10 January 2018

A greyt start to the year.

Happy 2018 everyone! We forking make it! Sorry... "The Good Place" is on Netflix. I love Kristen Bell.

Last week, I had a shift at Loxley's former kennel. It's among the very best rescues for greyhounds and greyhound-mixes. If you're looking to adopt and are anywhere near Washington state, you'll find a world of information at Greyhound Pets. We also hold meet-and-greets throughout the year, so come see the pups.

People ask me about Loxley all the time. Maybe I post too many pictures of her, maybe I just don't look antisocial enough on our walks, I don't know. But, here are some things I've learned working with the breed and of course adopting one.

Let's start with the greyt stuff:

+ They're often incredibly, ridiculously affectionate. Just giant cuddle bugs.
+ Greyhounds have 2 settings: on and off. When they're on, they're excited, playful, and running. When they're off, they're cats.
+ They're typically quiet and many don't bark. The howling you sometimes hear when greyhounds get together is called "rooing."
+ They just want to be near you. A bed in every room is the way to go.
+ Loxley is pretty greyt at entertaining herself, given a fair amount of cardboard to chew on, paper to shred, and did I mention, she's a cat?
+ They're very enthusiastic about training, having been bred to be. As long as you know what you're doing and you're willing to put in the work, you can usually count on an eager and focused partner. As a former professional animal trainer (who's worked with a number of mammal species), I can say she's one of the most receptive creatures I've been fortunate enough to train.

Less than greyt:

- I cannot overstate how fragile these dogs are. They're big, but not very sturdy. They have incredibly thin skin, so a little scratch in the yard can bleed a lot. Loxley is pretty young and dopey, and she still hasn't figured out her proportions or turning radius. She's always running into things (greyhounds can run 40+ mph so watch out!). Your owner skills need to be in overdrive because there’s just zero self-preservation instinct.
- They have wacky normals and CBC/chem (blood) levels. Bonus: they often also react poorly to premeds and/or anesthesia. Doses that would be fine for other breeds of comparable size could be fatal to a greyhound. You need to find a vet who’s experienced with greyhounds.
- Separation anxiety is common. Loxley used to roo a lot when we’d leave, but we worked through it by leaving for short periods and then working on duration. And by giving her lots of toys and enrichment while we’re out—mom and dad leaving isn’t scary; it’s playtime!
- Dental disease is common. Plan for $500-1000 dentals at your vet every year.
- This is not a breed that’s going to hang out while you work on your car, like a lab. If they see something interesting, they will run. You need a yard with a high fence. Loxley can clear 4’.
- I think the biggest challenge I see with rehoming retired racers is that people expect too much out of them. Potential owners often think that because they've had race training, they must be house trained. They're not. Most have never had a home outside of a 3x10 kennel. They will need socialization, obedience training, and housebreaking. They can also have the same bed or food related aggression as any other ex-kennel dog. I encourage prospective adopters be patient and have realistic expectations. Remember, no one's perfect in a new situation right off the bat. 

Keep on keeping on,
SRD.




30 December 2017

And here we are.

I'm a perfectionist by nature and feel like my brain is perpetually on overload trying to suck less/do better, so I've never cared about New Year’s resolutions. But, in 2016, I felt like I really didn't read enough books and figured a quantifiable goal would be helpful. I shot for book a month (which still felt shamefully low given my librarian heritage, but whatever, it was realistic and still plenty more than I had been reading.) I ended up reading 13 books in 2017 and here they are.


January:
Scrappy Little Nobody – I'm a long-time Kendrick fan and her book of theatre kid essays was the perfect way to kick-off the year.

February:
The Descendants – Purchased while I was on Kauai and read in both the right place and headspace.

March:
Why Not Me – Thought Kaling's first book was stronger, but still dug it.
The Handmaid's Tale – Timely, poetic, and resonated with me more than 1984 and Brave New World ever did.

April:
The Bell Jar – Long overdue. I love Plath’s poetry. Don’t know why I held off reading her only novel, but it’s incredible.

May:
The Princess Diarist – Rest in power, Carrie. You were a force to be sure, and such a strong part of my childhood.

June:
Lads Before the Wind – Came highly recommended and doesn’t disappoint if you’re interested in the origins and evolution of marine mammal training.

July:
Lads Before the Wind – Continued…dense, but worth it.
A Wrinkle in Time – Heard about the film coming out next year and decided to reread this childhood fave for funsies.

August:
Ender's Game – Definitely better than the movie. The final chapter really stuck with me, so much so that I tore it out and saved it from the copy that Loxley otherwise obliterated.
The Stand – One of mom’s favorites and, therefore, a solid pick for my introduction to King.

September:
The Stand – Continued…felt like a quick read, but I guess it wasn’t.

October:
The Stand – Finished it, loved it. No plans to dive into King's more horror-laden work, but I’m always down for post-apocalyptic tales of good and evil.
Sense and Sensibility – Liked the character development and storyline more than Pride and PrejudiceMansfield Park next, maybe Emma.

November:
Something Wicked This Way Comes – I’ve read Fahrenheit. Now, I’ve read this. I’m just not into Bradberry.

December:
Slaughterhouse-Five – I didn’t have any expectations, other than that it would be really good. It was better.


A friend asked if I'll up my goal to 14 books in 2018. I don’t think so because it was never a competition. The resolution was meant to be a fun way to jump start the practice and help me be more mindful my time. So, I’m sticking with a book a month. Brownie points for extras and we’ll see how it goes. Happy New Year, all, and whatever your resolutions, be gentle with yourselves.

Keep on keeping on,
SRD.




23 December 2017

Hibernation mode.

Maybe it's Seasonal Affective Disorder. Or just life in the Pacific Northwest.




Keep on keeping on,
SRD.

16 August 2017

One year.

It's been a year since I gave up full-time employment in one field to pursue life as a freelance writer in another. And about 6 months since I landed a staff position with one of my top clients during that time.  It's been a big year.  Here are today's musings...

Top 5 things I miss about freelance:
1.  Not wearing a bra most days, and by extension, doing less laundry.
2.  Taking fancy phone meetings in my pajamas with my furry babies at my side.
3.  The sense of control and autonomy, plus the zen of being alone.
4.  Spending very little time in the car.
5.  Seeing Lake Washington from my desk every morning.

Top 5 things I do not miss about freelance:
1.  Rarely being on-set and missing out on the kinesthetic learning and theatre-kid camaraderie.
2.  The unpredictable and elusive paycheck. Also, what are these "benefits" you speak of?
3.  Not really having work friends. Sad face.
4.  Saving for taxes is stupid. Paying a higher percentage (as compared to someone who is employed and earning the same amount) is bullshit.
5.  I'm supposed to find my own projects and clients?!

Keep on keeping on,
SRD.



19 June 2017

Moor(ish).

May was a good month for this wanderer.

I spent half the month in Europe on a belated honeymoon with the hubs. Four cities, two countries. It was my first time visiting Europe in a decade and our longest trip in the nine years we’ve been together. My best friend (a Swiss resident) and one of my closest friends from college (a Dutch native) crashed our honeymoon, so I managed to get in some friendship time toward the end of the trip too.

Most of our travels center on nature/parks or art/architecture. This trip was largely focused on the latter. I love being immersed in the old. Feeling transported through time. Thinking about all the people who’ve tripped upstairs before me.

One of the places our travels took us was Granada, Spain. I booked an esthetically on-pointe and ridiculously reasonable Airbnb in the medieval Moorish district of Albayzín. The area is so old that a cab from the airport can only take you so far. Our driver turned off the main street, and soon we were bouncing down an ancient cobblestone road. He dropped us off in a courtyard and our host walked up a moment later. An innkeeper by day and DJ by night, which explained the turntable he carried with him. We walked the rest of the way to the house, enjoying the quiet night and our first moments in a neighborhood as old as time. We entered the house, a cluster of eight apartments with a lush, open courtyard at the center. The house had white plaster walls with exposed brick, red tiled roofs, vibrant tapestries, and colorful Spanish tiles. And then he led us upstairs. To the rooftop deck. With a midnight view of the Alhambra, illuminated against the darkness. My heart all but stopped.

Albayzín and the Alhambra are world heritage sites and here’s the skinny: The Moors were Muslims who inhabited north Africa, Malta, Sicily, Portugal, and Spain during the Middle Ages (700s-1400s). The Kingdom of Granada was established in 1230 which marks the start of the Muslim dynasty--the Nasrids--who constructed the dope af Alhambra palace. It was originally built as a fortress in 889 AD, later expanded by Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar, and then converted into a palace by Yusef I. For over 200 years, the area flourished artistically and economically until the fall of the Moors to Ferdinand and Isabella. The Alhambra then became their court (from which they sent their boy, Chris Columbus, on his misshapen search of India in 1492).

When we left the house the next morning, I half expected to see a crew setting up to film the next Indiana Jones. The Arab and Muslim influence is palpable and permeates throughout this part of Spain. We walked down winding cobblestone roads, surrounded by ancient white plaster buildings until we came to the town center. From there we continued our walk to the Alhambra, passing small shops and cafes along the way.

The Alhambra is comprised of multiple complexes with different aesthetics and histories. My main reason for visiting was to see the Nasrid Palaces and Generalife. The palaces were exquisite. Every surface appeared to be covered in some combination of cool white marble, wood inlay, tile, or plasterwork with the most detailed Islamic calligraphy. The gardens also didn’t disappoint--lush, diverse, and geometrically perfect. Plus, you've got to love a good ancient fountain. Or 87. It’s an oasis everywhere you turn.

We ended the afternoon across the street at a rooftop garden restaurant. Lunching on regional cuisine like creamy sliced potatoes, stuffed chicken, and saffron rice with nuts, honey, and golden raisins, I thought about how much this place has seen. From the cultural prosperity of the Moors to the extreme oppression of the Spanish Inquisition that followed, the city has been through it all. Changed, but still standing. It was a good reminder for me that, one way or another, life goes on.

Granada was really the only leg of the trip where I left feeling unfinished. Until next time.

Keep on keeping on,
SRD.


05 May 2017

A Seattle first.

Every couple of weeks, I pass by a small mosque (masjid) on my way to Target. After the initial Muslim travel ban was enacted, I noticed colorful posters of support tied along the property’s fence. Unable to read the messages from my car, I did some sleuthing. I was happy to see that the community support didn’t appear to be in response to any sort of vandalism at Idris Mosque (it was just in response to the more systematized hate crime perpetrated by the Executive Office).

Turns out, the unassuming brick building was actually the first masjid in Seattle and has an interesting history. Learn more here.

Keep on keeping on,
SRD.

29 April 2017

It's getting hot in herre.


Coinciding with Trump's 100th day in office, I attended People’s Climate March in downtown Seattle today.

The fact that many of our nation’s leaders so vehemently refute the science of climate change is outrageous. It's just plain unacceptable to deny what is now data-backed common knowledge when considering environmental legislation. 

No one present today appeared to be under the disillusionment that walking would somehow solve climate change. That isn't the point. The point is to demonstrate solidarity, draw attention to an issue that our representatives are choosing to ignore, and lend a voice to reason.

On that note, it was wonderful to see an array of groups turn out today. And participating made me more considerate of how people are coming at climate change, viewing issues and solutions through different lenses. Vegans came to discuss the merits of their diet in relation to carbon and methane emissions. Christians came with signs conveying messages of stewardship. I showed up as a trained biologist concerned with Executive and federal overreach, particularly with regards to the rollbacks on academic and research funding, undermining of EPA protections, and threats to National Parks and federal lands. And on a personal level, to stand with my friends who are working scientists and academics, fighting to keep their research alive and accessible.

Keep on keeping on,
SRD.

 

Proceeds from the husband's Rogue NASA tee were split between Girls Who Code and the National Math + Science Initiative. Mine went to a number of foundations committed to protecting public lands and our national parks.
 


22 April 2017

Do it for science.

I know, I know. It’s April.

I’ve been doing more reading than writing lately, apart from the writing I do for work. Truthfully, I got pretty depressed after the inauguration and swift bombardment of overreaching Executive Orders. From the Muslim travel ban to the gag order on federal scientists, it was and continues to be an exhausting time. There appears to be a fine line between staying informed and staying sane. 

Today is Earth Day. 

An already busy family visit mixed with someone getting in a minor car accident meant that I had to sit 
March for Science out

I may not be a working scientist, but that is who I am at my core. My academic training in the sciences is at the heart of how I understand the world and think critically in an age of alternative facts. Science illiteracy is the cause of so much misunderstanding and distrust in our country today. I deeply believe that having educated citizens is as important as having informed leaders and representatives. And the scientific community must be a part of the conversation when considering environmental legislation that will affect generations to come.

Thank you to all who walked today. I am with you and will see you at Climate March in one week.

Keep on keeping on,
SRD.



21 January 2017

We march.

Starting the year off right, with a renewed sense of hope. Today, I marched in peaceful solidarity with 3.2 million other souls in the largest one-day demonstration in our country's history. Seattle alone expected 50,000 and over 130,000 showed up. I walked alongside people of every skin tone, gender, religion, age, socioeconomic background. Immigrants, the disabled, hearing impaired, elderly... Tremendous, glowing diversity. 

All present to simply demonstrate unequivocally that women must have equal pay for equal work and retain autonomy over their reproductive health. That citizens of all ages need access to affordable healthcare. That LGBTQ citizens deserve equal rights under the law. That climate change is real and accelerated by our excessive consumption of fossil fuels. And by extension, that our environment matters. Clean air, clean water, without them we have nothing.

These issues aren't going anywhere no matter how much the new administration would like to sweep them under the rug. The question now is, how far behind will we be in 3 years 11 months and 2 weeks when the Cheeto in Chief gets the boot? Time will tell. 

But for now, today was a comforting and fierce reminder that despite the results of an antiquated electoral college, Trump lost the election by over 2 million votes. He does not represent the majority of Americans. And while he's already started turning back the clock, we will continue the fight to protect our and your civil rights in the days to come. Onward.
  
Keep on keeping on,
SRD.


20 December 2016

A little alliteration.

I got cat-called while I was walking the Freedom Trail in Boston with a gal pal. Typically, I'd ignore the behavior, but I was surrounded by history, excited to visit the state archives to see one of the original copies of the Bill of Rights, and was just supremely irritated. I spouted, "you're a pawn of the patriarchy!" and kept walking. It felt good. It might be my default from now on. It'd also make a fun hashtag. Let's try it in a sentence: This rando #pawnofthepatriarchy told me to smile more.

Yes, that'll do nicely.

Keep on keeping on,
SRD.