So: happy 46

Today was my 46th birthday. And I don’t mind if you or anyone else knows. I’m glad to be 46. I can’t believe it’s been that long! Neither can my mom–she said so in my birthday card.

It was an amazing day. I loved hearing from far-flung friends. Lots of surprises and sweetness. Phone calls and texts. Lovely cards and thoughtful presents. Flowers. David Bowie and iTunes. Plane tickets for summer vacation. A relaxing evening that was supposed to be spent at the gym but instead was spent on the patio with Bruce, overlooking the urban farm and discussing my latest addition to the plan: growing blueberries.

 It would be nice to have more homegrown fruit!  Peach blossoms are a go in 2015.

2015 so far has been a year of refocusing. Last week was the week of getting long put off doctors’ appointments done. And getting back to the gym. And soreness! That’s ok–it makes me feel alive. 

The urban farm is looking springy and green. 


Even the little container tomatoes are doing well:  


But what I’m most excited about is the fig tree:  


It’s spreading and there are lots of shoots. Stay tuned for more photos. Or follow me on Instagram (@julie_petroski) for my random garden shots.

One more thing. Back by popular demand: the gratuitous dog photo! Gidget is our funniest sleeper.

Sow: free car wash

ThawLast week was bitter cold. Ice. Snow. Frozen roads. Cars in ditches. Tow trucks making a mint. Cities trying to keep the roads open with sand. TV news channel weather people excited to have the news all to themselves. School closures. Gleeful children. Working from home which isn’t nearly as fun as it sounds, unless you count not having to commute, being able to put on sweats and a t-shirt, staying makeup free. (It is very productive, however.)

Dogs running around like puppies in the white stuff. Eating snow. Carrying chunks of icy snow in their mouths. Playing ’til exhaustion.

In North Texas, one thing you can count on is that frozen precipitation of any kind doesn’t stick around for long. We might get 4 inches of snow, but by the next day it’s gone. Better get your snowman built, your snow angels made, your snowballs thrown. Still, we have a snow shovel and ice melter on hand and we’re glad to have them for the one, two or three times a year that we need them. Old habits die hard.

Since Saturday evening, it’s been rain. Nice slow steady rain with a few pauses. It’s pleased me to no end. Free car washes! Clean patio chairs! Clean sidewalks and streets! Happy sprouts! Full rain barrels! Sage flowers! More daffodils!

Spring is so close that I can feel it. I’m getting little signs of it from the peach and plum trees too. They may be blooming by the weekend and while it doesn’t last long, it’s beautiful. It doesn’t hurt that it will be in the upper 60°s starting tomorrow. A bit of sunshine and the urban farm’s spring crops will be well underway. I can’t wait.

Around here, some people talk about the weather—all types of weather—like it’s some kind of foreign enemy to be despised and battled. They get grumbly because they have to pull out the umbrella or a raincoat. They complain that there are no clothes flimsy enough to keep them cool. They rue having to put on socks. I like the change in wardrobe, even though it means soon I’ll have to put away the sweatshirts and flannel pajama. And this time of year, I love the idea of Mother Nature getting ready and cleaned up for a big vibrant party of blooms and greens.

Rain means change. And change is good.



So: hello, again


I’m back, apparently by popular demand. Thank you, friends (you know who you are) and Bruce, for nagging, I mean, encouraging me to get back to it and start writing things down again.

Truthfully, I haven’t felt much like writing. I’ve had to do a lot lately for work and it’s been hard. Not because I’ve forgotten how or the specific assignments and projects. Definitely, not that. I’ve liked the challenge and the pace. It reminds me of what I love about advertising—the variety, the challenges, the solutions. It makes me feel alive, excited, and energized.

It’s just that I’ve been a little afraid of what’s going to come out. And when.

This winter has been one of the hardest I’ve had in a very long time. An early frost threatened to shut down the entire Mortroski Midcentury Urban Farm’s winter production. We’ve purchased way more produce this winter than I intended. Thank goodness for Trader Joe’s and their organic produce selection and prices.

Once I got everything up and running again, we had February and March ice storms. Ice and snow days where I worked from home and the roads were horrible. Luckily the huge live oak that’s been another winter problem (plumbing) came through with insulating leaves that, along with the frost cloths, kept the young radish, beet, kale, lettuce, bok choi, collard green, mustard green, and chard sprouts alive. So there’s the garden. It looks ugly and neglected, yet it seems to have turned a corner now that the snow has melted and turned to rain. It’s waiting for the sprouts to thrive and mulch to keep it all alive.

