Tag Archives: basset hound

Art: from the beginning to the end

29 Oct

Did I ever mention the time one  of my students asked me if we were doing real art or art with science? I am not the world’s greatest art teacher, but I love teaching about art. When I moved into the library, I increased the collection of kids’ books about art. If I were still there, I would add these two books, which cover art’s early days, and the end of an artist’s life.

FIrst, we have The First Drawing written and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein, who imagines the life of the first artist.


The book has a basset hound with a wolf ancestor, just as does the main character has a prehistoric ancestor..


Stepping back into time, Gerstein imagines a young boy whose eyes are filled with wonder at the world and who sees pictures in clouds and fire. When he translates his ideas into concrete form to share with others their awe and fear are palpable. You really understand how powerful and magical art really is.

Unknown-2   images

Finally, we see Henri Matisse at the end of his life in Henri’s Scissors, written and illustrated by Jeanette Winters.


OK. I didn’t even know Matisse did paper cuts. I knew he painted, but somehow I missed the rest. When he became too old and ill to paint, Matisse did not give up art. He could no longer paint, but found a new way to honor his muse. See, here are Mother Superior’s words again: When God closes a door he opens a window. Bed-ridden as he was, Matisse created a world of paper cuts around his bed, so he could still enjoy the world’s beauty.


The book chronicles Matisse’s early life, but focuses on the later years. It is peppered with quotes by Matisse, that reflect his ease with the end of his life. “You see, as I am obliged to remain often in bed…I have made a little garden all around me where I can walk…There are leaves, fruits, a bird.”

What a beautiful, upbeat way to spend your last days.

Acupuncture week 2

27 Oct

I had a great sleep last night, and so did Fiona. She had her second acupuncture treatment yesterday. She only knocked one needle out. Last week she knocked out 3 or 4. She slept really well after the first treatment. In fact, we had 4 nights of really great sleeps. Fiona frequently walked through the night for a drink, to go potty, to pace. There was a lot less of that.  She did well on our walks. there was less stumbling or tripping over her own feet, and the pace was better.


The other weird thing that happened was that 2 of her many cyst erupted. Usually these are nasty, oozy and take a long time to heal, but these were straight-forward and seem to be healing already. She is already on antibiotics for a bacterial skin infection, and has 2 more weeks to go, so I am hopeful that acupuncture and antibiotics will help these along. I asked the vet if acupuncture could be helping her body heal the cysts and she said maybe but would ask her sister, who is an acupuncturist.

Our first week has left me hopeful. When we got home yesterday, she had a snack and then slept. Last night she slept through my tossing and turning.  I am curious to see how Fiona’s  health plays out this week.

On thing leads to another

18 Oct

In 1983, the year I turned 19, the British new wave band The Fixx released an album called Reach the Beach. 


This album had a chart topping single entitled “One Thing Leads to Another”. This very singable song has been swirling around my mind in connection with 2 books I wrote about yesterday: Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang. Saints connects, in my mind, to another book and to an event.

First, they connect to The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong by L. Tam Holland.


The Asian connection is obvious. But both books deal with Asian culture bumping up against Western culture and about family history and connections. Holland’s book is funny and poignant. When Vee Crawford-Wong’s history teacher assigns an essay on his family history, Vee knows he’s in trouble. His parents—Chinese-born dad and Texas-bred Mom—are mysteriously and stubbornly close-lipped about his ancestors. So, he makes it all up and turns in the assignment. And then everything falls apart. After a fistfight, getting cut from the basketball team, offending his best friend, and watching his grades plummet, one thing becomes abundantly clear to Vee: No one understands him! If only he knew where he came from… So Vee does what anyone in his situation would do: He forges a letter from his grandparents in China, asking his father to bring their grandson to visit. Astonishingly, Vee’s father agrees. But in the land of his ancestors, Vee learns that the answers he seeks are closer to home then he could have ever imagined. This is a great debut novel.

The other connection is driven by character. Doctor Won in Saints, is an acupuncturist. Today, my 12-1/2-year-old basset, Fiona,


had her first acupuncture treatment for arthritis. We tried her on Rimadyl for 2 weeks, but her liver numbers went up, so that wasn’t an alternative. Fiona’s vet, Dr. Karen Davies, suggested other medications, but, knowing she was a veterinary acupuncturist, I asked if we could try that instead of more meds.

