a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Looking Back -- Population and Freeways

SUMMARY: Silicon Valley then and now
From a FB discussion on my post about Spokane vs Coeur d'Alene, and about avoiding big cities. June 30 2020.

Likely gibberish to folks who haven't lived here, or maybe not.

I said:
My current big city [San Jose aka Silicon Valley aka Santa Clara County aka South Bay Area--overlapping multiple city and county boundaries] grew up around me. I know that there have been traffic issues always, but they build more freeways and more lanes and that just encourages more cars and more people. When I moved here (with family), the county held about a million people. About 1.2 million when I moved out on my own and joined the work world. Now it holds about 2 million. It's overwhelming at times. Not just the traffic, but the smog--which got much better for a while--is getting worse again. Construction is infilling everything, and usually higher (no more 1-story office buildings).
I've actually been threatening to move elsewhere since 1976 or so. Colorado was on my radar at the time. [Note: But that was more because I wanted to move around like we always had as a family. We can see how well that worked out.]

Friend who recently moved to Victoria BC said:

when my parents brought me to Sunnyvale in 1962 there were still orchards everywhere, I-280 didn't exist, US-101 was still the Bayshore Freeway, and CA-237 was still a 2-lane country road.
As you know, we decided to bail out for someplace less metropolitan. It helps being retired because I don't have to care about finding a well-paying job

Then I responded:
Yeah, the job thing for sure. 
I think that things weren't too different in 1968. Going to friends' houses, I'd bike past orchards in our neighborhood. Horse riders very occasionally came down our street from the stables 2 blocks away. Friends in high school cut apricots nearby for summer jobs. I-280 between San Jose and CA-85 wasn't completed until some time after we moved here, and the section going north to SF still went along Cañada Road (I remember the awful traffic on the annual high school honor society bus trip up and back). 
CA-237, yes, when we'd drive north on this 2-lane road for whatever reason (probably off to go camping), during the winter it was very clear that it ran through wetlands: water and ponds along both sides of the road in the fields. And plenty of time to look when stopped at all the stoplights. All hint of that is long gone. A real detriment to the Pacific Flyway. [Now almost all commercial.]
For many years, I made an annual trip from Campbell to Visalia, which meant north on CA-17 to I-280 to US-101 south where it was still Monterey Road aka Blood Alley for several miles, talk about traffic... Then eventually that section of US-101 was finished, and it shortened our trip by at least half an hour; then 85 went in from Cupertino to south San Jose, which shortened it by at least another half hour but increased the traffic noise at our house by a lot. Somewhere in there also CA-152 past Casa de Fruta was upgraded to a 4-lane freeway, which took care of the traffic jam there, so even a shorter trip. 
OK, this is fun. Really have things I need to do.
"When I was a kid, we really had it hard..."

  • Wikipedia discusses US-101's history going back even further than its fame as El Camino Real with the Spanish missions built starting in the last 1600s.
  • I love Casa de Fruta. My photos of one visit. ... And of another visit. (See captions: Hover cursor over image viewed smaller or larger.)
  • Map of expected Santa Clara County land use from this Army Corps of Engineers document written in 1959 (page D-3):
  • I haven't compared to current reality of industrial vs residential and commercial
    (I've tried for an hour to find a current land-use map; this old one shows more the Santa Clara city area--
    CA-237 angling up to the right, US-101 angling down to the right),
    but the former is now likely much lower than the latter.
    You can see that the SF Bay has vanished by their 2020 vision (even then some of the wetlands and/or the bay had been converted to salt ponds).
    True story.
  • CA-152: One of the few major routes out of the south bay. Once you're on it, you're stuck for about 25 miles. So if there's a major accident, you're stuck big time. On one trip, a semi caught fire. We were stopped, then slowly crept, for maybe an hour. Everyone herded past it on the very slanted center divide--watching semis drive on that was scary!

  • Construction ev-ry-where 24/7/365. I don't think it has stopped in 10 years. (in early 2000s, with the dot com bust, it slowed for a while). Often replacing "older" buildings of only one story.

  • Traffic. Not always 24/7/365, but sometimes seems that way.  This section always has brake lights and stopped traffic during commute hours and often just any daylight hours.

  • Looking down on my family's neighborhood, 1969. Almost everything in view built within the previous 1-10 years I'd say. One orchard off to the right (winter so trees are bare); chunks of empty green on the lower left (flat). None of that there now. And the smog, OMG THE SMOG! Many days you couldn't see those mountains at all!

  • From the same hilltop 40 years later. Can't see anything for all the trees (not complaining about trees...).  Above the bush in the previous photo is a yellowish-green field with 2-story buildings to its  upper left. That's the high school.  Here it's zoomed in 40 years later--above the shrub on the right side of the photo. You can see the buildings but barely see the field. (Smog is much better. After it has rained, it is often even clearer.)

  • And in the 1969 photo, above the people, there's another (closer) green rectangle; that's the junior high.  Here it's zoomed in from the same hill -- you can barely see the field (center right, with a line of evergreens along its far side). The arrow is our house.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Goodbye Mr. Chip

SUMMARY: My sweet boy is gone.
Note: Also posted on Facebok, more photos currently.

I'm posting this now, butI have many more photos to add. Trying to cull from 6,000 with so little notice--

but NOTE: the same text with a bunch more photos should be viewable on Facebook at the moment: https://www.facebook.com/ellen.finch/posts/10221178115937779

I can't believe, can't bear it--third dog to die of cancer between 9 and 10. I am grieving for them all now and railing against the Universe.


Goodbye Mr. Chip

Chip (Finchester’s Butterscotch Morsel)
May 25, 2011-June 17, 2020

Monday morning, when Chip went to the vet, I suspected pancreatitis. Twenty-six hours later—Tuesday—I learned that cancer and fluid filled him. He is dying. Twenty-one hours later—Wednesday —the vet arrived and, just like that, my long-legged, skinny, perky, happy, bright-eyed boy is gone.

The one who loves people. The one who sometimes worries about something new until he has carefully figured it out. The one who is terrified of fireworks and thunder. The one who, no matter how many times I say “Stretch!”, doesn’t—until we’ve done other tricks and I’ve put the treats away. The one who takes everything cautiously, except exchanging expletives through the fence with the dog next door, except playing in a spraying hose, except for his Indy car tunnel performances. The one so soft, so smooth, who loved hands on him.

