Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Folsom Toenail Blues

SUMMARY: If Johnny Cash had a dog...

Radio Taj MuttHall (K-TMH) hasn't posted in a lonnnnng time. So here ya go. True story.

I hear those toenails comin',
They're clicking down the hall.
I ain't clipped those dog claws since
Adam was small.
I've got to grab those clippers
And then the Dremel tool.
Then I must clip them shorter
While doggies sit and drool.

When they were only puppies,
My groomer told me, gal,
Keep their toenails shorter to
Improve the dogs' morale
But I let them grow like bamboo,
So now they're ten feet long
And if those puppers jump me,
That sure will end thi

Monday, June 10, 2019

Chip is a Very Good Boy

SUMMARY: And a tattletale. Which keeps Zorro safe.
        Posted on Facebook June 9, 2019, without photo

Dogs can convey so much with their voice and body language. If only we understood. Sometimes I succeed. I was sitting here quietly typing away, beautiful quiet morning, and heard Chip whimper in the front hall. Well, earlier he had said, "I just heard something and it was scary," so I figured it was more of the same.

But then he came into the kitchen in a little trot on his tippy toes, little whines, head and ears down like "something's wrong" but in a bouncy happy way, if you can picture it, like "something's exciting but different and I don't know if it's OK." I asked him casually, half paying attention, "Is there a cat in the front yard?", then >>sudden lightbulb!<< I leaped up, raced to the front door to open it, and sure enough, there was Zorro wandering around out front. I said HI! to him and he dashed into the house. Chip was very happy and I praised him enthusiastically.

Side gate was open. Latch apparently isn't working properly and needs repair. Thank you, Chip! I think I recognized the message because on a very few other occasions Zorro has been out front or accidentally closed in the garage (latter is not quite so exciting, but still concerning, apparently).

Buds playing, September 2015

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Vantage Points

SUMMARY: Yardmasters must be able to see clearly to protect from squirrels and other evils.

Note: Haven't found a single photo of Jake up on the deck or a hot tub. Ah, well. All the other seven are represented here.

Zorro on the shelf attached to the deck
Chip in the same special spot

When one dog isn't enough! on that same shelf

On the bench on the deck

Tika, same deck, older paint job, looking under the bench

Boost, same deck, looking down at me through sliding glass door

Remington, like all of my dog, loved lying on whatever hot tub was available

Zorro, same hot tub
Chip, same hot tub
Sheba and Amber on hot tub from long time ago and far away

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Celebrating Four Years Together

SUMMARY: Zorro's Gotcha Day (June 7)

On June 6, four years ago, I drove 3 hours up to the Sierra foothills into the relative boonies for Chip and me to meet "Luke" at the rescue who'd taken him in. I had fallen in love with his photo and his description. We met with him that evening and the next morning, and somehow he ended up in my car to come home with us.

Chip wasn't entirely convinced yet, but he wasn't entirely against it, either.
I eventually renamed him Zorro, and we've had our issues and also plenty of successes, but wow, my heart overflows with delight when he looks at me with those bright eyes and the big smile and says he's ready for anything, Human Mom, Teach Me Something! His tail always wags--when he's up and about, that little curled white flag never stops--he is one happy dude.

On our way home from that trip four years ago, we stopped to share ice cream.

So, two days before this anniversary, we shared ice cream again.

 (They did get a bit more gourmet peppermint stick ice cream than this before we were done)

And on the actual Gotcha Day fourth anniversary, we shared a jelly donut.

Zorro is impatient and has a huuuuuge tongue.
Chip tries to be delicate but is also in a hurry

The memories, and these photos, and these dogs, made me smile or laugh out loud.   Thanks for staying, Zorro.



Joining, for the first time, The Weekly Smile. Click the logo for more things that people have smiled about this week.

Thanks to Dawn's Change Is Hard A Smiley Kind Of Week post for the smile idea.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Keep your pets at home. Thank you.

SUMMARY: I do not want your cats in my yard. Any part of my yard.

I have been unhappy about this ever since I got a yard, which is a long time, indeed. Because the same problems keep coming up. So, if you've heard me rant about this before--or even if you haven't but just don't want to hear a rant, stop here, scroll to the end to see pretty cat photos, then go have a nice cup of tea, and read something fun.

Today this started because a neighbor asked other neighbors to keep their cats out of her yard. Wow, a lot of people landed on her. "Don't you like cats?" "It's not hurting anything." "They are excellent at catching rodents and bugs; you should be glad to have them." Like that.

What ever happened to consideration for people you live among? (Oh, right, people have been complaining about this for thousands of years. Dammit.)

Actual photo of ancient Roman neighbors arguing about cats in each other's yards.

And this: "How do you expect them to keep their cat out of your yard?" I try not to let my blood boil. Probably the same people who think that cats can't walk on leash and can't learn tricks or do anything else that the cat might find interesting.

So I'm putting my long response here.

My dog is an excellent ratter (and catches bugs, too). And he loves being out and about. And he likes people. So I guess no one would mind if he roamed free in the area to reduce the rodent population?


  • I hate finding cat poop in my garden beds and planters when I'm working in them--why should I go out of my way all the time to protect front and back yard from invasive cats to protect my health and the quality of my yard? It's my yard, not theirs!
  • I hate having cats sitting in my tree or on my fence all day while my dogs make a racket about it (sure, I could take them inside for several hours until the cat decides to leave, but it's my yard, come on, not yours or your cat's).
  • I hate that, when I had a dog who was an intense hunter, she didn't distinguish among any small furry critters who ran through the yard, such as rats, mice, or cats that people irresponsibly let run loose.
  • I hate when I've seen a cat with a dead bird or found feathers in my yard from what I suspect to be a cat's kill--I have birdbaths and bird feeders and I want the birds, not the cats, in my yard.
  • I hate nearly running over cats when I'm backing out of my driveway, or when they run in front of me as I drive down the street in the evening.

Too bad about feral cats if they're injured or killed by dogs, cars, other cats, raccoons, or coyotes, or are trapped and turned in to a shelter where no one adopts it and then who knows what happens to it. But if you care about your But if you care about your beautiful, loving, sweet pets of any kind, keep them safe. And out of my yard. Thank you.

If these are your beautiful cats--take care of them! You adopted them; take responsibility!

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Recalculating Route...

SUMMARY: Life isn't always what one expects or hopes for.

U-turns? Streets blocked off? Got lost and hence found things that one wouldn't have otherwise, or just wasted time? Map not up to date?

I have been pondering my life over the last week or so; not sure of the trigger, but I'm diving deep upon finding that I'm considerably less happy than I've been trying to be for quite a while.

A lot of it still has to do with loss in recent years. At a pace that continues accelerating--which shouldn't be surprising as I grow older, but still...

So much of it also has to do with my expectations about life, and although (seriously) most of my life has gone very well, still, I'm counting many things that have mattered to me and scoring them lower and lower.

At a high level, for example:

I expected to be married until he or I died, but that ended after 20 years.
I expected to be doing agility and hiking until I died, but arthritis is making that prospect dimmer--and that started showing up about the time of my divorce.
I did move on, bought a house, changed my expectations about the rest of my life.
 I've been lucky enough that the arthritis more or less was manageable for a decade and a half after that, but the last 4 years have been a rollercoaster.
Still trying to change my expectations about the rest of my life--or maybe trying again--but trying to change also is a rollercoaster. You know, wah wah, kicking my heels, I don' wanna!
People who have rediscovered themselves after much bigger challenges than mine are inspiring in reminding me that I have a lot to work with; just have to decide, again, how to do it.

[TO DO: Insert Future is Here photo when blogger/google drive is back up.](1)

I want to tell the Dungeon Master: Please, I'm tired of this game, and the challenges are getting harder and more tedious, and I'm just feeling like--like I'm having a low percentage on making my saving rolls. May I please start over? Or at least start a new game with all of my points intact? Dexterity, Agility, Energy, Enthusiasm, Health, Endurance, and also nice would be high scores in, say, Healing, Spellcasting, Unarmed Combat, Charisma, Falconry, Acting, Pottery, and particularly Philosophy and Wisdom and Financial Planning. And Dog Training and House Cleaning.  And Poesy.

Am I asking too much?

Sadly, the DM isn't answering my calls, texts, or emails, so I'll have to figure out something on my own. Hate when that happens.

Purely coincidence: After typing all the previous, a friend posted a link to this Green Day song, which hits me here, right in the middle of my blog.  I'm Still Breathing.... (asks: Are you scared to death to live?) Graphics are grim but in a hopeful way...


(1) Why I had trouble uploading images.

Photo credits: Signposts: Ellen Levy Finch (back yard--and also I made them); Future Is Now sign: Ellen Levy Finch (downtown San Jose)

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Tika Sleeping

SUMMARY: Inspired by a thread at work

Tika was sometimes quite creative.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Courageous Kids day at Great America

SUMMARY: A learning photographic experience
Backfill: From Facebook, posted May 12ish.

For families with kids with cancer. On Mother's Day. Courageous Kids sets up a whole special area of activities and music and celebrity visits and free food and free family portraits by pro photographers. I went along as an assistant photog and for the opportunity to learn more about posing groups of people so the group looks special. Learned a bunch; now I are a portrait photographist. (I wish I were that good...)

The photo organizer had 4 groups of photographers with 4 people in each group.  Our group photographed 50 families. I'm exhausted. But really an excellent experience.

For personal shots (like these), rule was, no recognizable faces. I didn't take many photos. Could've taken more, of just the clothing, for example, with permission. Quite a few families came wearing matching t-shirts such as "Sophie's Supporters" or "Jose's Team" or "Fuck Lukemia" (yes, really. I cheered).

Ever wonder what Great America stashes in its back parking lots? Well, here's a delightful sampling.

Hats for volunteers! In pretty much my favorite color!

Oh Em Gee! My retirement home, right here! Favorite *favorite* colors!!!

Where I checked in.

The team captain pro (Annie) in our little group of 4four came prepared with a couple of ways to try to draw kids' (and adults') attention to the camera. I like this. She even came prepared with tape for sticking it. (The camera gear belonged to the other pro in our group, Iryna.) The background overflows with the colors of parts of the obstacle course and the birdhouse-building tables.

My swag, such as it is. (I turned in the nifty zippered badge holder at the end of the day, since I have no other need for it.)

One of the stations for kids was building and painting birdhouses. Beautiful colors!

Loved the rainbow one!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Sunday, Thunder, No Agility

SUMMARY: Missing Bay Team trial, plus scaredy dogs
Partially from Facebook: May 19, 2019 (expanded here)

All dressed up and ready for another visit to The Bay Team USDAA trial, but Chip is terrified by the thunder today (and Zorro is not too happy either), so I’m not going to take him outside, and I’m not going to leave him alone in the house. Sad face.

Thunder shirt has not helped. On the upside, Chip pointed out that when the dryer is running it muffles the sound nicely. So I can leave it running on air dry for up to 90 minutes while he huddles next to it. I moved a bed in there. Happy face.

Didn't seem like that's the way the day was going to go originally. Woke up early because the sun was shining (6:30 in the morning!? so wrong!) and I hadn't closed my drapes. Lounged in bed for more than an hour, mostly doing nothing. An hour after my wakey-uppy-- Somehow the wild beasts’ instincts kicked in and they had intuited that dark rain clouds would be rolling in?! Because no signs of life still— unusual around here by this time.

But when they do get moving: I start playing footsie with Zorro, who of course wags his tail during. Chip whines, groans, moans… “His tail is touching me when it wags, mommm make him stoooop.“ Such a grump, but such entertaining noises.