There’s a silver lining to everything, right? That’s what I try to tell myself. When something bad happens, something good’s around the corner. A door closes and another opens.

The silver lining to the plumbing problem? An awesome and thoroughly modern outflow to the city sewer. Never again worrying about running the washing machine and the dishwasher at the same time. No more plumbing enzymes and emergency unclogging. Truthfully, I am relieved that once and for all the Mortroski Mid-Century’s plumbing issues are done. While I like Jim the 70-something plumber a whole lot and enjoy chatting about gardening with him, I hope I don’t see him for while.

Another thing happened this winter: my grandmother died in December. She was just one week short of her 100th birthday. She had some kind of massive event that left her breathing and just barely alive when she was found. She never recovered from it. To say I was looking forward to her birthday would be a massive understatement. I had plans! I had surprises! I had so much I wanted to celebrate with her! I had been looking forward to it for a really long time! We were going to have fun!

When I found out what had happened, I was devastated. As Bruce wisely pointed out one night in January when I was wallowing in my sadness, I was only thinking about myself, not her, with all of my planning. Would she have appreciated the letters and cards from all over the place? Maybe. Would she have rather I showed up more often to visit her? Definitely.

Yes, I feel guilty. And very stupid for assuming that a woman who was over 99 and very tenacious would be around to see her 100th birthday surrounded by family and friends at a big party. But she’s been part of my life for the past 45+ years? Why should that change?

Because it did. She reached her expiration date and, unfortunately, her frequently repeated remark of “I may not make it to 100” came true. I just thought she was bluffing. I haven’t dealt with it very well, I’m afraid. But I’ve been trying. I know, I know, she lived a good long life. But selfishly, I hoped for one last hurrah.

The silver lining? The lesson? I am trying really hard to really live in the moment. To connect with the people in my life. To really listen. To realize that it might be the last time. To be as kind as I can be.

My grandmother’s house was the only home that has been in my life for my entire life time. My family moved a lot when I was growing up and Bruce and I’ve done a great job of carrying on the family tradition. My grandparents’ house was a lovely brick ranch bungalow built in the 1960s. It was always so clean and well-cared for. And it maintained a lot of its 1960s charm. Interior brick walls. The planter/bookcase next to the front door. Slate tiles. The pink bathroom fixtures and formica countertop with the sputnik pattern. The red power room sink. I’m sure subconsciously it influenced the purchase of our midcentury, which was built around the same time with a similar private area layout.

So when it came time to clean out her house, I didn’t really want to let go. I took worn quilts. I took an afghan in 1970s brown and orange. I took a gravy boat. I took glassware. I took games I played as a kid. I took random things, hoping that surrounding myself with them could bring me comfort.

Even this morning as I mixed up pancake batter for breakfast, I thought of her. It wasn’t even her recipe from the back of the yellow Bisquick box. She made Bisquick pancakes with King syrup for us as kids and it always made her—and us—happy to have pancakes together. In her later years, my brother took over when he visited, making pancakes for her. I always thought that was such a sweet gesture. It’s amazing how a food memory can affect you. Then, I poured orange juice into 1960s style flowered jam jar glasses that I took from her kitchen. I don’t know the whole story behind them, but I wish I did. She gave me 4 others when I was in my 30s and admired them. I now have a set of 6, two red, two yellow, two green. I wash them by hand.

There’s been a lot of death this winter. First, Grandma. Then, Bruce’s uncle. Older people who have both lived long and productive lives. Then came the one just over a week ago that slapped me hard in the face, reminding me that life is a precious gift. My college friend, a mother of 4 young adults, just a tiny bit older than me. She was put to rest yesterday. Hundreds of people attended her rosary and funeral in California. There is no doubt she was loved. She was someone who lit up a room. Someone who was always kind. Someone who helped others. An amazing volunteer. But there is also no doubt of the unfairness of such a vibrant life ending soon. What might have been. Her daughter’s wedding. Her sons’ graduations.

