Thursday, April 28, 2011

Taking Off the Training Wheels

If you have seen me around town lately, you've noticed that I have had my camera with me more than usual.  All the time, in fact.  In the midst of this crazy, busy spring, I have been working to improve my photography skills.  I have re-read manuals.  I have googled my questions.  I received a new lens as an early Mothers' Day present.  I have played with every button and setting on my beloved Nikon.  And I have driven Amy Avery simply bonkers (although she is too polite to put it in quite those terms) with camera- and photography- related questions.

So as people who truly love you often do, Amy is throwing me into the deep end -- with no floatees.  She sneaked in and took the training wheels off the bike.  She packed my parachute and shoved me out of the get where I am going here.  She is making me take the next step in my learning by sharing my photos with more than just family and friends. 

Amy has a lovely friend and fellow blogger/photographer, Patricia, whose site is an inspiration.  She also provides very useful photography tips for newbies like me.  I am offering up this photo, taken in my newly utilized manual mode, for her Photo a la Mode.  She recently did a post about capturing the sun on film, and my photo is a newbie attempt at doing just that.

For you Knoxville folks, this picture was taken in the Veterans' Cemetery off Northshore Drive.

For you photography types, it was taken 1/250s, f/22, ISO 2800.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Graduation Day!

I would like to announce that Jack has completed his course of study at the PetSmart Pet Training Program and has received his Beginner Education certificate.  Please don’t feel bad that you didn’t receive an invitation, or that you haven’t had time to send an appropriate graduation gift.  It was a very small, private affair, since I have been overscheduled the past two weeks and Jack has missed a couple of classes.  We were graciously allowed to make up our missed work and Jack was given his final exam today.  Get ready to be impressed, for he passed:



Watch me (uninterrupted eye contact for twenty seconds)

Lie Down – He passed, but only with many treats as an incentive.

Come when called – this portion of the test was done through the PetSmart store and with other people and dogs around, so even I was impressed with him.

Loose-leash Walking

I was so proud of him that he got a bath and grooming upon graduation.  This was as much a present for me as it was for him because he had spent the morning digging a very impressive mud-hole in the yard.  Jack, like all young boy-types, doesn’t miss an opportunity to get himself really nasty.  Please note his mud-covered nose in his graduation photo!

Being the indulgent parent that I am, I am allowing him to take the summer off to “find himself” before he registers for the Intermediate Training Course in the fall.  I keep reminding him that his education is vitally important, but you know kids these days…

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hacked by the Easter Bunny!

Hey y'all, it's me, the Easter B. I had a little down time after spending all night hiding eggs and candy that I know you parents will be cursing me for for weeks to come, so I decided to hop on over here to "The Taylored Life" and post a little photo of my pal Vaiden and her crew. Shhh! Don't tell her I hacked into her computer to put this post up. Now, I know y'all are probably all disappointed because it's not Vaiden who is posting. I know you love her funny tales and she promised me over carrot cake and coffee last week that she'd be getting a post up real soon. Until then, enjoy this little photo I snapped of her and the whole crew this morning. Hoppy Easter y'all!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

You Can’t Put a Price on Dog Ownership, or Why Don’t I Take the Dog to Atlanta and Board the Kids?

So a couple of you astute readers noticed that I slipped that “Oh yeah, we got a dog” reference into my last post. If you are wondering why I haven’t been in the blogging saddle for two months, that’s why. Jack is wonderful and loving and devoted to us, but he is also an 11-month old black lab who has a lot of energy. A LOT of energy. Power-New-York-City single-handedly amounts of energy. The upside is that between our twice-a-day jogs (did I mention his energy?) and a particularly nasty bout with a GI bug, I am wearing jeans I haven’t worn since my wedding. But back to my story…

It’s not like I’ve never owned a dog. I grew up with dogs, but childhood for me was a while ago. Apparently things have changed in the dog-owning world in the last twenty years. Perhaps it was because we grew up in a more rural area, but when we went out of town, I suppose we paid a neighbor kid to throw some kibble over the fence and make sure our dogs had water every couple of days. It was a different time, a simpler time.

Flash-forward to last week, when Scott and I sat down and look at our calendars. We remembered that we have a trip to Atlanta coming up. This will be our first family trip since the acquisition of our four-legged friend. Would we find a neighbor kid to throw some kibble over the fence? The answer was a resounding NO since Jack’s barks can be heard from space, and he tends to bark a lot when he is feeling lonely. (Jack’s definition of lonely is any time someone is not actively petting him, feeding him, or throwing something into the air for him to retrieve.) We decided that boarding was the way to go. But not something frilly, fancy, or stupid. No pet spas. Jack is a manly dog, and just the basics would do fine. We laughed at the type of people that would actually spend good money to board their dog at a facility with pet-cams, doggie cots, and a turn-down service. “Suburban Yuppie Twits,” we scoffed, smug in our complete superiority as down-to-earth dog owners.

Oh, hi. Let me introduce myself. I am Vaiden, the Suburban Yuppie Twit and this is Jack, my Suburban Yuppie Twit dog.

As we entered the doggie hotel, which will now on be referred to as “S.Y.T. Boarding”, I knew that I wasn’t in proverbial Kansas any more. I asked the receptionists (yes, there were three) if I could have a tour, as I had a new dog and would be leaving him for the weekend. I was shown the luxury suites, the VIP suites, the executive suites, the geriatric suites, and the adventure suites. The hospitality specialist giving me the tour must have thought I was out of my mind, because I could not stop laughing. I really lost it when she explained the aromatherapy baths and the organic peanut butter treats. I told her that Jack was really just a good old-fashioned family dog, and that he was not used to a lot of pampering. With a withering look down her nose at me, we continued our tour.

When we were finished, I was handed my list of services, a second-mortgage application, and a SEVENTEEN (17) page application packet. Please understand that when I sent my human children to preschool, a five-page application was probably average. Basic questions, attach a health form, and we were good to go. Not so with S.Y.T. Boarding! I would like to share with you some of the application and screening questions:

On a scale of 1 to 5, where would you rate your dog’s intelligence?
Although Jack has mastered long division and enjoys Russian literature, he still likes sniffing poop, so I’ll go with a solid 3.

Does your dog require anything special to feel secure and at home?
Um, no. He’s a Black Lab, not Kim Kardashian.

How many times a day does your dog eliminate?
Eliminate what? Bad thoughts? Carbs? OH, that. 5.6 times during the colder months, and 7.1 during the summer, as his fluid intake is increased… I DON’T KNOW, friends. I have a life, and I try to spend as little of it as possible watching my dog’s rear end for activity.

Are there any animals or breeds of dog that your dog is afraid of?
None that he has mentioned to me.

Are there any breeds of dog that you are afraid of?
I do not like Pit Bulls, and Chihuahuas really freak me out. Clowns and spiders also freak me out. Please don’t have any of those in the executive suite.

This went on for seventeen pages. I had to fill out boarding contracts, grooming contracts, day-camp contracts, special activities contracts, and occasional treat contracts. I kept expecting someone to jump out and yell, “Gotcha, Stupid Yuppie Sucker!” but it appeared that everyone was very serious. So I said goodbye to my dignity, signed the reservation form, and can leave for Atlanta with the knowledge that my furry friend Jack will be cared for by an excellent staff at a state-of-the-art facility. I just hope the downtown Hilton has a turn-down service and a gourmet organic peanut butter treat on my pillow, too.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What's in a Name?

Farewell, Acts of Davis.  Hello, The Taylored Life!

When my friend Amy and I created the Acts of Davis blog, it served a very useful purpose:  it allowed me to chronicle my experiences raising (and attempting not to inflict bodily harm on) my young son.  At that time, Davis was certainly the center of my stories and the reason my hair was going prematurely grey.  I would like to point out that I do, in fact, have other family members that inspire some pretty hilarious stories and ALSO are responsible for my constant need for professional hair treatments.  The renaming of the blog is an acknowledgement that the Taylor family wackiness is equal-opportunity.  I have loved writing about Davis for a year, but now I won't feel so limited on my subject matter.  Look out, Acts of Davis fans (Hi, Mom!):  you now may look forward to Acts of Scott, Katie, Davis, and Jack the Dog.  I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I enjoy sharing their stories.