Tag Archives: samoyed

Monkeys drinking wine, nude maternity photos, and other such topics

I know I said I was going to put up a post on author’s favorite children’s books today, but I’m not. It’s taking longer than I thought it would to draft and I want to do it right. So that’s on next week’s schedule for Writing Wednesday.

In the meantime, in keeping with the childhood theme this week, I’m going to put up a post containing material completely unsuitable for children.

How is that in keeping with the theme of childhood, you might ask? Well, it’s in keeping with mine. To wit, an excerpt from the soon to be published Love At The Speed Of Email:

“Like many kids, I suspect, I was drawn to stories of outsiders or children persevering against all odds in the face of hardship. I devoured all of C.S. Lewis’ stories of Narnia and adored the novels of Frances Hodgson Burnett, especially the ones featuring little girls who were raised in India before being exiled to face great hardship in Britain. But I also strayed into more adult territory. I trolled our bookshelves and the bookshelves of family friends, and those bookshelves were gold mines for stories about everything from religious persecution to murder, rape, civil war, child brides, and honor killing.

“It would be nice,” my father commented dryly upon reading the first draft of this chapter, “if you could manage not to make it sound like our personal library was stocked exclusively with troubling filth.”

“Dad,” I explained, “that’s why I used the gold-mine analogy. You don’t just stumble across gold; you have to dig for it. I worked really hard to find that stuff in amongst all the boring family-friendly fare you were prone to buying.”

Additionally, this post is in keeping with the theme of childhood because, as everyone knows, children can ask a lot of questions. And just as a responsible parent answers their children’s questions (at least the first five times they’re asked), a responsible blogger answers her reader’s questions.

Today I woke up feeling responsible, so here are my answers to some recent search terms and questions asked of google that have led people to my blog.

In no particular order:

When do stitches come out after delivery? They don’t. They sew you up using special thread that dissolves over time.

Monkey drinking wine picture: Here (it should be noted that I was not feeding the monkey wine):

Where can I steal a baby monkey? You should be ashamed of yourself.

What is a cluster bomb? A form of air-dropped or ground-launched explosive weapon that releases or ejects smaller sub-munitions. Laos is, unfortunately, littered with them – see this post on the UXO museum here.

Bonsai dog: People, I get this one all the time and as far as I know, there is no such thing as a bonsai dog. There are bonsai trees. There are dogs. End of story.

White dog looks like husky: This one post has made me somewhat of a go-to person on white dogs that look like huskies. There are four options – Samoyed, Siberian husky, Alaskan Malamut & Shiba Inu.

Butchering Samoyeds: You should be ashamed of yourself.

Bad puppy chewing rug: Here:

Treating lympedema in puppies: If anyone has any good information on this (or, more usefully, on treating lymphedema in people), leave it below.

Do koalas bite people? No, but drop bears do. Follow the link to familiarize yourself with Australia’s most fearsome predator, the drop bear.

Funny dead cats in oven: Haven’t seen any of these lately, sorry.

Should I move to Laos? Why not, go for it.

Where can I get a Lao second wife? You’ll figure this one out quickly enough on your own after you move here. (And, PS, you should be ashamed of yourself).

Phallic rocks: Here (you may also want to google Cappadocia, Turkey):

How loud is a sperm whale? The sonar clicks produced by sperm whales are the loudest sound produced by a living creature, as loud as thunder. Apparently, when a sperm whale clicks at a diver it’s like getting kicked in the chest by a horse.

Lisa McKay sex trade worker: Not me, people. Lisa Ann McKay. She was convicted of killing a realtor in 2006 and she was recently released.

Does pornography change young minds? Yes. And older minds. For an excellent discussion of this seek out the book The Brain That Changes Itself and read chapter four on Acquiring Tastes and Loves.

How can I break my arm on rollerblades? By falling over.

Elf-milk: Um… drawing a blank on this one. Sorry.

Can I eat sorbet when pregnant? Absolutely, during the last three weeks of pregnancy I helped myself to a bowl (or two) some time between midnight and 4am every day.

