Today in My History

2001:  Useless Information
2002:  Is MY Face Red
2003:  Pass the Tomatoes
2004:  Home Sweet Home
2005 Thank God He Wasn't Gay
2006:  If You've Been Missing Puppies
2007: Dry the GlisteningTear   
2008:  My City By the Bay
2009:  Jack

2010:  The Dog's Day
2011:  The Gathering

2012: Sunday Stealing
2013: Making a Difference
Thinking of Michele
Feeling "off"
Saturday 9
Famous Relatives
The Cinematic Olympics
2019:  Toenails, Tuberculosis, and Turkeys

Theater Reviews
Updated 3/5
Peter and the Starcatcher

Books Read in 2020
 Updated 2/24
"Born with Teeth"

Personal Home Page

My family

Books Read in 2020
Books Read in 2019
Books Read in 2018

Books Read in 2017
Books Read in 2016
Books Read in 2015
Books Read in 2014
Books Read in 2013

Books Read in 2012
Books Read in 2011
Books Read in 2010

updated 7/16

(you know how to fix it)

Some Background Links:
The Philosophy of Juice & Crackers
The story of Delicate Pooh
The story of the Piņata Group
Pumpkin pies
Who IS this Gilbert person anyway?

mail to Walt / mail to Bev  


5 March 2020

I believe Mary Gavin was the first lay teacher to join the faculty of my high school.  She came in in my junior year to teach English and French.  (We bonded early on because she was the only teacher I ever had after grammar school who liked diagramming sentences, as I did!)

I had not taken a language before, but took French and loved it.  From day 1, she never spoke English in class, so we had an immersion experience which, as I learned later hosting Experiment in International Living students, was an excellent way to learn a language.

I liked French so much that I went on to UC Berkeley to become a French major.  I only lasted a year and a half in college and the last semester, I dropped out of all classes very early, so I failed them all, except my French pronunciation class, in which I got a B because they went by the recording I made at the beginning of the class.

French was perhaps not the most useful language I could have learned.  Living in California, it would have been better to have become fluent in Spanish.  In fact, I have rarely used my French at all, except for a couple of incidents when we were in Paris. 

But French helped me when we had Brasilian students living with us because the language is similar enough to Portuguese that with my own immersion experiences, I was able to pick up Portuguese and got to where I could have simple conversations in Portuguese.

Interestingly, when I was trying to learn Portuguese, I would think in the language while I was driving and if I could not think of the word in Portuguese, the word that would come was in French, not in English. 

Having a working knowledge of two romance languages made it easier for me to read, a little bit, in Italian and Spanish (also helped that I studied Latin in my first two years of high school)

Languages are funny things.

In this day and age, neither French nor Portuguese -- nor even Latin -- does me any good and the language I most want to become fluent in is.....dog.  Sadly, there is no English-dog dictionary.

Polly definitely communicates and though she is a yappy Chihuahua, her yapping has meaning.  I can, for example, tell when she races to the door barking whether there is a stranger coming to the door, like the mailman delivering the mail, or if it's Walt pulling into the driveway.  The barks are different.

Her "if you don't feed me now I might die" yapping is pretty easy to understand, as it comes with jumping up on me, turning circles and jumping again.

But then there are her conversational barks.  When Walt or Ned or Marta come into a room she barks at them as if she is telling them she wants to be petted (or perhaps she is hoping for a treat).  She doesn't cringe as much as she used to when people pet her now, which is rather nice after ten years!

She also has a special bark for Walt at night when she thinks it's time for him to give her her nightly treat.  When he gets up to throw away the papers from our nightly ice cream bars, she knows that after he goes to the garbage, he will give her a treat.  On the nights when we don't have ice cream, she waits and waits and finally barks to tell him that while we don't want ice cream, she still wants her treat.

She also has convinced Walt that he needs to give her a treat before he goes to bed.

And she has a bark for if he comes into a room and she is lying in her bed and does NOT pet her.  He has to pet her before she stops barking.

I also wonder what she is saying when she goes out into the back yard, stands on the patio and barks once....then once again...  I think she is calling out to see if there are any other dogs around who might bark back at her.

It's funny what Polly and Bouncer have taught each other.  You'd think they really don't get along all that much because they don't interact much, though Bouncer doesn't attack her as much as she used to in the beginning (always at dinnertime), but Bouncer has learned about the word "treat" and when Polly barks to let me know it's time to get her a treat, Bouncer does too.  In fact, Bouncer, who is practically tied to Ned's legs, won't come if he calls her if she knows that treats are coming.

She also has figured out that 5 p.m. is dinner time and when Polly comes in to my office to remind me, Bouncer follows her and when I stand up, both of them bark in anticipation.

As for what Polly has learned from Bouncer, she now doesn't ALWAYS go outside to pee, but more often than not during the daytime now.  She eats and then goes outside to pee and comes back in again.  So Bouncer is the first "person" to successfully housebreak Polly, at least partially.  She still uses her pee pad during the night, but it sometimes stays dry all day long, which is a wonderful thing, after ten years!


My mother with Jeri


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