Sheltie beautification

OK, don’t all jump on me at once, but I finally broke down and hauled my Sheltie to a professional groomer.

I know what I said (Nov. 10, 2009) about doing the grooming myself. It still holds true.

However, I found myself in an unforeseen situation and needed a “lifeline.”

You see, the dog I was “boarding” for my friend had a rather maddening habit of yanking on my dog’s ruff, slobbering on his furs, and making him less than presentable. She went home on Friday, the day I was planning on leaving for South Bend to pick up My Favorite Domer. I wanted my dog to be at his prettiest when MFD came home, but I didn’t have time to groom.

For less than the price of a pair of jeans, I had my fur-kid shampoo’ed, blow-dried, nails trimmed, anal glands expressed, etc.

It was worth it.

When I arrived at the groomers’, my Sheltie was in a clear-enclosed “box,” with a strong drier blowing out his furs. He’d already been bathed and trimmed, and his heavy undercoat had been helped out.

He was sweet-smelling, and the white portions of his markings fairly glistened.

Of course, I still need to take my thinning shears and even him up a bit, but that’s a task I don’t mind. I’ve learned how to do it, it doesn’t take long, and I want him to remember who’s his primary groomer!

Now all I need is for his nails to grow out a bit. I purchased one of those battery-operated dog-nail filers, and I’m eager to give it a spin (get it? ha!)

Cheating, Part 2

After yesterday’s post, I got to thinking more about cheating, particularly in college.

I have to admit I never cheated in school, period. I’ve been called a “goody-two-shoe,” but that’s not really it. I just never was tempted. Maybe it has something to do with being Catholic and knowing I’d have to face a priest in Confession!

Still, I wonder if God gives me much credit for honesty, when it’s not really something I have to struggle over.

Statistics indicate only 20 percent of college students in the 1940s admitted cheating in high school; today, that figure has jumped to between 75 and 98 percent.

How many of those students in the 1940s cheated, but knew it was wrong and lied to cover it (skewing statistics)?

Or have morals in our country deteriorated that much?

Today, cheating doesn’t carry the stigma it used to. Kids don’t see it as wrong, having started as early as elementary school; teachers and administrators inflate grades and cheat to meet the No Child Left Behind standards; and statistics show two-thirds of parents believe cheating is OK if it gets a kid good grades and into a better university.

There are more opportunities to cheat, kids are more clever in avoiding “capture,” and penalties are less severe.

And cheating doesn’t stop when a person earns a diploma. Tax evasion, employee fraud, athletes using steroids, resume embellishment, and the list goes on and on.

So what can be done?

I admire parents, colleges, and businesses who refuse to condone cheating. But they face an uphill battle, complicated by the fact that we’re imperfect people living in an imperfect world.

God’s Ten Commandments don’t allow for much “wiggle-room.” Things are either right or wrong, and cheating, like stealing, is wrong. It takes something away from somebody else.

So perhaps the solution begins with recognition that cheating is wrong.

Just because “everyone else is doing it” doesn’t make it right.

Never will.

Cheating? No way!

I’m miffed that My Favorite Domer can’t come home for Christmas Break until Friday, the last day of Final Exam Week.

Obviously, somebody has to stay and turn the lights out. And upperclassmen have prepared enough schedules so they know which class times will get them home for the holidays early.

Not so First-Years.

They pretty much take “pot luck.” I doubt many, if any, checked to see when finals would be before putting their schedules together with their counselors.

Not that it would have mattered.

When the original exam schedule came out, it looked like MFD, too, would finish early. We were kind of looking forward to “beating the holiday traffic,” doing some last-minute shopping, etc.

Now he says he has to stay until Friday so everybody can take their Chemistry final on the same day.


Yep, apparently they were told the final was moved “so they wouldn’t cheat.”

Cheat? At Notre Dame?

C’mon, really? You’ve got to be kidding!

These kids must complete an Online Honor Code Orientation before they even enroll. Not only that, but they all sign a student pledge that they will adhere to the Academic Code of Honor.

“Giving or receiving unauthorized aid on an exam or quiz” violates the Code.

ALL undergraduates know this.

They also know the penalties for violating the Code (in a repeated offense, the standard punishment is suspension from the University, with no opportunity for readmission).


Sure, but like I’ve said before, rules are rules, and without them, we have no orderly society.

In a time when so many kids admit to cheating, at least the University is trying to address the problem.

So it’s not the Code, it’s the knee-jerk reaction that disturbs me.