Wet dog! Happy spotted tongue!
The big dog with the small, black-spotted tongue who loved tiny toys. Who loved sleeping in his crate.

He interviewed for, then joined, Taj MuttHall in May, 2014 as a rehome from a family who loved him. He was going to be my next agility dog. After the first several classes, though, it became clear that it stressed his slow, studied way of figuring things out (he’d run and hide in a tunnel) and so he became simply a proud and excellent companion dog.

Things he loved the most:

- Going wild with the hose spray (watering flower pots became a challenge). When the spigot came on, he’d fly in from wherever he had been.

- Being touched: Lying quietly on his side being stroked and massaged, or standing for gentle brushing, or pushing his head between my knees to be wiped down after another hose spray experience. For as long as I wanted. And if it weren’t as long as *he* wanted, he’d wriggle and verbally demand more until I started again.

- Blasting through the yard’s agility tunnels full speed, back and forth and around, and then hitting a high-tension play bow just inside the end of one, eyes sparkling, waiting for me to say readyyyyy GO! and then blast to the other end of the same tunnel and wait again. And then explode out to the next tunnel. If I were inside, he’d do tunnels all on his own, the b-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-um sound of a dog breaking the tunnel speed barrier echoing into the house.

- Digging.

- Marking. Everything and often.

- Rubbing his head and back on my wet hair fresh out of the shower.

My sweet volunteer assistance dog—he’d come and get me if I accidentally closed Zorro in the garage, or if Zorro found an open gate and went outside to explore, or if my alarm went off (any alarm, any time of day), or if anything occurred inside or outside that he wasn’t sure what it was or felt that it was out of place in his carefully ordered world.

He is deeply intelligent, in a quiet genius way: He’d consider each piece of each thing I wanted to teach him, maybe for a while, and try a couple of things cautiously, and then more confidently, and then he’d have it. No wildly offering random behaviors for him.

In that way, he replayed my beloved thoughtful-learning Remington (1993-2003), whom he resembled , which is how he ended up coming home with me. Like Remington, he wanted to smell my breath once daily (only 2 dogs to do that). Like Remington, he loved to run, but agility wasn’t high on his priority list. Like Remington, he has cancer in his 9th year.

My heart is sundered.

And yet I am replete with gratitude for those who brought him into my life so that every day I could laugh and smile repeatedly with him and could receive as much snuggling as I wanted. What more could I really ask?

March 20, 2014 - New dog!
That look...!

August 14, 2004 - First time through dog door on his own
(Full set of photos: Dog Door Success!)

June 17, 2020 - Le Chien Soleil 
Really, Human Mom? More photos?

Daily - Full-speed flying through tunnels

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Freedom to Live

SUMMARY: Following yesterday's Freedom to Roam--but with a different demographic.
From a facebook discussion about racism, homophobia, and the like, since the riots and protests have dominated the news for the last 2 weeks: June 13, 2020

The discussion was long and good. Trying to summarize:  The Civil War wasn't really that long ago--people may still be around who talked to people who had stories from their childhood.  My family wasn't from the south, but my mom up until she died shortly before 2020 could talk about things that her grandparents did as children--she was born in the '20s, so her grandparents would've been born in the 1850s or '60s. Attitudes die hard, and much of the south is still proud about seceding from the Union over state's rights. (They'll also claim it wasn't about slavery. Right. Read some of their secession statements.)

Jim Crow laws existed through most of my elementary school years until the Civil  Rights Act of 1964.

Loving vs Virginia, striking down anti-miscegenation laws (you can't marry outside your "race"), came as I neared my Junior High School years.

This, from my life, somewhere between those two events. Nothing dramatic in some ways, but oh so telling.

When I was in roughly K-1st grade, we lived in a well-integrated neighborhood in southern California. It wasn't something I thought about; it was just that way. My good friend next door from kindergarten spoke English pretty good; her parents were OK at it, her grandparents who lived with them spoke only Japanese as far as I can recall. I had only a vague idea about what or where Japan was, so it didn't matter.

The family that moved in with kids our age, none of whom spoke much English at all, I think were glad to encounter my mom who did her best with a Spanish-English dictionary to welcome them and get to know them and assist as needed after their flight from Cuba with nothing. Mom did try to explain about Castro and how badly he treated his people, either trapping them in Cuba or imprisoning them for trying to leave or, when they left, as with this family, confiscating everything they owned, including the woman's wedding ring. That they were Cuban was meaningless. That Castro was a bad man was the message.

The black family in an apartment between all of them also had a son my age who was in my K class. We were all just kids.

My class back then. Who's a blonde female minority of one? I never noticed that, either.
Then we moved to a growing town in Colorado, then in the mid-'60s to an IBM town north of New York City.

As far as could tell at my age, they both seemed pretty much like everywhere else I lived. [In retrospect: other than the couple of years described above: white, middle-class professionals, no divorces, I'm not sure I even knew what divorce was.]

A family moved in next door to us with five girls  our ages. (We also were 5 girls.) They were black. You can't help but notice that in a world of light-colored faces, but it didn't matter one way or another to me. Was friends with the girl my age and somewhat less with the other ages, which is normal. Had her over for sleepovers a couple of times--that's what we kids did as an excuse to stay up late, I suppose; so, different friends, different weeks.

Visited her home often. One day when I went over there, she introduced me to her grandmother. I said, "Your grandmother? But she's white?" And she said something like, yeah, so? I just had to process it for several seconds, then fumbled a bit, realizing that I had just embarrassed myself, and decided, yeah, so? I had certainly picked up the world view from somewhere (probably in southern CA, just from my experience, not anyone told me) that  people married people who looked like them. Had never had an opportunity to see otherwise. Now i did have the opportunity, and that was that. I was in 5th or 6th grade.

But it speaks to how segregation, whether mandated or societal, enforces assumptions about how people should live.

