Saturday, July 22, 2017

Dogs. And Agility.

SUMMARY: Pix and Ponderings about dogs, agility, nonagility, travel, activities...

This started as a blog about me and my dogs in agility.  And it pretty much continued that way for over a decade, with forays into random realms.

But I hardly ever post here any more. Mean to, really I do. Because the secondary purpose was to be my diary, since I suck at keeping a written one, plus can't click to insert photos into paper!

And then when I do post, it's hardly ever about dogs.   So, here's a dog. Waiting for the neighbor's dog to come to the fence so they can bark ferociously at each other. What passes for entertainment in the dog world.

Not too many weekends ago, I went to my club's agility trial about 50-60 minutes from here. Nice freeway drive through less urbanified areas. At least, early in the morning.  I worked. Took a few photos.  My heart wasn't into either one. I think what finally did it for me was that there was a snooker course with an element in it that is one of the spectacular Ellen-and-Boost-fail-to-get-a-Super-Q near misses that just broke my heart.  I let too many things break my heart in agility, I think, but even telling myself here and now that that didn't matter and I'd do anything to have my little blue border collie back, it just kept hitting me.

And I'm not that interested in the courses now--I'm nowhere near competition ready in that I have no agility dogs, even if I were completely physically fit.  (Actually feeling pretty good these days, but quite out of condition.)

Agility people are still wonderful. Lots of friends there. Chatted with several. And then they'd need to go run their dogs, or walk their dogs, or take their dogs to the doggie masseuse (really, she's wonderful; Tika loved her).  More and more people running, every time I go to a trial, whom I don't know from Adam.  More and more known people with new dogs I've never met and know nothing about So many of the people I became friends with--and dogs, too-- by being in classes and seminars with them for long periods.

I haven't done agility trials or classes or seminars now for over 3 years, except for a  very few small attempts at class with each of the dogs. I know that Zorro would love it and would be very good at it. I just can't spark my own interest in working on it.  Doesn't he look like he's ready for something new and more exciting?

And then, with that last trial, I just didn't even want to go to the next couple in the same location, and now there's one right here locally this weekend and I'm not going there, either. Can't exactly say why; I had planned on it. But didn't.

Meanwhile, I've been going more and more places and doing more and more things as I get physically better and better-- all the interesting and different kinds of places and things that I used to do a lot of before I started agility--

  • Las Vegas and Grand Canyon in November, for a photo seminar and much more.  (I've posted almost none of the photos, but here are a couple.)
  • Yosemite in March, and lucked out in having snow fall on us, something I've wanted to happen for many many years but haven't had the spare weekends also for many years. (Almost no photos posted, but here are a couple.)
  • Walt Disney World in Florida in April. (almost nothing posted yet, but here are a couple of shots.)
  • Arizona in May (even though it was for a memorial, still we got around and did things.) 
  •  Later this summer, I'm going to Reno for the balloon races, something I've wanted to do since I first learned about them many many years ago. 
  • Later still, in the fall, I'll be going to Ouray, Colorado, for a photo workshop on fall colors in the Rockies, something I've almost done several times and then didn't for one reason or another.
  •  Tomorrow it's Big Sur: my sis and bro-in-law and I are going on an adventure--Driving there, taking the shuttle to the closed part of Highway 1, hiking over the brand-new trail around the damaged highway, then shuttle on the other side to Nepenthe, a restaurant that we like perched above the cliffs on the ocean, before it's too late and they finally replace the destroyed Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge and the shuttle will no longer run and Big Sur will no longer be isolated from the rest of the world (at least, from the North--who knows how long until they find the missing Pacific Coast Highway south of there). Until the next Highway 1 disaster.

Had I been doing agility, I likely wouldn't have done any of these. So, it's tradeoffs. Always.

And the dogs have stayed home through everything. So, it's a different life.

I still mostly think of myself as an agility person. Hard not to, with 20 years of classes and competitions and seminars and trips and parties and clubs and all. And yet--I feel that I'm slowly going back to being just a Boring Pet Dog Owner.  And yet--I'm still not ready to let the Agility go.

And then--Retirement is looking more and more like it could actually happen. Sooner rather than later. How cool would that be? But what would it mean for what and where and when and how and who? Thought for EVER so long that I'd travel around, hiking, doing agility, and like that. But--now--who knows!

The future is wide open.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Headers and profiles and sites, oh my!

SUMMARY: Just nonsense about blogs and other websites that need--yes, need!-- photo choices.

Everything that one does online these days demands (yes! demands!) a profile photo. How to choose the look that one wants? Do you want people to like you or not? Do you want them to think you're strange or not?  Do you want them to get a flavor of your personality, or hobbies, or environment, or family, or history? Or not?

I have generic-y photos that I can put anywhere, and mostly do for professional-y things.  Like this one, looking all normal-y (blue/purple tie-dye is normal, right?) surrounded by professional-y-looking grammar books, style guides, and dictionaries. (And professional-y-looking stuffed animals, water bottles, and random professional-y-looking crap. For authenticity.)

Which I can crop down to just get my true essence, of light-hearted professionalism with tie dye, and some books.

But what's the fun of normalcy?

 (Side note: OMD, just noticed how long ago I took that photo! I like to think that I look exactly the same, but, eh, I don't. I should take a new one. Or should I go much much older, back to scanned photos from my film camera days? Very professional-y, eh?)

I currently have different profile photos for my Blogger account --which is here--and for my Google account--which I log into to edit my Blogger account. They display really really tiny in chats and stuff -- here's what I see while editing my page (lower left and upper right):

The left one above I created using xxx-ize me sites (such as simpsonize me (no longer exists, sorry), peanutize me, and so on).  Like these:

Plus big yellow dogs.

Plus big blue-merle dogs (wellll... gray. it's the closest I could get with the tool).

Plus kitchen.

Should my profile photo include my dogs?  Like my current Google one-- but, oh, my, the site limitations on cropping often limit what's appropriate.  For example--original photo:

As displayed on my Google account, I have one complete dog, one half dog, and a random dog ear in case someone's goes missing:

(Side note: yep, that's out of date, too, by 3 years and 3 dogs. So, do I need a new one? It's always something.)

And then there's Facebook--  FB simplifies changing the profile and cover photo. Very simple. Too simple. Because that means that they DEMAND, yes, DEMAND to be changed frequently!  For a while, I posted a different shot of me with dogs every week.  Then a different shot of me with some random hat every week.  Then it just became random things at random times. OK, so, if you want to see ALLLLLLL the profile photos I've ever used in my 10 (?) years on facebook-- try this link (you don't have to log in or sign up; just say Not Now and then click on a photo, use arrow keys to skim thru them. Not that intriguing, really).

Then there's the whole thing about header photos! What feel do I want to give my blog as a whole? And what photo looks pretty good wide and short and with space where the heading text isn't hidden by what's in the photo? And am I even capable of taking such photos deliberately? Challenging.

Sometimes things work out OK.  Not too long ago I changed this long-time header photo--

 To this:

Which I just now replaced with this.

Whatchu think?

Do you post profile photos and/or header photos?

    What do you think about when adding a profile photo or header photo?

        Do you have multiple sites that can each have different profiles or headers?

            DO they each have different ones?

                How often do you update each?

                    What your quest? What your favorite color? (oh... sorry... carried away there...)

Demanding, inquiring minds want to know.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Mr Fox Knock Yer Blox Off Blockz Party

SUMMARY: Pretty much everyone who was anyone came.

Human Mom had to go off to the office to do some employment-something-or-other. Accidentally left her camera home.  Later, when uploading photos, she was surprised to discover that considerable quantities of organization had occurred in her absence. Not clear whether Mr Fox no.12 was behind it, or Chip (who wasn't in the photo, so who's using the camera, you well might ask?), or most likely Squeaky Snake who can't resist a really good noisy fling.

Now Human Mom is taking names in case there's an investigation, which seems likely given the state of the California King bed on which certain visiting foxes, plus the local foxes (el zorro and Flying Fox) have been--allegedly--sleeping.

More or less from front to back, left to right:

Row 1: Zorro, Ropebone, Flying Minkey, Liddle Toy, Liddle Ball, Foot, Ladybug, Duck Jr., Mr. Ball, Flying Fox.

Row 2: The Braid, Crunchie, Purple Hippo, Hedgehog.