Granted, I wasn’t privy to the decision (or the reasoning) to move the final, and MFD on occasion has been known to misquote things, but if this is true, I’ve got to ask:

Does it make sense that anybody would be foolish enough to cheat on a final exam?


Let’s say I take my final on Tuesday and yours isn’t until Thursday. Why would I give you any answers, any help, anything, knowing then you’d get a better grade than I, and in the process, you’d ruin the curve for everybody??

Tell me — one dog or two?

I told a friend of mine that I’d “board” her dog for a week while she was out of town, so I’m playing “mom” to two dogs right now.

It’s an interesting experiment, really.

Ever since I got my own dog, I’ve worked hard to train him in model canine behavior. He’s housebroken, of course, and he doesn’t bite or scratch when we play. He’s on a schedule, dozing while I work and following me around the house when I’m doing something interesting (like laundry!).

But sometimes, I feel bad about not giving him as much attention as he’d like.

“He needs a playmate,” my friend suggested.

Playmate? Hmm, maybe she’s right.

After all, if one Sheltie is adorable, then two would be double-adorable.

Or would it?

Asking around of folks who already have two dogs, I’ve encountered a mixed bag of replies.

“Two is twice the trouble,” said one.

“Two is more expensive,” said another.

“Two can keep each other company and entertain themselves without forcing their neediness on you,” added a third.

Yeah, that‘s what I’m looking for. Dogs who will entertain themselves — at least for a little while to let me work and write.

So I’ve got this little “entertainment machine” for a week.

Is it working? Well, let’s see.

She’s already pee’d and pooped in the house, scratched and nipped me when we were playing, and “picks” at my dog while he’s trying to nap. She’s commandeered his bed and his toys, follows him around like a sticktight, and refuses to eat the food my friend brought for her, preferring to eat “people food” that my dog can’t have (or he’d pork up!)

Sometimes the two of them get on my last nerve, so I grab one and toss it in a crate, just so I can have a bit of peace.

I admire folks who have multiple kids and dogs, I really do. They must be bucking for sainthood.

For sure, their patience is not as fleeting as mine.

While it feels wonderful when these two dogs finally settle down for a nap or curl up beside me and “play nice,” those times are few and far between.

Maybe there’s a reason why I only had one child and one dog!

Weathering the winter

When did I become such a weenie about winter weather?

As a kid, I loved the snow. It was beautiful coming down, and it marked the beginning of the Christmas season. I got to wear sweaters and mittens; Dad made a fire in the fireplace, and Mom gave us kids hot chocolate with marshmallows for our after-school treat.

Some days the snow would drop by the bucket-load, starting at night and blowing into huge drifts next to the house. The administration would cancel school, and everybody would “hunker down” inside for several days. No problem — I’d curl up with a good book and magically be transported to another time and place.

Not so any more.

All those weather casters need to do is hint at snow, and I go into a tailspin! I stock up on supplies — does anybody really need fourteen cans of pork ‘n beans? I gas up the car and make sure I’ve got a thick blanket in the trunk. I dig out the snow shovels and the long underwear; I check to see whether there are flashlights (with batteries) and candles (with matches) just in case we lose electricity.

And I watch the Weather Channel on TV or Accuweather on my computer, examining radar screens, long-range forecasts, and so forth until I, too, am a master of the lingo.

Honestly, I don’t mind the snow so much — it’s the ice. Particularly when I’m driving.

I know enough to leave way before I need to be some place, then creep “old lady style” until I arrive safely. Nobody else seems to have learned that lesson. They zip along, merrily chatting on their cells or balancing a cup of hot coffee or punching buttons on their radio, without even giving a thought to how trecherous the roadways are.

So I’ve just got one teeny request. Slow down, okay? We both want to get where we’re going in one piece, and you riding on my bumper won’t make me go any faster, I promise!

Stretchy jeans?

What’s wrong with today’s jeans manufacturers??

I don’t have research to back this up, but I’m willing to bet jeans are the most popular style of pants now being offered.

They come in a variety of colors (blue being traditional) and materials, with pocket detailing, different leg lengths and widths, belts, and so on.

Go to just about any function, and you’re sure to see jeans.

So why don’t they fit?

It takes me forever to find just the right pair of jeans. I comb through the racks, pulling everything out that’s even remotely my size, and haul them to the dressing room. There, I try on one right after another, rejecting those that fall off me and those that squeeze me so tight I can’t breathe, those with zippers a half-inch long and those with button flies that make it nearly impossible to avoid an “accident” getting to the bathroom in time!