Same timeframe. Had started to spend time with a girl from a couple of blocks over. We'd play together-- barbies or read comics or just doing whatever kids do. (She wasn't into my other favorites like cowboys or Batman or Green Lantern or climbing and exploring.)  One day while I was with her, a couple of other girls called me from behind another house to come over for a minute.  I did, and they said, why are you playing with her? She's Jewish!  I knew that Jewish was a different religion, because when my girl scout troop went caroling in the neighborhood, we sang different songs for the Jewish houses (dreidels and the like). We knew which houses they were because all the kids knew all the other kids.  We were all in classes together--there were only 2 classes of each grade level, and each year was a different mix of us.

But I didn't know that that meant I  shouldn't play with someone. I have no idea what I said to them or asked them. I have no idea what they told me about why. I think I ran home and asked my mom, leaving my poor friend behind. And I think I got some explanation that those girls were not nice people and being Jewish was just like anything else that any people are--just one descriptor and nothing to affect whether I played with them or not.  I'm pretty sure that I didn't understand then that my dad's dad had been born into a Jewish household.

So, anyway, the girl and I continued our friendship and were best friends until we moved away.

The only photo I ever took of my best friend
while living in NY.
Oh! Found this in my dad's photos. Us at Halloween.
I think because I wanted to use my grampa's former
magician outfit, and she had a fancy white dress.
I made the hat myself.  Also: Sam the family dog.

So much peer pressure is out there, and if it comes from your parents instead of, or in addition to, your neighbors, it could be powerful.

Here in Silicon Valley, we had only two black families in my neighborhood with kids who went to my Jr High and High School.  Encountered the ones my age and was a casual friend of one; didn't think about it, she was just another kid working in the school library with me. Doesn't mean that I wasn't becoming fully aware-- the "race" riots of 1967 and 1968 were the year before we left NY, and I learned a lot when MLK Jr was killed, and I learned more when our class' trip to Washington DC was postponed because of the  additional race riots and protests.

And here we are in 2020, still repeating. And repeating. And repeating.  As protests exploded around the world at another needless death of a black man.

Disclaimer: Written all in one flow from the brain. It's long. Maybe a little interesting and/or relevant.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Freedom to Roam

SUMMARY: But, for my dogs, only in my yard.
From Facebook discussion June 12, 2020. About the concern for things like whether the dog might eat the neighbors' oleander leaves (which are toxic to dogs) that drop into the yard.

Different people have different approaches towards giving their dogs free rein in the house and, in particular, the yard.

Amber in my tiny townhouse yard.
Would hang out under the storage bin where she could
 peer through cracks in the fence  boards to watch the world go by.
I never thought about them being free in the yard particularly; they just had access. My family's dog (a Collie mix) had freedom in their fenced yard. My first dog (German Shepherd / Golden mix) was about 6 months old when I moved to a townhouse with a patio/"lawn" maybe 12 feet square and 8 foot walls all around, so she grew up without obvious danger accessing that enclosure without me around.

So, by the time I moved to a place with a normal yard, she and I were accustomed to her being on her own out there (w/access to the house).

My entire townhouse back yard.
My dogs get gradually more autonomy as they grow up and/or as I get to know them better and learn what their mean propensities for consumption are. [That's a sophisticated economics joke to impress you with my wit and perspicaciousness.]

I've been lucky and so far had no dogs who were at any obvious risk for eating dangerous things in the house or yard, and I do my best to keep my yard reasonably free of potentially toxic things.

Domesticated foxglove near here,
just one of many colors.
(My last yard had gorgeous pale lavender foxglove flowers come up every spring and I miss them so much. I and dogs had been there for a few years before I learned that they were poisonous. Never saw any of my 4 adults show any interest in eating parts. Also never had a real puppy there.)

Once they've earned it, during the day, they have a doggie door, hence, free run of the house and yard. I wouldn't do this with dogs under 20 pounds, probably. Or still in blatant puppyhood. Or if I lived in a location where, say, coyotes were wont to wander at will through my yard. Or if the yard weren't securely fenced.

Has worked fine with all eight dogs so far except for Sheba the Amazing! Escape Artist Extraordinaire! Had to work hard to keep her home.

But there are risks: Remington engaged with a full-grown raccoon one evening after dark and even at 55 lbs he was severely bitten.   A friend's dog found a skunk in the yard and paid for it. A mile from my house. Same neighborhood. Not big yards. Not wild yards. Middle of the suburbs on the flat valley floor. So--  I just keep my fingers crossed.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Humor: Clarion West Writers' Workshop TShirt

SUMMARY: Humor: Clarion Tshirt list unraveled
Backfill: Talking about July/August 1998.

[ ... I'm imagining creating a series of "TShirt stories" about how I got each one, what it means, background...   along with all of my other grandiose projects that I never complete. But it's a thought...]

T-shirt front. Disclaimer: I made the shirts using clip-art and a limited number of fonts, delivered to a local tshirt shop for overnight printing.

In 1998, I and 16 other curated nonprofessional fiction writers assembled in Seattle for Clarion West's annual six-week 24/7  (well--mostly unstructured time with assignments) intensive writing workshop (primarily science fiction/fantasy). We wrote stories. We critiqued each others' stories. At the end, we collaborated on a class t-shirt displaying words and phrases from our critiques, stories, and experience to enjoy for the future.

Background for the t-shirt content, if you want to read it
(Otherwise, skip to  the funny part, "Things that I think anyone might find amusing")

Our lives at Clarion West—

Partial afternoons, evenings, weekends:

  • Writing new stories (not editing previously existing ones). You were encouraged to write one new story a week; some did many more. I wrote 10 in 6 weeks, some did only one or two. Some wrote extensively (Eric was the champion at longer, complex ones, amazed me), some wrote tiny ones.
  • Printing 18 copies of your story if you want it critiqued.
  • Reading others’ manuscripts handed out in that morning’s class, marking the manuscripts and/or typing your comments.  To be ready by the next morning. We critiqued perhaps 4 or 5 stories a day on average?

Weekday mornings in “class”, with a different successful writer or editor(6) as the instructor/guide each week, doing the following:
  • learning new things from instructor, 
  • receiving story copies from others for you to review that night, 
  • going around the table to speak the critiques that you wrote the previous night for yesterday’s handed-out stories.
I loved the critiques--of my stories and of others'-- so helpful, sometimes exceptionally deep or thoughtful, sometimes quite entertaining. The rule: focus on the story, not on the writer, to avoid thoughtless, hurtful comments. I think we did reasonably well.