Nude maternity photos: Here: … Kidding. I’m so not going there. And before you start looking through all my other posts, I cannot figure out why two people landed on my blog using this search term. Honestly.

That’s it for this session of 20 questions folks. If you have a question for me, you know where to find me. And if you forget, apparently you can just google nude maternity photos.

Have a good weekend.

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In which I answer seeker’s questions

Do you know that if you are an author you can now log into your author profile on amazon.com, look at the sales information for your book by state in the US for the last month, and track the rise and fall of your kindle and paperback sales rankings over time? I am not at all sure that this is a good thing (although I would like to thank December 2010 shoppers in Vermont, California, and Washington State). It took me considerable time after my book was published to break myself of the habit of checking my Amazon sales ranking several times a day (a habit I now call Amazturbation) and googling my book name to see who was writing what about it on their blogs. After putting myself on very strict me-related internet rations, however, I’m proud to say that I can now go months without even thinking about my Amazon sales ranking, and I aim to keep this up despite the lure of those pretty colour-coded sales maps to puzzle over.

I mean, why Vermont? Although, I guess if I lived in Vermont in December I might be browsing the shelves for novels set on tropical islands too.

When I started blogging seriously earlier this year, wordpress presented me with yet another tool that has the potential to be wielded as a navel-gazing, self-stimulating, saccharine-sweet-but-ultimately-unsatisfying substitute for interaction with real people in real time that’s actually not all about me – site statistics for the blog.

Much to my relief, however, I’ve found site stats not nearly as dangerous and much more amusing than amazturbation. For example, here is a list of the all-time most popular search terms that have led people to my blog in the last year.

  1. Writing
  2. Puppies
  3. Write
  4. Dreaming
  5. Samoyed dog
  6. Lisa McKay
  7. Resilient
  8. Giant snake in laos

It’s very hard indeed to take yourself too seriously when your own name is outranked by Samoyed dog, dreaming, and puppies, and you only just beat out the giant snake in Laos.

However, the thing I really love about the search terms list is the questions. People have found my blog by asking some of the weirdest questions – questions I’m quite sure they didn’t find answered in my posts. So, today, in honour of all you question askers, I’m going to attempt to answer ten of them now.

What is that dog that looks like a big ball of fluff? This question pops up in various guises all the time. That dog is a Samoyed. That is, however, the extent of my knowledge, I’m sorry. I cannot direct you to bonsai Samoyeds, gothic Samoyeds, Samoyeds wearing helmets, or tell you what a Samoyed looks like when it’s been shaved. If any of my readers would like to chime in in the comments section with any good Samoyed related sites you’ll make a lot of searchers very happy. There are a truly remarkable number of people interested in Samoyeds out there.

Is pig fat good for fertility? Well, I’m no dietician, but I’d guess that while very small amounts aren’t going to hurt fertility, it’s not likely to do much good either (unless the fat is still on the pig, the pig is a mother pig, and you live in Ancient China – where keeping a fat mother pig at home signified fertility and wealth).

Is pepsi made of pig fat? and Is there pig blood in pepsi? To the best of my knowledge, no. There is a persistent internet rumour going around that pepsi contains pepsin and that pepsin is a chemical that contains pig blood. Every reputable site that I looked at, however, flatly denies this. 

What age do dogs start wandering? Some of my readers are professional dog trainers, so I should probably defer to them on this. But my own internet research suggests that male dogs will start wandering off in search of females in heat at about six months old.

Where can I buy Lisa McKay Pottery? There is apparently a Lisa McKay out there who makes pottery. However her site is down and I can’t find any of her pieces on sale. Sorry. If I take it up as a hobby I’ll let you know.

Does wandering have the same definition as wondering? No. Wandering refers to being mobile, migratory, and traveling around without a clear destination. Wondering refers to being inquisitive, showing curiosity or amazement, or to wish to know something.

Do you use a bridle to ride an elephant? Ah, no. That is one reason why it’s easy to fall off an elephant’s head unless you have better innate balance than I do.

