a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Top Secret History Stunning Secrets Revealed

SUMMARY: USA vs USSR spying, and there I was...


Just a passing discussion about a piece of my -- and our -- history for you-all:

For my first REAL job, I had to apply for a government Secret Clearance. Why?? asked someone. What were you doing that required a Secret Clearance?

This stuff.
(Image from Wikimedia Commons)
I, er, fed programs punched in paper tape through an antique computer tape reader and changed reels on magnetic tape drives.

And also carried 40-lb boxes of green and white fan-fold sprocket-fed continuous-feed computer paper to each printer several times a shift. (The shop worked 24/7/365.)

Translation: Computer operator in a military satellite tracking station, Secret because NO ONE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD KNEW THAT WE WERE SPYING ON THE USSR WITH SATELLITES. 
Except, well, pretty much everyone.

Among the many many difficult questions to answer on the application was: Have you ever been out of the country? If so, where? Well, yes, I lived in New York state and you could, at that time, just drive or stroll casually between the U.S. and Canada. THEN the application wanted to know THE EXACT DATES I had done that.

"Probably several times between 19xx and 19xx." They weren't keen on that answer and I had to spend time with a supervisor coming up with credible answers.

We worked at what everyone knew as The Blue Cube, aka the Air Force Satellite Control Facility (SCF) or the Satellite Tracking Station (STC), later renamed (long after my time there) Onizuka Air Force Station. A yuuuuge structure that sat right alongside a freeway, in plain unobstructed sight, surrounded by six squillion satellite dishes.

Very secret.

Piece of history: One day they called in all the contractors and military people from all three shifts into a top-secret conference room in the building for an announcement from the President.  Pres. Carter announced that we had --ahem-- secretly been spying on the USSR with satellites.  We tried to look surprised but... um... [blink blink]...

Read about that stunning announcement here! https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB231/index.htm

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Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Paperwork! Money!

SUMMARY: Oooooooh closing is so close!

I can't believe it has been a month since I said I'd post something daily. Hahahaha actually I am not that surprised. I have been busy, but not significantly with the house buying process.

Now, badda-bing, badda-boom, THE NEXT BIG THING HAS HAPPENED.

The Title Company* left me voicemail late yesterday (Monday) afternoon while I was out touristing that the paperwork is ready for me to sign! And they calculated how much my total payment will be! 

Thar she be! Nice green lawn (it isn't right now because it's summer and not much rain).
Patio with pergola and raised flower planters on the near side.
Small shed on the far side against the fence.
The approximate floor plan! (I'll do a larger version later.)
And my three neighbors on my cul de sac.

Today they gave me a link to a few short documents on DocuSign identifying what my final payment consists of, identifying the buyer and seller, specifying what The Title Company is allowed/not allowed to do and what they will do. Basically that's it. 

So I DocuSigned the docu's. Next, I needed to send them a whole castle-full of money. From two different banks because I split the money up from the sale of my previous house:

  • Big Credit Union T*, back down in San Jose, had an online wire form that was easy to fill out and submit there. Someone called me back shortly thereafter to ask questions verifying my identity and asking things like, does this agreement require you to pay unidentified additional monies or ask for money back afterwards. Also whether I know that the property I'm buying actually exists.
  • Tiny Credit Union P*, here in tiny Port Townsend, does not have an online form; not even a form online to print and fill out. Have to go in to talk to them. Good thing the one in San Jose isn't like that. When I arrived, someone else occupied the seat with the manager that I needed to occupy to have this done, I waited nearly half an hour. Actually setting up the wire transfer took no more than 10 minutes. They asked similar questions, including whether I knew that The Title Company truly existed and was truly a legit business who would not be a fly-by night thang. (I am paraphrasing all the questions for poetic license.)
So, THAT BIG THING FULL OF MONEY will be out of my figurative hands tomorrow, and into the new owner's hand this coming Monday, and then SOMEONE WILL HAND ME THE KEYS! 

So excited! So broke. [wide eyes not panicking too much really]

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* All company names changed to protect--oh, who knows. But I did it here anyway.

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Saturday, September 10, 2022

Doves, Music, Lyrics, and the Mysterious Ways of Brains

SUMMARY: They weren't the lyrics I thought they were.

[I *swear* I'll have something up about the new house tomorrow.]

On a driving trip through Arizona in 2010, taking photos as I went, I took a shot of blooming saguaro cactus and realized that it had a lovely dove perched on it taking sips of water from one of the flowers. I looked it up in my bird book: White-Winged Dove. Because I always like to know. 