All during the six weeks, we collected lines from peoples' stories or from critiques or from conversations outside class to put onto a T-shirt at the end (a Clarion and Clarion West tradition). We added dozens. In retrospect, we probably should have cut the list in half at least—many other classes used only a line or two. But-- we didn't. So here’s what we added.

Because the t-shirt is hard to read, I have grouped the content to make better sense to outside readers and easier to enjoy. I hope.

With footnotes.

I wanted it to look like typewriter typing, because that's essentially the font we all used for our stories.
 In retrospect, a different one would make it easier to read. Another learning experience!

Things that I think anyone might find amusing

From comments/critiques – suggestions

  • The story is too long because it has too many sentences
  • Add more sucking and clacking noises
  • Kill somebody with something really violent and gross, but in a humorous way
  • It doesn’t hold together as a certain kind of story because it isn’t that kind of story
  • You’ve got to take your clothes off if you want to kill aliens
  • You should make the cow a llama
  • We need more smell of urine
  • It has a heart and a soul, now give it a skeleton
  • Souls can be kept in jars; I have several
  • I think the story would work if you took out the main premise

From comments/critiques – things that aren’t clear or don’t work

  • I thought it was about menstruation
  • I didn’t understand that, because I’m a human
  • What did he do without a head for six months?
  • Doctors can’t drink human blood, can they?
  • We have no problem with quantum-wormhole-digging, fruit-craving dogs, but we do have a problem with a writer getting $800 for a recipe
  • Even the soulless have memories--and a house in the country
  • Where are the cops’ uniforms? Are they naked in the zeitgeist?
  • Why should our primal unconscious force throw blue sparks?
  • You hung some smelly garbage on the wall, but it didn’t stop anyone from going to college (1)

From comments/Critiques – praise

  • They’re all about sex, and I like that

From comments/Critiques – damned by faint praise

  • Congratulations for taking the risk (2)
  • I’m sorry I can’t be more negative
  • I’d like to offer a kinder, gentler ditto (3)
  • It’s shit, but you can fix it
  • Maybe your dictionary’s bigger than mine
  • In the Picking of Nits Department...
  • Who can tell me what happened in this story?

Responses to comments/critiques

  • I feel crucified, but in a good way

From comments/critiques – story issues that inspired smart alecks

  • We have come from the stars--and we can make ice!
  • Nice weather we’ve been having--for the past 1,000 years
  • I’ll be surly, he’ll be tired, and you can be oblivious
  • If Jesus, Freud, and Marx got on an elevator...
  • A metaphor for the Clarion experience (4)
  • A baby knocking around in zero g is a dangerous thing
  • I pictured you writing this sitting at your computer in a black negligee
  • Militant fish-eating lesbian nuns

Things that would mean something only to us probably

Maybe other Clarion Westers:
  • Paul Park would understand this
  • Hug the toad
  • Ditto, or the toad gets it! (3)
Clarion West 1998 only:
  • Überzeitgeist
  • Golden warbitch
  • Calzone
  • A cheery squat
  • Raise the textual sension
  • He would periodically become wedged against a brick
  • Never kill the dog
  • Strike a pose of--
  • Pornbot!
  • Braising the steaks
  • Vike! Vike!
  • Fly and be free, little technology!
  • Our Gigotte Mind


(1)   From the oft-cited rule about describing a story’s environment: If you hang a gun on the wall, you’d better use it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chekhov%27s_gun
(2)   Because it’s a workshop, we’re encouraged to try things that we haven’t tried and to be daring in our creativity, in other words, take a risk.  If all you can say about a story or part of a story is that the writer indeed took a risk, it’s a hint that maybe it didn’t work. This comment occurred more than once. Sometimes with great hilarity.
(3)   Rule is, don’t repeat what others have already said, but if you must say that you agree with something, just say “ditto”.
(4)   Became more amusing over time as it was repeated for many stories and discussions during the 6 weeks.
(5)   It was far, far from boring, but this was a speculation that, because our ages tended older rather than a more usual younger group, and because we did what we needed to do for class so didn’t spend a lot of evenings in hard partying, and because there were no traumatic human dramas occurring, and we always showed up for class, we must therefore be boring.
(6) Our instructors: Connie Willis, Gardner Dozois, Paul Park, George R.R.Martin, Lucy Sussex, and Carol Emshwiller. Wow wow wow!
Photo Credit: RS Blum
  • Clarion West 1998 with Gardner Dozois (far right), like a god to me! Best Editor award winner for many years for his Best Of anthologies and for Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, which itself (and many stories published there) collectively won dozens upon dozens of awards  under his editorship.
  • (Me right behind him. With camera neck strap. After this workshop, I did dog agility.)
Some classmates who published after the workshop--several of whom have been  nominated for or won major awards:
  • In red shirt, Daniel Abraham, author of many novels and stories and coauthor of The Expanse books and TV series.
  • Back row left, Diana Rowland, author of White Trash Zombie books and paranormal detective books.
  • In front of her, Tamela Viglione, published novels and stories as well.
  • Center, blue/white stripes, Ruth Nestvold, writes in German and English, published in academia and fiction and does translations, 2-volume reworking of the Tristan/Iseulde story with rich characters.
  • Front row, 2nd from left (tan shirt), Eric Witchey, extremely prolific fiction writer (mostly short stories) and popular fiction workshop instructor.
  • Far left, Susan Fry. Edited a speculative fiction magazine for a while. Published a few stories.
  • Others: All amazing, fascinating people, some also with publications or awards as well since then (and some before then, too). Others with super accomplishments outside the world of fiction. .

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Zorro to Emergency Again -- Probably Nothing

SUMMARY: Poor Zorro's tummy--

I opted to take Zorro to the emergency vet late last night (WHY is it always nights or weekends? Usually nights?!).

Yesterday evening I wrote:

Poor Mr. Zorro. Lying around, drooping around, like he’s miserable. He might be. I realized after I gave the dogs dinner that he was still eating his very, very, very slowly long after Chip was done. He’s usually done in a flash.

He had no trouble whatsoever about 8:30, when he heard a squirrel, racing at several miles per hour over the speed limit out of the house and all the way across the yard. But then right back into the house drooping and lying miserably and walking slowly, head kind of down.

