06 March 2004

Mixed Bag--with Poodles

I've been reading this and that the last few weeks, no bestsellers among them. Finally finished the huge WPA Guide to New York City, which is a delightful guidebook to what the Big Apple used to be. The guide was written in 1939 and has a preview of the World's Fair. I read the two Magickers books mentioned in an earlier entry, and in the last few days have been rereading some of my HTML books, which is my idea of fun. I have a few solid references I bought full price, but most of my HTML material has been gathered off remainder tables.

A good example is the web usability book I'm reading now, which discusses things as varied as alternative text for visually impaired people and using properly contrasting colors, including considering red-green colorblind persons when designing websites. I also enjoyed Wendy Peck's Web Menus with Beauty and Brains, discussing all types of website navigation, including text menus for faster loading, typography, color combinations, placement of menus, etc. I discovered in following one of her exercises that Earthlink does not support Server Side Includes, but Yahoo (my domain provider) does.

The one book I found most delightful this week was a re-read of a book I fell in love with in my elementary school library. I took this book out whenever I had the chance. The Christmas I was in fifth grade my mom went crazy trying to find a copy for me; alas, I think it was only printed for libraries or out of print. Most of the stores she inquired at thought she was crazy.

The book was Charlotte Baker's The Green Poodles. Nope, not psychedelic canines. The Greens are Aunt Lena and her wards, teenagers Ann and Charlie, and eleven-year-old Allan, who end up providing a home for the last member of the British branch of their family, eleven-year-old Fern, who brings her silver poodle Juliet with her. Aunt Lena's never liked dogs much, but Juliet provides them a good turn: it introduces them to a noted poodle breeder, who helps the struggling Greens by fostering some of her dogs with them. In the end, of course, the Greens make good, and a family mystery is even solved.

I found a copy of this book several years ago online and didn't realize until I re-read it for the first time since the 1960s that this is where I developed an early interest in dog obedience trials. Juliet and another of the dogs, Ravel, are not just bench (show) dogs, but obedience trial competitors. I remember now being fascinated by the concepts of heel off leash and stand for examination and long sit and long down, and when I wrote my own first story about a girl and her collie, she was training him for obedience competition.

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