Then, when I’ve finally narrowed down my choices to one or two, I put the “rejects” back and take my selections to the checkout counter.

I learned a long time ago that you have to wash new things. Why, I’m not sure, but I think it has something to do with “you never know who’s tried them on before you.” Sure, there’s not a lot of logic in this — what’s the difference between trying something on in the store and wearing it? Maybe it’s like the 3-second rule applied when food falls to the floor — germs don’t “stick” if you snatch it up FAST!!

Washing jeans totally ruins them, I’m convinced. I wash them in cold water, then hang them to dry, so I know they can’t shrink. But have you ever heard of jeans STRETCHING?

Yep, the last pair I bought actually stretched.

They got bigger in the waist, bigger in the hips, bigger in the legs, and longer in the length. You’d have thought I’d bought them for a very tall and wide person — someone the size of a refrigerator — or perhaps I shrunk?

No, my other clothes still fit, so what’s going on?

All that time invested in trying on different pairs, not to mention the money to purchase them, gone.

So I did what any sensible person would do — re-washed them and tossed them in the hot dryer! I measured them every step of the way, so I should be good to go, but who knows ’til they dry and I can re-try them on?

In the meantime, I’ll stick with my tried-and-true tattered pair!

Burial customs

The other day I was getting my hair done and casually mentioned we still need to “bury” my dad, who died last Dec. 31.

He was cremated, you see, and according to our parish priest, we need to put him in his final resting place — either a mausoleum or a grave — within 12 months or so.

My stylist was surprised to hear Catholics have so many “regulations” regarding death; didn’t I find that a bit stifling, she wondered.

Not at all.

Life is full of “rules,” or it should be. We learn as toddlers that it’s wrong to hit other people, to strip down to our “birthday suit” and race through the grocery store, to take what’s not ours, and to tell “falsehoods.”

As we grow, we learn more rules — not to drink and drive, to always wear our seatbelts, to never “kiss and tell,” to pay our taxes (preferably on time!)

Sometimes it seems as if we’re assaulted by rules at every turn.

But what kind of world would we have if we had no rules? Not one I’d want to live in.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that the Catholic Church began to permit cremations, and even then you had to meet certain specifications (burial of the body was still the preferred way of dealing with death).

Fast forward to today, when more than 20 percent of U.S. deaths end in cremation. It’s less costly, to be sure, than burial, though by the time you factor in the urn, the mausoleum, a plaque, etc., your costs are getting up there. It’s also a matter of personal preference — some folks just don’t like the idea of decaying or being placed underground.

Still, the Church looks on the body as a temple of the Holy Spirit and believes that body will one day be resurrected; consequently, the body (even a cremated body) must be treated with respect.

Generally, what takes place is a vigil rite, or visitation, held at the funeral home or the church; followed by a Funeral Mass; followed by a Committal Service at the place of burial.

No scattering of ashes on land or sea, no placing the urn in the back of a closet or on a mantel, no transferring the urn from relative to relative.

It’s simple and orderly, really, when the rules are in place, and I find that comforting.

Advent awareness

This past weekend we celebrated the 1st Sunday of Advent.

According to the dictionary, the word advent comes from the Latin “adventus,” which means arrival or coming. Basically, we celebrate two important arrivals at this time of year — the birth of Jesus Christ in a Bethlehem stable more than two centuries ago and the anticipated Second Coming of Jesus at a yet-to-be-determined time in the future.

While most people are running around shopping, or busily addressing Christmas cards, or planning holiday gatherings, the Church asks us to prepare in a different way.

We’re to prepare our hearts to receive the greatest gift ever given. We’re to sweep clean the old, making way for the new. We’re to quieten our spirits, immerse ourselves in prayer, do penance for our failures, and focus on others’ needs through charitable giving of time and possessions.

That’s a lot to ask for in four weeks’ time!

But we don’t have to go it alone. Some churches conduct a one-week mission, in which a special presenter challenges us to more fully live our faith. Others offer a variety of Advent-related literature or activities, including the popular Advent calendar which counts down the days to Christmas, as well as the Advent wreath, with its symbolism of Light coming into the world.

So the mad dash to the mall for “just one more present,” the frantic sending of cards, the elaborate outdoor decorations designed to “keep up with the Joneses” — none of these should be on our agenda. Yes, we have to prepare for Christmas, but no, we don’t have to over-prepare.

As the slogan goes, “Jesus is the reason for the season.”