I did notice him earlier out in the yard eating plums. I’m hoping that he is merely overfull of plums and then just forced dinner in on top of it because it's a law among dogs to eat the food if it's in front of you because otherwise the other dogs might get it.

I hate when my pups aren’t feeling well. Things could go wrong, even though all eight of my dogs have always eaten plums every summer, pits included. And I’ve never had trouble. It’s just sometimes figuring out: how long do you wait and watch before you drive your wallet over to the emergency room?

 (I wasn’t really aware that plums were coming rip until late this afternoon when I was out in the yard and saw both dogs munching on them. I need to go out and pick up fallen ones a couple of times a day now. To reduce this sort of happening.)

Poor little guy. Just drooping around the house.

This morning, post-Emergency room visit:

(P.S. the branch of the emergency room that has been just around the corner from me for the last 19 years has closed permanently, apparently. So now I have a 20-minute drive to Campbell, which the one that's there used to be around the corner more or less from where I lived before this. Very sad.)

I think that mostly he overate, plums coming ripe, then took forever to eat dinner, and then lethargic and looking unhappy, wanting to drink and not doing so. Chewing a treat I gave him! That never happens. Took twice as long as Chip to eat his dinner. After 4 hours and no change, I worried, and when he chewed a treat lethargically again at a late bedtime (because I was staying up late, periodically walking him around the yard, hoping I'd see him poop then gave up) I called them.

They said I could be right but they could take a look just in case. They saw nothing obvious but gave him some fluids and antinausea meds and he seemed perkier at that point (midnight-12:30,) of course. I opted not to do an x-ray to see whether plum pits were blocking him, because they felt no sign of it. So my bill was quite reasonable. Whew! So sleepy I had no trouble almost literally falling into bed and asleep. Did sleep maybe 6 hours but still feel groggy.

He’s fine this morning, pooped fine, ate normally, doing his usual activities. The only thing that I found interesting was that, usually, after a dog has been given subcutaneous fluids, they want to pee maybe sooner than usual and also a lot. Zorro had no particular urgency to go outside this morning after being in bed for over over 7 hours. Didn’t wake me up to go, didn't rush downstairs, etc. When I finally let them out, he peed a fairly small amount. So maybe a little dehydrated, although vet said no signs of it so it’s all based on behavior.

But as I said, seems fine this morning, eating and drinking normally. It’s always something.

[And this was stream of consciousness so long & repetitive. Too tired to fix now! Sorry.)

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Aching to be On The Road Again - Point Bonita

SUMMARY: Point Bonita Lighthouse.
These photos from visit in October 2015.

During the COVID-19 Pandemic Shelter In Place/Lockdown/Quarantine -- I've not been able to go anywhere since early January, first because of knee surgery, and then the virus moved in.  Antsy to just go everywhere.  So, thinking back to places I've been that I'd like to visit again.

I've been to Point Bonita Lighthouse twice, and I'm ready to go back and get more, more, more pix!

Just north of San Francisco. After crossing my beauty Golden Gate on the Golden Gate Bridge, take the first exit after the viewpoint and find your way west. Oh--sure--Modern Times--fine, just use your cell phone or other technological wonder of your choice.

If you'd never heard of it and had never been there and suddenly you saw a photo like this in a magazine, wouldn't you want to go and check it out?! I did! So I did!

This is the 2nd or 3rd bridge generation of the bridge.
Originally you could just walk to it. See that space in the middle underneath? One day a lot of that rock just fell away.
These cliffs are, after all, battered by mighty waves 24/7/365. No waiting, immediate service.
Current bridge  is up to par with current engineering practices.
The base of that arch wayyyy down there is 124 feet below the base of the lighthouse.
I would not try to kayak through there if I were you.

After you're out at the lighthouse, you can look back at the bridge and the cliffs and the amazing green water and pounding waves.

Really zoomed in. And enhanced a bit. I love this photo but not everyone does.

Its Fresnel ("fray-NELL") lens is still active. Fresnels are gorgeous bits of art and engineering.

From there, you can see parts of San Francisco (including the TransAmerica Tower pyramid)
and the entire Golden Gate Bridge.  This photo just shows part of it.
I struggle to get the colors of water and sky and everything correct.

So many smaller and bigger things to see on or from the trail down to the lighthouse. And the lighthouse has a small museum about its history and operation. I have so many photos! But never enough time to sit and work on them. You'll just have to go yourself.

You know what I hate about the lighthouse? Two things:

1. Your viewing options of it are limited unless you're on the water outside the Gate (pretty rough, and lots of mongo commercial traffic) or over on the San Francisco side with a reasonable zoom lens.
2. Access to it is very limited. Only a few hours on only a few days of the week and not at all if it's very windy or wet or foggy and never during the hours when you might be able to see the sunset behind it! No way to see the sunset behind it, really. If you google "point bonita lighthouse sunset", there are a few, but not many--must be cliff climbers or park staff or photogs by special arrangement...  Sigh.
P.S. No dogs allowed. Really, it would not be a safe trip for them.

But it is still worth multiple visits.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Go read this

SUMMARY: Belated post for February, 2014.
Backfill: I swear I had already posted this somewhere but can't find it.

So here it is:  Martial Cottle Park Perimeter Trail is Open!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Disneyland -- I ! Love ! It !

SUMMARY: summarytext
From a facebook MiceChat group discussion 5/12/20

I'm so glad my parents took me there more than once (at least twice when I was 5-6ish)--I ! loved ! it! -- and at least a couple more times in Jr. High and High School. And for the latter visits they let me wander by myself, as long as I made our prearranged check-ins. I ! loved ! it! And in those early years, Disneyland began to fill my heart.

One of at least 2 times in '61-62 when I was young.
(I know, because I have photos w/2 sets of clothing and 2 hairstyles!
Here, me in blue with long braids. Sisters  holding hands with Dad also and with Mom.)

 With my great aunt and uncle, looks like.  [unedited] Look at all the crowds!.... not!
Why am I always looking backwards over my left shoulder?
From shadows, nearly midday--where'z da peoples at?

In high school, I was lucky enough to travel on our speech and debate team for invitational tournaments and the coaches allowed us to come here, at least twice during high school. Holy mickey! I ! Loved ! It!  Thus ended my not-legally-adult visits. And by then, Disneyland fully inhabited my heart and has stayed there ever since.