Fiona did pretty well. She didn’t object to the  needles, and she stayed pretty still until Dr. Davies came to pull them out. We go again in a week, and once a week for 4 weeks. Dr. Davies says that we should see some improvement by then. If we don’t we probably won’t and can think about another treatment.

Fiona is sleeping right now. She always does after a trip to the vet. Maybe I will take a nap, too.

Into the fire

31 Aug

Goodbye summer, time of relaxation.

I’ve gone from 0 to 60 this week. Summer vacation to full on EVERYTHING. Not only has school started, but so have my out of school activities. And the Great Fall Basset Relinquishment  has returned. There are seasons when people decide to give up dogs, and the end of summer is one of them.

We have three 18-month old male littermates coming in. We might actually have places for them before we get them.

lucky2  This is Lucky.

milo 2 Here’s Milo.

otis1 And finally we have Otis.

Today I’m going to see  6-year old Oscar, who was taken in by a kind-hearted neighbor, but she can’t keep him.

Oscar1 Oscar2

I also did a home visit for a prospective adopter on Thursday and I have another one on Sunday. I love doing this and I love my job, but these things really cut into my reading and knitting time. Every September I have to relearn how to balance my life between work, volunteering  and pleasure. I don’t know how people with kids do it. You guys are saints.

Crowns and Little Kingdoms

21 Aug

When I was a kid and my mom got really mad, she would often say “I’ll crown you!” to us. There is a family story that my eldest sister Karen once had the audacity to reply “Make mine pearls!”. It might have been diamonds.  Either way, it did not end well.

We are all kings & queens of our own little kingdoms, even Fiona & Lucy, who I often affectionately call Princess Pokeypants and Princess Poopypants. I  tell Fiona that she is the slowest dog in Christendom. Lucy doesn’t really poop her pants. She’s just cute.

Teachers are the kings & queens of their classrooms, though we don’t make the kids call us by anything other than our names. ( I once had a kid ask if he could call me Homey G.  I said no.) This year, we are adopting a pushing model for ESL and I am moving into someone else’s room. Each grade level has an assigned ESL teacher housed in another teacher’s classroom. The 4th grade team meets today to start working out how all this will work.There will require some negotiating of territory, professional and personal. The teacher whose room I am sharing has been very welcoming and is excited about our new co-teaching & collaboration model.

In Kelsey Green, Reading Queen, by Claudia Mills, Kelsey perceives herself as the Queen of Reading in her class.


When a reading contest is announced at school, Kelsey is determined to win. She scopes out her competition and comes up with a plan to determine if he’s cheating.

Claudia Mills gets kids. Every teacher has had a Kelsey, the kid who hides a book under the desk during Math to find out what happens.  In fact, the classroom I’m moving into will have 2 this year. Mills also understands the motivation of kids this year and how they come to understand the world. In her effort to get encourage the one kid in their class who isn’t reading for the contest, Kelsey struggles with her personal goal to win, but comes out a better person for it. In spying on  “the competition” she gets to know him better. In the end she makes 2 friends and that is a far better prize than winning the contest. although that’s pretty good, too.

The back cover indicates that there are 2 more books coming in the series, involving Kelsey’s 2 best friends: Annika Riz, Math Whiz  and Izzy Barr, Running Star.

Channeling Clementine

16 Aug

I have been a huge Clementine fan from her first appearance. In fact, when I adopted Fiona, who came with the unfortunate name of Yo-yo, I almost renamed her Clementine, just because of the books. She is very bassety. Clementine is frequently “distracted” by things when she is supposed to be doing what others want and then explains ” I was paying attention” and then says what she was paying attention to. If you’ve ever walked with a basset, you know that you might want to be moving forward, but they are frequently sidetracked and pay attention to things you don’t even see. I try to channel Clementine when I walk the girls.

I just reread Clementine for the 2013-14 Battle of the Books season (more on this later)


and then I read Clementine and the Spring Trip which came out earlier this year, but I’m finally getting to it.