Row 3: Ballflower, Happy, Monkeyface, Mr. Rabbit, Lattice, Mr Fox no.12, Bluedog, SqueakySnake.

Row 4: Squirrel (actually a Chipmunk but, through a sad case of mistaken rodentity, answers only to Squirrel), Puffin, Mr. Bear, Spidey, CAP-tain America, The Incredible Hulk, Tusker, Pirate Chicken (standing in for his late lamented cousin, Bikini Chicken).

Row 5: Buzzy Bee, FrizBee, Riot Tug, Milker Toy, Booda News.

Row 6: Mr. Duck, Mr. Alien, Cthulhu Face, Skunk.

No Row: Probably hiding for safety purposes: Flatball Blue, Flatball Purple, Flatball Red, Flatball Purple, Flatball Blue, Binkie, Binkie, Binkie, Rope, Jolly[Ball].

* Chip would like to point out that, being the biggest dog in the house, he iz gotz dibs on all Liddles.

** Monkeyface and Happy take turns spending the day with Buzzy Bee, who has inconveniently lost his eyesight. ... Well, ok, his eyes entirely.

*** Upon closer examination, Tusker was found to have hidden in his stomach a note that no one could make head nor hair of.  We repeat it here only for completeness.  ".-- . / .. --.. / - .- .--- / -- ..- - - .... .- .-.. .-.. . .-. ... / .- -. -.. / .-- . / .. --.. / ... . -. -.. --.. / --. .-. . . - .. -. --. . / - --- / . ... - . .- -- . -.. . -.. / -.- --- .-.. .-.. . . --. --.. / --- -. / -.-. --- .-. -. / .-- .- .-.. .-.. --..-- / .-.. .. -.- . ... / ... .. -.. -. . . / .- -. -.. / -- .. ... ... / - . .-. .-. -.-- .. --- ..- ... / ... ..- . .-.-.-"

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Mr Fox No.12 is On A Mission

SUMMARY: San Juan Bautista, to be specific.

We were in the neighborhood, so thought we'd stop by. Had no idea that it was Fiesta Days.

Much fiesta-ing going on. Dancing, drumming.

Fiesta feathers.

Mr Fox No.12 enjoyed running up and down the colonnade, despite the heat. Said all that adobe made things pretty cool.

Human Mom was interested to know that its founding name was
La Misión del Glorios Precursor de Jesu Cristo, Nuestro Señor San Juan Bautista.
But that doesn't fit nicely on signs.

Mr Fox No.12 noted that, if he knew anyone with pets or even dogs, he'd mention the rules to them,
but was pretty sure he didn't know any.
There was something about the sign that made him feel that he truly was in California,
but he couldn't quite put his claw on it.
Human Mom noted that she was pretty sure that sign wasn't there the last time she spent hours rummaging around inside the buildings. Or maybe it was, and she just didn't care.

Mr Fox No.12 rests up on a comfy ledge against the pleasingly cool adobe.

Mr Fox No.12 said that it just looks like a church, so what's all this to-do about California missions?

He just wanted to see whether Jimmy Stewart was still hanging around the bell tower, suffering from Vertigo.

Human Mom read  the signs for Mr Fox, who was busy admiring the
stovepipe cacti as a possible addition to his garden back home.
4300, said Human Mom. Forty-frigging-three hundred. In just this one mission.
Bet that a lot more are Mission Indians than are Spanish or Pioneer settlers. Just sayin'.
"Offering to god." Maybe the missionaries did practice human sacrifice.
They were well-known cannibals.
(Preceding statement is a lie.  --Society for Pointing Out Inane Lies (SPOIL) )

Four thousand, three hundred. Cozy.

And this man, recently sainted by the Pope, played an outsized part in the near extinction of native Americans in California.  Oh, no, he just founded the missions, he was doing only what he thought was best for the poor naked heathen savages.
Wikipedia: "The Ohlone, the original residents of the valley, were brought to live at the mission and baptized, followed by Yokuts from the Central Valley."
Right. They had to go 2-3 days' travel to the Central Valley to bring in the Yokuts
because why? Maybe they ran out of Ohlone somehow? 

OK, says Human Mom. Enough already.  So we gaze out across the south end of Santa Clara Valley, admiring the agriculture and mountains. (North end is replete with Silicon Valley, so this is a nice respite.)

Wasn't clear whether Mr Fox No.12 provided the bilingual sign as a public service or just used it as a place to hang out while Human Mom took pictures of many dull things like statues and valleys.

Living History Days at the mission. This barley wagon (wheat wagon?) this friendly and interesting man built per published specifications for an 1844 wagon was driven probably 2,000 miles (3200 km) to California 5 years before Mr. Sutter's poor Mill was overrun by gold-seeking maniacs. The red part of the wagon is 1844 original.  

English Shepherds are authentic to 1844.  Mr Fox says they told him they really love the airflow in their handmade wooden crate on the cool soil on a day where the temps tickled 100 F (38 C).

Imagine traveling with your family cross-country in this, 6 months on the road, walking, keeping the oxen moving. Running low on water and food and hardly a speck of civilization for hundreds of miles.  Pioneering. Not for the faint of heart.

Across the street from the Mission.

Mr. Fox No.12 espied something of particular interest. Better than an old crumbling mission any day, he thinks.

Human Mom explained how this qualifies as a Very Old Building Indeed here in California,
which is why they display the date so proudly.
Mr Fox No.12 nodded politely and tactfully said nothing about his Cornwall homeland.

The town of San Juan Bautista is a nifty place to wander around.

Mr Fox learns about three key features of California: (1) Stop-and-go traffic on Sunday afternoons, (2) The Golden Hills of California (and you thought they meant 14K), and (3) windshield FasTrak transponders to automatically charge you when you zip across the bridges crossing the San Francisco Bay or ride in the pay-to-play lanes of the freeways.  "Free..." ways.
All in all, a most educational day, thinks Mr Fox No.12.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

All About Dad

SUMMARY: Not really, because how can you say it all, there's so much?

Father's Day again.

I set down this very rough brain dump months ago; we pared it down a lot for his obituary in the paper.

Bob, before he met Mom:

Bob was born in Queens, NY and lived there until college. He mastered the subways and buses at an early age and loved the Museum of Natural History and the New York Public Library. At the age of 12, he entered Brooklyn Technical High School “as one of the smallest boys” with an Aeronautical major. He graduated “as one of the tallest.”

Bob attended Hillsdale College in Michigan for 2 years, followed by two years of study at the New York State College of Forestry in Syracuse, pursuing his love of the outdoors learned in part through four summers working as a counselor and caretaker at Old Oak Farm. After this, he worked briefly as a rodman on a survey crew.

Most importantly, in Syracuse he joined the Syracuse Outing Club, in which he participated enthusiastically and met the equally enthusiastic, intelligent, and attactive camper and hiker Louise. They knew each other through the Club for a while before starting to date in mid-1951.

Very shortly thereafter, the government called on Bob to serve in Korea during the war, from 1951 until 1954.

Within weeks of his return to the states, he and Louise married.

After that, at SUNY Albany, Bob graduated with a BS Cum Laude in Math and an MS in Physics.

Mom, before they met:

Louise was born in Massena, NY. Several generations of her relatives and ancestors had lived in that part of the state.  She joined Girl Scouts in 1938, and participated in one form or another until her last few years.

Her family enjoyed outdoor activities, particularly canoeing and camping in central and northern New York state. Birds fascinated her, and she could be found with binoculars to her eyes and a Peterson’s Field Guide in her pocket for decades, anywhere she traveled.

At Syracuse University, she earned BA and MA degrees in Early Childhood Education. Although she dated other students there, she fell in love with the “romantic” and “funny” Bob Levy.

After graduation, she taught schools elementary school for a few years.

After they married:

They moved to Albany so that Bob could complete his degrees. Louise became pregnant right away, which began her long career as mother, homemaker, and community volunteer.

After SUNY Albany, Bob and Louise took a summer job managing John’s Brook Lodge in the Adirondacks. Both enjoyed it. After the summer, they moved to Newcomb, NY for Bob’s new job as a high school science teacher.  Two years later, they received an offer to manage Adirondak Loj in Lake Placid, NY, and worked there for a year and a half.

