Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Memories of Lean-tos

SUMMARY: Not really Wordless Wednesday

My father is gone. We've been going through everything in the house with my mom's help.

Ah, the Adirondacks, where they met and spent their honeymoon and managed two lodges and took us kids hiking and camping. Lean-tos are a big part of that memory.

If you ever read Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, these are the huts he refers to.

Found this watercolor of a lean-to that my mom used to display. Source unknown.

Here's mom camping at a lean-to when she and dad were dating, Dad behind camera.

All of us out for a day hike (plus at right a lanky neighbor teenager sometime-babysitter), Dad behind camera again and his usual giant pack among us.

Dad before we all arrived, not in a lean-to, but undoubtedly near one.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Updating History

SUMMARY: Recreating photos of yesteryear.

Do you love the photos that people take while trying to recreate photos from their youth? Like this site(43 people who flawlessly recreated their childhood photos)--which has ads galore and you have to click to see each next one rather than them being on the same page, but wonderful photos!

Seems to me that I've attempted these things at random times in the past, but remember only a couple of recent ones, and they're not complete attempts to match clothing and location, just positions.

Fair warning, there is melancholy in these posts, as well as fun.

(1) Even 2 years ago we knew that we wouldn't be able to get my mom up to the top of this dome. Even less likely now.  Dad really wanted it to happen (he took the photo), but now he'll never see it even if we do successfully recreate the whole thing.  Above Olmsted Point in Yosemite.



We had to convince dad 2 years ago that it was not the stroll in the park that he remembered from when he was in his 30s, and that he'd have a rough time of it and mom just wouldn't be able to do it unless someone carried her.  You ever think, in retrospect, that Dad wanted this photo so much that we should've found a way to get them  up there?  Well, I had a wonderful time the day that we found this spot and took this photo and I'll at least cherish that.  I wonder--any chance that we could get all 3 of the oldest of us up there AND find someone(s) to carry mom up?

(2)  When I learned that Boost would not be around much longer, I wanted to redo some of the old photos. This one, not in the same location, not with the same clothing, but the main characters are here.


And, of course, these (which I already posted back in January):

2002: Tika, Jake, Remington

2015: Tika, Boost, Chip, taken as I knew that Tika couldn't be around much longer. Already having trouble sitting comfortably--but she managed it for me, briefly. All three of them were such good dogs on this day.

I have thousands of photos to sort, label, and edit

SUMMARY: So I decided to experiment with Photoshop Elements--

--the tool that is now on version 11 or so and that i've been using since about version 2.

You know how when you first get a creative tool, you play around with everything to see what it does?  Well, I wanted to get back to that mindset for a little while here, because one forgets (plus they keep adding features, go figure).

Just saving some of the fun I had.

The original JPEG from the camera.
I started with the RAW file, which was similar to the JPEG, and did the normal tweaks to get it to look better and normal.
This is playing with the Levels curve, sliding midtones pretty much all the way to the left.
Also I converted it to black & white and played with the various possible B&W filters/settings to get something that appealed to me (this is based on the Newspaper setting.

Mwah hah hah haaaaaa... Discovered what fun the Transform tool can be!
And the Recompose tool!

Holy Magic Extraction Tool, Batman! How did I miss that this awesome tool existed? Love love love how simple it was to extract part of the photo!
OK, kids, that's all for today. Go thou and create.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Puppy on the bed all night!

SUMMARY: Luke succeeds at sleeping with the big dogs!

I have tried periodically to let Luke sleep on the king-sized bed with me and Chip, but every time I've lain down, he starts climbing all over me and biting at me and will not be deterred.  I usually give it 5 to 10 minutes, depending on my patience and fatigue level, but he has always ended up back in his crate.

Last night--success! Only about 2 minutes of trying to be an annoying puppy and then, voila, he slept on the bed quietly all night!

I kept thinking:

  • On the down side, it would probably be nice long-term to have dogs who don't sleep on the bed.
  • On the up side, getting him out of his crate every morning, when my back has is usually at its worst, has been a pain in the backside, literally. Often a very big pain. So, if this keeps up like last night, I'll no longer have to worry about that. (Just the small amount of bending required to release him. Tellin' ya, this back thing of mine is not playing by my rules.)
So, well, anything is possible, and we'll see how the champ does tonight!

Old Books, Good Memories

SUMMARY: Lad, A Dog; Bob, My Dad.

Starting somewhere in my middle childhood I became crazy about dogs.  A crazy dog lady in development.