So, I’ve tried to spare you the sadness and the self-indulgent posts where “so” not “sow” or even the always rare “sew” is the focus. Writing nothing if I can’t talk about the plants and the extreme Texas weather or the funny things the Gs do (today, they all had baths and they are finally not completely pissed off at their humans) seemed like the better course of action.

But I’ve really had enough. I’m tired of keeping what I’m thinking and feeling to myself. So this is a fair warning then: it may crop up as the year progresses. Writing is the way I have always dealt with everything, especially emotions, education, earning money, and ignoring that fact has really put a crimp in my style. That’s why you’re getting this long-ass post. Bruce has checked on my several times, since I’ve been banging on this laptop for a while now.

For the last several month I’ve felt rather stuck. I tried doing other stuff. My photography skills are improving, but still, there were days even posting garden photos on Instagram (@julie_petroski) felt hard. I’ve made a lot of soup. Distracted myself with recipes that sounded good. Tried to get zen with dishwashing and household chores.

Even making my usual elaborate to-do lists that I’ve made since college seemed too hard. It’s been hard to think about more than one day at a time. So, better to do nothing and relax, right? Wrong. It’s been unnatural and exhausting. Rather than feeling refreshed and calm as I had hoped, I feel like a bag of knots. And unnaturally tired. My dreams have been strange. Multitasking has been hard. Chores have been neglected. I’ve been losing and misplacing stuff from my silly Invisalign braces to computer parts to favorite pens. I’m thinking it is all a big hint from the universe that I need to get my head back in the game.

Today, the clocks sprung forward. On the 21st, spring will be here. It feels a bit like it’s time to move on. Besides, there are four raised beds and three stock tanks full of little sprouts that you’ll want to hear about.

Thank you for your patience. It’s time to get back to oversharing.

So: lizard infestation


Texas house gecko • photo from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Some days I really don’t feel prepared to be an adult. Today was one of those days. And as long as I’ve now lived in Texas, days like these, in addition to leaving me feeling like a complete idiot, remind me of how little I understand about the place, especially the creatures that live here.

This story really begins more than three years ago. When we first moved into our neighborhood in Dallas, Bruce’s pick up truck got stolen right out of our driveway. It was the Tuesday after Memorial Day weekend. We were all exhausted from unpacking and all that fun stuff you do when you’re moving into a new place. Our garage was still full of stuff so neither of our cars was in it. We (Bruce, Godiva, Guinness and I) went to bed early. I guess we all slept very soundly because no one barked, not even Gracie, our neighbor’s dog that seems to bark at everything. Constantly.

There was a fence around the grassy portion of our backyard and it separated the garage and driveway from the yard. Our driveway backs up into an alley filled with everyone’s garbage and recycling bins. Some neighbors had put gates at the bottom of their driveways. Our real estate agent suggested that doing so might be a nice way to really maximize the backyard, especially since it would be nicer for the dogs.

So even if we had heard the thieves, we probably wouldn’t have seen them very well, since the wood fence separated the grass from the driveway. We let the dogs out to pee, had a coffee, then went out the front door for a walk.

Coming home, we walked up the alley. That’s when we saw the broken glass and the missing truck.


popped out window • photo courtesy of Bruce

Long story short: OnStar helped us find it and Bruce got to the truck before the police did. It was on blocks. The tires and rims were gone. Of course, insurance took care of the situation, but it was still a big pain.


Bruce’s truck on blocks • photo courtesy of Bruce


It also expedited a new fence. Instead of only fencing around the grassy part of the yard, we knocked down the fence by the driveway, added a fence in the side yard and finally added a gate at the end of our driveway. The whole yard became instantly bigger. And we felt a lot more secure. It’s sad, but true.

The gate is huge because our driveway is very wide. There really was no other way to have a gate that big and heavy except to have a motor to open it. Like a garage door opener, you hit a button and it opens or closes.

Except when lizards decide to find a nice toasty warm place to sleep. When Nic the gate guy showed up this morning, of course, the gate opened no problem despite being problematic yesterday. After testing my remote at various distances, Nic popped off the cover of the unit, then popped open the cover on the sensor. A four-inch long brownish lizard scurried off. Nic laughed and said, “I thought so.”

Apparently this is a very common problem in North Texas when it gets cold. There is a tiny hole, about the size of a hole that a hole punch makes, and tiny lizards can get in there. Bugs also make the unit their home. So the toasty warm lizard snacks and gets bigger and chubbier until he can’t fit out the little hole. That’s when his size and density starts messing with the operation of the sensor!

