The official blog of Susan Landis-Steward, writer of whatever she likes, and co-founder of Puddletown Publishing Group

Posts tagged ‘Gwyneth’

Kitten Alert

basket cats 1 The one on the left is Abby, named for Abigail Schuto on NCIS. The other one was going to be Ziva, the trained assassin, but Jenny has a bias against boys with girls’ names and insisted he be called Zorro.  When he’s really annoying, he becomes Zero.  Here are some interesting kitten factoids specific to these two kittens:

  • Maggie calls them Cupcake and Squidget
  • Squidget, er, Zorro, has already been trapped in the refrigerator. Obviously he has figured out how to zip through doors when nobody is looking.
  • I now compulsively check the freezer every time I open it.
  • Because I scream so loud when they try to climb my bare legs, they are both learning the words NO and DOWN
  • Good Dog Gwyneth thinks they are her puppies. She grooms them and follows them around to keep them safe.
  • Sophie, the evil cat, is starting to be sort of interested in them.  Mostly to hiss at them, but sometimes to stalk them.
  • Abby loves to play. Zorro not so much.
  • Abby is clearly the smarter of the two. Zorro is the lover.
  • Unlike every other cat we’ve had, these two love yarn, sleep in yarn, climb on the loom, chew on the drive band on the spinning wheel. I think they’ll love it the next time I dye….painted cats anyone?

Look What I Got!

P1000861 For some time now I’ve been begging for kittens. We have Good Dog Gwyneth, and we have Sophie, the cat that hates me, and I wanted some kittens that would like me. As I speak, the little boy is sitting on my shoulder, grooming me. I think he likes me. I know he likes Gwyneth. The girl is a bit more standoffish, and not quite so sure what to make of the dog, but she’s tucked under my desk close by. She pokes her head out to check on Gwyneth from time to time, but doesn’t seem inordinately upset by the dog. Gwyneth thinks the kittens are the best toys ever. Sophie, of course, has her nose out of joint and is ignoring the office party.

A friend and I were on our way to our silent writing group and Jenny called to tell me she had just passed a sign reading “Free Kittens.” Should she stop? YES! I came home to these two. So far they are unnamed. Jenny has suggested Adam and Eve, Samson and Delilah, Abelard and Heloise (I MIGHT go for Abeloise and Heloard), and something else equally biblical-ish. I’m thinking Frick and Frack. But nothing is decided. The boy is a lover. He’s the one on the right, with the darker, more pronounced markings. The little girl is still skittish but puts up nicely with being held….when you can find her.

I’m in kitty heaven. THANK YOU, JENNY! (and they are both grey, Lisa!)

Photo of the Day

Well, Beaver Creek is swelling and threatening to overflow it’s banks again. Whoever said they wanted more snow will be tarred and feathered as soon as I remember who they are.  But the rain does make for some interesting scenes, like this one from our latest jaunt to the nearby dog park.

p1000180 In case you are wondering, the field is, well, a field. The lake is a field with water on it. The chair is the only chair in the whole friggin’ park and, as you can see, the chair is in the middle of the “lake.” Not that Gwyneth cares. But the chair seems to have lost its usefulness in several inches of water (and I assume mud).

Three Theological Things: The Funniest Profound Books Ever

I heard Christopher Moore on NPR the other day, talking about his new book. The commentator, who I should know but don’t because I have terminal CRS disease, asked him about his earlier book Lamb, the story of Jesus’ missing years told from the point of view of his best friend, Biff. Right there you know it’s going to be funny. And if you are a fan of Moore, the man who brought us some of the most bizarre vampire stories, carnivorous mobile homes, and stupidest angels ever, you know you are right. Lamb is laugh-out-loud funny, and I find out, now required reading in many seminaries. Now that is cool!

Gospel by Wilton Barnhardt is a cross between Christopher Moore, Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose, Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, and the Three Stooges. A romp across three continents, in search of a newly discovered Gospel, the book is both theologically imaginative and totally bizarre. And God, played by Himself, is a main character, one who will have you laughing out loud.

