that she will sometimes climb into the crate, even if the flap closes behind her. She likes to make a nest with the blanket in there, often shredding the quilt to get the perfect bed.

I doubt she'd tolerate it if I zippered the flap closed, but it's nice to know she actually enjoys going in there of her own volition.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Good Life

The sanctuary bovines have a pretty sweet deal, if I do say so myself!

Summer is the handsome dude in the front. He and Mina like to graze next to each other.

Male calves, like Summer, are born on dairy farms and taken from their moms at birth. His breed, the Jersey, is small and slow-maturing. They are literally treated like trash. At 1-2 days-old, they are shipped to auctionyards where they are sold for as little as $3.00.

No one wanted to buy Summer, because he was so sickly. I rescued him and his "brother" Freedom. No one wanted Freedom because he has a genetic mutation that left him without a tail and his anus shifted a bit too high. He gets daily butt cleanings, which he enjoys tremendously.

Summer has grown into a beautiful adult steer. He is three and will continue to fill out over the next two years. I love him because he lets me hug him. Also, I think he is part-Brahma which my friend and colleague now just grumpily replies with a "yeah, sure, totally" because she thinks I'm silly. But I always wanted a Brahma, so I pretend with Summer (at certain angles, he totes looks like one).

Friday, April 27, 2012

What's the Difference?

You will see this picture and you will be horrified. That is, if you like dogs at all. If you like to eat dogs, maybe you'll just feel a twinge of guilt for seeing them treated in this manner...I mean, shouldn't they be treated nicely before they are unnecessary killed for nothing more than "I Like Eating Them"?

Don't worry, these dogs - destined for Chinese slaughterhouses - are alive. They were saved because a dog rescue in China paid money to save them. Not because the right thing is to not eat them in the first place.

I live in a country that slaughters - for no other reason than taste - 10,000,000,000 land animals every year. TEN BILLION. Yet when Americans (or citizens of countries that perceive dogs = companions) see pictures like this, they are shocked and horrified. At the very next meal, though, they may sit down and eat the flesh of an animal who lived like this:

Pregnant pigs are housed in cages so small they cannot turn around. Their babies are stripped from them at 2-3 weeks of age (too soon!) and their piglets live in concrete pens that offer them about as much space as this female pig has in a cage.

I do not need the muscle and flesh of a dog to survive. I do not need to eat the muscle and flesh of a pig to survive. Them be the facts. I'm going to guess that you don't need dog flesh or pig flesh to survive, either.

Yet how can we rationalize away the suffering of a pig who is smarter, cleaner, just as social and engaging as a dog? How can we eat her and not eat a dog? That's rhetorical. But if you think about long enough, I hope you'll rethink your own dietary choices. Because at the end of the day? That caged dog wants to live as much as that caged pig...and none of us need to slaughter them to survive.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lilac Surviving, Check

Lilac - another plant to add to the short "have not killed" list

Last year, I bought two lilac bushes for Mother's Day. Yeah, they were for my mom, but she lives where it is difficult to grow lilacs. They happen to be one of her favorite flowers, though, so now there are two growing in my yard.

This is Purple Head, because she is purple and doing well. The other one is White Fox, but she is being antisocial due to a late frost that blackened some of her leaves.

I have a grey thumb. I am working on healing it to become green. Purple Head is, so far, my crowning glory. She is growing flowers and not dead, hence a crown and glory.

Spring is my favorite season. Although my allergies rear their ugly pollen-spiked heads, it's worth it for the sight and scent of spring flowers. Except for my pollen-covered car. Not cool. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vegan Eats (aka Food) Pasta with Cheezy Sauce

Pasta with almond butter nutritional yeast lemon juice sauce

Yo. Let me straight talk to you. Garlic + nutritional yeast + almond butter + lemon juice = GOLD SAUCE. I am totes marketing this as liquid gold, which never goes down in value. It's also edible.

This isn't traditional mac 'n cheese; it's for mature and immature people alike. THAT makes it special.

Also, it is incredibly easy to make so let me share the magic with you.

Take a 1/4 cup of almond butter, chop up a garlic clove, add a 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast, throw in 1/2 a lemon (juice only), and throw in some water. Put it all in a pot over medium heat and stir until it is the consistency you think works on pasta. Taste test it, because don't trust anything I say. Add shit until you are like THAT IS IT, I WILL EAT THIS ALL OUT OF THE POT! But don't do that, because then you won't have any for pasta.

Oh yeah, cook some pasta too. Then add the cheezy sauce to it and eat it until you explode.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Save me

Being a dog involves a whole lot of not paying attention to what's in front of you.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Vegan Eats: American Flatbread

Saw the word vegan and was all yes please

I was walking through the natural foods frozen food section at my local Raley's when I did a double-take, stopped and backed up.

Right into the person behind me. It is my opinion she was traveling too close to her fellow shopper (me), but nevertheless, I apologized and proclaimed, "It says vegan!"

This only produces the desired effect (shared joy) if the other person is vegan. If not, then you get eye rolls and a huffy departure. Whatevs.

I rarely look at the pizzas in the natural frozen food section, because they never have anything I want to put in my body (i.e. vegan). It is so disappointing.

So when I saw the bold faced, capitalized VEGAN HARVEST, I immediately bought five. Okay, just one. I mean, it could have totally sucked.

Pros: This pizza takes only 6 minutes to cook. This is only a pro if you own an oven that can preheat to 425 in less than 15 minutes. Which I don't, so really this was a 21 minute endeavor. I might have been able to cook it a minute longer, but the instructions indicated if I cooked it too long, the pizza would basically dehydrate into a husk. Taste-wise, delicious!

Cons: You have to buy like fifteen of these bad boys to feed two people. I ate a whole one and probably could have eaten more. Which might just indicate I have a problem with self-restraint or that American Flatbread needs to make bigger VEGAN HARVEST pizzas. If you have the name American in your title, you should probably make your servings big, it is the American way, yo. The pizza was also a bit salty, but I love salt.

Suggestion: Buy some and support companies making animal-friendly pizza!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mina Stuffs Her Face With Her Paw

This cannot be comfortable

 I don't even know what to say. I mean, every time I look over at Mina, snuggled up on the sofa with her heart blankie, she's doing something weird. Sometimes she's contorted into a strange, uncomfortable position; other times, she has her paw jammed in her face.

Mina used to have sloth-claw nails. I have finally gotten them to a more manageable, less claw-like length. But still! This cannot be comfortable.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Vegan Eats: Justin's Dark Chocolate PB Cups

Justin's vegan pb cups
This shit will kill you with its peanut butter goodness but not its animal/human exploiting ways
Justin's makes dark chocolate peanut butter cups that are totes vegan for people who love nonhumans! And if you also love humans, Justin's is one of many chocolate companies that sources their cocoa from places that don't enslave little children. Their palm fruit oil is supposedly sourced from a sustainable plantation in Brazil that reclaims land damaged from cattle grazing and uses it for palm trees, with 60% of the land being dedicated to forest.

Of course, I cannot endorse their milk chocolate version because of the whole sad fact that little baby bovines are stripped from their mamas and sold as veal or cheap beef. Calves are too cute for that nonsense.

I love pb cups. I have zero skills to make them. So I don't. I go to my local Raley's grocery store and stuff my basket full of hella expensive pb cups. They are hella expensive because sometimes, being super awesome ethical and cool like me is pricey. It's worth it, because I only have to feel guilty about buying fifty bazillion chocolate items but not about slave labor and animal cruelty!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dogs at the Office: Mina Gets Cookies

Cookie time at the office
Mina looks tail-docked because it's moving so fast with pure joy
It was a difficult time when I could not bring Mina and Celeste to work. I hated it and felt like a failure of a dog guardian. While I would check in at lunch, for all intents and purposes, both dogs were left alone for 8+ hours a day for four years (Mina longer).

Now that I can bring them to work, *I* selfishly feel better. While there are cons to dogs at work, I feel Mina and Celeste are calmer and less stressed out when they can be around me at work. I could be wrong. I should compare how they act when they are left alone at home with a little webcam. That would give me a better read than my own personal desire to believe they love being with me at all times. ;)

The best part of coming to work is that Mina gets a bunch of cookie breaks. Celeste does not do so well in pack settings, so I give her cookies in my office only. But Mina loves going to the "littles" office where the smaller dogs are. She loves smaller dogs, but she loves cookies more. Obviously.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Vegan Eats: Compassionate Chocolate

Alison's gourmet fudge
Animal and human friendly fudge from Allison's Gourmet
 Did you know that 75% of the world's cocoa comes from Ghana and the Ivory Coast, and that most of it relies on child slave-labor to produce?