At that time, with three children, Bob looked for a better opportunity. Systems Development Corp. offered to train him in the new industry of computer programming with the potential of a job offer if he did well. So they packed their belongings in their Chevy Carry-all and drive to Santa Monica, CA, which seemed like a world away from their families in New York.  Bob got the job and stayed with SDC through a move to Colorado Springs, CO.

He accepted an intriguing job at IBM in Poughkeepsie, developing systems for the yet unreleased IBM 360. So with 4 kids and another on the way, they sold their house and drove back to New York. 

Louise began finding time to volunteer with the Girl Scouts, including as a troop leader.

Bob’s IBM job took them to Cupertino, CA, in 1968, where Bob worked for a variety of technical firms as a software developer, then briefly as a machinist along with Louise as an admin, before retiring. They lived in the same house their until their deaths.

Bob took an interest in local politics, served on citizen committees for the Cupertino City Council, and once ran for Councilman.

Louise joined the League of Women Voters in 1973 and remained active as Secretary until her last couple of years.  She also joined the Environmental Volunteers, for over 30 years helping school children to understand and enjoy our natural environment in the classroom and on hikes.  She volunteered for a while as a school librarian.  Louise attended Union Church and sang in the choir there from 1968 until her death.

Bob and Louise loved to explore this country, to hike, to camp, and to canoe and, starting from their days together in the Outing Club until very late in life, they kept it up weekend after weekend and summer after summer, introducing their 5 children to the delights offered out in nature and at parks and museums across most of the states in the US. They devoted months together researching, writing, producing, and selling some of the first detailed trail guides for Rancho San Antonio and other area parks.

Together, they also taught First Aid classes for the Red Cross and volunteered at polling places during elections.  They enjoyed genealogical research and wrote, transcribed, assembled, and published a variety of books about their ancestors. Through their efforts, they made contact with, and kept in touch with, many distant relatives.

They are survived by their five daughters, sons-in-law, six grandchildren, Bob’s cousin Carol Anne Munson [note June 2017: Who died earlier this year] and her children, and Louise’s niece, grandniece, and greatgrandniece. 


This barely scratches the surface of the places they went, the things they did, the people they met, the impact they had.  And doesn't dive under the surface of who they were.

Dad loved being a Dad (almost always) and loved giving people things. He had so much fun at Christmas, for example.  Christmas will never be the same.

He's Three Toes This Week!

SUMMARY: Zorro turns three.

Dinner. The Best Time! Except for everything else, which are also The Best Time! Such a happy, eager guy.

Nature Stories Aren't Always Happy

SUMMARY: The babies are gone.

The little baby finches, so helpless and freshly hatched just a couple of days ago, were there yesterday morning but gone last night. I have no idea what happened. I know that not all creatures survive infancy, and I realize that if her first 2 survived after fledging a month or so ago then she's got at least 50% going for her, but still, makes me sad.

That is all.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Guess Who's Here From Across The Pond!

SUMMARY: Welcome, Mr Fox No.12

Human Mom has a package! A royal package!

From On Corn Walum, as the ancients say-- What could it be -- or WHO?!

Everyone sniffs.  Border Collie is ready to herd anything that might emerge.

Everyone sniffs. Chip iz sayz: "Oh! Oh! Iz cud bes Mistur Fox?!"

Me Zorro like fox.
Human Mom is not sure what he means by that.

It is He!
Mr Fox No.12 says that he has never before had such a rough and tightly-packed crossing...

...and would some Assistant-type please bring a comb?

Ahhhhh! Feels so much better! Perhaps a little wine for relaxation?

Mr Fox notes that he noticed a note of note in his vehicle of transport, but asks that perhaps the Human Mom would please read it quietly to herself, as he was offered no in-flight movie or magazine and thus was forced to read it several hundred times to himself as his only source of entertainment.

Mr Fox No.12 contemplates whether, after such an arduous journey, he is ready at this time to get to know Mr. Zorro better.

He is glad to see that other household members show the appropriate respect due his rank.

However, for the nonce, Mr Fox No.12 believes that he shall take a bit of a rest with his newest friend, who also shows appropriate respect, and he shall give everyone an update when he has recovered from his travel ordeal. And suggests that the Human Mom thank Sidney for allowing him this opportunity to mingle with the Colonists to better understand them and report back to Sidney HQ.

Thanks, Sidney!

- Human Mom