What does Laotian writing look like? It’s very pretty. I can’t reproduce it here because my browser isn’t enabled for the script, but if you want to check it out you can go here.

Does Laos have rabies? Yes. But it’s not like packs of rabid animals are roaming the streets. The dogs here are mostly attached to families and relatively well behaved (if a bit mangy and flea-bitten). I have never been directly threatened by a stray dog here.

Is having two babies and two puppies too much? Look, too much is relative. But I can speak from the perspective of having one puppy and no babies and the answer for me is clear. Yes, it is.

OK, that’s it for this session of “Lisa answers questions”. But before I leave here is one final tidbit. One search term that regularly pops up has had me puzzled for quite some time. That search term is “giant snake bites electric fence.” So yesterday I went googling this myself, and if you want to see what I found you can go here (in all fairness I think this photo even beats the giant snake in Laos photo). I am warning you, though, I will take no responsibility if you follow the link and then have nightmares. None.

Until next time.

A tale of two puppies

Mike should have known better, really.

I was so happy at the prospect of finally getting a puppy that the thought of two puppies had never entered my mind. Honestly.

Then, while we were on the way to the airport last Monday to be medivaced to Bangkok, Mike mentioned that he’d called the puppy lady and told her we wouldn’t be able to make our scheduled appointment at lunchtime that day, after all.

It has turned out to be more difficult to find a puppy in Laos than we’d bargained for. Once we’d settled the fact that we definitely not getting the imported Samoyed (a question that was only really resolved in my mind when we went back to the little store and she was gone) we started scouting around.

Then Mike’s colleagues got wind of the fact that we were looking for a puppy and, hospitality being what it is here, decided to take care of this for us.

“What do you mean Makan has found us a puppy?” I asked, when Mike told me what was going on.

“Well, I’m not exactly sure,” Mike said. “You know how indirect everything is here. The word on the street is that Makan has ‘ordered one’ but I can’t get anyone to tell me when we might expect this puppy to show up at our house, or whether these puppies have even been born yet.”

“But what if we don’t like this puppy?” I asked.

Mike shrugged. “Unless we find another puppy quickly we will have exactly zero choice in the matter.”

We really didn’t want Makan spending his hard-earned money to buy us a puppy, so we set to hunting down puppies with new will. We asked the owner of the little grocery store we go to, and the people in the hardware store. But we didn’t strike gold until we asked the German guy who sells the only decent ice cream in town.

Ice cream man was very confused to be asked about “mah noy” (little dogs) while we were paying our bill, but when he finally realized what we were after he obligingly dug out the phone number of the German butcher. The German butcher, he told us, had little dogs.

The German butcher and his wife, Soumontha, did indeed have little dogs. We told Soumontha that we’d come round on Monday lunchtime to see them.

Except, last Monday at lunchtime found us in a car on the way to the airport to catch a flight that would ferry us to hospital in Thailand. Damn staph.

“Maybe we should get a puppy in Bangkok,” I suggested, trying to think of ways to redeem this trip and get my puppy fix. “A yellow lab, maybe. Or a husky.”

“Soumontha said she’d keep one for us,” Mike said. “Or two. She asked how many we wanted.”

Have you ever had one of those moments when your perspective and vision for life shifts with all the brilliant immediacy of a lightening strike? That was how the possibility of two puppies arrived in my mind – in a single, mesmerizing, instant.

“What did you tell her?” I asked, pretending casual.

“I told her that it depended on how cute my wife thought they were,” Mike said.

Really?” I said.

“Stop!” Mike said, with all the sudden fear of someone who’s just realized that they have handled a Pandora’s box far too casually. “I was joking. We do not need two dogs.”

“How do you feel?” I asked, glancing down at the swollen legs that were jammed into his shoes.

Stop!” Mike said, ignoring my solicitous diversion.

“What???” I asked.

“I can see you thinking.”

“Once upon a time you loved it when I thought,” I said.

“Yes,” Mike parried. “And then we got married.”

