42 & 43 Animals | Are you Flying with Eagles or In the Doghouse?

64 Arts

Days I get to be creative always rank higher in my memory than those where I was too busy, too tired, or pulled in too many directions to get much of anything done. Just too much too! But even on those days where I don’t get to engage in any High Creative pursuits (the obvious things like writing, drawing, crafting, creative moment, etc.–those I consider “high creativity” just to be able to differentiate), sometimes I forget that creativity can be found in little things, in fleeting moments of time. Even writing down an idea I’ll work more on another day or making dinner are creative actions. Hey, some days, just creating CO2 from breathing is enough if it’s all you can claim!

While I’d never go so far as to call any creativity “low” (I’d say Low Creative would be the equivalent of bump on a log-ness, or being too sick to even focus on bad television shows), I do believe in the Everyday Creativity that we sometimes take for granted when we’re being a bit self-critical. Did you put together a cute outfit or make some sort of effort with your appearance? Creativity. Did you make some substitutions in the recipe you were using for supper? Creativity. Did you scribble on a pad in a meeting or start making patterns in the margins of your notes in a meeting? Creativity. Did you play a round of Candy Crush on your phone? Yes, that counts as creativity, too, the Everyday sort.

So while recognizing and appreciating the Everyday Creative things we do is important, I think scheduling in some High Creative time each week (if not each day) can keep up soaring on a creative high versus feeling like we’re in the doghouse of our own life.

Inspired by thoughts of avian and animal friends, here are some creative prompts to get you into some High Creative time over the next couple of weeks.

Assign Yourself an Old-Fashioned Book Report

I don’t know what this has to do animals per se, though you could certainly pick a book with animals as the main character. (Goodreads has a great list over here if you feel suddenly stumped on the subject.) You can challenge yourself to read it and write up the usual grade-school summary, find a book club study guide or set of questions to get you thinking about the themes of the book, or do what I did in high school called a tracking project where you take one character or theme and follow or track them/it throughout the book and kind of figure out what all their different bits mean when put together. It’s just another way to actively read a book, but I’m all for just picking up an old favorite, too, and curling up with someone else’s world.

In fact, that’s probably why this occurred to me, now, because it’s all grey and rainy outside and I’d love nothing more than to curl up with a cup of tea and the book I downloaded on my Kindle last night and spend the evening reading.

Create a Scrapbook Page (or Mini-Album) About Your Current (or Childhood) Pet

Maybe you had a special pet that’s since passed away, maybe you have a current pet that you want to immortalize in photos or paint or paper or words. Just do something creative around that companions  and think about something that makes them special to you or something that they do that always makes you laugh. It doesn’t have to be a stellar work of Art or anything, just heartfelt.

Volunteer at Your Local Animal Shelter

This might not sound uber-creative at first, but sometimes just getting out of our normal routine and doing something helpful can be a good spirit-lifter and I’ve found that a lifted spirit is one that is more open to ideas and new pursuits. If you would like to do something on more of a High Creative level with animal well-being in mind, how about making some blankets or toys for the animals in the shelter? Or maybe the shelter needs someone to take photos of the new arrivals so they can be put up on the website, or someone to write up creative posts for PetFinder to help get them adopted. Just ask how you can help.

Head to the nearest Park, Zoo, or Nature Preserve and Observe

Rather than go exhibit to exhibit, pick just a couple of your favorites and sit and watch a while. Make up a story about the animals or imagine what they might be saying to one another. If you don’t have any place like this around or that you can reasonably get to for whatever reason a) I’m so sorry. b) Check out any number of places that have Critter Cams and live vicariously through your computer.

Consider Your Spirit or Totem Animal

This might be a little out-there for some of you, but go with me for a minute. Lots of cultures place a high importance on the kinship of animals and people on a spiritual level. You can look at spirit or totem animals as embodiments of you or your personality or as spiritual protectors. There are lots of lists out there like this one at What’s Your Sign that seems pretty comprehensive. I’ve read before that most kids have the bear as their spirit animal as kids–the way the teddy bear becomes that common point of comfort for so many–but as we grow and our personality and lives develop new animals come in to play a part.

For the record, I identify with both monkey (of course!) and spider (surprisingly, but it also rings true), once  my extended bear phase waned. But there’s still room in the  menagerie as new facets are needed.

42 & 43 Animals | Our Furry, Feathered, and Finned Friends

64 Arts

And all the others that might be left out by those 3 Fs!

I’m going to go ahead and combine the next two Arts for reasons of time and, well, modernity.

42 Stockbreeding

Raising and training rams, cocks, fighting partridges, and organizing battles, as for an army.

43 Teaching parrots and mynah birds to talk

As most sorts of organized animal fighting are illegal–not to mention morally questionable–in this country, I’m not going down the road of building an animal army. But there is something to be said (a lot of somethings, perhaps) on the subject of caring for our animal companions and even the concept of humane treatment of those animals which are grown for food.

And sometimes the line gets blurred.

My ex-husband’s family lived out in the country with a fair amount of land. Each year they would purchase a cow to raise and then have it slaughtered locally to fill their freezer. One year my ex’s little brother got attached to that year’s cow, named it and everything, and you can imagine the tough times that caused at dinner for a while.

Unfortunately, their idea of steak was plate-sized and paper thin (okay, something like 1/2 inch or just under) and the only way they cooked it was well-done. Now that, my friends, is one cow that died in vain.

With homesteading and other self-sufficiency ideals returning, rabbits and chickens are more commonly kept for meat and eggs, respectively, as they take up much less space than, say, cows or hogs might, and require less grazing room than even a goat or two, so better suited to urban or suburban set-ups. And if aquaculture is more your thing, I remember seeing in an episode of Doomsday Preppers where one family had turned their in-ground pool into a greenhouse and small lake and bred tilapia–they apparently multiply quicker than rabbits!

On the other side of the coin, of course, are pets.

Our home is currently sans members of the 4-legged variety, though I know Todd would really like to have a dog again if (when!) his schedule permits. I’m all for it, too–I may have had to re-home my rat terrier, Abigail, several years ago when my health and travel schedule did not permit me to spend as much time with her as she deserved, but I think a home with more people than pets is a good ratio for success when I’m one of the people involved. Being able to tag-team pet parenting is vital for me.

A few months ago I even reviewed a cookbook for dogs, if you’ve ever thought of decreasing or even eliminating the kibble and processed dog foods from your canine’s diet.

Lots of our friends are cat people and, as much as I appreciate their self-sufficiency in many ways, the slight allergy I developed to them after not having one around (grew up with cats when I lived at home with Mom) prevents me from considering them as an option (even if I was willing to have a litter box in the house, which I’m really not keen on).

Fish never did much for me–maybe it was all those carnival-won goldfish that didn’t live very long that soured me on them–but I know many people take great pride in their aquariums and find them very comforting. And while the same could be said for rodents and snakes, I think I’ll pass on those, too.

Making a friend in Roatan

Making a friend in Roatan while on a cruise excursion (2009)–sure, he was more interested in eating my headband than smiling for the picture, but what can you do?!

Now, birds on the other hand, they are really amazing. Sure, they can be messy pets–throwing seeds about and all that–but I can see where the attraction lies. Coincidental to the art at hand, I’ve had a few encounters with the talking varieties and they really are something else.

My high school Latin teacher, Mrs. Walper, had a parrot named Bogey. (He was an African Grey, I think, I can’t be absolutely certain but the pictures I’ve found look like what I remember.) Anyway, Bogey was quite the prankster as my teacher also had an elderly Schnauzer named Sheba and Bogey would call Sheba’s name and confuse that poor dog like you would believe! He also liked to sing ‘Popeye the Sailor Man’ as I recall. Bogey had a large cage with lots of rungs to play on in Mrs. W’s office and also had a perch in the Florida room where we’d get to visit with him during some of our Sunday study sessions leading up to state competition. (If you hadn’t yet figured out I was more than a bit of a nerd in school, that should tip you off!) Bogey also got sent to “jail” when he was especially naughty (jail being the guest room shower stall–it was not a tough life he led).

Later on I learned that parrots, in general, often out-live their first owners and a reputable breeder can and often does insist upon knowing who will care for the feathered one after it’s companion’s demise! This is smart since they can live 70 to 100+ years when properly cared for. It’s tough enough, sometimes, for cats and dogs to find good homes when their human has passed away, I would imagine the care of a parrot would be a lot to take on for many!

Still, it’s an important consideration–not just for parrots. Being responsible for any creature–human or otherwise–is a big commitment! And unlike children who (for the most part) grow up and can eventually take care of themselves, our pets will always depend on us for their well-being. In fact, when I see pan-handlers on the street with dogs tethered to them, I usually feel more sorry for the animals than the people–they had even less choice in their situation than their humans, that’s for sure!

What are your feelings on pets? Are they a part of your livelihood, companions, or not part of it at all?

Holiday Fun: Puppy Love

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

With the holiday taking center-stage this week and 2 sets of guests to get ready for,
let’s have a little photo-fun today, shall we?

In the eternal battle of cat vs dog, on which side do you generally fall?

Todd and I? Are dog people. Even though we are currently sans canine companionship and laugh at the LOLcats with the best of ’em, we swoon over some floppy-eared, waggy-tailed goodness.

And combining bow-wows with the vows? That brings the ‘awwwww’ to a whole ‘nother level. Take a look at these pretty pooches hamming it up for the wedding photographers:

Photo Collage of dogs in wedding photos

Sources: Style Me Pretty 1, 2, 3, 4

Photo Collage of dogs in wedding photos

Sources: Style Me Pretty 1, 2, 3 and Flickr

Photo collage of dogs in wedding photos

Sources: Style Me Pretty, Offbeat Bride, Lauren Kinsey, Style Me Pretty

What I find interesting, though, is something I stumbled upon while researching wedding traditions (ages ago, for a writing project): it was considered bad luck for a dog (or any creature, really) to walk between the bride and groom at the wedding so dogs used to be absolutely verboten at weddings! This harkens back to a time when it was thought that evil spirits would routinely inhabit animals, thus the spirit walking between the bride and groom was a very bad thing.

It’s a lovely thing being enlightened and not having to worry about those things anymore, but a great man once said not to work with children or animals as both are unpredictable. If you do choose to have your 4-legged friend as a part of your wedding, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Designate a handler for Fido, someone who’s already in the wedding party or maybe a House Party member, that Fido knows and is used to taking orders from.
  2. Do not entrust the real rings to your canine ring-bearer (dogger?) as even the most obedient dog is still a dog. One good “Squirrel!” at the wrong time and you’ll be borrowing bands for the ceremony.
  3. Be prepared. Scout out of good spot for Spot to take a walk both before and after the ceremony and have your designated dog walker equipped with baggies, etc. Wet wipes are good if paws could get muddy pre-pictures (don’t make the photograph Photoshop paw prints from the wedding gown).
  4. Remind all small children that chocolate is very dangerous for dogs and not to feed any groom’s cake to them, no matter how much they beg!

But if you’re the superstitious (or just cautious) type, you might want to save the furkids for the family holiday card.

And if you’d like to see more picture-perfect pooches, check out my Dogs in Wedding Photos board at Pinterest.com

Pretty Book and Flower Icon

Meanwhile, Todd and I will be checking out the National Dog Show hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia after the Macy’s Parade. We’ll be rooting for the Basset Hound, the French Bulldog and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Will you be watching?