That was lizard number #1. He looked like a house gecko to me, but I’m no lizard expert. Nic kept exploring the unit since he said, “where there’s one, there’s usually more.” Sure enough, when he pried open the motherboard, lizard #2 was waiting. Like his pal lizard #1, he was about four inches long and once he saw Nic, he was along his merry little lizard way under the fence and into a pile of leaves.

But Nic wanted to be certain they didn’t come back. He taped over the lizard entry with some electrical tape. He told me to go out and get some mothballs since it would keep both lizards and rodents away from the unit. Tomorrow morning as soon as the sun’s up, I will be adding mothballs in L’Eggs knee highs to prevent one of the Gs (Gidget or George) from eating a stray one.

Nic dusted and cleaned the motor. He lubricated the chain and showed me how I could do it myself (he gave me the spray bottle of lubricant too). He made a few adjustments to the gate. He looked at the garage door and then lubricated every part on it. He’ll be back in January to fix a major part on the verge of breaking.

But I think he did most of those things because he felt bad charging so much for the 2 second repair. And he probably went back to the office shaking his head at the easiest job of his day: lizard extraction.

Today’s gratuitous dog photo of the day features some more head shaking:




So: furniture shopping

If you ever need to furnish an entire house including all the kitchen stuff, may I suggest that getting up early and arriving at IKEA before it’s open is the way to go? Using the list you made using their website. After you have a coffee and cinnamon roll to prepare for the task, you find a nice coworker like Jaspareet K who offers to make you a pull list plus do the order form for the rest of the stuff that isn’t self-serve.

While she does the paperwork, go to the kitchen section and pull all that stuff on your list. Plus a few other things that weren’t there.

When you get to the self-serve warehouse, get someone to help you stage all the stuff you’re buying since you’ll have a ton of carts and those flat things. Then once you’ve got everything, get a couple of people to help you through the lineup. Buy the bags–you’ll need them.

Then get one of the guys who works in the loading zone to help you load. And load and load.

Buy some food at the Swedish market. It’s going to be a long day and meatballs might be just what you need. Get the lingonberries too. It’s kind of like cranberry sauce, right?

Wait as the rest of the order gets pulled from the back. Chill because it’s the biggest heaviest stuff that they’re getting. That chill time plus the drive time will let your body relax since the truck will need to be unpacked and it will be time for more lifting. Write your blog. Cool down. Take a photo:


After we load ’em up, we’ll be heading out to the Owl House.

Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful that so far everything’s working out as planned. And I am grateful for all the preparation that Bruce did.

No gratuitous dog photo today. The Gs are enjoying Thanksgiving with their pals Tracy and Larry.

So: the journey begins

Like many people in the US, we’re packed and ready to go. We’re joining the crowds at one of the busiest airports in the country and on the craziest travel day in the US, we’re off…to Toronto. Yes, the American-Canadian and the Canadian-American are off to the Great White North to celebrate US Thanksgiving.

We’ve got three big pieces of checked luggage, crammed full of various household essentials that we are repatriating to Canada. We’ve got our UK adventure backpacks. We’ve got toques, mitts, snow pants, winter coats, and snow boots. We were informed at check in that we could have brought three 75 lb bags each because we got bumped to the front of the plane. This is more stuff than we’ve ever traveled with, but good to know for future reference, I suppose. Kind of crazy if you ask me, but I guess it makes sense if you’re moving or going on a very long trip and you want to hedge your bets in the wardrobe department.

We’re headed to The Owl House for the long weekend. And I may be skipping a blog post since we may not have wifi until Friday.

Here’s a taste of the solitude taken in October:.


We’ve already planned our next trip: Christmas with the Gs. We’re road-tripping that time. You know it will be an adventure!

So speaking of the Gs, here’s your gratuitous holiday dog photo of the day, taken in December 2013:


Happy Thanksgiving!

So: I love mail

How do you feel when you open your mailbox? A little sick, thinking of bills or letters riddled with guilt or people asking for money? Or are you hopeful and excited thinking about all the fun stuff that could be there?