And I am happy to say that this, the 6th book,is wonderful! And I love Margaret, who is the perfect OCD foil to Clementine’s ADD.  I love their interactions and how they have to negotiate their friendship.  In this book, a new girl named Olive arrives and Clementine is no longer the only student with a food name. Having just reread Clementine,  I can see how much she has grown up since that first book, but she is still sweetly naive and genuine as she tries to find her place in the world.

As always, Marla Frazee’s illustrations capture all the emotion & hilarity.

Why I’m glad I have basset hounds

15 Aug

Bassets are lazy. Here’s what it looks like at my house most of the time.




Lucy is the most energetic, but she will only play fetch for 5-10 minutes, before it is nap time again. In the summer, the three of us often go take 2 hour naps. I sometimes put my pajamas on & get under the covers.  Going back to work after having the summer off can be difficult for all of us.

In her nearly wordless book, Ball,  Mary Sullivan shows what it is like at the opposite end of the dog spectrum.


It is nearly wordless, because one word appears on almost every page:


This is a fun book and would be great as a read aloud to show kids to teach them about voice in writing. The one word of text  is repeated forty-four times in various sizes, upper and lower case, with varying punctuation and by different speakers with equally varied visual interpretation. The size and boldness of the letters in the panel above convey a message very different from the panel below.


There are other things I like about this book. The pictures and colors make it look like an older book and help the reader read between the lines and decipher the dog’s  emotional state.

So glad my girls are not this ball obsessed.

Flashback to 2008

9 Aug

Today is Fiona’s 5th Gotcha Day.  A Gotcha Day is the day a pet was adopted. Her are pictures of her the week I adopted her in 2008 and on her Gotcha Day last year.

Fiona_Wk1  Fiona_4thGotchaDay

A lot has happened in the last 5 years. Both Fiona & I are a lot grayer. I began as a school librarian in September 2008. That job was eliminated in June 2002. Looking back at books from 2008, here are some I bought for the school library and used frequently or recommended to many kids. If you haven’t looked at any of these you should.

A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee

How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams ,  written by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet,

Garmann’s Summer , written and illustrated by Stian HoleMasterpiece by Elise Broach

Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon & Dean Hale

Savvy by Ingrid Law

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look

Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator by Sarah C. Campbell

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

What to Do About Alice?: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy!”  written by Barbara Kerley

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball  by Kadir Nelson

The Underneath  by Appelt, Kathi

Frogs by Nic Bishop

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek by Deborah Hopkinson

Knucklehead by Jon Scieszka

Oregon Basset Hound Games 2013

22 Jul

I’m exhausted, but we had a great turnout yesterday & beautiful weather. Here are some highlights







We started things off with the limbo!


This was followed by Best Trick.




Next came the costume contest.








And the Child/basset look alike contest



Then came Marathon Napping







Thanks to everyone who came!

The Oregon Basset Hound Games Are Coming!

12 Jul

IMG (2)

The Oregon Basset Hound Games will be held next Sunday (July 21st)  in Legion Park in Woodburn, Oregon. need less to say, I’ve been busy with basset hound stuff this week.

Last Sunday we had our last meeting before the Games.

Yesterday, I took Daisy for her booster shots & we signed her adoption papers.

All week I’ve been working on our last minute decision to get new t-shirts. A volunteer created the design above. I tracked down someone who could make them before Sunday. I told the committee & the t-shirt lady we will have decision by noon today.

Tonight, I’m transporting a bonded pair (Daisy & Molly) from their current foster (who is going on vacation) to another foster home.

Take a look at your calendar. If you are free next Sunday, come & join us. The event is free for spectators. Only bassets who want to participate in events have to pay ( a mere $10 for all events). It s a fun day and I promise you will laugh. The events include a puppy dash, marathon napping, limbo,best howler and many more. There is also an amazing raffle. I knit a sweater for the raffle every year. here are a couple of little pics of this year’s sweater ( size ladies’ medium):

IMG_0957_square   IMG_0962_square

I hope to see you in Woodburn next Sunday. Registration opens at 8:30 & the Games begin about 10:30.

Randy Ribay

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