 For some reason the topic of my vacation (or of birds or I don't know what) came up later in my dog agility class. I told about the bird drinking from a flower. What kind of bird? A species I'd never heard of before: White-Winged Dove. 

One of my classmates said, "oh! Like the song!" And it took me no more than a blink and two heartbeats to know exactly what she meant and to realize that the lyrics I'd thought for nearly 30 years were "like the wild wind does, sings a song sounds like she's singing" were not the actual lyrics. 

How I made that connection so quickly, I have no idea. She said nothing else about the song than those four words. I wonder what expression I had on my face.

Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Horrid Wonderful Treats From My Childhood.

SUMMARY: And sometimes adulthood.

Nope, no house posts for a while. So much for Every Day.

BUT MEANWHILE I ran across this fun post about childhood favorites that lose their luster and just had to write my response. Here:

Wow, my childhood in a nutshell!


We loved Wonder bread. Best thing about it was that we’d peel off the crust, break the white part into small pieces, and roll them into tiny hard balls of … white stuff. So much fun to eat that way. Although the slices were also great slathered with a super thick layer of peanut butter. I haven’t bought this bread in decades and intend to keep it that way.

Hostess cupcakes–astonishingly I still love an occasional package of the orange ones. Why? I don’t know, but I do. Good thing they have about 10,000 calories each so it makes it easy to justify not buying them except in a cupcake emergency.

Kool-Aid, YESSS!! We always had a container of green Kool-Aid in the family fridge. All the kids knew that we were the place to go to get a cold glass of green Kool-Aid. I kept it up after I moved out until I was about 23, by which time I was a full-on Mug RootBeer in stumpy glass bottles addict. The next time I got around to making the Kool-Aid…. ugh. Haven't made it in decades, I don't think.

Oreos–the only ones I can handle are the fudge-covered mint-filled ones. Those, I can suck down a container full in the blink of my tongue. So bad, so good.

Necco wafers: I still love them. Why? Not sure. Maybe they taste of childhood? I just about danced in circles around the retro-candy-brands store last week [I left my phone at home! So no photos!] when I saw that they carried them! (I had heard they’d been discontinued.) I went through the roll in a day. Maybe I’ll go back for another in a few weeks. Some things just can’t be explained.


Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Things To Get For Whatever New House

 SUMMARY: Things I need or want no matter what house I end up buying

Note: No posts for the past 3 days because I've done nothing house related and a lot of things unrelated. 

When I left San Jose, I made conscious decisions--consciously considered for, in some cases, quite a few years--to not take a variety of furnishings with me. Because: New House! Retirement! Get things I like better! Here are the bigger ones.

  • Welllll crud, I don't find ANY photos of the
    guest room and its furniture... after all these
    decades! You can kinda see the white & gold
    on the mirror over the dresser.

    Guest bedroom furniture. 

    White & gold bureau, side tables, double bed with headboard, box springs, and mattress-- inherited from my Grandparents. Good, solid pieces and in excellent condition. BUT (a) I've had them for 44 years, (b) they were never really my style anyway, and (c) I've not often had sleepover guests, so it all took up a lot of space that didn't get used often.
    Replacement: I'll definitely have some nice comfy bed for visitors, but I'm thinkin'--Murphy bed! James Bond! I've been reading up on them. With some kind of bedside table (that also folds down!) and a separate bureau...TBD


  • Sofa.
    The large ivory fabric sectional served me perfectly for a long time. BUT (a) I bought it used in the first place back in 1991, and it is showing its age, (b) it is simply too low for me these days, (c) it is most useful with several guests (which doesn't happen much any more because EVERYONE MOVED OUT OF STATE, and (d) keeping a couch of that color clean and nice looking for guests when I had ... ta da... dogs! remained an ongoing challenge.
    Replacement: Friends with dogs and leather couches let the dogs on the furniture with impunity and it still looks great. So: Darker color, leather, higher seating profile, long enough to lie down full length.
  • Entertainment center
    I got a lovely oak one that matched the rest of my furniture--free! From FreeCycle! in excellent condition. It had shelves for all of my audio/video gear (CD player etc) and plenty of storage for other things. BUT (a) the space for a TV can't be rearranged or changed in size and is useless otherwise, (b) it's so big that one needs a whole wall for it, not flexible, and (c) although I almost never watch TV anyway, the configuration of this one made it difficult anyway.
    Replacement: Not sure yet. Some kind of modular units for the audio/visual gear. So, TBD.

    Big white sectional sofa in the back; entertainment center on the right.

  • Television
    Yeah, I seldom watch TV, but the newer ones are amaaazing. I think I want a larger TV than the one I have (which is at least 20 years old and that I got free from a friend), and I want it wall mounted. Maybe ceiling?!  Maybe silly because I don't watch often--but if I get the right seating and right TV location--probably would watch more
    Replacement:  TBD
  • Sewing machine table, sewing machine
    So handy when I did sew stuff. BUT Sewing machine died and newer ones probably don't fit this table. I hardly ever sewed any more. The table took up a lot of space, even though when closed it could be used as a generic large, heavy (i.e., inconvenient) tabletop.  
    Replacement: New sewing machine, but no table for it, thenk yew.



Do not think for even a minute that I have an unlimited budget. Soooooo we shall see how this wish list goes.

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Thursday, August 11, 2022

New House Documents

 SUMMARY: So many things to read and sign!

Everyone seems to use DocuSign now for viewing and signing legal docs. Did this when I sold my parent's house. Also when I put my San Jose house on the market earlier this year and then, eventually, sold it. So many documents! I'm an old pro now at signing electronically.

So far for this new house, I've read and, in many cases, initialed and/or signed (maybe not everything, and not necessarily in this order):

  • The responsibilities (and limitations) of a realtor (AH is handling my house hunt and purchase)
  • The neighborhood (4 houses only!) CC&Rs and CC&R Amendment -- short and sweet (What are CC&Rs?)
  • Short Plat (measurement, easements, and survey notes on the property)
  • Original Sewer (septic system) permit drawing and info
    Partial septic permit

  • Residential Purchase and Sale Agreement: The original offer that I made on the house (5 pages) a week ago and the seller's counter offer, which I accepted (small mods to that document)
  • Addendums to the agreement that I will provide proof of available funds for purchasing and that the agreement isn't final until I have had the house inspected and accept the results 
  • Blah blah standard addendums coming out my ears (just a few more single-page items providing assorted info), plus the FIRPTA (Foreign Investment Real Property Tax Act), which essentially says, nope, we're all citizens here
  • An amendment to the Agreement because I didn't think about my Trust until after the Agreement was signed
  • Amendment to the agreement to extend the time for completing inspections by 5 days 
  • Septic inspection reports from the last 2 years
  • Contract with a property inspector specifying what they do and don't inspect
  • Commitment for title insurance
  • Preliminary Title Report (13 pages)

Septic system access covers
(as shown on the drawing above)

Yesterday and today, I: 

  • Paid the property inspector
  • Paid my "earnest money" to the title company; essentially a small deposit which, in certain uncommon circumstances, I could lose if I back out of the sale. Very standard.
  • Provided the title company with proof that I have the full cash purchase price covered across various banks
  • Discussed with AH the inspector's preliminary verbal report, what items we would ask the seller take care of over the next week, and that I will pay for an inspection of the HVAC system (built-in vacuum) in the same timeframe (and AH will find someone to do the inspection)
Just wait until I get to Signing Day with the title company. Six squillion more documents to read and sign and then--erk--I hand over the purchase price to the title company!

Exciting! And not too scary; this will be the 5th home I've purchased over the years.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

New House Inspection

SUMMARY: Howzit look, professionally?

Mr. Inspector Man descending into the crawl space.
Which he said looked really good, no issues.
Lots of spiderwebs.

My realtor AH and I met a house inspector this morning at "my new" house, crossing our fingers that he would not find rotting floors, shattering foundations, leaking walls, corpses in the crawl space, or anything else that could kill the deal. I have until Friday to make my final agreement to buy, but everything looked as good as I had expected (and hoped).

Previous owner took great care of this house. Also helped that it's only 14 years old.

The house, not the previous owner.

The main disappointment was that, for a house this age, the inspector thinks that the roof should probably have another 5 usable years left...I had hoped for maybe 10. Soooo... from proceeds from selling my previous house, I need to set aside at least $10,000 for that eventuality not too far down the proverbial highway of life. 

But.

Poor lilac; its base is mere inches from the house wall. Who does that? Seriously!

Otherwise, just a lot of small things to be aware of or that I or a handyman could probably handily handle, such as these examples:

  • Hall bathroom grout along bathtub needs to be dug out and replaced with caulk (for Official Reasons)
  • One ceiling light didn't light--am asking the seller to replace the bulb to confirm it's just a bulb issue and not Aliens.
  • One door whose hang needs adjusting [um, that's my phrasing, and now it sounds kinky]
  • Couple of nails to  be replaced and recovered. Assuming those aren't THE TWO KEY NAILS HOLDING IT ALL TOGETHER.
  • Trim the huge lilac shrub at the corner of the house so it's not touching the house. That'll be a machete hacking cut, it just shouldn't have been planted that close to the house. 