I love getting the mail. I always have. If I get home from work first, I look forward to walking down the sidewalk in front of our house to our little red mailbox. If I don’t get home first, I bug Bruce saying “Did we get anything good?” Good to me means a lot of stuff other than bills and political flyers (thank goodness that’s over). Good could mean a card or letter from a far away friend. A magazine. A pile of flyers from the grocery stores. A surprise package. Some photos in an envelope. Stickers. Free samples. Some online shopping.

This week, I have been loving mail even more than ever. For my grandmother’s 100th birthday, I nominated her to receive greetings from I’ve been writing love letters for them for a while now and I thought how fun it would be for her to receive a big pile of love notes in the middle of winter. Here are a few examples of what we’ve gotten:

photo 3

photo 1

photo 4


They want the nominators to gather up all the letters into “bundle” and present them. So it’s my job to open each letter and read them. And I have. I read them out loud to Bruce. Grandma has gotten letters from all over the place. Kids have drawn her pictures and made her cards. Other seniors have written her heartfelt letters in beautifully loopy script. Caligraphers have lettered cards for her. Surly teenagers have written letters filled with sweet and meaningful words. Men, women, children, they’ve all poured their hearts out and written words that will certainly uplift a centenarian.

It’s been a lovely experience picking up the mail every day. And despite the images on the television that tell me otherwise, those letters and cards tell me that there are tons of wonderful people out there. They know that even with one single letter they can make a difference in someone else’s life. These aren’t random acts of kindness. They are purposeful. They are determined. They are filled with love. I can feel it.

photo 2

George! photo by Bruce

Speaking of filled with love, or maybe that’s just sleep in this photo, here’s your gratuitous dog photo of the day:

So: thanksgiving #2

I’m lucky to have two days a year that are recognized as days to be thankful. To be grateful. One month after the other. But I don’t need two turkey dinners with all the trimmings to remind myself that I need to think about how lucky I am. Bruce and I are crazy enough to be traveling on the busiest travel day of the year in the U.S. although we are not going to a particularly popular destination for most Americans. But we have 4 days off in a row and that’s the perfect time to head to the Great White North. A few days go there was three feet of snow, but we understand that there’s been a lot of melting and things have warmed up a bit, well, at least by Canada’s standards.

If you’re reading this post tonight, I want you to know that I am thankful that you read my words. I appreciate your comments that always seem to come at just the right time. Thank you. I appreciate that you are sharing with me, whether you know me in “real life” or you don’t. Thank you. You are my neighbor-friend and I am thankful that you’re sharing this big blue marble with me and that you care enough to learn about the adventures an amateur urban farmer, Bruce and the 4Gs. Hopefully we are entertaining you. Thank you for reading.

What else I am thankful for:

-Bruce. For an almost 1/2 century old who got his AARP membership tonight, he’s surprisingly youthful and fun. Happy almost birthday and thanks for 20-ish years.
-My family members who are spread all over the place. I wish I saw you all more, but I am so happy that we have the internet and social media. And cheap plane tickets! Visit me please!
-My friends who are also spread out all over the place. Your notes come at exactly the right time whether you’re here in Texas or further away. I am so glad we can connect with each other pretty much whenever we want. Know that when you visit DFW, you have a tour guide and a place to stay, as long as you’re not allergic to dogs. Thank you to those who have made the extra effort to reconnect in person when you’re in town.
-The kids in my life. Thank you for all the drawings and sweet notes and letting your parents take photos of you.
-My sweet grandma who will be 100 very soon. I really hope you love all the mail as much as I do.
-The 4G Network. So many dogs. So much personality. So much warmth. So much love. So much arm strength.
-The folks that watch after the Gs when we are traveling. You love them almost as much as we do and they know it. Thank you for letting us do what we need to do and giving us peace of mind.
-Not having to worry where the next meal is coming from or that there is money to pay the bills. We work hard but we also try to be smart and do what we can to help those who aren’t as fortunate as us.
-A roof over my head, clothes on my back, transportation, and recreation.

Happy Thanksgiving if you celebrate it in the USA and be thankful where ever you are.

For today’s gratuitous dog photo, I’d like to suggest that George is very thankful for some toy to put in his mouth:







so: milestone time


2014 is a big year for milestone birthdays in my life. Tonight we went to a friend’s surprise 40th birthday party. He thought he was having dinner with his wife, kids, parents and sister, but instead he had all sorts of friends yelling “Happy Birthday!” when he walked into the room at the pub. It was a good surprise.