My parents encouraged me via books. My mom was the one who had collies as a kid and who likely got me started on Albert Peyson Terhune, and I think that it was my dad, in particular, who browsed used bookstores for all the Terhune books that money could buy--back in the day when used bookstores were many, and those who remembered the best-selling Terhune books still roamed the aisles of used bookstores. (Lad, A Dog: "Published in 1919, the novel was a best seller in both the adult and young adult markets and has been reprinted over 80 times.") And he loved books, and he loved bestowing gifts on loved ones.

My father died last week, just a month short of his 85th birthday, after a steep but short decline from cancer, still fighting, still treasuring his books and his family.

So many memories from my childhood reside in these books, so very many of which came wrapped as birthday or Christmas gifts over a period of a decade or more. And so many of which I still occasionally pull out and plunge into, for good times with good dogs.

You can always read about how Gray Dawn influenced my preferences for dogs, in Boost's History.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Kibble Song

SUMMARY: Just some positive and some silly lyrics in a difficult month.

OK, think Annie Get Your Gun:
Got no mansion, got no yacht,
Still I'm happy with what I got.
I've got the sun in the morning
And the moon at night
Got the tune? (If not, try this.)  The song itself is something I'm singing to myself as an affirmation.

Still, once that's in my head, it's hard to avoid going here at mealtime--
I feed kibble to my dogs
I must keep them from being hogs:
They get a cup in the morning
And two thirds at night!
That's all I got for ya.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

OK, Puppy, When Did THIS Happen?

SUMMARY: I really have no idea.

But I'm glad that he appears to still be alive and unburnt.

And the lightbulb still worked. Until I squeezed it too hard trying to put it back together. THAT was another disaster but fortunately it was in the front hallway where cleaning up broken glass was easy. Ish.

Do you have any idea how long it took me to find that kind of lampshade the last time I needed to replace it?

Sleeping Together

SUMMARY: A small Luke milestone.

To date, I've been unable to take a nap or go to bed at night before first putting Lukers in his crate. Otherwise, he's all over me and/or Chip.  I've tried it occasionally, with no success.

Last night before I got into bed, he had hopped up there and was lying so quietly and sweetly (I've seen it before, mind you) that I thought I'd try it again. Worked very well for about an hour an a half, until I needed to get up again for a brief couple of minutes, and then it was all over.

So into the crate he went again. But, still, that's progress on that front. (Assuming that I want to eventually let him sleep on the bed, too, which I think I want.)

That's all.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Half And Half, a photo challenge.

SUMMARY: Yep, photography.

I don't usually do these, but I've been waiting for a chance to use this photo. I love the contrast between the two architectural styles (at Madonna Inn, if you're curious).

Here's the friend's post that alerted me to it with her interpretation, and here's the source of the challenge.

Don't Throw Your Pup In My Back Yard

SUMMARY: I have so much to talk about, so instead I'll do this.

There's this round. It goes like this:
First: One bottle of pop, two bottle of pop, 3 bottle of pop, 4 bottle of pop, 5 bottle of pop, 6 bottle of pop, 7 bottle of pop, pop.
Second: Fish and chips and vinegar, vinegar, vinegar. Fish and chips and vinegar, vinegar and pop.
Third: Don't throw your junk in my back yard, my back yard, my back yard, don't throw your junk in my back yard, my back yard's full.

Hard to find a good version online, as it's basically a kid's and camp song. But this one is fun:

So, when feeding my beasts the other day, I became inspired.  Sing along with the new lyrics:

First: One kibble for pup, two kibble for pup, 3 kibble for pup, 4 kibble for pup, 5 kibble for pup, 6 kibble for pup, 7 kibble for pup, pup.
Second: Balls and bones and tugging toys, tugging toys, tugging toys. Balls and bones and tugging toys, tugging toys for pup.
Third: Don't throw your pup in my back yard, my back yard, my back yard, don't throw your pup in my back yard, my back yard's full.

Hee hee.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Home Alone!

SUMMARY: A bit of a milestone.

OK, a big milestone.

I wanted to be gone longer today than I wanted to leave Luke in his crate. Soooooo I didn't put him in his crate.

I had to close my bedroom door, and for now he's gated out of my office (which I'm not usually in anyway), but otherwise he had run of the house (kitchen & living room) and yard, and yayyyy! success.

Unless you count the bit of chewing he did on the liner for one of my garden Sloggers, because although I hid all the rest of my shoes in my bedroom (shoes are becoming a big problem), I forgot about those.