Spent midmorning to midafternoon dealing with Chip's issues:

  • Moving beds into laundry room for Chip and Zorro,
  • Chip not wanting to go outside so I drag him outside (literally the first time) to try to get him to pee and he's terrified of the sound of jets going by in the distance... which they do about every 3 minutes every day, all day, just now he's all sensitive, so he won't pee and just cowers and tries to go back into the house.
  • Then he pees on the carpet inside instead.
  • And of course when I yell No No No! And jump up from my lunch and try racing down to where he is to grab him and take him outside, Zorro starts to move into Boss Dog mode and so I have to tell them they're both really good dogs and everything is OK so he doesn't attack Chip.
  • So I take Chip out again and now it's pouring and he hunches off and hides under a shrub, so I have to get him out from there to take him inside again and I'm soaked through my fleece and shirt and dogs are sopping wet and muddy so I have to wipe them down while Chip trying to get away to go hide somewhere. 
  • Then while I'm trying to clean up the carpet pee (meanwhile my lunch is getting cold)... 
  • Chip starts ripping apart the doorframe to the garage again. 
  • So I get a leash this time and take him out through the garage into the side yard, into bright sunlight, where he does a very wee wee. 
  • Walk him up the side of the house and he suddenly realizes that he is actually in the same back yard as always and now he won't do anything but hunker and look scared. 
  • I walk  (so to speak) him around for several minutes and he does nothing, so back inside. 
Like that.

Good thing they're cute.

There's been no thunder for a while, and things are at the moment peaceful, and I'm exhausted (such a wimp these days), so I think a late afternoon nap is more in order than household projects and going to a movie as originally expected.

Bite the Wax Tadpole and other Translations

SUMMARY: Accuracy of language translations
From Facebook: posted this morning (5/19/19)

Automated language translation has come so far! Used to be assumed that it could never be done well (even assuming that the translation software/device knew both languages). Still, I'm amazed at how well it does.

Five comments:

1. In the early '70s I heard that one attempt had translated "hydraulic ram" to some other language as "water sheep." Might be apocryphal, as I've not found a definitive reference.

2. Another story was that an early rendition of "Coca-Cola" in Chinese characters meant "bite the wax tadpole." (Apparently real enough:

3. Google Translate of text is surprisingly adept, almost always close enough to get the meaning. My first paragraph above, translated to Chinese and back, became
"So far, automatic language translation has arrived! I used to think that it would never do well (even if the translation software/device knows both languages). However, I am surprised by its performance."
(Note idiomatic challenge of "come so far" to "arrived", but it handled the last sentence OK.)

4. Even voice recognition is nifty nowadays (consider different voices' tones, vowel pronunciations, accents, slurring, etc.). Sometimes it writes the wrong thing as I speak but then corrects itself! But hard to understand why, when I said, "Chip whines, groans, moans," and I see it start out correctly (except "wines"... maybe chips go with wine?), it then changes it to "wine, ground, mountains..."

5. When Chip is super happy, he rolls around on whatever is soft nearby (bed, carpet, lawn) and makes happy little sounds while symbolically biting the thing. My built-in canine to human translation always comes out as "I bite the wax tadpole!" Clearly still needs some work.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Heart Is Filled with Joy and Pain

SUMMARY: An unexpected painful result from a photo search.

I searched for "tika"/"box" in my photo catalog to find a favorite of her doing the Get In The Box trick; I adore this shot. Always makes me smile--she was so good at this and of course loved the rewards. Standing there while I took the shot was another thing entirely, but she did it. ("Give me treat, stop photo doing thing.")

And it popped up with this immediately next to it. Tika in a box forever. No treats can be given.

It has been over 4 years now; seems like just last month, I can remember it all, and this slammed it all into my mind and gut.

To mitigate the sad with the happy, I re-edited the Amazon box photo to be brighter and sharper and clearer than my original edit nine years back, and to bring all the glorious golden life-light back into her eyes.