My college freshman year, came with friends. My junior year, came with the Cal Band. SO MUCH FUN! By then, I knew my way around like the back of my hand; knew the ins and outs of getting in to Blue Bayou; knew the routine for which rides were popular... all of it.

February 1977 - just missed 20th anniversary year (by a few months)
Me in brown pants and sunglasses
Couple years later, visited with my fiancé. Came at least one time that I have no specific memories of shortly after we were married, before we came again with friends, and came again with family, and came again with friends, repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat....

I started taking photos more seriously when we visited right after the all-new Fantasy Land opened. The changes blew us away, and I realized that I had NO PHOTOS of the "before"!  (I look back at the "lot more photos" and there are maybe a couple dozen a year? back then, compared to hundreds and hundreds per trip now!) Sometime later, had a season pass for a year when it cost less than two weekend passes, and visited maybe three times that year. Since then, averaging roughly once every year and a half to 2 years.

I ! Love ! It!

The other person's facebook post reminded me of my multidecade journey, always starting exactly as they described it: going through the security line, walking under the bridge, and onto Main Street. (Well, except before 9-11, I don't recall a security check.) And, yes, nearly EVERY SINGLE TIME after I pass under the bridge, I find things to take photos of right there at the beginning of Main Street.

"Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy".
  - Walt Disney, 1955

Now I'll share selected photos from Disneyland anniversary years (mostly) with my traveling compadres. Just those years. Not all the ones in between (wellllll with a couple of exceptions).

1990 35th anniversary--
might have "35th" photo with actual Disneyland sign somewhere, not yet scanned?
Or magnet or mug or clothing...

August, 1995 - 40th anniversary

Feb 2000 - 45th anniversary
Me in the middle; my ex and my sis

Feb 2006 - 50th anniversary (note "50" in flowers for 50th anniversary)
(Linda's eyes blinked, sorry, sis! Me on end, same sis and bro-in-law)

November 2009.
OMG did I really not go during its 55th anniversary year?! (2011-mid-2012?)
Me on left, same sis and bro-in-law and her friend from Australia
Sept 2012!  Apparently we completely surrounded the 55th anniversary
without going during that actual time! Ratz! :-)
(My friend Les came with us but preferred not to be in the photo, so there ya go.)

November 2015 - 60th anniversary
For a change of pace in the group photo

Nov 2017 -- just because it's the biggest group we've been with at Disneyland
--technically in Downtown Disney, because only a couple joined us in the actual park.

I didn't get there in 2019, which would've been the 65th anniversary, but had expected I'd go this year while they're still celebrating. But no: thanks, COVID. [grumble] And thanks, hip and knee, for keeping me home.  [I don't exactly mean that, either.]  I *did* have an opportunity a couple of days after we got back from Walt Disney World, but turns out I had made a couple of commitments for that time (oh, and also ended up with a nasty cold, so really good that I didn't go then).

Had been doing so well on anniversaries! Well, if they reopen soon, mayyyyybe they'll still have "65th" up. But more than likely they'll take this opportunity to decommission it.  Still, hoping there will be many more anniversary years for visiting Disneyland.

And I did go to DisneyWorld during the Disneyland anniversary year, so that counts for something!

Nov 2019 - Disneyland 65th anniversary year
But this isn't actually Disneyland.
It's the Magic Kingdom. You can hardly tell. can you!
But you know what's really cool about that last image? Far as I know, it's the first time since the first photo in this post that these 3 sisters have been in a Disneyland (ish) photo together! How cool is THAT?!

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Tour de Clothing

SUMMARY: Can't actually go anywhere. Thanks, COVID-19.

But I WANT to! I wanna I wanna I wanna! But I can't.

So, instead, I took my own long trip to places I've been before, down a dark desert highway and all the rest. On my Tour de Clothing (Shirts) May 2020 during COVID Lockdown!  Revisiting places for which I have shirts. Only those places … Well, maybe I digress on occasion. But mostly that’s the rule: No shirt, no service.

You're welcome to join me. Condensed version, by video, for those inclined. (Also I did take photos of each individually. But I'm out of energy to process and post, now, anyway. This, a sudden whim, has taken me hours and hours.) Otherwise:  Here are photos and a whole lot of details that ran through my head as I drove. In my head.

WORDS IN ALL CAPS for things that match a shirt. And off you go. Take a clean hanky, clean underwear, and some healthy snack bars--no time to stop.
And a camera, because I know you're going to stop anyway. Tsk.

First strip: Read left to right.

We start our long, long journey of the Tour de Clothing at the nearly 300-acre agricultural historic park with modern visitor center, picnic areas, sprawling lawns, and much about the agricultural background of the Santa Clara Valley. Donated by a family who could’ve likely gotten multiple millions of dollars for the property. Opened in 2014. Very close to Ellen’s home.

South down US-101 about 20 minutes to MORGAN HILL, where USDAA held one of its annual National/World Championship Cynosports events. Ellen volunteered and took photos.

Another 20 minutes south to PRUNEDALE at the privately owned Manzanita Park recreation park where The Bay Team and SMART have each held many USDAA competitions over the years, including the USDAA Western Regional Championship over a couple of decades and ongoing. Competed with all of my dogs there SO many times.

From Prunedale, cut through the hills out to the coast to CA Route 1 and north to Santa Cruz, 30-40 minutes away, at the northern tip of Monterey Bay. Way back when, for many years, Ellen held season subscriptions to SHAKESPEARE SANTA CRUZ at UCSC. There’s much else there in SC—you know, beaches, boardwalks, like that. Ice cream. Eclectic building codes.

Just south of Santa Cruz, cut back into the Forest of Nicene Marks State Park, where you can hike into the hills to the side of Loma Prieta peak above the epicenter of the GREAT LOMA PRIETA QUAKE OF 1989. Because of our backtracking, this is only about 10 miles as a sober crow flies south of where we started.

Follow back down Hwy 1 around Monterey Bay to the southern tip of the Bay, about 90 minutes of driving, to Monterey and the fabulous MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM on Cannery Row (yes, that Cannery Row). They focus on the amazingly rich life in the amazingly deep Monterey Bay. One giant tank replicates a forest of Giant Kelp with all of its denizens; another more giagantic tank with a 90’ window replicates the open sea and often features sea turtles, sharks, and many more. They also do scads of research and training. I can easily spend a day there if I can handle being on my feet that long, maybe with a break for lunch. Many restaurants right there.

Then we make a crazy break, driving for four hours across the coast range, passing 101, then pas I-5, way east into the Central Valley and then north to Turlock on CA-99. Many agility events have been held there at the fairgrounds (or nearby private field), including CLEAN RUN POWER PAWS CAMP, an amazing week (or very long weekend?) of agility learning with excellent instructions from around the world. Jake and Remington and I attended once or twice there. (Didn’t include shirts from a couple of other locations we attended in other years.)

We leave agility for a little while and cruise down 99 for 2 hours to Visalia, where my BROTHER-IN-LAW’S BIRTHDAY PARTY (“VICON”) was held every August for 20? 30? years, camping in the back yard by the swimming pool. Wonderful warm gathering of close friends and relatives.

We bid a sad farewell to VICON, now several years in the past, and go straight southwest for an hour and a half back to US-101, not far from the coast, in San Luis Obispo (site of Cal Poly), to the kitschy MADONNA INN, where every room is different and crazily creative. Maybe get lunch in the cafe, shop in the intriguing gift shops, and wander through all the amazingly pink public areas. We opt not to go to nearby Hearst Castle, with more square footage in rooms than national parks have in square miles, because I don’t have a t-shirt for it. Don’t linger too long, because we are now on our way to—

ANAHEIM! And you know what that means. Down 101 along the gorgeous CA coast all the way to Los Angeles, then take I-5 south to DISNEYLAND, 3 1/2 to 6 hours depending on the horrid traffic.

Second strip, read right to left.

In Disneyland, so many things to do and see. I do NOT have t-shirts for all of them, but here are favorites: MAIN STREET PHOTO SUPPLY, where you can get any film that you nee…. oh, well, maybe not any more. Veer right into Tomorrowland for a while, then shoot back past Main Street, through Adventureland, and into New Orleans Square to visit favorite rides PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN and HAUNTED MANSION (where there is only one way in… and one way out…). I’ve been dozens of times. Never get tired of it. Except maybe late on the 4th day… Then, alas, we run out of money and must go…

…spend more money going to another one of USDAA’S 2000 AND 2001 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP events at Del Mar this time: An hour and a quarter south on I-5, along the coast through San Clemente, past Camp Pendleton South, to Del Mar not far north of San Diego. Held there 2 years, qualified for and competed with Remington and Jake both years.

And because we haven’t spent enough money YET on dog agility Cynosports World Championships, we head due east on I-8, the southernmost route here, skimming the border of Mexico, thru Yuma, slight jog north until six hours later when we arrive in Phoenix, or more specifically, the ginormous Westworld Horsepark, nearly 400 acres of horsie paradise for CYNOSPORTS IN SCOTTSDALE. Swanky town, pricey. I competed 4 different years there with Jake, Boost, and Tika, or some combo thereof. If you stick around after it’s done, you can tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesen West, his “summer camp” for architects (no t-shirt, just interesting). Not as fancy as Hearst’s “summer camp” back near San Luis Obispo, but still…

NOW we’re done done done with agility for this trip. So, backtrack west a little, then north up the long spur road to GRAND CANYON Village on the south rim. From there, you can see the North Rim, just about 10 miles across the canyon. You can opt to hike there—one vertical mile down, several miles across, and more than a mile up again. In the desert. Or you can wait until later into our Tour de Clothing.

3rd strip, read left to right

A road goes along the rim in both directions from the Village, but the RimTrail is also available for walking, depending on your energy level and the heat. Can get very hot. And it’s over 8 miles going west to HERMIT’S ROOST, with a squillion different viewpoints along the way. Or you can take the free shuttle between viewpoints. At some times during the year, you can drive it, but not often. Hermit’s rest has the best-tasting refreshments… or is that just because I just walked 3 miles? The walk is stunning. You see things you don’t see from the shuttle, including, well into the summer, desert wildflowers popping up everywhere, if you look.

Ready for a 3.5-hour drive, if you don’t stop in Winslow Arizona to check out the girl my lord in a flatbed ford or the guy standing on the corner… back all the way south on the road from GC Village east to PETRIFIED FOREST NATIONAL PARK. Amazing colors, amazing petrified wood and history there. (No comment about how much has been stolen through the decades. Sigh.)

Another couple of hours north to CANYON DE CHELLY, in which many ancient cliff dwellings remain, most that you can’t get into, but you can see them with a native Navajo in a tour, riding in an Indiana Jones Ride style vehicle that outdoes the ride by a factor of 3 in terms of comfort. Well—ok, actually thinking of my neck, it’s tamer than the ride, but you get a tour through history and through Navajo country where people still farm and herd as they have for centuries. You can also hike in some places.

Next, you head west for about 6 hours (because it’s a twisty windy road to the NORTH RIM OF THE GRAND CANYON. And, you turn south onto a long long spur road to get there, because, like the Haunted Mansion—other than the hike we mentioned earlier,—, there is only one way in… and one way out… The view is completely different from here; on the south rim, all you see is Canyon. On the north rim, you’re looking down at the south rim across the way, so you can actually see much of the wild land spread out south of the canyon. Grand Canyon has two scrumptious early-1900s lodges at the south rim and one at the North Rim. Check them out. Go for a little hike to get the different views.

Now—back out that long spur and straight north for just over 3 hours to BRYCE CANYON with its world-famous, hard-to-believe-until-you-see-them-up-close hoodoos and wind-eroded mini-canyons. Photographers love this place; sometimes the orange rock seems to glow from within. Seriously. Go there.

And, since I have no shirts from any of the other strong cluster of amazing national parks and monuments in the same area, we simply blast straight north for almost the whole 8 hours, thru Salt Lake City, and then on north through beautiful winding roads to the small town of Victor in Idaho, just across the Tetons from Jackson Hole Wyoming. I’m sure you’ve heard of the latter. We stayed in VICTOR FOR THE TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE a couple of years back and I fell in love with the area. Of course, it was August, weather was perfect. Haven’t tried going back to sit through a blizzard or two.

Then we bip across said Grand Tetons and, crossing the border into Wyoming, we’re in Grand Teton National Park, amazing mountains and other scenery, which blends, as we turn north, directly into YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK. The place is huge. Huge. At roughly 3,600 square miles (9325 square km), it’s bigger than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined. OK, admittedly they’re really tiny states… But then, considering that Wyoming is the 9th largest of the US states at 97,000 square miles, I guess it’s… um… small? But it is the 8th largest park in the U.S. Given that 6 of the other 7 are in Alaska, which has room to spare, it’s still pretty darn big. So many things to see. An amazing place. Cannot begin to say how often I’d say, “wow, really? This is real?!”

4th strip, read right to left

By the time you leave Yellowstone crossing the border north into Montana (assuming that you haven’t stopped along the way, jeez), you’ve driven 5 hours from Victor. After crossing that border, drive a mere additional 8.5 hours northwest along I-90 and then a sudden drop south to MOSCOW, IDAHO. It might claim to be an interstate, but it travels through some pretty rough country, as in, mountains all the way. And you know what mountain roads are like.

BUT I digress. Back in the early ‘90s, I drove with a friend from San Jose to Moscow for a fabulous one-week SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY WRITING WORKSHOP given by the late great amazing Algys Budrys. I loved every minute of the long long long long long long LONG trip (easier with a friend, isn’t it!) and the workshop and meeting the people. Including prolific author Nina Kiriki Hoffman.

But there’s no workshop there at the moment, so we leave , return north to I-90 and blast our way allllll the way west across the state of Washington for 9 hours without stopping even as we bypass Seattle (yep, no t-shirts, so that’s that), take a ferry for about 2 hours, and while we’re on the water, we cross Canada, ending up in VICTORIA on Vancouver Island. A beautiful city on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. And also host to BUTCHART GARDENS, which was a huge ginormous eyesore of a former quarry until the quarry owner’s wife turned it into 22 ha (55 acres) of peaceful, colorful, delightful gardens of various themes. It’s lit spectacularly in the evening, and since it’s far enough north, in June, twilight doesn’t end until after 10 PM.

Now, sadly, we must take that lonnnnng 2-hr ferry ride back across the Canadian border to Washington, drive another 5 hours south after that on I-5, which we last saw near the Mexican border, 1050 miles (1690 kilometers) south from Victoria. See how this is wrapping up kinda neatly?

Our next Tour de Clothing stop is down in Oregon on the side of the kinda dormant volcano Mount Hood. That is, it is “a potentially active stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc”, and if you want to know what a stratovolcano in the Cascades does when it decides to become active, look up before and after photos of Mount St. Helens’s 1980 eruption, “the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in U.S. history”. Well, yes, “U.S.” history. U.S. Isn’t that old. Actually. But still. Everyone here on the west coast who was old enough to be aware, was in fact aware of it. That was all the conversation at the wedding reception I was attending that day. Sorry, Joe & Lois. And that was before we knew the half of it.

Um, yes, anyway, it has another lovely craftsman style lodge, TIMBERLINE LODGE, there on its side, hoping that Hood minds his manners. Yes, that’s the lodge where Jack Nicholson — yes, that movie.

We’re running low on t-shirts; pass through all the rest of Oregon (not even Crater Lake, sorry) continuing on I-5 for about 10 hours well into California and then another hour and a half west out to the rugged northern California coast and POINT ARENA, which has a lovely tall thin lighthouse, one of many up and down the west coast. And places to hike. And eat. And, like, sleep. Well worth a visit to that area, including Fort Bragg, originally built by the Russians back in fur-trading days.

Annnnnd then take the stunningly scenic Hwy 1 down along the side of a cliff along rugged, rugged coast, and believe me you won’t want to take in the stunning scenery because of your death grip on the steering wheel as you slow to 25 around curves to avoid plunging hundreds of feet into the Pacific. It’s delightful, really it is. Fortunately you can cut inland after about 2 hours, back to US 101 continuing south across the Golden Gate Bridge (also really beautiful and you *can* take glimpses at it without fearing for your very life) to San Francisco, and the giant Moscone Convention Center, where there have a been a couple of WORLD SCIENCE FICTION CONVENTIONS that I attended. So many authors and artists! And books! And art of so many kinds! And the dealer’s room! (not…not … that kind of dealer) Hope you brought your wallet.

Then, finally, a leisurely hour continuing south on 101 down the Peninsula to home in San Jose.

Final strip, read right to left

Where you quickly hop onto an airplane and fly for some godforsaken number of hours* northeast across the U. S. of A., back into Canada, still going northeast, cross the tip of Greenland, and suddenly plunk down in LONDON. For a truly wonderful, history-filled, art-filled, photo op filled, four days in London with just your camera as your companion and you couldn’t be happier! Especially after you bought a shirt for your Tour de Clothing!

* Probably only 14-17. Not including arriving at the airport 2 hours in advance, etc.

When done there, hop again back across the Atlantic to Orlando, Florida* , and find your way to WALT DISNEY WORLD. Which contains within its borders the entire Epcot Center, which is quite large and surrounds a big lake; a whole ‘nother Disneyland except much more spread out than the one in Anaheim; an Animal Kingdom of many many many acres of actual animals running loose or tastefully fenced in; and more. Huge. You need a vehicle to get from park to park therein. You probably need a vehicle to get from the far side of the parking lot at the transportation center to the train (“monorail”) which is the only way to get to its Disneyland (“Magic Kingdom”. I am not making this up. I had never been there until 2015. Now have been thrice. That’s not enough.

*Probably only another 14-16 hours. Hey, how come we end up all the way across north america from where we started, but the flights are the same length? No, no, please don’t go into geometries and jet streams and like that with me at this time of day.

Then ANOTHER little joyride of a plane trip (merely 12 hours now) to the middle of the Pacific (weren’t we just on the far side of the Atlantic?) to Honolulu, on the island of Oahu in the state of HAWAII. The island of Hawaii is also in Hawaii but it is a major, major change of scenery. Can you say lava, both ancient and currently red hot? Have been to the state twice and would love to go back.

THEN back across the water to San Jose (5-6 hours), and home.

Whew! Time for a nap! Fortunately I did not add up all those miles or I’d want a really really long nap.