I didn’t pester him too much about two puppies last week. It’s hard to muster up the steely willpower necessary to press an argument with someone dressed in green pajamas who has an IV decorating the back of their hand. So I bought him chocolate covered ice cream bars from the gift shop downstairs and bided my time.

That time came yesterday, when we finally got to go see Soumontha’s puppies. There are fifteen of them, five weeks old now, and they are a squirming tangle of adorable. I sat down on the ground and let them crawl all over me and wondered how we were ever going to be able to pick one in ten minutes flat.

As it turned out, there were only two left unallocated from the litter that we wanted – a little girl and a little boy – tiny, tawny, balls of fluff with black noses.

We were leaning towards the little boy, but then we noticed that he whimpered a lot and started to wonder whether he was chronically noisy, or anxious… or brain damaged. Then we started leaning towards the little girl.

“Perhaps we could take them both,” I suggested, smiling up at Mike and Soumontha.

“I told you,” Mike said to Soumontha.

Mike and I talked this over again last night as we walked down to an outdoor restaurant overlooking the Mekong.

“They could be buddies for each other,” I said. “When we have to go out they won’t be lonely – they can play nicely with each other while we’re gone. And during the day when I am busy they can curl up together like tiny, contented, bundles of love. They will be happier with a friend.”

“That is a beautiful vision indeed,” Mike said. “But I don’t think it works like that, exactly. When puppies are together all they want to do is play, and I think it’s far more likely that they’ll wind each other up and get into all sorts of mischief. Do you really want to be trying to write in the same room as two bored puppies and all sorts of things they should not be chewing on?”

“Huh,” I said, my beautiful vision dying a small death.

After we got home from dinner I put this to an informal poll and it seems that, as usual, the global facebook audience agrees with Mike.

“Uh oh!” warned a good friend from California, Danielle. “I know it’s tempting, but don’t get two that are siblings! They maintain a pack mentality and it makes them unbearably hard to housetrain and domesticate! They act like little wild wolves when you have two from same litter together.”

“Little wild wolves” piques my curiosity, I must admit – after all, how much trouble can two puppies be? But I suspect that my curiosity will be trumped by pragmatism-plus-spouse, and I am slowly resigning myself to being a one-puppy household.

Of course, we are going again on Sunday to visit the whole furry mob of them – a visit that is likely to take a pair of bellows to the dying embers of that beautiful vision of canine comradeship…

I’ll keep you posted.

Friendly Companions from Siberia

Last week our neighbor’s computer was stolen. His front door is less than ten steps from ours – his house is a mirror image of ours – and when he left his door unlocked and went out for a couple of hours in the middle of the day last week someone strolled up, let themselves in, picked up his computer, and took off. I was likely sitting right next door when this happened.

Mike and I were less than thrilled when we learned about this. We really like our house. All the toilets and air conditioners and taps are working now, and it’s beautiful, really. Downstairs is just one large, tiled, space. In the middle of the room are two gothic pillars – I call it the ballroom. From one end of the ballroom a curved wooden staircase sweeps up to the second floor. It’s all very Gone With The Wind.

Even the windows – draped with gold tasseled curtains – are beautiful. But it’s a bit of a shame that we didn’t fully realize until after we’d moved in that one of the reasons they are beautiful is because they are not obscured by burglar bars. Or that the locks on these clear panes of glass are, shall we say… flimsy. Or that there’s no easy way to secure them from the inside because all the windows in the house (all nineteen of them) open from both ends.

So in light of recent events, we’ve decided that we really do need to get a dog, and this weekend we started trying to figure out how to do that.

Most people, it seems, get their nice big dogs from Thailand or China. But on Sunday we got a tip. There is one place in town that sells dogs, a friend told us. If we went right at the petrol station and down past the first roundabout we’d see a small shop selling bonsai trees. That was the place.

So on Sunday we went looking for bonsai trees, hoping they’d lead us to puppies. And sure enough, they did. In the back room of the bonsai store, in a wire cage, was a beautiful ball of white fluff that licked my fingers and batted my wrist with her paws and tried her best to climb out of the cage and into my arms.

“Awwww,” I said. “Awwwww.”

