Springy-dings for the beast lady

We live with a smokey beast lady of pint-sized proportions and whiskers of death.


Said beast lady must be kept occupied at all times or ankles are bitten, sleep is disturbed and dogs are assaulted. Sometimes trickling water faucets or a fresh can of wet food will successfully occupy the beast lady. Sometimes not. And rarely for long.



Springy-dings save lives

In a last ditch effort to save my life and the lives of others in this household whom I love, I spent a couple bucks from the money I was saving to buy us all body armor and face masks, and ordered a couple packs of springy-dings. Also known as “colorful springs.”


These little coils of plastic perfection are like manna from heaven when all you want to do is get a little sleep, and all your kitten wants to do is rip your throat out, spill water on your book and smother your sleeping dog like those creepy facehuggers in Alien.


If one day I found out that these little springy-dings were made in a sweat shop by child laborers using radioactive plastic, I would still keep buying them. In fact, I’d probably buy even more for fear of that sweat shop one day being closed down. Springy-dings save lives.

Beast lady bats, chases and carries her little springy-dings all over the house like fresh kills. We find them in our bed, on the couch, under the couch, inside shoes, down heat registers, in the dogs’ water bowls, under the washing machine and in the bathroom. Sometimes beast lady leaves her springy-dings in her food bowl, incase she’s hungry for more later.


Springy-dings come in four snazzy colors. Although beast lady seems to be partial to the green and yellow ones. I’ll have to do some research on cats and color vision. Although none of them are the color of blood and entrails, so I assume her preference is mere coincidence.


Beast lady also loves to play fetch with her springy-dings. And I do mean fetch. Like dogs play fetch. At night, usually when we’re trying to relax and watch some tv or just settling into bed, the beast lady brings us her chosen springy-ding and threatens to brutalize a dog or gnaw off one of our toes if we don’t meet her springy-ding demands.

We’re sure there are many folks out there who are thinking, “Oh come now, it’s just a little cat. A fuzzy little kitty baby who would be just as content to sip milk from a tiny little saucer or play with some yarn. Why don’t you try petting her a little and showing her some love?” But this is what the beast lady wants you to think. She’s counting on it.

And then just as you lay your head down on that pillow at night, in the dark, surrounded by four large canines, theoretically capable of protecting you from any and all bodily harm, . . . the beast lady strikes.

Unless you have some springy-dings.



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Maple Apple Cranberry Sauce with Pickles on the side

‘Tis the season for baking and cooking with dog fur and cat hair, at least in this house. We haven’t formally introduced her on this blog yet, but we have a new kitten in the house. Her name is Pickles and she likes to sit in the sink. She also likes to stand with her head directly under the running faucet and watch the water go down the drain. I whipped up a batch of my favorite apple cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving last Thursday, and she was super helpful with the food prep. Cranberries and cat hair: So tasty.


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A face for winter

Well, until I can get my act together, along with some words on the page, I better keep throwing up some photos to keep this blog’s pulse going.

This is Casey, available for adoption at the Humane Society of Huron Valley in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She maintains a strict daily beauty regimen that involves a generous application of black eyeliner and carefully curled ears,  followed by a honey and brown sugar body scrub. All that beauty tends to steal the show from other dogs and she’s not very fond of sharing the bathroom mirror in the morning, so this adolescent lady would love to be the only dog in the home.

Tell your doctor you don’t need those blood pressure meds anymore. Because rubbing these velvety bunny ears between your fingertips is all you’ll need to soothe that stressed out soul.


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A face for Fall

Been a little hectic around here lately. Once again, neglecting the writing. So here’s a quick pic to fill the void and usher in the fall weather. It’s been cold, colorful and fabulous in Michigan this last week. Great dog walking weather.

This is Max. A beautiful boy currently undergoing heartworm treatment at the Humane Society of Huron Valley–sure to knock the socks off of anyone he makes eye contact with.

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A hostile act


Joan Didion has always been one of my favorite writers because I’ve always so easily found myself in much of what she’s written. The following quote being a good example of that:

I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.

Most writers don’t sit down knowing what they’re going to write. They write to figure it out.  And in doing so hope to achieve some kind of forward momentum, however small. Each attempt at writing is a step on the path of discovery and clarity.

But there is also another reason I am a fan of Didion’s. Because of one specific idea she wrote in a New York Times Book Review in 1976. She writes,

In many ways writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind. It’s an aggressive, even a hostile act. You can disguise its qualifiers and tentative subjunctives, with ellipses and evasions—with the whole manner of intimating rather than claiming, of alluding rather than stating—but there’s no getting around the fact that setting words on paper is the tactic of a secret bully, an invasion, an imposition of the writer’s sensibility on the reader’s most private space.

I’m pretty sure that truer words have never been put to paper. And I’m pretty sure that what I wrote earlier this week demonstrated this idea in a truly epic fashion.


There are many ways to gauge the quality of a piece of writing. By how many people read it. By how many people were moved by it. By how many people were angered by it. By its originality or clarity.

But perhaps the simplest way to measure the quality of a piece of writing is by how the writer feels after writing it. And when I apply that barometer to the blog post I wrote earlier this week, I can confidently say that it’s probably the worst piece of writing I’ve produced to date.

I certainly stand by what I wrote, but the fact remains that I regret writing it. And I have regretted it since the second I clicked “Publish.” For lack of a better description, I’ve felt like I needed a shower ever since I wrote it. Publishing it should have provided me with a sense of release, a sense of purpose and a sense of closure, at least for that small moment in time. But it did not. Which means I may have needed to write it, but it should never have been shared publicly.

Because the fact of the matter is that we do desperately need more critical literacy in the field of animal welfare. We need to find ways to create critical consumers of information who produce and process information for what it is, rather than blindly clicking Like or Share or Commenting, and tossing up a Facebook post based on emotion and ego. I’m as guilty of this as anybody. We’ve all made these mistakes, and we continue to make them.


But my post did two things, neither of which I am likely to live down anytime soon: 1) It caused additional grief in a space where there was already plenty of grief to be had, and 2) It wasted a golden opportunity to add something productive to the conversation, and to really dig into how we might help our field develop some of those critical reading and thinking skills.

I could have done justice to the issue of language and how we frame particular ideas for others using any number of other appropriate texts. The recent Esquire article on pit bulls, for example, would have been a great one to use since it may actually be one of the more counterproductive texts ever written on pit bulls.

But instead, I chose to tackle the issue using the most radioactive example of text I could find, because I was angry. I chose to fight fire with fire and managed to burn down half the neighborhood in doing so.


One person who read what I wrote actually made the comment that they “kept reading and reading trying to find the spot where I would say which camp I was in” and that they were disappointed that I never did. That is perhaps another major indicator of what a poor piece of writing this really was: That one of my readers so profoundly failed to understand what it was that I wrote.

The definition of a bad reader is someone who reads through a text, never actually comprehending anything in it or the piece as a whole, because they’re too busy looking for information in that writing to reaffirm their own beliefs. I used to do that as a reader. And once I stopped doing it, a whole new world of nuance, complexity and discovery unfolded before me. A world that allowed me to embrace the gray, and stop boiling everything down to black and white.

It was really unfortunate the way BAD RAP chose to frame that post last week, and I can’t say I’m interested in following them on this new path they’re on. But the way I chose to respond to it this week was even more unfortunate. And no matter how many times I click my heels and hug my dog, there’s no going back on such a monumentally unfortunate decision.

What I wrote was, as Didion puts it, a hostile act. And all I can do at this point is keep writing, and hope that I find a way to be smarter and more productive in doing so.

Posted in Advocacy, Animal Welfare, Teaching and learning, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments