a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: November 2017

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Return of the Aliens

SUMMARY: Mr. Alien's entire family arrives.

Since I, sadly, have lost the two Mr. Aliens who were naked, probably returned to Deneb or Vega or Andromeda or Mars or Hollywood or wherever they're from, and since the two Mr. Aliens who returned from their trip to Dickensian England dressed in glorious holiday habiliments declined to ever remove said dress again, I finally gave up and invited all of the younger Mr. Aliens to visit and perhaps stay awhile.

Sadly, they are half the size of the more mature and experienced Mr. Aliens, but they're all that's available at this time. They look ready and eager to jump into the game, even though one looks like he imbibed a bit heavily of the Romulan Ale last night.

We might get to see a few more Mr. Alien escapades in the near (and far) future. Here's hoping.

P.S. Searches to which Google can't arrive at a satisfactory answer: "What do aliens drink?"

Monday, November 27, 2017


SUMMARY: A hobby for the whole family.

My dad started collecting stamps as a kid. I vaguely recall that his dad started him on it, but that memory is unclear.

Dad was an enthusiastic-- although not "serious"-- collector of stamps from around the world. He loved the "5 million unsoaked unsorted" stamp deals, but did keep current with US mint stamps of normal values (not high values). He collected first-day covers for a long time, too, and all sorts of random things. He had dozens and dozens of small boxes and albums to hold his collection.

He got me my first stamp album when I was in kindergarten. I've done only US stamps and got serious--heh-- briefly for several years in the '70s and tried to keep up with *all* current US mint stamps. Used to stand in line for ages at the special post office window they used to have in the Willow Glen area just for collectors. Ordered everything available for each current year from the US postal service (which included things like hunting license stamps). Although I haven't put anything in an album in probably 30 years, I still buy extras and stick them in an envelope for "later". Hard habit to break.

My dad started using his stamps as postage after hoping for decades that they'd eventually be worth something, and I wonder how many people noticed the wayyyy old mint stamps that he used on envelopes to them?

Just before he died he sent off what was left of about 10 large cartons of albums and stamps to a dealer, for which we were paid a pittance. (Oddly enough, stamp collecting is no longer of interest to as many people, according to the few dealers who are left--used to be able to find stamp/coin dealers in little shops all over the place.  Here's an interesting read on how many collectors there are.)

When going through parents' stuff after Mom's death, I found a small camera with a card still in it, so I loaded it up. It included a few photos that dad had taken of some of his stamp things as he packed them up to ship. So, here they are. I have no other photos related to dad and his stamps, despite all the many times that he worked on his collection on the dining table.

Glassine envelopes with extra stamps or first-day covers or what-not:

A carton being packed up to go.

Magnifying "glasses", magnifying glass in box, more glassine envelopes, special envelopes...

 The open shelf all the way across is random stamp things and albums--

More cartons as he packed them up.

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Feeling With No Name

SUMMARY: Grief at the holidays.

You've read or heard about it your whole life--that not everyone is happy during the epic of The Holidays.

Christmas in particular has always been a favorite of mine. And Thanksgiving, getting together with family and consuming mass quantities, so many good times.

Not every year has been equal in joy, of course.

This year, maybe the roughest for me; I can't speak for the rest of my family, but I suspect for them as well. Dad is gone, Mom is gone, cousin Carol Anne is gone, other cousin's spouse left and will no longer be around. When I lost Tika and Boost--when we discovered that Dad had stage 4 cancer--cousin also lost her dog to cancer. And now, the house (parents' last home) where we've had a large and growing celebration every Christmas morning since 1968 is gone. Every item in that house that made it a familiar family Christmas surrounding is gone--some pieces distributed here and there within the family, but... not there. That particular Parental flavor of being Home for Christmas.

So, it's 2017. The family has changed around me. For the first time in all Thanksgivings, I spent a good part of the morning crying for what is gone, even as I did my best to count the very many things that I have that I am thankful for.

I attempted this normal self-care thing Thanksgiving morning: my annual Thanksgiving morning hike with dogs, most years since I've been on my own, and it has been a lovely thing--few people out, so peaceful, such a beautiful time of year.  And this time my dogs got into a fight with each other and I had to enlist a stranger to help me separate them. That was the capper for the day.

I did go to the family gathering although I didn't feel up to it--all sisters and families and our close cousin were there and we were all in the same boat, so I felt that I couldn't not be there, and it was good to see people but I still had to sneak out and go for a short walk on my own.  I ate too much as usual because the food as usual was overabundant and delicious, but maybe that's what helped me get to sleep last night. A hidden blessing after 2 nights of misery.

Wednesday I stared at my boxes and boxes of xmas decor-because I love Christmas and Thanksgiving weekend is usually the beginnings of decorating for the season--I started thinking that the last thing that I want is a huge family xmas like we've had every year of my 61 xmases to date, which I have always enjoyed.  I can't quite grasp it. But what made it even more interesting is that many of my sisters hinted that they feel the same way, so we'll see what happens.

I am grieving, I know. It hurts. My grief is like no one else's, and no one else's is like mine or anyone else's. We can call it grief, but it's as personal as the way you smile, the color of your eyes, the movies you enjoy, the color that's your favorite, all of the million things wrapped together to make you you, or me me.  How can one word cover that?  Can't. I struggle for words to convey my complex roiling mental, emotional, and physical states.  Grieving. Will have to do for now.

One thing that took my mind off it all for a half hour, thereby cheering myself a fraction, on Thanksgiving morning I searched for "turkey" in my photo disk and shared them in this Facebook album with captions for your turkeying pleasure.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Faces in the Kitchen

SUMMARY: Whenever I'm feeling lonely, there's a place I can go...

...just walk into my kitchen and commune with my cabinets.

The guy that started it all, staring straight at my table.

Big-eyed alien that you've seen so often;
not sure what the dot on his forehead is--third eye? Caste mark? Do aliens have castes?

The late, lamented, lost Mr. Alien.

 Stayed up wayyyyy too late reading FaceBook.

Screaming and falling, hair (or ears?) flying up as she goes. I'm sure she's doing it for fun. Bungie jumping, probably. Or maybe this is me on Tower of Terror (excuse me, "Guardians of the Galaxy") last week. Once. Never again. Ever.

Somehow this cabinet evolved into a profile view of the right side of a chimp--his ear toward the left, all his dark hair, looking to the right.  

Cyclops! With really really big lips!


Yeti on drugs.