Planet Northwest

Looking back at her 33 years of rock 'n' roll, singer Merrilee Rush says, "I'm a legend in my own room."

She also was way ahead of her time. With angels fluttering everywhere these days, her 1968 Grammy-nominated song "Angel of the Morning" would be playing nonstop.

The Lake Forest Park native and Shoreline High grad got her start in 1962 with Tiny Tony & the Statics. Then came Merrilee & the Turnabouts. She played local dance halls such as the Lake Hills Roller Rink, Parker's Ballroom and Pier 70, then went on to Las Vegas and national tours.

She still sings at conventions and fairs around the country; she has done local TV and radio commercials (Bon Marche, Washington Dairy Association, Metro Transit). And last month, she recorded several new songs - "a mix of Southern rock and rhythm-and-blues."

For the most part, though, she has traded smoky clubs for shaggy dogs - Old English sheepdogs, to be exact. Rush and her husband, Bill McCarthy, raise the sheepdogs and a few Egyptian Arabian horses on her grandfather's 17-acre farm on the Redmond-Fall City Highway.

"I've had sheepdogs for 35 years," she said, "but I was on the road for the first 25. Now I spend time working to better the breed."

Fond as she is about her animals, she's never sung about them, she says. Which means we can probably stop waiting for "Sheepdog of the Morning."

Form and dysfunction

Last year was the shakiest of the decade so far. The word

"dysfunctional" showed up in more stories (146) last year in The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer than in previous years: 1990: 77 1991: 91 1992: 138 1993: 125 1994: 146

At the same time, use of the word "spiritual" (including 25 variations, such as spirituality, spiritualistic, etc.) tailed off in 1994. 1990: 564 1991: 558 1992: 546 1993: 639 1994: 580

What about 1995? We're on a pace for highs in both terms - 164 dysfunctionals and 647 spirituals.

Pet market is hopping

Hedgehogs are hot, but what happened to hermit crabs? We surveyed local pet stores, feed stores, PAWS and the Humane Society for this Northwest livestock update: HOT: Pygmy hedgehogs Baby iguanas Degus (they're bigger than a gerbil, but smaller than a chinchilla) Chameleons (the true ones, with the long tongues, not the kind you used to get at the fair with a little leash) Small parrots Apartment-size dogs

NOT HOT: Hermit crabs Tarantulas Scorpions Rocks

FADING: Pot-bellied pigs Ferrets Gerbils, mice, guinea pigs (although sales go up in the summer when kids are bored and want a pet) Large, angry dogs Large, hungry pythons Saltwater fish

For some reason, Chia Pets, those weed-covered clay animals, just keep growing. If you need proof, check out the giant ones at the Seattle Center (above).

Tales from the vault

Bored with the bodice-ripping paperbacks at the checkout stand? Head over to the Suzzallo Library at the University of Washington and settle in with a good master's thesis. They aren't exactly nail-biters, but the plots thicken nicely. For example . . .

"Adapting a Tibetan Monastery to Seattle" (No. 39948)

"Zen and the Architecture of Bicycle Stations" (No. 41048)

"A Benedictine Monastery and Chemical Dependency Treatment Facility in Downtown Seattle" (No. 42204)

"The Gentrification of Bohemia: Changes in Seattle's Houseboat Community" (No. 42633), wherein you will learn that the average houseboat these days contains 1.7 educated professionals.

Definition of the week:

"Iron Age, n. In the history of computing, 1961-71, the formative era of commercial mainframe technology, when ferrite-core dinosaurs ruled the earth. The first microcomputer was introduced in 1971 (Intel 4004)." - from "The Hacker's Dictionary"