Right now I’m reading A.J. Jacob’s The Year of Living Biblically. While the other two books are fiction, this is brutally honest non-fiction at its best. If you’ve read Jacob’s first book, The Know-it-All, his chronicle of the year he spent reading his way through the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, you know what I’m talking about.  Jacobs, a secular Jew and writer for the Atlantic Monthly, sets out to follow all the laws in the Bible as faithfully as possible.  His long-suffering wife has to endure a booth, for the Feast of Booths, built in their Manhattan apartment, her husband’s attempt to avoid all contact with her and anything she has touched during her menses, and a full-year’s worth of beard, increasingly odd clothing, attempts to keep holy the Sabbath, and generally strange events, all while trying to raise a young son. During the course of the year, with regular visits with pastors and rabbis who serve as a motley crew of advisors on all things religious, Jacobs has mulitple epiphanies about the life of faith.

Read them if you need a good laugh or if you just want to get a new perspective on your own faith.

Five things I’m grateful for today:

  • Sun. Finally. Sun.
  • A friend who took me to lunch to cheer me up
  • A comfy bed for a much-needed catch-up nap
  • Jenny’s promise to let me get a motorcycle if I lose some weight
  • A cat that says I misunderstand her

Thursday's Three Theological Things

Funny how hard times turn the mind to God. I’ve found myself praying that the slump in my business dissipate before I’m broke. But I’m also using the time off to work on other things. Like writing. Like renewing my teaching certificate and signing up to substitute. Like think about what I really want and need. All very spiritual pursuits.

I’m taking a class called Writing the Spirit that conveniently falls during Lent. A couple weeks ago, we were given the task of writing an “I am from….” poem about our spiritual lives. It was an interesting exercise, everyone in the group wrote amazing stuff, and I’ve decided to let you read mine.  If you want to do your own, all you have to do is write “I am from…” and get that pen moving.

So, for my first theological thing, here’s my poem.

I am from stained glass and uniforms,
Jewish boys carrying crosses they don’t believe in
While Christian girls with covered heads are excluded from the altar

I am from concentration camps and schism over buttons
The 1928 prayer book and the Coverdale psalms
Too many years in seminary and not enough in prayer
Messiahs and Prophets (blessed be their names).

I am from gentle lovers and fierce daughters, wise men and wiser women,
From evolution, revolution, metanoia, and koinonia
From words and the Word, bread and wine,
Matzo balls and latkes, Sabbath-keeping and rule-breaking

I from choirs of children in four-part harmony
From wanting what I could not have
Until women defied the church and paved the way
And I found I did not want it anymore.

I am from midrash and surahs, gitas and rubrics, Genesis and Luke,
From women’s circles and men’s rules
From broken vows and understanding abbots,
From priests and nuns, rabbis and teachers,
From buried and broken Alleluias.

I am from the holy, whatever be its form.
I am.

Second Theological Thing
Shifting gears a bit, but still staying holed up in the library of the UU church, this week’s assignment involved Carolyn Myss’ Sacred Contracts and her archetype cards. We each chose three cards from the deck, after setting an intention for discovering more about our spiritual path. The three cards represent past, present, and future, or where I come from, where I am, and where I’m going.  I drew the Hermit, the Fool, and God.  Interesting choices for me.

The Hermit, or Mystic, at its best, withdraws from society to focus on the inner life. While I don’t necessarily withdraw, I do like my solitude. Although I can’t say I always use it to advantage. Sometimes I do things that nurture my inner life. Other times I just play World of Warcraft. Which some might argue IS an inner life. Or at least an imaginary life. At its worst, the Hermit withdraws because of fear, intolerance, or to avoid the problems of the world.  I will admit to some fear, and some avoidance, but I’m in therapy again for the gazillionth time to work on that.
Therapy, for me, is a very Hermit-like thing to do. The self-reflection, with someone to call me on a tendency to navel-gaze, has been an invaluable tool in my life. And right now I’m not doing therapy because there is anything particularly wrong but because I want to indulge a desire to grow. Yes, part of that is looking at old stuff, but I’ve done most of the hard, painful part of that already. Now I’m spending an hour every other week in a very disciplined focus on my inner life. And I’ve found one of those once in a lifetime therapists who is truly gifted and is able to serve as both guide and friend. All in all, I’m enjoying my Hermit-age.