(Lilac photo is from the house's listing online.)

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Tuesday, August 09, 2022

New House Layout and Tidbits

SUMMARY: It has rooms and Stuf

Few home-for-sale listings provide a floorplan unless they are brand new. This house isn't; it's 14 years old. But the home seller apparently saved a copy from Way Back When. Rooms are good sizes; layout is lovely for someone who wants a downsized footprint.

Tidbits! it has:

  • Nine-foot ceilings! (2.74 m) And the living room is vaulted even higher! It feels light, airy, spacious, and so breathable. Standard modern homes in US are 8 feet (2.44 m)--and have been for decades. 
  • A whole-house built-in vacuum! I've always yearned for one. This one comes with a bonus little sucker at the bottom of one of the kitchen cabinets so if you want to do a quick sweep-up of dog hair, simply whisk it into that corner, step on the switch, and pfffft away it goes.
  • An extra-wide entry hall, so bookcases fit on one side and a table and bench on the other. Without feeling crowded. (Photo is from the listing and shows the seller's furnishings, not mine.) Gives me shivers of delight.


Front door is normal width; wide-angle images distort some things.

(Images are from the house's listing online.)

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Monday, August 08, 2022

New House Story

SUMMARY: Buying one in Washington!

I'm going to try to post daily how this all happened/is happening. I'm already a month (or 3 years?) behind, but there's not a lot to say until last week. 

But I am calling it my Viking House--I have traversed the wild seas of California, Oregon, and Washington, into the woods of a new seaside village,  and am setting down roots. Like Vikings of old!

Keep checking back!

Notes: 

  • It's not a new house; it's just new to me
  • The sale is not final yet. Keeping fingers crossed.



(photo is from the house's listing online.)

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Thursday, April 14, 2022

Sunrise, Sunset, and oh boy More Daylight!

SUMMARY: Pacific northwest advantage

I'm living in northwestern Washington state now. A little different from San Jose. And the differences are big when one wants to count hours of sunlight (at least nominally) pouring into one's eyeballs.

For tomorrow, here:

Sunrise: 6:21

Sunset: 8:02

Back in San Jose:

Sunrise: 6:33

Sunset: 7:43

Soooo a magnificent 20 minutes more already for evening strolls. And twilight lingers longer, as well. Niiiiice. 

The winter won't br so generous but, hey, I've got the whole summer still to look forward to.

April 10, 7:52 PM: Looking up 12th street by our house (not visible here)

April 10, 7:52 PM: Looking down in the opposite direction towards Puget Sound and the ferry.

Thursday, December 09, 2021

It Has Come To My Attention

SUMMARY: Some kind of festive holiday thing? "Krismass"?
Feeling: Inexplicably uneasy and, strangely, eager.

It has come to my attention that it is, once again, despite my best efforts, December. It is apparently, without my express written permission, in a brand new year, not repeating any of the perfectly fine Decembers that our holiday factory has worked hard to produce over the years. 

For example, 1987 involved pirates sneaking into our house while we were out doing something important --such as not decorating our tree--and leaving us with a garland skull and crossbones. Remind me to never again give relatives or pirates the keys to my house. At least not while boxes of pending tree decorations are sitting around unguarded. Why has no one submitted a re-use request for this perfectly good December, which required very few holiday decorations for a last-minute reconstitution?


This one was pretty good, too. I'd have signed off on a request for this one. The 2002 when Mr. Alien took over Disneyland. Remember that? It was in all the news. Anyone who neglected to wear their aluminum foil hat was instantly brainwashed into not seeing all the thousands of tiny Mr. Alien-kins swarming the place, aiming to abscond with the rumored "Magic." I don't know whether they succeeded. But then, I never actually saw any tiny Mr. Alien-kins, having left my aluminum foil at home.


1983 had its highlights as well, although no aliens were involved. The household beasts always received a giant rawhide bone each from Santa. Santa must be a dog person. Or maybe the elves are dog elves and Santa just rolls his eyes and goes along with it. Watching them unwrap their gifts gave warm fuzzies to the humans, too. Although why unwrap the whole thing when all you need to start is one end? In fact, why unwrap yours at all when you are a genius husky and are pretty sure that you can end up with two rawhide bones if you play your cards right. If someone had played their cards right and arranged ahead of time with my department, perhaps we could have resurrected this year from the archives.