Lots led up to this point, but happy that I can do that now. With still a little trepidation...

That's all for today.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

So Many Things To Compare

SUMMARY: Comparing and contrasting. In a general sort of way.

I seem to spent a lot of mental energy--not at the forefront of my mind, but right behind it--comparing my various dogs and their behaviors before or after this that or the other thing.

Greeting me at the door:

  • Tika, excited shrieking at the garage door
  • Boost, barking and wagging like crazy at the garage door
  • Chip, happy and wagging but no noise at the garage door as far as I can tell
  • Chip after the other two are gone, wagging gently  at the garage door
  • Chip after Luke arrived and is kept in his crate, standing at the top of the stairs near Luke's crate and watching me come in from the garage.
Stuff like that.

I sat on the glider in my yard briefly today. Poor thing, the wood is wearing out and probably should be replaced, but I'm not likely to do it. I used to sit on it all the time back at the previous house with a nice view of my garden and things going by in the street.  

Way back then, the late great Remington liked it, too, for sitting next to me or hunting—feet on the seat, paws on the back, scouting for squirrels (or barking at them if they were in the tree overhead). He remained oblivious to the rocking and shaking of the glider—scared the heck out of me, though, every time he'd see a squirrel in the distance and explode off of the glider, sending it reeling and crashing from side to side.

Chip--doesn't like things moving under him. Took weeks for him to finally get all 4 feet onto a wobble board (wouldn't stay there long or move much), and months for him to walk across a very low teeter.

But today, while I sat on the glider, he came on up next to me, one careful foot and one careful rebalance at a time. Stood there, legs shaking to try to stay balanced, then leaped off again. For a moment I had a flashback!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Tunnel Chase

SUMMARY: Running dogs.

This time, Chip is chasing Luke. Sometimes it's the other way 'round.  For several days, Luke didn't do the tunnels at all. Then he walked through the straight one (in the background) a few times on his own, then for a few days, during chases, he'd run through it, back around, and through it again, repeat repeat repeat.  I finally saw him walking into and through the curved tunnels a couple of times. Running through these other tunnels is new today as far as I know!

(Chip already had been doing some running w/Luke and chasing the dog next door and is tiring out, so this isn't the full-blast chase.)

Luke learned the tunnel running during chases from Chip. He also learned the going back and forth inside from Chip.

Insect repellants and sunscreen

SUMMARY:  What works, what doesn't, how to apply; my summary from Consumer Reports July 2015

Tick on my jeans, Sierra Azul, April 2008
I'm active (well... was.  well... sometimes am). I like to be out and about, which puts me into the open air at times of the day and locations where bugaboos (mosquitos and ticks in particular) like to go bitey bitey bitey, and when the sun is high and harsh. The odds of developing dangerous skin cancer (melanoma) are increasing rapidly (about 1 in 50 people will develop it) with all the crap we've wrought upon our atmosphere, and the increasing incidences of West Nile Virus and such also are as a result of our meddling.

So, some useful info (mostly because I can never remember the important bits, so here it is).

Check the issue of the magazine for details.

Insect repellents

(They didn't address whether these are safe for pets.)
  • Apply repellants only to exposed skin and clothing, not underneath. Don't apply directly to face; apply to hands and rub onto face. Use just enough to cover; applying too much chemical does not work better.
  • They say, "At the end of the day, wash treated skin with soap and water, and wash treated clothing in a separate wash before wearing again." (Emphasis mine; interesting.)
  • My summary of what works:
    • Best: 20% picaridin
    • Best: 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus
    • Good: 15-25% Deet, varied by other ingredients, so sometimes a 15% blend is more effective (see report). Do NOT go over 30%.
    • Good: Sit near a full-power fan, blows away a lot of mosquitos.
  • My summary of what doesn't:
    •  "All-natural" repellants, (The best were effective no more than an hour, and others didn't work at all.
    • Wristbands.  
    • Skin So Soft (despite persistent lore).
    • Citronella candles, portable antimosquito diffusers.