Also non-vegan chocolate hinges on the maternal deprivation used in the dairy industry to save more milk for humans and no milk for the actual animal who needs it, a cow's calf.

Unacceptable times two!

The Food Empowerment Project has a nifty list of chocolate that is free from human and nonhuman suffering, except for people like me who buy a whole pack of vegan fudge and eat it in five minutes. BAD IDEA. I mean, great idea because vegan fudge from Allison's Gourmet is melty-cloud goodness on your tongue.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Celeste is Hard to Photograph

Celeste never takes a normal photo

Because she is always looking a little nutty. I used to believe this was because of her blue eyes, but I have realized it's simply because she is a little off. 

And despite the fact she isn't paying attention to the camera, Mina manages to look dignified.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Whoa Nellie

An old, geriatric Akita mix is standing in the middle of the road.

I tell her this is a very bad idea, to which she replies by trotting further down the middle of the road. She is heedless to the danger around her.

Mina decides this is a Very Good Moment to spew forth a volley of insults to the dog, who curiously stares at us and then decides this vehicle is a source of ridiculous things, like Pit Bulls.

I follow her down the road. She turns back and walks up to my car. Hey, I coo softly. Want to go for a ride? Oh wait. I mean, want to go for a walk to wherever you live? Because I'm sorry, but my dogs fail at helping other dogs. Ignore the barking Pit Bull and snarling Mexi-mutt.

She does. Me too, though. I continue slowly. She keeps looking and trotting back and then forward.

I notice her name tag - Nellie.

Nellie! I say this in an upbeat voice. Pausing, Nellie looks at me expectantly. Um, come! Ha, tail in my face and a dog further up the road.

I stand for a few seconds trying to figure out what to do, when Nellie comes back around the corner staring at me.

Ah, a summons. I hop back into the car with my screaming she-demons and follow Nellie.

She takes me to her home.

When I get out of the car, her tail starts wagging. See? You CAN follow directions!! I go up to the door and knock. Nellie barks to let the people inside know that this isn't a solicitor but a Very Important Dog Person.

No one answers. We are both chagrined.

I find the open gate she had wandered out of and point it out to her. Oh, she says and goes in.

And that is that.

I will be doing a little welfare check on her over the next few days, because it is simply sinful to leave an arthritic, old dog named Nellie alone in the yard with a ramshackle gate as her only barrier to the outside world.

When I get back in the car, Mina is mournful. Her source of ire has disappeared. Celeste is whining.

You are the worst dog-catching assistants, I tell them. Sternly, too. Mina has it in her to look a little shameful. Celeste is still not sure why we were all upset in the first place.

Nellie barks to say goodbye, maybe thanks.

Vegan Eats (AKA FOOD) Guacamole

Guacamole before smooshing
Guac before smooshing
I love guacamole. It's super easy to make fresh, and I'll put it on just about anything. Except chocolate, because eww.

All you need is chopped up tomatoes, onions, cubes of avocado, cilantro, lemon juice and salt. Smoosh with a fork and bam! fresh guacamole. Adjust the ingredients for flavor.


Monday, April 16, 2012

In which Celeste does not eat Tiffany
I kiss you now but may bark at you later, don't hate.

Celeste usually barks at the rescued farm animals, but on this occasion she decided to give Tiffany a little kiss. It was pretty precious. Tiffany was rescued from a research lab, where she lived for six months in a barren, concrete stall. She never touched grass or felt the sun's warmth. Despite her social isolation, she is a darling, gentle pig.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

Vegan Eats

Tostada YO
Tostadas are easy to make vegan because you are awesome
I'm not real big on cooking. Simpler, the better. So when I get more complex than spaghetti and marinara sauce, I totes take a picture and share it with people.

Granted, putting a bunch of vegetables and beans in a tostado is hardly culinary-awesomeness.

I use a tostada. I add romaine lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, olives, and jalapenos. And of course cooked beans. The next night I added fake "meat" as well. On top is Follow Your Heart vegan cheese, which is available at places like Raleys or Whole Foods. True fact: Vegan cheese does not taste like solidified breast-milk of cow cheese. That's why putting it on stuff or melting it will help with the transition. I bought a vegan ranch dressing for the top.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Calling PETA Founder Mentally Ill Does Not Make You a Better Animal Advocate

For almost a month, I have thought long and hard about posting my feelings on this post by Nathan Winograd.

(I have only been truly inspired to publish my thoughts in response to No Kill Nation's strangely-obsessive posting campaign against People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.)

Winograd writes, "I have long argued that although we have no definitive diagnosis of the condition which motivates the bizarre and cruel behavior of PETA’s founder, Ingrid Newkirk, there is one psychological condition which appears to shed some light on what might be motivating her to seek out and poison thousands of animals every year: Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome."

I am deeply disturbed by this assertion.

The denigration and marginalization of persons with mental illnesses is not fantasy. Being diagnosed with a mental illness can result in being denied health insurance (or dropped from your carrier), and may result in the illegal loss of your job. You may be bullied. Every behavior you exhibit may be "suspect mental illness". There is still stigma attached to medical conditions that affect the psychological state, behavior or health of an individual.

And quite frankly, there are plenty of "mental illnesses" that do not affect your ability to process and argue and debate and relate to this world. I'm tired of the pathetic argument that having a mental illness somehow diminishes you as a person.

To medically diagnose someone without a license is unethical. In fact, it is likely illegal in most states.

Claiming your opponent's belief is because of a mental illness fails as an argument. It is fundamentally flawed. It's an attack on an individual's, in this case unfounded and alleged, medical problems, not on their position on companion animal euthanasia/killing.

I support the pro-adoption movement. I believe every healthy animal has a right to live free from as much suffering as possible. The difference between my belief and that of the No-Kill movement is that I extend my circle of compassion to the most number of victims* of butchers and slaughterers - chickens, turkeys, pigs, cattle, sheep, goats, bison, fish...not merely to that pathetically small group of species we acknowledge as "companions" in this nation.

When I read a leader in the No Kill movement calling someone mentally unstable or ill, I am not merely put off by the fallacious and irrational argument, I am personally insulted. The plight of dogs and cats in animal shelters is real and must be addressed, there is no doubt. Making allegations to the mental health of your opponent does nothing for those dogs and cats. Nothing. It weakens your position and well, to be honest, makes me feel you are utterly and completely disconnected from what persons with actual illnesses endure in this country.

This is not a statement of support for any organization or individual.

It is a request to stop diagnosing people you don't know. And to stop using the "mental illness" card as if it bolsters your position. It doesn't.

*I appreciate the frustration and anger at healthy dogs and cats being killed at any shelter, but even the worst shelter kill room is less cruel than the "best" slaughterhouse in which sentient, emotional beings are disassembled - most of them fully conscious. In the United States, that is 321 animals per second. No comparison.

Mina Makes Pig Jealous

Grass is greener
Mina likes hanging out with the farmed animals.Ivan is a 7-mos-old piglet saved from slaughter after a petting zoo didn't want him and his brother any longer.

He has spots like Mina, which makes him extra special. They could practically be twins.

Ivan likes grass. Mina likes grass. Ivan does not appreciate Mina eating grass in front of him. She is mean.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mina Rolls in Stuff

Mina says mud on head is all the rage
Does this spot make me look gross?

 Mina likes to roll in yucky stuff and get it all over her head. Does your dog do this? Why do dogs do this? I theorize it is to annoy me. Mina knows I am probably not like you, I will not rush her to a hose and rinse her head off post-haste. No, I will continue the walk and I will hope the spot fades over the next few weeks. This is stupid, of course, but Mina makes me so.

Hey Spain, How's That Breed Specific Legislation Working?

Not well? What? SHOCK!

"According to the results, the population density did exert a significant effect on the incidence of dog bites, whereas the legislation in force did not. Popular breeds such as the German shepherd and crossbreed dogs accounted for the great majority of the incidents during the 2 periods of study. Specifically, the German shepherd proved to be over-represented significantly among the canine population. Dogs in the dangerous breeds list, on the other hand, were involved in a small proportion of the incidents both before and after the introduction of legislation. The present results suggest that the implementation of the Spanish legislation exerted little impact on the epidemiology of dog bites."


Monday, April 9, 2012

White Turkeys Trill Lovely Songs

Rescued Turkeys Looking Studly
These are not statue turkeys
These dudes look like statue sentinels. All that displaying is hard work. Puffed up chests and vibrating feathers. They are a work of art, so alive.

White turkeys are abnormal. They are a genetic fluke artificially selected by humans. Turkey eaters apparently dislike bronze-colored turkeys so obviously farmers manipulated turkey genetics to create an evolutionarily nonsensical color pattern.

Myth-makers like to claim domestic turkeys are stupid, that they will look into the raining sky and drown themselves.
Seneca has blue eyes b/c he is bad-ass

I wish people would not believe such stupidity. Domestic double-breasted turkeys may be freaks in that they physically cannot mate, fly or perch without risk of broken bones, but their basic survival instinct has not disappeared. They do not drown in the rain.

They do sing. A lot. They tell their small stories in grandiose displays of feathers and sound. I feel nothing but love for them. When I sit with these five turkey boys, I think of how someone would have sat around their corpse for Thanksgiving. And I am saddened and horrified and so much more, because who I see is not muscle and fat and sinew - I see Miwok and Cheyenne and Seneca. I see individuals where most see nothing at all.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Karen London has a PhD and is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist. Plus I loved her co-authored pamphlet/mini-book, Feisty Fido which Mina says sucked b/c she likes being a Feisty Fido.

Here's what she writes on piloerection or hackling, another deeply misunderstood canine behavior.

The most confusing pattern is when a dog exhibits a patch of hair that is raised at the shoulders and another raised patch at the base of the tail. The hair in between along the back is not raised. This pattern of piloerection often occurs in dogs who are in an ambivalent emotional state and feeling conflicted. Many of the dogs who show this pattern are somewhat unpredictable in their behavior and inclined to be more reactive than other dogs.
Everything you heard about me is totally true

This is Mina. But it's not confusing to me. She is not unpredictable at all nor is she ambivalent. She is excited and deciding what her next move is based on the reaction and behavior of the other dog. She is, by far, more tense when on leash but she is still pretty damn intense even off-leash.

Mina piloerects at every new dog-dog introduction. Dogs she knows, she does not piloerect. With small dogs, the same thing happens every time - she thinks they're great. With dogs her size and larger, it all depends on the behavior of the other dog. If the other dog is a snarky bitch (like Mina, yo), Mina is going to quickly correct and reprimand that behavior. If the other dog is aggressive in any manner, Mina will react the same way. If the other dog is a big playful dork, Mina will reprimand but not going any further than a few snarls and muzzle nips. And if the other dog ignores Mina, she thinks that's pretty fabulous too.

Her outward behavior does not indicate, to me, a state of ambivalence or conflicted emotions at all.

Do your dogs piloerect?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Nose Knows

Mina has a thing about having her nose touching things. It is her special quirk. One of many, actually.

Beneath remote controllers
Being a canine is pretty rough
Beneath her own leg
Beneath her own paw
Under her tail
Mina uses celeste's tail for good
Or someone else's tail
Beneath the sheets
Pumpkin kiss
And attached to her favorite toys

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Ledger-Enquirer Acting a Fool

I wish this article written by Mike Owen was an April Fool's Day joke.

The truth of the story is unknown, because the research skills of Owen appear to be smaller than a gnat or he somehow expects all of us to know the back history.

All I know is a dog named Elijah has been returned back to the shelter because he got in a fight with his adopter's current dog.

Mina Not Impressed With Hug
If there was ever a 15-lb dog Mina had a right to eat, she was Chloe.
According to the shelter director Teresa Tomlinson, there has never ever been in the history of dogdom a Pit Bull who can live with a smaller dog and not eat the little tyke. She does not merely claim Elijah has problems with Beagles but that all Pit Bulls are "very aggressive", especially "to other animals". If surprise was a color, I'd be getting it all war-paint-like all over my face.

The real story, though, isn't Elijah and his ribcage - it's those darn "animal rights radicals". You know, the ones polluting the earth with their desire to not kill healthy, adoptable dogs and cats. What is wrong with these people? Can you believe they actually want dogs and cats to go into homes instead of being gassed or lethally injected? That is so weird.