I wouldn't mind dusting off 1990, either, when everyone in the family received matching "San Andreas--It's Our Fault" t-shirts, which were enchanted like some of those old fairy tales so that we had to keep dancing and laughing while wearing the shirts until we collapsed in the living room to eat cookies, roast beef, candy cigarettes, and matzoh ball soup. My family had an eclectic idea about Christmas buffets. I'd love to dust those off, too. Do you see what I am getting at here? Asking permission is key.


Also, I seem to recall that 1966 would be perfectly reusable, including all of our annual new Christmas nightclothes and not-annual Tressy dolls ("Her Hair Grows!"). Best thing is that they could fit all of Barbie's clothes. Worst thing was how expensive Barbie's clothes were. That Barbie sure could wow 'em at the Met, though. No, worst thing was that I couldn't fit Barbie's clothes. But I could fit my new Xmas nightgown, although I'm afraid that I outgrew it before the following Dec 24. The same thing I did every year, Pinky. But at least I had bright blue fluffy slippers at the time. Pretty sure Tressy is still around in some quiet repose in the playroom here at Taj MuttHall, so redoing that year would be a piece of cake. Or of cookies.


Even Christmas of 1956 holds promise for a revisit, because I still have Dad's hat. Pretty sure I'd look as charming as I did then. In particular, I notice no wrinkles. In me, I mean. Although, in real life, I grew, and the hat shrank.  


Or maybe I transposed the numbers and I mean 1965 instead of 1956. Why I opted to dress like a pirate at Christmas shall remain a mystery.  But, see, if we were reusing this year, perhaps I could solve the mystery. But nooooooo. Also, it is perhaps because I stereotyped pirates as having bad teeth, being visually impaired, and walking with a peg leg, that eventually what goes around comes around and I ended up with a garland skull and crossbones on my tree two decades later. Let that be a lesson: Don't stereotype pirates. Hear that, Disney? It would never sell.

(You can tell it's Christmas because you can see one of the wise men in mom's childhood creche wearing blue and kneeling just to the left of someone's horse that someone added in front. Not confessing who that might have been. Although it's possible that that horse is still in a toy box around here somewhere. Not that it has anything to do with me. But that family might have needed a better way than the back of a donkey to transport mother and child along with all that gold, frankincense, myrrh; hair combs and watch fobs; hippopotamuses; and silver, gold, and drumming drummer boys. Just saying.)

So, in the future, please ensure that you have properly submitted the requests for a December before I have to deny it because the whole corporation goes on vacation December 1, when it is too late to properly implement a new one or reassemble an old one from storage. Who knows what will happen in an unauthorized December. Just this year, I give you after-the-fact permission and will overlook your mistake this time. But don't let it happen again.

Feeling: Nostalgic. Curious. A little at sea. Transmogrifying. 


See? A perfect recreation is possible.
From a 2011 photo




Saturday, November 20, 2021

A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

SUMMARY: But What About Dogs?
Originally posted on Facebook: Nov 20, 2020 in response to the #originaldognamechallenge

I’m not going to repost my dog photos, but here’s what each of them came to me as:

“Chipper” = Chip (I stayed in touch with his previous family, and Chip seemed to work fine. But “Chipper” was a bit too chipper for me.)

“Greenelda” (or some such) = Boost (All the puppies had color puppy names to match their collar colors.)

“Jake” = Jake (he had a perfect name and he was already a perfect little agility dog and I saw no reason to change it at his age of sixish)

“Lone Star” = Sheba (I think Lonestar was a popular beer at the time. But, really, for a husky?!)

“Luke” = Zorro (Luke was actually a perfect name, but under a theory that he had already learned to blow me off under that name, I changed it. Made no difference. ๐Ÿ˜œ) (On the other hand, it did eventually stop me from calling him “Jake”.)

“One of the two yellow puppies” = Amber

“Remington” = Remington (I tried to come up with several other names, but Remington just seemed to stick.)

“Savanna” = Tika (She had been adopted out from the shelter twice and returned twice before she was picked up by the rescue group. I don’t know where the savanna name came from during that process. She did not seem like a Savanna to me.)




Saturday, October 23, 2021

Winding Roads

SUMMARY: You think you know where you are going, and suddenly--
First posted in a Facebook Group Oct 23, 2021

In my area--southwest to west of San Jose, CA, if you start at the southern end of Highway 9 in Los Gatos, its name is Los Gatos-Saratoga Road. (Or "highway 9," depending on your inclination.)

As it continues northwesterly, when entering Saratoga at the intersection of Saratoga Ave. it becomes Saratoga-Sunnyvale Rd AKA "Old Highway 9" (because the new one veers away and is a different road entirely). At this point, you are going north.

When you enter Cupertino, it becomes DeAnza Blvd (This was Cupertino's bright idea so that we didn't have TWO local names for the same road (Saratoga-Sunnyvale and Sunnyvale-Saratoga). Now we have THREE names for that section), also aka Old Highway 9.

When you enter Sunnyvale, it becomes Sunnyvale-Saratoga Rd. Still going north.

At some point, it splits; if you turn right onto its old path, it becomes N. Sunnyvale Ave and then peters out. But if you follow its main flow, it becomes S. Mathilda Ave. for a few blocks, then N. Mathilda Ave. for about 2 miles.

It curves right smoothly about 90 degrees east at that point and becomes Caribbean Dr for a few more blocks going more or less east, then curves gently until it becomes Lawrence Expressway, going due south. (Aka state (? or county) highway 82, but no one calls it that).

And if you follow that for 8 miles, it turns into Quito Road where it crosses Saratoga Ave. (see above).

If you keep going south on Quito, eventually it ends at Los Gatos-Saratoga road, less than a mile northwest of where you started your trip.

(If you want to go around the circle again, sorry, you have to make an obvious right turn at a stoplight, and where's the fun in that?)

(This map shows you the west side of the loop with scale of miles at the bottom; Lawrence Expressway/Quito Rd is fairly obvious for the east side. Also here: Google maps: all that route mostly)

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Country or Western?

SUMMARY: My latest musical effort. Without any actual music.
From a Facebook Group Oct 8, 2021

This morning, doing my usual preflight check before going downstairs, I said out loud:

My phone is in my pocket
My dog is in the yard--

I know a winner when I say it, just needed more lyrics. Let it percolate a bit, and new realization: Negative would be funnier than positive. Plus I could squeeze in a pun. 

The result: My first-ever country/western song. Top 10 hit for sure.

My phone is in the toilet,
My dog escaped the yard,
My truck is in the kitchen,
My life is dog gone hard.

Smugly self-satisfied, I posted that to a group that loves mostly sophisticated kinds of humor* (ah, hubris rears its head again). And within minutes, someone responded:

If the phone is in the toilet, what are you writing this on?? ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

Challenge accepted! I sat staring at my screen, working an answer. Took only a couple of minutes to respond:

Hmmm. Next verse?

My Mac is at the Genius Bar
My PC’s screen is blue
I stole my neighbor’s Android
So this message could get through.

Success!
Doggerel is easy. Although I think it actually keeps its rhythm. I'm sure you'll let me know

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* "Welcome to the Devotees of the Style Invitational, the long-running weekly humor/wordplay contest in The Washington Post. Our humor is usually sophisticated, sometimes crude -- from the haughty to the potty. The atmosphere in the group is irreverent, but there's no trash-talking." 

Friday, October 08, 2021

The Inconveniences of Fencing and of Vinegar

SUMMARY: Related to dogs.
Posted on FB 10/8/21. Edited to post here.

This story has two parts.

Part 1: Fencing

Someone has to stay inside until late this afternoon. This never happens. He has words to say about this.



The middle portion of my north-ish fence began leaning/bowing in towards my yard last winter, I believe. But it stopped when it encountered a tree to lean on, so... [shrug]

I'd been meaning to take a photo of its relaxed state for months.
Too late--the fenceman had already propped it up to work on it
before I realized something was happening.



While I think that it is super cool that apparently the neighbor has hired someone to replace the rotted posts in that section of fence between us at his own expense (since he has said nothing*), I think that it would have been wise--given that he knows that I have dogs, having lived next to me for 20 years--to give me advanced notice that the fence would be down for half a day.

I am sooooo thankful that I was home when they started sawing away at the posts.



---

 * Just saw him, I said let me know what I owe you. He grinned, waved it away, and said, "Don't worry about it." After he denied me a 2nd time, I'll take it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Part 2, later the same day: Vinegar

I sit in the green chair. Zorro is on a 15-foot lead. 
He'd rather be on his own.
That fence thing is still in progress across the yard and he must see!

Poor Zorro. Has an uneducated Human Mom.

I had potstickers for lunch. I love them with white vinegar, so I poured it onto the plate from the large bottle. When I finished, some vinegar remained on the plate along with Maybe half a dozen crumbs from the potstickers themselves. I put it on the floor to see whether he'd lick it (he hardly ever turns things down), thinking that he probably wouldn’t like the vinegar. He definitely tried to stay away from it while he tried to pick out the orts. I left him to it.

Now the gross part:

About 10 minutes later, he walked down into my office and threw up a good portion of his breakfast (of course onto the carpet, not three inches farther onto tile floor).

While I tried to keep him from re-eating it (a dog's first instinct, of course), his head made that little bobbing movement, and I pushed him over the tile floor where he threw up another large portion of breakfast. And after that, while I petted him and he eyed the two yummy piles of food, it started again, and I kept him on the tile for a third portion. Stomach pretty much emptied according to that third one.

OK, so at this point I didn’t even really have to look it up. But I wanted to know how much gastrointestinal distress or damage the vinegar might have done. Online vet sources say "some dogs can't tolerate it" and it could cause vomiting and diarrhea--for up to 48 hours afterwards!

OMG. OMG. And of course today is the only day in his Entire Life that he has been restricted to the house, without free access to the yard. (Maybe a few others here or there). 

Pretty sure he had been intending to go out to the yard to handle his upset because where he decorated the floor was only about 2 feet from the actual door he would normally go through.

So I’ve been outside with him for about 20 minutes. Shows no signs of wanting to throw up or poop. just hanging with me. 

Fingers crossed. I need to go back inside.

If I had a good place to hook his 15 foot lead without risk of it tangling up, I would do that. But I don’t.  And unwilling to try to set up a fence for just a couple more hours. I already went through that when I thought there was a skunk in the yard. And it was exhausting and painful.

So, here we are.

Oops. Now what?


An hour later, he still seems healthy. I just happen to have some leftover steamed white rice. 

"Ready?!?!"
That always perks him up.
Gave him the rice. He loved it. 

Sunday, October 03, 2021

A Place for Family Treasures

SUMMARY: Books. Dogs. Bookends. To start with, anyway.

6:00 PM October 2, 2021. How can it possibly be getting dark this early already?

I'm typing away at the computer on my desk, trying to concentrate. But there's a niggling something at the edge of my consciousness. And finally I look off to the right of my bright, large monitor into the gloaming, and...

… something is staring at me with horrific wide white eyes from the shadows in the bookcase across this darkening room.

See it there on the top shelf, leaning against the little dark blue books? (Below the boxes, to the right of the vacuum handle?)


Let’s take a closer look, since the phone zoom is worthless.


Holy wow! Those aren’t his big buggy eyes!

They are his mustaches! Old friend of a friend.

He is nestling up to a collection of poetry in a set of books belonging to my great grandmother originally (My dad’s mom’s mom). 



Who is Betty?  Might be my grandmother, but no one called her that in my lifetime.
My great-grandmother?
Who is Glossie (seems vaguely familiar?) ?
Time to call on my Sisterclan hivemind! 
So I don't have to actually do the research myself.

And apparently my grandmother and her sister Hap were more or less bitterly divided about the fact that grandma inherited the books and Hap didn’t. (I don’t know: when I knew them, they were good friends and bought houses in Arizona in the same retirement town even though they were both from back east.) 

I was not the only sister who wanted them, but whatever negotiations we did, I brought them home. And have I opened them since I brought them home? I have no idea, but I like having them where I can see them easily. I do think about their growing fragility. The pages still cling tightly, but the spines are sketchy. I handle them with loving care when I touch them. We can keep aging, together.


They always held a prominent place of honor in my parents' living room. Dad had a set of bookends, wood, one of which was a large R and one of which was a large L. Those always… yes, bookended… those books. 

See the "R" and "L" around these books, top shelf?

And I have no idea whence those bookends came. Were they originally dad's, or were they his father’s? A gift? (I'm guessing yes on that.) So many things that I never asked and that they never wrote down. Unless that’s in the anecdotal history that dad wrote.

And... which sister took the bookends home? They were always around these books (at least since the late '70s), so I should've spirited them away when no one was looking, heh heh heh.  Of course... I already have several warehouses full of bookends plus a plethora of items that make fine book-holder-uppers, such as this little guy.

But I do know whence came the dog: My best friend since junior high. It was her Dad's and it reminds her of him. They lived together in their spacious-enough home until he died around 90, so I also knew him for a long time; not well, because he wasn't usually around when we were hanging out, but still. He had a lovely sense of humor. He was a "collector" and she's a minimalist, so she has spent time over a few years purging things. She knows I love dogs and asked whether I could rehome him--and I certainly could. Who could turn down that face? Another permanent member of the household.

So many treasures and memories, none of which will likely matter in any way to the next generation. Unless I collect these stories into a book and deliver it to all. Another project for retirement.




Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Why Even Pro Golfers Have Trouble Getting Their Last Agility Super-Q

SUMMARY: You got all the gambles you need for your agility championship except one, and now for reasons beyond sanity, demons prevent you from getting that last one!

Tika and one of her SuperQ ribbons. 
That 3rd one was our bugaboo.

I'm reading the book Why We Make Mistakes.


Gosh darned innate human response to stress when the outcome matters more than average, apparently. The book describes a study in which the PGA (Pro Golf Association) measured the success rates of only 6-foot putts in 15 pro golf tournaments one year without the golfers being aware of the study. 


One finding--and the most precious to our story, little darlings--was that golfers successfully made the putt if were only for a par score more often than if it were for making a birdie (one under par). Apparently because making par is just “average”, but making a birdie is a highly desirable outcome. And one stroke could make a huge difference in your final position among finishers and your take-home winnings. 


And yet--very shot you make is like that over the whole course, right? Where you might be earning a total score of 265-285 shots.  But somehow labeling the last shot on a hole as a “birdie” vs “par”decreased their ability to make the shot.


It’s like desperately trying to get hat last gamblers leg. That last super-Q in Snooker. That last anything to complete your agility championship. Or any other big title (more advanced championships, or lifetime achievement award, and so on), or cruising through the entire season being highly successful, cruising through the regionals and earning byes for the nationals, cruising through all the early rounds of the national or international championships and getting to the final round, And suddenly… 


BUT WAIT A MINUTE-- How many people get that last gamblers or that last superQ after struggling week after week or month after month (or year after year) and suddenly get the next four in a row?! What happened-- did the next ones just not matter any more?


Given my experience with four dogs, that doesn’t change even after getting those championships with multiple dogs. I’m sure that not everyone succumbs to this sort of self pressure. But it seems to be common, even among excellent teams. Ammiright?

The Jakemeister


So: Jake's ADCH, 2001

Super-Qs were no prob, but Gamblers?! I even started traveling up and down the state for hundreds of miles (which I didn't before and haven't since) trying to get that last confounded Gamblers Q. Then, one weekend in my own backyard (so to speak), my own club's USDAA event... Jake had been on enforced rest for a sore back for weeks and we had barely started trying to run full courses again. He was getting older. I really wanted that Q. I entered him in only that Gamblers class for the whole 4-day weekend... 

...and I was so busy in doing my jobs for the trial that I missed the obscene-colorful-adjective walkthrough and people were already running.  A friend told me from the sidelines what his plan was. The gamble looked nearly impossible to me. I was so sure, given those two handicaps, that I wouldn't get it that I didn't even ask anyone to videotape it. Annnnnnnnnd...

...of course we got the Q and the championship.  I had taken away my own stress level and relaxed because now it was clearly just going to have to be for fun, not for an actual Q.

Jake's ADCH gamblers course

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Dogs Just Want To Have Fruit ... Tomatoes or Pears or...

SUMMARY: Tomatoes, or plums or pears or apples or whatever.

Yes, these days tomatoes are referred to as vegetables. But, technically, they're a fruit.

Dawn and Katie posted about tomato-eating dogs this morning, and I of course had a response.

I’ve grown tomatoes only once, and only inadvertently: A tomato bush volunteered in one of my planters. Fifteen to twenty years ago. That might go back to Remington and Jake, but answer is hazy; try again later.

It grew and grew and covered itself with little green cherry tomatoes that then started turning red and I checked eagerly daily for ripe ones. Got a couple–really good–and then, shortly thereafter, I looked out my kitchen window and espied one of the dogs plucking the ripe-ish ones off the bush. Grrr!

I didn’t try setting up a fence and I never got more tomatoes for myself. 

Other fruit--

If pears really looked like this, maybe the dogs 
wouldn't eat so many

Tika used to stand on her hind legs and even jump from that position to get low-hanging pears or plums or apples off the trees. Jake loved oranges. All of my dogs would get fat on plums that drop constantly during their ripe season, and now I know that that happens for pears, too--Zorro has added 4 pounds in the last month or so, which a 31-lb dog should never do if he wants to keep his boyish figure (and do agility and jump on and off beds safely).



Zorro chewing a bit of pear while protecting the rest.


Zorro doesn't eat the stems from pears; they now litter the back yard and deck and the house (although I pick those up as soon as I see them.  

Boost also didn't eat the stems--but made sure that every speck of pear belonged to her.

Tika enjoyed pears, too--nibbling off a bit, licking her lips, and continuing.


But I get all of that, because pears and plums and apples are sweet. I wouldn’t necessarily guess that dogs would like the slight tartness of tomatoes. Shrug. What do I  really know about dogs, anyway?

Do your pups steal your tomatoes?