What works:
  • SPF 30 or higher with UVA and UVB (broad-spectrum) protection.
     (UVA rays are present during the day no matter the weather or time of day or year, promote the aging of skin, and increase the likelihood of developing melanoma. UVB are more present from 10 to 4 and on sunny days, and cause redness/burning. Therefore, use a broad spectrum that protects against both (again, claims might be inaccurate).)
  • Hanes Beefy-Ts and Eastbay Evapor long-sleeved compression crew both provided over 100 SPF, so you don't even have to buy special SPF clothing.
What doesn't work:
  • You can't always trust the SPF on the container. Use CR's list of tested items.
    Ouch. March 2008
  • "all natural" or mineral screens don't usually work that well. CU rates only one even Good, but if you have allergies, you could consider that one (California Baby Super Sensitive 30+).
  • You don't have to pay a ton to get good results (see ratings).
  • They don't have to be gross and oily (some might start that way but rub in w/in 30 seconds and then are fine).
  • Apply 15-30 minutes before going out into the sun. Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours even if your skin isn't looking red, because the damage might not be visible until a while after it actually occurs.
  • 1 teaspoon per body part (e.g., neck, arm)
Get out there and be safe!  (That's a note to me just as much as anyone.)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Names names names

SUMMARY: Darn it, Chip and Luke are nothing like each other!

And yet--time after time, in spoken words and in my blog, I type the wrong name.

Sigh. I might have to change Luke's name after all, because apparently my brain thinks they're the same thing. Because they're both common, one-syllable, 4-letter boys' names, or, I don't know. Darn brain. It might be like SP changed Cutter to Butter because she kept following the K sound with Kinetic instead of Cutter (same breed, new adopted dog).

Now would be the time to do it if I'm going to. But I haven't been obsessing for months over possible dog names, so I'm going to have to start, and do it fast.

I've called him these, more or less deliberately, while dealing with him the last week:
  • Loki
  • Punk
But I also believe in the power of names in ones' own mind, so by calling him either of those, I'm expecting him to be naughty.

I also thought briefly about Stark. Hmm. Maybe I'll think more about that. You think he looks like an ironman?  And it's not too much off Luke, but at the same time, different from Chip. I think.   

(Fun interlude into brain pathways: You have to understand how my mind sees names...  oh, yes, you have to ... For example, if I'm struggling to remember someone's name, I might come up with Jack Smith, and it turns out that his name is John Brown, because, I guess, Jack and John are both common, 4-letter, one-syllable men's names starting with J, and Smith and Brown are both common, 5-letter, one-syllable last names. Really. This sort of thing happens to me all the time.  It's possible that that's from a lifetime of doing crossword puzzles, but who knows.)

Anyway, by those rules,  Luke and Stark would NOT be the same--latter is not common, is not four letters, and doesn't start with the same letter.  Hmmm.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Well, This is a Bit More Complicated Than Expected

SUMMARY: Luke and company.  With only 2 interruptions.

This new dog is not, by any means, housebroken.

I'm trying to start over from scratch. I take him outside every time he comes out of his crate, after he's eaten, after he's played, and before I bring him into the house if he's been out in the yard for a while. And yet I had TWO pees in the house today:

  1. He and Chip were playing in my office, and then he played alone with his newly discovered Love, the Giant Dog Cushion.

    (This is after I had to soak with bitter apple the corner of the cushion's cover where the zipper pull is because he was determined to chew it off.) I was counting some things while sitting at my desk. Luke stepped away from the cushion and stood there panting. I dropped the file back into the drawer so that I could take him outside, and I said, Come On, and he bent his back legs and peed right there on the carpet. I had taken him out and watched him pee less than half an hour before that.
  2. I was lying on the couch. He and Chip had been playing. As often seems to happen after play sessions, it ends with Chip lunging and snarling at him. I managed to talk them apart and was soothing Chip. I stood up and walked briskly towards the door, saying, Let's go, Luke! and he briskly dashed ahead of me, stopping suddenly to pee on the sofa cushion leaning under the dining table.

Jeez. I don't know how to manage this!  I suppose I should post a photo of the huge pile of rags I've used in the last week.  I've had to refill the Nature's Miracle squirt bottle 3 times from the gallon refill.

Yesterday I think it was zero times, but he was in his crate and I was gone for over 8 hours total.

The day before, 3 times. Once I wasn't paying attention, and the other 2 times, somewhat like today, I was paying attention. And a few other times in the preceding days. Potty training feels like it's getting worse, not better.

I had not expected this.

[Hola! Just now it's been just over 15 minutes since last pee. Since then, a bit of playing with Chip, a bit of chewing on a bone, and then Luke just got up and started wandering around, nose down. Whipped him outside and sure enough he peed a bathtub-load! Where does a little dog like him KEEP all that pee? This is the problem--peeing. all. day. long, and me taking him out--all. day. long. But this time, at least, I won.]