My present card is the Fool. In tarot, the Fool is the Zen ‘beginner mind’, the child just starting out on the journey, a reminder that we are always beginning again. In Myss’ archetypes, it’s the ability to communicate profound truth through humor and represents what we’d like to say if we just had the courage.  The downside, or shadow, is a tendency to use humor in cruel ways. I hope I don’t have that. But I am one who uses humor a great deal in my writing, preaching, and life and there are few sacred cows. I pretty much say what I mean, and often do it with humor.

My future card is God. I asked the question about whether this card was gendered, or if it included goddess. It is gendered, and is the male god. In tarot, it would probably be the Heirophant or the Emperor. I’m not done thinking about it so I can’t tell which for sure. Maybe it’s elements of both. This card is the ultimate in male dominance. If used wisely, it is compassion and benevolence (the Emperor). Used poorly, it is the dictator or despot. I’m guessing that Jenny might see moments of the dictator in me but I like to think that I am headed for compassion.

Anyway, my assignment is to think and journal about these things. I guess I just did part of it publically. But I wanted to share about these archetypes, an idea that fascinates me and can be very helpful in looking at life.

Third Theological Thing



As we all know, God is Dog spelled backwards and I’ve found this dog to be unconditional love on paws so it must be true. We took a walk along Johnson Creek today, in the freezing cold, and Gwynnie found this pool. Now, given the temps we’ve had here the last few days, I’m guessing that water was pretty dang cold. I would have posted the whole sequence, as she first went in with front paws only, then her back toes, then up to her ankles (do dogs have ankles? Does God?)  But over the course of about 30 seconds, most of them captured on my new camera, she went in up to her belly. I was sure she was going to start swimming but she drew the line somewhere. Anyway, I’m thinking she was feeling the need for a baptism in icy water.

Here’s the strange part. We live on a freaking CREEK. About 30 feet off the end of our house is Beaver Creek. Has this dog EVER gone in the creek? No. She has her own little latrine spot near the creek (can’t train her to be environmentally friendly), and there is a spring that feeds the creek which is also her personal drinking fountain, but she has NEVER gone in the creek. First time she’s near a body of water that is not on our property, she’s right in there. Can’t be a desire to swim. She can do that right here. Nope, I’m pretty sure she was baptising herself.

And don’t start with me about dogs having souls or not. There was a whole theological debate on whether women had souls back in time and the debate was not souls or no souls. Nope, it was do women HAVE souls or ARE women souls. I vote that women are pure soul and as such have no need of HAVING souls. And I think the same is true of my dog. On the other hand, being the roommate of a purely evil cat, I’m pretty sure Sophie doesn’t have one, nor is she one. Some of you will, of course, argue with that. You know who you are. Feel free to comment. Just be civil. Now, talk amongst yourselves.

Photo of the Day or, She's Learned a New Trick

Good Dog Gwyneth

Good Dog Gwyneth

You probably think I’m talking about the illustrious Gwyneth and that photo does make it appear that she’s learned a new trick. Namely, “COME.” But, alas, she is no better at that one than she is at most others. Well, there is “BEG,” but she does that whether we ask her to or not.

Nope, the “she” in the title is me. I’ve got a new camera, I’m learning how to use it, and I just figured out how to put a photo on my blog. So, today’s photo of the day is over there to the left. Cool, huh?

She's at it again….