Closer to home, Bruce is having a very big birthday in just a little over a week. His big birthday wish was to attend the 80s music weekend Rewind Festival in Macclesfield in the northern part of England back in August. Don’t worry, I’ll share more about our UK adventure on the birthday boy’s big day.

But the biggest of all the milestones about to happen is my dear grandmother’s birthday. Lillian’s going to be 100 on Christmas Eve. Everyone in her family is doing little things to make her birthday more special (as if you could make the anniversary of being on this big blue marble for a century more special). People are flying in from all over. There are several parties planned. Grandma’s got her outfits all picked out. She’s ready for this big day to happen.

I’ve been bugging politicians, movie stars, authors, singers, friends, all sorts of people to send her a birthday wish. Since I started in October, Grandma’s been getting wishes galore already. A good thing since she loves mail almost as much as I do.

Today’s gratuitious dog photo of the day shows how inseparable the newest Gs are:


So: holidayitis


The first thing I did today other than suck down coffee was wrap presents. Yesterday before work, I got packages ready to mail. I’m not bragging, I just like to have presents bought and ready before American Thanksgiving rolls around. I get that I’m missing Black Friday and Cyber Monday and the new shopping on Thanksgiving thing. Instead of facing big crowds or camping out over night or getting up at the crack of dawn to shop, when I see things that someone would just love, I buy them. That’s how I roll.

I’m a huge fan of online shopping, much to Daniel in our mailroom’s chagrin. This time of year, instead of saying hello to me in the hall, Daniel says, “No packages today, Miss Julie.” We’ve already had our “big box” talk. I reminded him that he doesn’t need to bring me anything big, just call me when it comes and I’ll drag it out to my car. He doesn’t think that’s right and still brings me the big boxes to my office. I just drag them back to the elevator and down to my car. Daniel asked me the other day if I ever go to stores (I prefer not to) and he thinks that it’s really funny that people might steal my packages off my porch so that’s why I ship them to the office.

Today, my Easy Bake Oven supplies showed up on my porch thanks to the USPS. I screwed up and put my home address as the delivery address for Amazon. Oops! At work we adopt kids for the holidays and the little girl I adopted really wanted an Easy Bake Oven. Her mom said she needed a warm coat. So she’s getting both plus some other stuff thanks to excellent sales at Target and Amazon. Did you have one of those ovens when you were a kid? I didn’t. But I wanted one. The ones now are not nearly as awesome. First, they only come with one mix. How is that fun? You’re probably going to mess up the first batch.

Second, this is what they look like now:



No window!

This is what I remember about Easy Bake Ovens:


But I digress. In case you think I’m all done for the holiday festivities, I also give a lot of food presents. I enjoy making them and most people (or at least their family and friends) enjoy eating them. Those I make in the fall if they’re canned (hello Cowboy Candy) or right before I give them if they’re a sweet treat (peppermint bark, cookies, or the thing I’m considering for  2014, fudge).

I’ve watched the neighborhood over the last week or so and seen a lot of Christmas lights go up already. Even a few Christmas trees. I’ve been watching the photos coming out of Ontario with envy since they are all pretty winter wonderland. It’s really making me want to decorate!

Yep, I’ve got holidayitis. We’re not sending Christmas cards this year, at least that is what we’ve decided at this point. Maybe New Year’s cards. We have a method to our madness.

I am counting down the days to my Christmas vacation. I am anxious to start the American Thanksgiving holiday that I will spend in Canada (more about that later). There is so much going on during this 2014 holiday season including my grandma’s 100th birthday. It’s going to be a very crazy next 5 weeks. But I don’t care.

Holidayitis has hit me hard. We’re not decking the halls of the Dallas house this year, but I get to decorate at work. And I get to throw a party at work. We have two festive dinners next week — Friday and Saturday. We have parties galore in December. We have a big roadtrip. We’re going to see lots of friends and family. And I’ll be going to Pennsylvania for Grandma’s big birthday party.

It’s not stopping when the ball drops on December 31. Nope, my twin nieces turn 5 this year so it’s off to San Diego one weekend in January. We’ll get to meet their new little sister too. Now if we can only keep the party feeling going until my birthday in March…

Today the Gs have been in rare form. Check out the attitude on the gratuitous dog photo of the day: