This is Schultz, the alleged Schnauzer, age 7 months.  Isn’t he a cutie?  He sure is,  and lively and feisty.  He is loving and snuggly.  He is curious and a collector.  He is all those things, but the one thing he is not is a pure bred Miniature Schnauzer, as advertised.

OK, not advertised, as such.  We acquired Schultz one fine day in September when our young neighbors from across the street showed up with him  and told us he was a gift for us.  Huh?  Gift?  Why would I want another dog, and a puppy kind of dog at that?  We already had Jake, the fuJakezzy unknown mixture  of almost two years.  Didn’t really need another dog.

I’ll tell you why.  Because at barely two months old,  the little black puppy with his solemn black button eyes and his little white soul patch beard, and his white bib, was sooooooo cute.  In fact,  although we had every intention of saying, “Gee, thanks, but no.  We already have a dog.” we immediately started creating reasons for keeping him.

He would be a play pal for Jake.  And  Who knows what would happen to him if we didn’t take him.  Yeah, you know, those kinds of rationales.

So what kind of dog is he, I asked in all my innocence.  “A Miniature Schnauzer,”  they said.  “Why don’t you keep him?  He’s a valuable dog,” said I.  “Because we really wanted a girl to breed and sell the puppies.”

I should know better.  I’ve lived in Mexico almost fifteen years.  I should know by now when I’m being conned.  But this was a gentle con, he was free, he was a gift.

As he grew, and his hair got longer, we waited for the signature beard to come in.  Schnauzers are ratters, they dig holes and go after the vermin in the ground, and have a beard to protect their faces, like this:

schThey have a double coat, the dense inner coat and a long outer coat to shake off the dirt from their dig.  They have distinctive eyebrows, too, and look very Teutonic.  So we named him Schultz.

Even as a tiny guy, he had the eyebrows and he had the beard starting to grow out sideways.  So far so good.  But everything else grew too.  He grew long.  And lanky.  And tall.  Miniature Schnauzers are short stubby fellows,  not lanky with scraggly body and leg hair.

The other day, I really looked at Schultz in all his 7 seven-month glory.  “That,” I said to The Dearly Beloved, “does not look like a purebred Schnauzer.  He agreed.  And then it hit me.  It hit me why the youngsters across the street gave him away.  They knew he was something of a mix, so would not produce purebred pups.

So now we have this Miniature Schnauzer Wannabe,  and who knows what he will look like as he gets older.   My guess is that he will look a lot like a lanky Miniature Schnauzer with some other stuff thrown in.

But we love him anyway.  He is a delight.  The only real purity in this life is love.  And he’s got that in spades.




No matter how much support and nurturing we receive, how much parenting,  how much mentoring we can acquire, how many gurus we consult, how many priests we talk to, how many spiritual leaders we have conversations with, there comes a time when we have to be responsible for ourselves.  We have to take responsibility for the state and condition of our own lives.

We have to stop assigning blame elsewhere, because it’s nobody’s fault but our own if we don’t like our lives.  It’s funny how we don’t rush to credit someone else or some situation for our success and happiness, but are fast on the trigger to ascribe the reasons for our unhappiness to someone — anyone — other than ourselves.

There comes a time when we have to sit on our own bottom.  We have to cut the strings, become independent, and acknowledge that if we ever want to be an authentic grownup, we have to grit our teeth, clench up our faces into one of those grimaces we make when we are at the dentist, and ‘fess up to our own choices.

Because that’s what our lives are at any given moment:  the sum total of all the choices we have made in our lifetimes.  Every bite of food we put into our mouths, every relationship we ever got involved in, every career move we’ve ever made, whether to turn left or right at the fork in the road, every choice, big or small,  that we have made in the past has made up the life we have now.

The philosophers German Martin Heidegger, and Frenchman Jean Paul Sartre, both tell us that in order to be an Authentic person, we have to stop listening to the masses, stop groveling in conformity, step apart, think for ourselves, and essentially, to grow the heck up.  They say we can’t blame society for our ills and unhappiness.  It is our own fault for listening to society, which is always at best mediocre.

It’s all about choices and taking responsibility. Don’t like your life?  Don’t just sit around complaining about it — choose again.  Why is it we tend to think that because something is, or has come to be, that it must remain that way?  Whenever I hear myself whining about something, I have to slap myself upside the head and say, “Duh!  Don’t like it?  Change it!  And don’t tell me you can’t change it.  Of course you can.  You may not like what it takes to change it, but you can change it.  Never tell yourself you have no other options.  There are always other options.  Just not options you like.

Growing up.  It’s a matter of sitting on your own bottom.

Twittering and the Art of the Essay

I would like to Tweet.  Twitter.  Chirp.  But whatever I have to say doesn’t really fit into 140 characters, so I thought I would blog instead.  I admire the person who can condense his or her life into 140-character slices.  Microblogging, I believe they call it.  It takes me more than 140 characters just to wander through my intro paragraph to get to the part that I really wanted to talk about.

I think I am really an essayist at heart.  You know, Montaigne, Emerson, Kingsley Amis, Umberto Eco, those guys.  Distinguished by a dearth of women essayists.  I guess the gals were too busy living life to ponder upon it.

The essay is a very interesting literary form.  Wiki says: Essays can consist of a number of elements, including: literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. The definition of an essay is vague, overlapping with those of an article and a short story. Almost all modern essays are written in prose.

The definition of an essay is vague….   Whoopee!  I’m in like Flynn.  Vague is my middle name.  Therefore, I shall write rambling pieces devoted to literary criticism, observations of daily life, and reflections of my own inner conscious state. 

Could be fun. 

Did you know that the expression in like Flynn refers to Errol Flynn and dates back to 1942?  That was even before I was born.  But not much.  Dang, he was a handsome son of a gun.


I never could resist a man in a trench coat. 


Well, maybe not him.   Although they are low, I do have my standards. 



Reading for Fun and Education (Oops – The “E” Word

There’s fiction and then there’s fiction. Actually, in terms of the Pretentiousness Rating, there’s all kinds of fiction. There’s Literary Fiction, which always appears with Caps in my head. Big time themes, heavy and ponderous. The kind that moves you just a few steps away from wanting to kill yourself because of the existential hopelessness of it all. You know it’s heavy because the other kind of fiction is Light Fiction, but without the caps. Caps would weigh it down and make it heavier.

I like reading all kinds of fiction, except for the romance genre and the thriller genre. OK, and the horror genre, and most of the fantasy genre. Well, on further consideration, there’s a lot of genres I don’t like. But what I do like is a book from which I can learn something. It is amazing what you can stumble upon even in a mystery, and even in one that isn’t all that great a book in general.

A fine example of this is Carolyn Jourdan’s Out On A Limb – A Smoky Mountain Mystery. It was an OK mystery, not at all noir, and the reader soon comes to realize that nothing bad is really going to happen, and it will have an ‘all’s well that end’s well’ ending. A charming, even delightful book. She wrote two others, both non-fiction: Heart in the Right Place, and Medicine Men, both of which I have also read.

In Out On a Limb, I learned about the mycetozoan group of the amoebozoa, otherwise known to us civilians as slime mold. And yes, the story revolves around slime mold. And climbing extreme tall trees. Really interesting stuff I never knew. But then, how many of us DO know anything about tree climbing? Or about slime molds? Did you know they aren’t quite plants, aren’t quite fungii, aren’t quite animal, but a really spooky combo. I got so interested in slime molds from this book that I have downloaded a bunch of articles on them. And these creatures kind of jar our complacent definition of intelligence and sentient. And they should should star in their own horror movie — oh, wait! They did: The Blob) Here is some slime mold solving a maze.

It’s a-maz-ing. Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.

The other thing I learned from this book was a bunch of interesting facts about frogs. You know, you can’t say enough about frogs. Did you know they are deaf to all but the resonances of the calls of their own species? They live in a silent world, hoping to hear from somebody they can ….. ummm…. have consensual sex with.

So the mystery plot was fun, but the extraneous info was worth its weight in natural history.