Gwyneth, the-official-best-dog-in-the-world, is up to her old tricks. Once again, I am being awakened at ungodly hours so she can protest the fact that Jenny actually has to go away to work. What the dog wants is for me to get up, let her out on the porch, and hang with her while she stares intently at the driveway. What I want to do is sleep. So I am learning to pat her head and say “Go back to bed.” Not that it works for her. But I go back to sleep and she can do whatever she wants.

Hopefully, this will discourage her in her pursuit of holding Jenny hostage.

10 ways to tell if you have a good dog…..

  1. It does not smell your, or anyone else’s, crotch. Ever.
  2. It only chases the cat if the cat runs first.
  3. It does not dine from the litter box.
  4. It barks at strangers and then quits when you let them in the house.
  5. It does not beg at the dinner table.
  6. It learns that you will not open the door until it sits.
  7. It sits in front of the door when it wants out.
  8. It comes when you call it.
  9. It leaves when you tell it to do so.
  10. It does not lick you unless you give it permission.

Numbers 1, 3, and 10 are the most important.

oh, and number 11: It likes you best.

Not that it’s a love contest or anything. But if you work out of a home office, it’s nice to have a creature that adores you hanging around.

I'm afraid…..

Ever since we got Gwyneth, the dog, I’ve been obsessed with the creature. You must remember that I hate dogs. But, with one glaring bad habit, this is a truly delightful and well-behaved animal.  For the past two days, I’ve been able to call Jenny at work and announce: “You left for work at 5:55 am, didn’t you?” “Today you were late. You didn’t leave until 6:20 am.

This is important because I often pass Jenny in the hall on my way to bed, her way to work. I am a night owl. She goes to bed before the sun goes down. I go to bed as it comes up.

Enter Gwyneth. Although she sticks to me like glue if I am vertical, she sees Jenny as a good substitute if I’m sleeping. But the minute Jenny walks out the door, she starts barking. Then we have to go out on the front porch where she proceeds to stare at the driveway as if willing the car to reappear.

This, of course, is ridiculous. If it keeps up, I’ll become a morning person. It’s not even dark yet and already I’m thinking about bed……I’m afraid…..

Why I Don't Like Dogs….But Love Aliens

Dogs sniff my crotch. They jump on me. They slobber, drool, have horrible breath, and otherwise annoy me.

Enter the alien lifeforms. In this case, one Gwyneth, a half-Springer Spaniel, half-Jack Russell. (How ironic is it that my last name, during my married-to-a-guy years, was Russell?) The Beloved Jenny was itching for a pooch. She actually started itching years ago but our lives were just too complicated. Then we moved to the country, the Divine Miss M graduated, and Jenny started to drool. For a dog. She spent hours on Craigslist, rescue sites, breed sites, humane society sites. She sent me dozens of links everyday (doesn’t she actually have to work at that DHS mothership?) and basically convinced me a dog would be a good thing.

Friday, she dragged me to two different Humane Societies. Possible because Portland is just a bridge away from Vancouver, WA. And there she was: Henna. Yep, Jenny, on the perennial Welsh kick, changed the poor thing’s name. Which I can never remember so I call her Puppers or Gimpers. I can get away with it because I’m disabled too. Of course a brain injury and a torn ACL are probably not really in the same class but, hey, I can limp if I think about it.

Yep, we adopted a disabled dog and will spend roughly $3000 to have her leg fixed. Why? Well, she fell in love with me and anything that does that has to be a) alien and b) worth bringing home to spend the night. That’s how I got Jenny after all…..

Sophie, the evil cat, is not impressed. But Puppers is so laid back she just sniffs the cat and walks away. Sophie hides, just to elicit sympathy from Jenny, because she knows damn well the dog is not going to do anything to her. Of course, Sophie still hates me. What else is new?

So I now am loved by a dog. I find myself talking baby dog talk although this dog is five years old. I go for walks. I have yet to clean up poop but, hey, we live in the country. Out here we call it compost. I throw things which she won’t chase. I make a stab at things like “sit”, “stay”, “down”, all of which I am very good at but the dog is more interested in the treats in my pocket. So, I still don’t like dogs. But I’m starting to love this one.

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