“What is that?” Mike asked.

“It looks like a husky,” I said.

The bonsai-dog seller couldn’t speak any English, but he bought out a book and pointed proudly to a picture of a very large, very furry, white dog. This adorable little bundle was a Samoyed. And she cost three hundred US dollars.

What is a Samoyed doing here?” Mike asked.

“She’s so cute,” I said.

“Yes,” Mike said. “She’s a very cute puppy that’s going to grow into a big hot muddy ball of tangled fur. What is a Samoyed, anyway?”

“I think they’re sled dogs,” I said.

“Obviously,” Mike said, nudging me out of the store. “Because it makes total sense to import a sled dog to Laos.”

I think Mike thought that was the end of that conversation. Silly Mike.

When we got home later that day I looked up Samoyeds.

“The Samoyed comes initially from Siberia,” I said, looking across the kitchen table and Mike at smiling guilelessly. “She’s a long way away from home… just like us.

“Siberia,” Mike said. “What else does it say?”

I foolishly continued reading the Wikipedia entry out loud without editing anything out. “Samoyed’s have a dense double layer coat. The undercoat consists of a dense, soft, and short fur that keeps the dog warm. The undercoat is typically shed heavily once or twice a year. This does not mean the Samoyed will only shed during that time however; fine hairs (versus the dense clumps of top coat shed during seasonal shedding) will be shed all year round, and have a tendency to stick to cloth and float in the air.”

Mike gestured to the ballroom behind us. “Are you seeing it?” he asked. “I want you to picture the whole room full of white hair floating in the air.

“That is what we have a maebaan for,” I said. “We were just saying we didn’t have enough for her to do.”

Mike looked at me with narrowed eyes.

“This is not a good idea,” he said.

“Nomadic reindeer herders bred the fluffy white dogs to help with herding and to pull sleds. She’s a working dog,” I said, starting to build my case. “She can work for us.”

“What we need is a guard dog,” Mike said.

“Well…” I said, scanning down the wikipedia entry, “it doesn’t actually seem that she’d excel in that domain.”

“What does it say?” Mike said.

“Samoyeds’ friendly disposition makes them poor guard dogs; an aggressive Samoyed is rare. But,” I rushed to keep reading as Mike started laughing. “Samoyeds are excellent companions, especially for small children, and they remain playful into old age. When Samoyeds become bored they…”

I stopped reading.

“Go on,” Mike said, still laughing.

“They may begin to dig. And herd things.” I finished lamely.

“But they are excellent, friendly, companions,” I reminded him, trying to regain some ground.

“And you live in such an affection vacuum that you’re in desperate need of friendly companions,” Mike said.

“She and I would understand each other,” I said. “We both thrive in cool climates. She could sit beside me under the air conditioner at the kitchen table. She could lie on my feet and keep me company.”

“Right,” Mike said. “Because that’s exactly what you’d want – a giant furball lying on your already overheated feet.”

“Well,” I amended, “she could lie beside my feet. And occasionally she could reach out and lick my good foot. Gently.”

“Of course she would,” Mike said. “Of course. Only your good foot. And only gently. And I can see it now – this shedding ball of fluff who wants to dig and herd and who hates the heat and that we’ve said we’ll train to stay downstairs. You’ll go upstairs to work in the study and feel sorry for the hot little Samoyed downstairs and you’ll leave the air conditioner on for her.

“No I wouldn’t!” I said, shocked. Then I thought about how hot it can get downstairs and I amended. “Well, maybe, on very hot days. For she would be a friendly companion.”

No,” Mike said.

Late last night, right before we went to sleep, I rolled over to Mike and cuddled up to him lovingly.

“Friendly companion,” I whispered in his ear.

Guard dog,” Mike said. “She’d herd an intruder right to our computers and lick him along the way for good measure. Besides, who buys a three hundred dollar dog in this town?”

Then he laughed. “I know exactly who buys them. Men who are incapable of standing up to their wives, that’s who.”

“Friendly. Companion.” I said in my most alluring voice.

“Go to sleep,” Mike said.

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