I don't like the way the play often ends between the two of them, and I can't see what's making it happen that way. I'm delighted that they'll play wrestle for 3 or sometimes 15 minutes, and often in that casual we're-both-lying-down-and-gently-interacting kind of play. But, so often, suddenly Chip is going after Luke, and Luke today is starting to return the action.

I don't know whether to try to keep them separated all the time, or to just break up the play quickly after it starts, or what. Darn it.

Luke does not return thrown toys and in fact doesn't even always chase them. If I try to play with him with a toy, he ignores me or he grabs my hand & wrist & fingers (whatever's available), neither of which is lovely.  I thought that it wasn't hard enough to hurt, but sometimes it is when I'm not in an easy position to get him off, and I'm realizing that, yep, after a week, my wrists and hands are bruised.  (Here's a truly gentle finger grab.)

 I can interact with him with food, and that's mostly it so far.

He has definitely graduated from finding dog toys everywhere (for days I kept being amazed at how well he knew which were dog toys and which weren't for the most part), but now he's in full-on assault on anything that I might have worn (shoes), touched (something that fell on the floor), moved (wastebasket full of stuff), etc.

On the up side, he's still just as cute as ever.

He's very smart. I love it when he makes that eye contact to get a treat for something.

He made me laugh (and curse) at the same time,  as I tried to keep him in the kitchen with me by closing the doors during the times I was there--and within a day he had figured out how to jump down (and back up) through the railing overlooking my carpeted office.

Like Boost used to do.  Of the six dogs I've had in this house, these are the only two to do that.

[Whoa, look, now he has a pair of my underwear!  We're not into "Drop it," apparently, and I have to get his attention that I have treats before he'll consider whether it's worth it to come back for it. Nope, doesn't want the kibble in the pocket. I race for the Zukes in the cabinet while he races for the yard. Didn't I close off my bedroom door? Oh, right, moved it when I went upstairs for pain pills a bit ago. Up I go to close it off again.]

He never stops moving until he sleeps.

I managed to get some of his sewing-needle-sharp toenails clipped this morning, but it took a long time; I'd hold his paw, stick a treat in his mouth, grab my clippers, line them up on his toenail, and he'd be wiggling and grabbing at my hand already.  Not a lot, not like in terror, but like as in come on don't keep sitting here holding my paw!

He's getting better and better at sitting in the back of his crate and waiting for a release when I open the crate door (thank you, crate games), but getting onto the floor and back up, or bending to do it, even if I drag a chair over every time (which I stopped doing after the first day, jeez).

[OK, he's decided that it's time to jump on my hands and grab them, and I have to disentangle him and get him into his crate again. DEFINITELY nap time again, even though it's only a little before bedtime. Just like a toddler, I can tell when he needs a rest by the increasing level of brattiness. So far, he's never giving himself the luxury of just lying there.]

He comes in from the garage quickly after I go out for something and come back in, even if he's distracted, because he comes when I call (not from anywhere else, but from the garage).  I always have to remember how very long it took for Tika to decide to pay attention when I called her in from the garage.  A long long long long time, and I think she was older than Luke when she got here.

But All day long during the times when he's out of his crate (back in every couple of hours so I can rest or when he starts acting like a brat) it feels as if I'm constantly practicing back-away-from-the -treats-and make-eye-contact or stay-away-from the table-top or don't-get-into-the-trash or please-go-pee or I dunno whatever, dispensing treats often for many things and some things I see improvement but jeez I am physically exhausted.


TIRED. And sore.

I keep reminding myself: You knew he'd need work. You know that you'd have to give it at least 6 weeks to figure things out into a calmer life. You knew these things.  I just didn't expect to be working on the things that I'm working on, I guess.

And with all of this, I completely forgot about Chip's class yesterday morning, darn it.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Luke's Squirrelly Lover

SUMMARY: Some toys are better playmates than others.

(If you're on Facebook, you've seen this already, 2 days ago.)

Luke is in love! (See: Giant Squirrel Toy) He flings it around, drags it around, er, um, humps it, orjust settles there with his mouth on it, lying still, eyes half closed, not moving at all. This has been going on all day.

(Third evening in a row.)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Chip's Grizzled Face

SUMMARY: Comparing a year apart.

I don't really have good photos of Chip from the side, for comparing the white in his black muzzle and chin. Here's the best I can do, and I don't see much difference.

Three years old:

Four years old: