a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary

Monday, November 16, 2020

Cooking -- From Someone Who Doesn't Want To Cook

SUMMARY: Pushed into performing a kitchen-food-choppy thang.

On Facebook on Saturday (2 days ago), I posted this:

I am trying to get back to cooking some of my own meals.  Today, inspired by Bev Serafica’s Photo of a lunch served to her by her friend while she’s convalescing,  I made a cheese and veggie omelette. It has been a long long time. 
... a long time since I’ve done much That involves pots, pans, slicing, dicing, mixing.... After my divorce, it was just me for a long time, and I no longer could get excited about cooking for just one person and then eating it and then it was gone. So I cooked less and less often. Still used to make big pots of spaghetti, or chili, or stew, but less and less often. And then I got a renter roommate who was crazy in the kitchen, and so I mostly avoided it. Stoopid, My house, right? But there you go—I realized how much easier it was to use frozen meals or buy sandwiches or Tacos or pizza or Chinese food or whatever. and not have to wash pots and pans and not have to spend half an hour or longer preparing.

So: I’m trying.

In response to my observation that, basically, I don't like the prep and cleanup, and I used to do big pots of things that would provide many meals but basically I don't like the prep and cleanup--so very many of my friends provided--yes--helpful tips on prep and cooking and making big pots of things that would last for many meals.  Yes, there were a lot of good tips that I might make use of at some point.  But really I just don't want to cook. Microwaved meals are So. Much. Easier.

But all of that group participation propelled me into pulling out all the frozen chicken that's been in there a while (some from April when I thought maybe I'd do some BBQing but didn't; some from June when I thought Chip just might have a digestive or intestinal upset or the like so I bought a ton of chicken for him. Used only a very little of it).  And grabbed the assorted veggies that I bought last week with the hope that maybe this time I'd feel like cooking and actually use them instead of eventually tossing their little corpses.

And made my favorite crock pot chicken dish. Good for many meals.  

So, enjoy-- My photo & caption journal of this experience.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Tuesday T-Shirt Tales: Briar's Patch Iditarod Team

T-shirt tales? Because every t-shirt tells a story, don't it.
And I have so very many of them. Shirts. And stories. ---- Whaaaaat??

All T-Shirt Tales

SUMMARY: Revisiting a friend's story

SORRY--I posted this and then took it down again because I had a lot more to add.  Now it's back. 

A woman I met through agility decided to run the Iditarod one year (years after ceasing dog agility). She did. She completed the whole thing, and did not come in last. An impressive effort.  I already wrote about it in this prior post, "Goals and the Iditarod", back in 2008.

The picture is her and her team, practicing around the rim of Crater Lake.

Good t-shirts are always worth getting out and doing things in, sooooo--

The shirt apparently enjoyed hiking with the Merle Girls.
Gathering for a hike with the local Sierra Singles group of the Sierra Club. Oct 2008.

The inspirational shirt makes it to the top of our local Coyote Peak
with the Merle Girls. August, 2009. 

The shirt helps with my note-taking at our photo club's macro workshop.
August 2012.

The lovely shirt appears again, at the old Douglas Memorial Bridge 
across the Klamath River near Oregon. 
This old bridge washed away in a massive flood in 1964
after the heaviest rain ever recorded in the area.
They kept the approach to the bridge and the original bears to remember it by.
May 2018.

The new Douglas Memorial Bridge is about half a mile upriver, with newer, fancier, goldier 
California Golden Bears. 

That same morning, in my hotel in Eureka (CA), I found myself in a selfie mood.

Who says Zoom work meetings can't be fun?
The Iditarod shirt makes another appearance. June 2020.

BONUS FUN FACT: The shirt looks like a slightly different color in every photo. It's really a lovely rich forest green. I gave up trying to get a photo of what it "really" looks like, because it varies by camera and ambient light. The joys of photography. 

>>  Visit the Wordless Wednesday site; lots of blogs. << >>  Visit Cee's Photo Challenge blog; lots of blogs. <<

Sunday, November 01, 2020

Zorro Takes His Own Weight

SUMMARY: Well--Human Mom still has to read the display.
From Facebook on 10/31/20

To weigh any of my dogs--35 pounds to 60--I have always first weighed myself, then stood on the scales holding the dog. In the last half dozen years, my back has disagreed with that strategy. So they mostly go unweighed. And how can a dog survive without knowing his own weight?!

It occurred to me a year or so ago [doh!] that dogs should be perfectly capable of weighing themselves. And that I know how to train dogs. And so I should teach them to do it. All I needed was: internal motivation. I found it a bit at a time over a year or more.

I had trouble getting them to put all 4 feet onto the scales. It was plenty large enough, so I decided that the problem was that it wasn’t high enough for them to consider it to be really “up”. So I started Chip and Zorro getting onto a small stool for the clearer elevation change, And if they could stand on that tiny surface, they should be able to stand on almost anything. I did not pursue this doggedly (heh). But Zorro loved it (treats) and after a while would pop right up with all 4 feet given half a chance even if I didn’t ask him to. Video from February this year, our first day of stool work: 

So I switched back to the scales. Which is much wider than the tiny stool. But it is also a little slippery. 

I signed up for Circus class in Sept./Oct. this year, and I used that as motivation to focus on getting him to “take your weight“ (all 4 feet on without luring or assistance). Then I needed him to get on straight (facing the display) and not touch the buttons to change the display, and stand or sit completely and calmly still so I could get a measurement. This week, finally!  Reliable enough to actually take his weight. I am a very happy Human Mom.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Photos, cameras, memories, gratitude

SUMMARY: Reminding myself.
Backfill: posted on FB Oct 12-15, 2020

Sharing some of my photos to remind myself that the world still holds so much more than my cluttered house and mind, those irritating 12 (!) propositions on the ballot, that defining Tuesday coming soon, and the five rude pounds I've finally given up and allowed to join me over the last month. 

I am grateful to my cameras for having preserved for me--over the last decades--places and people (including furred and feathered ones) and moments and random eye-catching objects worth revisiting.

The world changes, and ages, and moves on--as do I--and apparently this thought manifested from my subconscious as I titled the first two images last weekend.

"Aging: Lines and Circles"
At the Hayes Mansion in San José, adjacent to the lost lamented Frontier Village.  

"Ancient Erosion"
Zabriskie Point, Death Valley

"Amazing World:Hummingbird Feather"
Out in my yard pulling low, small weeds--gray weeds on gray gravel--
a tiny piece of brilliant green caught my eye. 
I reached, expecting to pick up a piece of plastic, and realized just in time that it wasn’t.
5/8” long tip to tip; the green part is half that size. 

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Tuesday T-Shirt Tales: FCI Agility World Championships

T-shirt tales? Because every t-shirt tells a story, don't it.
And I have so very many of them. Shirts. And stories. ---- Whaaaaat??

All T-Shirt Tales

SUMMARY: A surprise from a traveling friend

Agility--as you, Dear Reader, likely already know--covers the globe. 

As you might not know, FCI is Fédération Cynologique Internationale (essentially, World Canine Organization), a federation of national kennel clubs (kennel club: like AKC is an organization of breed clubs). Wikipedia notes, "The FCI has members, associates and partners in 98 countries, but some major kennel clubs like the American Kennel Club in the US, The Kennel Club in the UK, and the Canadian Kennel Club in Canada are not members."

FCI puts on its own world championship of dog agility annually, and each club can send a team. "Team" in this case is a little misleading: A country sends a set of three small dogs, a set of three medium dogs, and a set of three large dogs to compete in the team events, plus possibly separate individual small, medium, and large dogs for the individual events. Plus an alternate or two somewhere along the way. And, of course, the coaches.  My first (and on-and-off since) agility instructor has both won as a competitor and served as coach for several years.

Although the AKC isn't a member, they are allowed to compete by invitation. Several friends have competed there and have done well, individually or as part of a 3-dog team, making it to the podium, so of course I often watch the competitions while they're in progress.  The competing AKC teams hold fundraisers to pay for transport and lodging and entry fees for all those people and dogs. This inevitably includes selling team t-shirts, because: T-Shirts! And of course FCI sells shirts, too, as do all the other clubs entered.

Intriguingly, exchanging t-shirts between team members from other countries is A Thing. So maybe you have your own shirt but buy an extra to trade to a team whose shirts you like or whose team member you enjoyed meeting. This extends to supporters, too: all the people who make the trip there to watch their friends and relatives compete.

I've never been and never will go as a competitor. Maybe, someday, if COVID is licked, I might go as a cheerleading friend--maybe.

In 2011, friend Susan traveled to Europe to support the team and to learn from the experience. Before she left, she asked us whether we wanted her to bring something back. I said don't worry about it, go and have fun.

Me (in red) and Susan (also making a vee-sign) and friends on one of several hikes we've done together.
2011. All the dogs are agility dogs. 
(Also friend Lisa, left, a frequent hiking companion. Now, Lisa lives in Oregon and Susan lives in Washington. Leaving me here. How rude!)
Photo courtesy of Ellen C.

Much to my surprise, the next time I saw Susan, she handed me this FCI World Championship t-shirt, which she had brought back for me. So very cool. Nice embroidered logo and everything.  And... that's the true tale for this t-shirt. 

Taking my FCI shirt for a walk in the fresh air in June in this Time of COVID. 
(Mask down for photo only.)

Sporting my FCI shirt for a portrait in my yard with my besties.
August 2017.
Photo courtesy of Sarah H.

Saturday, October 03, 2020

T-Shirts By Year

T-shirt tales? Because every t-shirt tells a story, don't it.
And I have so very many of them. Shirts. And stories. ---- Whaaaaat??

All T-Shirt Tales

SUMMARY: Because I can.

As part of my ongoing T-Shirt Tales project, I continue my Quixotic attempt to list all t-shirts I've ever owned.   And their photos, too.  Sadly, for those that were never in my inventory and those whose photos I don't have, I will never remember that they ever even existed. Boohoo! Poor little forgotten shirties!

But for those of which I know something...

Out of curiosity, I have attempted to establish in which year each joined the household.  Some will remain a mysterious "a while back." Some I can narrow down to "while I was married" (a range of a mere, yes, 20 years, if you call that narrow). Some I have reasonable guesses at but never added to my inventory for some reason (even very recent ones I've discovered never made it in. And I *swear* that I *always* add *everything* that I bring into this house! Alas; the value of that swearing is more like just plain swearing). 

With all those caveats, herewith my best guesses for the 220-+ shirts inhabiting the list so far, current and past. For years in which I acquired more than five, note some speculation as to what might have added to the glut that year. 

(In reality, I've purchased only about half over the years; others are gifts from friends or family, or from organizations as thanks for volunteering, or from companies I've worked for or had other associations with, or as prizes or raffle winnings, or "free" as part of my registration for various activities ("here, give us $200 for this class, and we will give you a FREE T-SHIRT!").  So very many ways to get t-shirts!)

(The biggest way is--yes-- from 1997 to now--dog agility: 50!! And that's not including even more that came as a direct result of knowing people I'd have never met if I hadn't been doing agility.)

Year Quantity Note
1970 2
1971 0
1972 0
1973 2
1974 3
1975 0
1976 2
1977 4
1978 2
1979 2
1980 0
1981 2
1982 0
1983 2
1984 1
1985 6 2 gifts, 3 traveling
1986 3
1987 3
1988 4
1989 3
1990 9 2 from 1 trip,3 gifts
1991 4
1992 5
1993 5
1994 4
1995 12 5 from one trip, 5 gifts
1996 10 6 free/gifts
1997 4
1998 11 6 gifts/free
1999 9 7 free/gifts
2000 15 10 free/gifts
2001 6 5 free/gifts
2002 13 8 free/gifts
2003 5
2004 10 7 free/gifts
2005 4
2006 2
2007 3
2008 7 3 might've been 2009
2009 0
2010 3
2011 2
2012 2
2013 2
2014 5
2015 5
2016 2
2017 7 1 free, 3 trips
2018 4
2019 5
2020 3 …so far…

O!M!G! I am such a data wonk!

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Reading the Brits

SUMMARY: Flashback to Cal Berkeley Brit Lit class
Started by my response to someone's post on FB.

I took British Literature 1900-1945 to start my junior year at Berkeley. Because I love reading. Holy moly what a miserable set of books. I think I have finally physically expunged most from my life, long after I expunged them from the gray matter in my head. Could barely remember anything about them even after I forced my way through for the class, let alone all these eons later.  ... I did pull out a B+ but probably mostly because I could write. 

Oh--I do still have these from the class! 

Kept because it's poetry. I like poetry.

Ulysses: Kept because it'll be here when someone says they haven't read it
and I can say, "try it. Just...try it."
Not sure why I have the Ford book. Maybe I actually liked it? Must reread.

In recent stages of my ongoing adulting, I have wondered whether I'd have a different perspective on them now.  Possibly so. I wonder because Lord of the Rings was popular in my family home and The Hobbit was a good read but I tried and tried to read the first of the trilogy, bogged down, and surrendered the effort. I tried one more time in my mid-20s, possibly, determined to eventually get through it, because: classic,  and, wow: Love happened! Something switched on in my brain that my younger self couldn't yet process. 

Class books were--hmm, I have very little idea any more:

  • Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf).
  • something by... (C.S. Forester?)
  • Ulysses OMG what a waste of paper.
  • Probably George Eliot... something.
  • The Good Soldier (Ford Madox Ford).
  • I think about 6 books total.

I wonder whether I still have a syllabus somewhere? Hmm.

[...2 hours later...]

Wow! Found it! So, the books I owned [and, yes, read] at one point:

  • Mrs. Dalloway (Virginia Woolf)
  • Ulysses OMG what a waste of paper
  • The Good Soldier (Ford Madox Ford)
  • The Secret Agent (Conrad)
  • Sons and Lovers (Lawrence)
  • Selected Poems (Lawrence)
  • A College Book of Modern Verse:
    • Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (Pound)
    • The Waste Land (Eliot)
    • See TOC photos below for other specific readings
    • BTW, I shekled out $10.95 for this book! I just about died! Outrageously expensive! Currently, Amazon says: 1 used from $12.95  1 collectible from $24.95

Check it ouuuuuuut, duuude. Or not.  (I might reread the poetry selections, no idea whether I enjoyed them more than the novels, but probably did.) 

Have you read any of those novels? Or poems? What do you think?

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Gratuitous Recent Dog Photos

SUMMARY: [Mostly] Wordless Wednesday

Ears back or up


Spontaneous hug

Checking out ground squirrel hole

Human Mom took him away from an almost-caught squirrel. So rude.

Squeaky Snake

Teeter in agility class

>>  Visit the Wordless Wednesday site; lots of blogs. << <

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Tuesday T-Shirt Tales: Alaska State Parks

T-shirt tales? Because every t-shirt tells a story, don't it.
And I have so very many of them. Shirts. And stories. ---- Whaaaaat??

All T-Shirt Tales

SUMMARY: A shirt for a place I haven't been.

Side Note: I missed last Tuesday. Not deliberately. I wrote a quite long and personal account of a recently acquired shirt. Worked on it for a couple of days, rereading and re-editing. Added photos. Just needed to add one more sentence. Hit Return when I didn't mean to, so, unthinkingly and automatically, I used my browser's UNDO. And the whole thing vanished. Couldn't get it back. Thanks so much, Chrome or Blogger or whomever--I don't care who. Devastating. 
I'll get back to that one eventually. But couldn't face it or anything else again last week. Nor this week for that one. With single keystrokes such are entire histories changed or lost. Fortunately I have lots and lots of t-shirts to write about.

My parents started us out right: Traveling. Not overseas--just wherever we could get to by car and then camp. For weekends, or for vacations, which were usually not more than a couple of weeks.   But, by the time I moved out, I had driven with them across the entire width of the country five times. And my dad in particular liked to go places he hadn't been before, so we took different routes each time, mostly, near as I can remember. Including one 6-week across-and-back summer trip.  We hit so many state and national parks as we went! A habit that's hard to kick once it's started.

When I was in junior high or early high school, I made Dad a color-me-traveled map of the US on a large sheet of posterboard--an idea that I had seen in a magazine somewhere.  He immediately sat down and marked all states where each of the 7 of us had been (I'm arbitrarily in red). Later, they went cross-country twice more with my three youngest sisters, and he filled those in.

I've since traveled by car to places I hadn't been with them, and then to top it off spent several years in the '80s flying around the country on business. Seldom managed to see much of anywhere, but by golly I'd landed in airports and stayed in hotels and attended meetings in a whoooooole lotta states.  Also spent two weeks in Hawaii, twice. I didn't keep careful track (doh!) but I am quite confident that I have now set foot in 49 of our 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. 

I didn't update the map; it was his to do or not.
I have that map now, though. Frozen in time.

Happened to be wearing it
in 2015 to check out the
ballyhooed presence of the
Hello Kitty bus selling
Hello Kitty snacks. You can see
the extreme long line out behind 
my head. I took photos
and went home. 

But: I have not yet made it to Alaska. Someday. It's on my Bucket List. My parents made it, finally, in their retirement years.

And one of my sisters went twice, I believe.  She is generous with gifts and astonishingly aware of what people like.  When she returned from a summer visit there in 1998, she handed me this beautiful blue --of course--t-shirt. To wear for inspiration to get me up there.  And it does remind me, every time I wear it.

It’s one of only three t-shirts that I believe I’ve ever had for places I haven’t been, out of the 250-plus that I remember having over the years. That means I have to get there eventually, right?  

Friday, September 11, 2020

Air Quality this afternoon

SUMMARY: In case you were wondering.
Backfill: date

Smoke gets in your...lungs

SUMMARY: Fires and smoke are bad all up and down the west coast. Under siege for 4 weeks.
From facebook: consolidating a few of my posts and my comments on others' posts.

Some days the smoke is worse than others. Some days it's above a cloud layer, which makes everything an eerie or even scary yellow to deep orange. Other days it's right in your back yard, and you might smell it even if it's many miles from the source.

My back yard on the 9th.
Everything inside and outside bathed in
sickly yellow-orange.
Relatively tame compared to many.

At 5:00 PM on the 9th. Sunset not until 7:30. 
With a large window
over the sink (visible) next to a 
sliding glass door and another sliding 
glass door to my right.  Spooky dark.

On the 9th, my facebook feed filled with photos of those creepy, apocalyptic skies up and down the west coast. So many friends--one friend commented that she logged in to post her photo and when she scrolled through and saw that everyone was posting them (from goopy yellow to deep red), she didn't bother. And no matter the color, it was dark. Like, after-sunset kind of dark. Had to turn on lights in my house to navigate safely. Spooky. Pretty much everyone shared similar discomforting emotions about the colors and the darkness. And so dominant that it made multiple front-page photos in the San Jose paper. 

Two days ago, only moderately bad air quality first thing in the morning, but got worse. Next day, upper 90s to lower 100s. This morning...

Woke up dreaming I'd been walking the dog and was out of breath. Woke up and breathing harder than normal. Not gasping for breath or even panting--but AQ was around 240--so time for a hit off the old inhaler. And I had left my windows cracked a few inches just for the coolness, hoping that the screen and 2 layers of curtains would reduce particulate matter. Apparently not so much. Also closed the windows.

I had been averaging 50,000+ steps/week since chip's death, but between the heat and the air quality the last 3 1/2  weeks, it's dropping precipitously. Zorro is going nuts not going for walks. But even he is mostly staying inside lately, on his own.

So I recomposed some lyrics for all of us.

Oh give me air, fresh clean air, under starry skies above.
Don't smoke me in.
Let me walk through the wide open country that I love.
Don't smoke me in.
Let me be in a place where it’s easy to breathe,
Listen to the murmur of tall unburned trees,
Make me S.I.P. but I ask you please,
Don't smoke me in.

If you look at the airnow.gov map (https://gispub.epa.gov/airnow/) for the EPA's sensors for the entire mainland U.S. for this morning, it's kind of pretty . Like holiday lights. Or... erm.. alarms and warnings. So many fires up and down the western states, and depending on the winds and inversion layers or whatnot, you don't know which fire's smoke you're receiving. Personally, I like to be introduced before I inhale something.

Active fires as of Sept 11 from https://storymaps.esri.com/stories/usa-wildfires/
Many caused by a rare thunder/lightning storm mostly on Sunday Aug 16. Worse, it was dry.
Reported August 19:
"Over the last 72 hours, there have been some 10,849 lightning strikes throughout California, state officials said. As of Wednesday afternoon, 367 major fires were burning statewide, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom."

 About 170,000 people were evacuated in those few days; although many were allowed back fairly quickly, more were evacuated in other areas.  With all of this-- is it no wonder that talk of COVID, which had been maybe 70% of facebook, has been completed replaced by news like this. I'm just consolidating a little of nearly a month of an ongoing facebook stream of fires and destruction and evacuees and smoke and HEAT! that made it worse.

So now you may return to whatever you were doing, and I hope it's sunny and smoke- and fire-free. 

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

T-Shirt Tales Tuesday: Believe In Your Selfie

T-shirt tales? Because every t-shirt tells a story, don't it.

And I have so very many of them. Shirts. And stories. ---- Whaaaaat??

All T-Shirt Tales

SUMMARY: Photographing myself plus a pun. What's not to love?

Historically, for photos of me taken on my own camera, I've used either human tripods ("stand here, hold my camera, aim to see the top of my head down to my waist...") or built-in timers -- usually 10 seconds, which often isn't sufficient time to get into the perfect sexy position.  

1975 Photo-by-human-tripod:
Hey, we're all dressed up, please take our photo!
Oh by all means make us as tiny as possible,
 surrounded by meaningless messy darkness, please.
(Before I learned to be more specific...)

2008 at the Monterey Bay Aquarium:
Get the camera set up, push the 10-second timer, 
and get back into position to lean casually against the railing...
didn't quite make it.

With my first small digital camera in December, 2003, it became easier to hold it in one hand at arm's length, aim it at myself, and click, hoping to get what I wanted, although I preferred setting it somewhere and using the timer. At least with digital I could immediately see whether I had achieved the ideal artwork (unlike small film cameras).

But if I wanted more than my head and shoulders, and some of the background, too, and decent quality, it would have to be the DSLR. Which also has a 3-second or 10-second built-in timer. And then a rush to get into position and look casual. Heh. Ha.  

Finally after enough frustration, in 2010, before leaving on a long driving vacation, I bought a remote shutter release. Allows me to set up the camera, compose the shot, get into position, compose myself, and simply press the button in my hand. Love it. But I don't often carry my DSLR or a tripod around.

When an iPhone came into my life not quite 2 years ago, suddenly I could hold it at arm's length and see myself to compose the shot.  Nifty indeed, although it's designed for a one-person head shot, really. Hard to get more than that. And, although it has a timer, it's hard to just set it down somewhere and move away from it like I could with the regular pocket digital cameras.

If I want more than just my face, there's always the Mirror Selfie strategy.

2019 Mirror Selfie. How about if the camera is *here*?
What about over *here*? Or maybe over *here*?!?!

Fact is, I like having photos of myself doing things and going places. (As a kid, I often resented people taking my photo. But I liked seeing them as long as I didn't look too terribly ugly.) So I have taken photos of myself (sometimes with friends or dogs) for a long time.

2012: Nice Canon digital pocket camera--could actually get more than just my own face
when held at arm's length. By then I understood how to [usually] get my composition
when staring at the camera lens. Can't get this wide a shot with the iPhone in selfie mode.

The act of taking your own photo has been around as long as cameras, but holding it up in front of you and snapping yourself was still a novelty in 1995.Surprising to note that the term "selfie" itself didn't appear in any paper or electronic medium until 2002, although the person who used it said that it was commonly used slang by then. 

In any event-- in 2014, while walking through Target, I noticed this delightfully soft, lightweight, clever shirt making a pun on "Believe in yourself." At the time, I had no t-shirts related to photography, and this shirt said: Time to rectify that. So I did.

Since then, I've taken only one selfie (that I've found so far) with me in this shirt (setting the camera on a nearby table). Crazy, right? In 2016 with a friend at In'N'Out Burger. Not at the fascinating place where later in the day we spent three hours taking photos. Nope. Doh. But, well, here it is.