Thursday, October 31, 2019

Music for the Shoe Addict

SUMMARY: Something you can sing while stocking up. (Stocking up... right.)
From Facebook: Originally created Oct 30, 2013!

I am not a shoe addict, but I concocted these lyrics for friends and relatives who are. Interspersed with random shoe photos I've taken over time.


(If you need music to sing along to: )

Oooga chucka Oooga ooga ooga chucka...

I can't stop this feelin' deep inside my feet
Guys, you just don't realize shoes can make me sweet
When I wear some brand new Vans or pumps
I'm no longer way down in the dumps

I-I-I, I'm goin' shoe shoppin'
And I won't be stoppin'
Till I have five new pairs!

Shoes as pink as candy, points might hurt my toes
But for another Blahnik pair, girl, any fashion goes!
I got it bad for shoes, girl, but I don't want a cure
I'll just stay addicted and hope my cash endures.

Buy some slingbacks or some furry Uggs
If it's Gucci, it's like taking drugs

I-I-I, I'm goin' shoe shoppin'
And I won't be stoppin'
Till I have eight new pairs!

Open sandals, even saddle shoes, [tune of: All the good love when we're all alone]
I'm on Zappos, fending off the blues

I-I-I, I'm goin' shoe shoppin'
And I won't be stoppin'
Till I have twelve new pairs!

I'm goin' shoe shoppin'!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Sunrise, sunset

SUMMARY: One from valley looking towards mountains through smoke of a fire; one looking down on valley from mountains.

(Nearly wordless Wednesday.)

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

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Goodbye, Charlotte

SUMMARY: She was only a volunteer spider, but still--

After my previous renters moved out in August of 2018, leaving empty kitchen cabinet shelves here and there, I opened my cereal cabinet one day to discover a messy web taking up an entire empty shelf, populated by a small brownish spider.  I don't mind spiders in my house as long as they're not somewhere super inconvenient or if they're likely to fall on or bite me. And all of those are rare, so for the most part, spiders stay.

That's because I clearly see that the spiders are finding critters to eat in my house, and I'll bet bottom dollar that I would not welcome those critters if I ever met them.

So I left her there. Her: Gender actually unknown, but after a couple of weeks, I named her Charlotte, because what else would one name a spider with whom one would have daily conversations?  She didn't stay small all that long.

She had long spindly legs and a huge abdomen. Hmm, said I, she has the shape of a (erk) black widow, yet she looks brown to me, not black.  Still, black widows have messy webs, none of those pretty ones you can take photos of.  I tried to take photos of her to identify her provenance. It was difficult, because every time I opened the cabinet door, she'd race across her web and tuck herself into the corner. (Note that when I say huge abdomen, her whole body was still still plenty smaller than the pegs that hold up the shelves.)

And I couldn't ever clearly see her belly to determine whether she had that red hourglass.  She was *always* upside down on her web, and near the back of the cabinet, and the web was pretty close to the upper shelf. Tried a couple of times.  Best I ever got, with my camera on a tripod, attempted prefocus, was this:

Sure looked like whitish markings, not red, and not a solid black body. So I took to the internet for more info. After perusing many, many spider sites and photos, I tentatively IDed her as a "false black widow."  (Note that there are many species of black widows, and many species commonly called "false black widow.") Posted the photo at, with my best guess about her species, and got this response, which set my fears to rest:
Hi, your description is very good. She’s probably a false widow, Steatoda grossa, I’m not certain from the side view. She has been eating well, which is exactly what you want from a spider in the house. The web is always messy looking and it gets dusty. They like enclosed spaces and darkness. Their sight is poor, they mostly use vibrations and basic light/dark sight to find prey and avoid large animals like humans. I’ve tried photographing the Steatoda species spiders that I let live in my house and it is difficult, they run from the flash or any other light source.

So, for 14 months, typically twice a day (open cabinet to get out cereal or whatever; open it again to put it away), I spoke to her.

"Hi, Charlotte."
"Hello, Charlotte."
"You're looking well fed today, Charlotte."
"Seriously, it's been months, don't you trust me yet?"  She never did trust me.

As time grew nearer for me to get a renter again, and knowing I'd need that shelf, I looked online determinedly for info on how to move a spider who has served me well, without tangling her in her own web, and without dropping her somewhere else in the house.  I found no help, and so I agonized (mildly) about it and did nothing, but the problem nagged in a tiny spot in the back of my head reserved for trivial things to be nagged about.

So, the human thing: You know, you identify a specific living thing. You name it. You talk to it every day. You give it a job title and monitor its performance. It becomes part of your life.

I cannot tell you how surprised I was when, yesterday morning upon opening the cabinet and finding her dead, I felt an immediate rush of grief and sorrow.  Which hasn't yet dissipated.

For a spider. Who never said hi, never trusted me. But who did a truly noble job of doing what I hired her to do: Remove insect vermin from my home.

Now I can clear out the web, reclaim the shelf, and marvel at an arachnid who, all unknowing, shared my life for a year and two months.  Goodbye, Charlotte, and thanks.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Getting Through Challenges

SUMMARY: Like The Pattern in the Amber series, sometimes things are easy, and then you hit a veil...
From Facebook: First paragraph is a comment I posted Oct 27, 2019.

Lord of the Rings: My dad loved the books, my younger sisters loved the books, but every time I tried to read the first in the trilogy, it bogged me down in, I think, extreme detail, scene setting, and expository text. But in my junior year of college (or possibly a few years later) I picked it up again, and loved every word. At that point I wasn’t entirely sure which part I had had trouble with initially.

It's not that I didn't read: I read voraciously, and much of it was fantasy or science fiction. I'm sure that, by then, I had read the first 3 or 4 Amber books, and the Pattern intrigued me; but for a long time, LotR presented a veil that I couldn't get through.

[Corwin begins walking the pattern--] Then the thing began to curve, abruptly, back upon itself. I took ten more paces, and a certain resistance seemed to arise. It was as if a black barrier had grown up before me, of some substance which pushed back upon me with each effort that I made to pass forward. I fought it. It was the First Veil, I suddenly knew. To get beyond it would be an achievement, a good sign, showing that I was indeed part of the Pattern. Each raising and lowering of my foot suddenly required a terrible effort, and sparks shot forth from my hair. I concentrated on the fiery line. I walked it breathing heavily. Suddenly the pressure was eased. The Veil had parted before me, as abruptly as it had occurred. I had passed beyond it. [Read more of this excerpt.]
- from Nine Princes in Amber, by Roger Zelazny 

I also hit a veil when learning subtraction (though addition was simple) and division (though multiplication was simple). Eventually I earned a degree in Math, so apparently I made it through that particular Pattern.

I hit many veils in dog agility, things that I had at one time or another believed that I would never achieve: Getting a gamble. Earning a title.  Earning a more advanced title.  Understanding Snooker rules. Doing a smooth front cross. Earning a championship. Having a dog in the USDAA Top Ten.  Earning many championships with 4 different dogs. Still, I often felt that I had never truly completed that Pattern.

Once upon a time, I cared enough about it that I worked at it. But, true to my life's story, I seldom worked at it to the best of my potential. That felt to me like an overwhelming veil that enveloped all others. Sure, there were days or weeks where I concentrated on some particular skill. But then I'd slack off. Over and over.

Still, I'd say that I had a reasonably successful agility career. And I try hard not to think, "If only I had worked harder at _________."  That way madness lies.

But, whenever I hit a veil in any aspect of my life, I try to remind myself that working hard at getting through could help me to achieve the power of the Pattern, and gain satisfaction, joy, and energy to boot.


Thursday, October 17, 2019

Loma Prieta Earthquake -- has it really been 30 years?

SUMMARY: Some things you never forget.
Backfill: First posted on Facebook Oct 17, 2019; edited here & added links.
I meant this to be short, but apparently I still have things to say about it.

30 years ago--seems like yesterday in some ways, the images of my life that day are so brilliant--  Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing if they felt it (and people felt it as far away as San Diego, which is about 450 miles from epicenter)... except a weird thing is happening: Adults I know, some of whom have children, have no memories because they weren't even alive! 30 years!

30 years ago in just about an hour from now, our part of the world shook into a different dimension, in which everything around us was affected, people died, buildings collapsed, fires erupted, power went out, people couldn't get home for hours, phone lines were so swamped with people trying to call other people that you couldn't even get a dial tone. Power was out on gas stations, too, for at least a couple of days, so finding a functional station was challenging, and those stations had long lines.

Part of the Oakland /Bay Bridge collapsed, closing THE main artery between the east bay and San Francisco for months, affecting traffic everywhere. Today, that bridge carries a quarter of a million cars daily. Probably less then, but not by a huge amount.

The Cypress Structure--a section of freeway not far from the Bay Bridge sporting one set of freeway lanes atop others--pancaked and caused most of the earthquake's deaths. The famous As vs Giants World Series baseball game that was just starting you've probably heard about, as the stadium swayed and shook and the announcers excitedly reported on it. Power out there, too, and they weren't sure whether the structure was sturdy, so they eventually evacuated everyone. (Not to mention that everyone wanted to get home to check on family and abode.)

Communication of any kind was nearly impossible: Power out (so many phones didn't work  unless the handset was wired to the phone that was wired to the wall), phone lines impassible... and remember: No cell phones! No World Wide Web!  (Internet existed but only an elite few knew how to use it.)

Enough freeway bridges collapsed that, for months, if you were in traffic and near a bridge, you wouldn't stop under it, so there were always huge gaps in front of people (read: EVERYONE) who didn't want to get caught there. Months!

I posted more on the 20th anniversary about my experiences, with my photos; start there for more links and posts on my blog if you wish.

Following are other links for your viewing ... pleasure?

KTVU/Fox News

Good  three-minute video from 2016. Worth sharing again.

I should note, however, that the news coverage at the time all looked and sounded sensational like this. In fact, very few fires, very few buildings or bridges collapsed. Lots of small damage, but it's the big stuff like this that kept playing over and over and made many of us think that SF was being destroyed all over again, that the Bay Bridge had completely collapsed, that there were fires everywhere, and worse.  It was terrible, but not that much in most places.

NBC Bay Area video

A one-hour version, summary of events.

FULL EPISODE: Loma Prieta Earthquake, 30 Years Later (NBC Bay Area)

KGO TV video

One-hour video, watch it in pretty much real time as if you were actually there.

I just watched about 30 minutes of it. Talk about reliving the trauma!

While you're watching, imagine the ground repeatedly rolling and shaking, and things in your house fallen over or broken (and maybe your house, too), oh, and no power, so you're not really watching it in realtime: you're hearing it on your battery-powered radio while sitting in your safe driveway to keep out of the rocking and rolling house.

10-17-1989 San Francisco Earthquake - First Minutes (KGO TV)

It’s interesting to see how far off they were with the epicenter (first guesses Hollister, which is miles away from the actual under Loma Prieta peak near Santa Cruz) and the estimate of the strength of the quake (first estimate from places that estimate these things: 6.5. Actually: 6.9).

According to this useful calculator: The difference between these two magnitudes is 0.4
A magnitude 6.9 earthquake is 2.511 times bigger than a magnitude 6.5 earthquake, but it is 3.981 times stronger (energy release).

Hollister (first guess epicenter), Forest of Nicene Marks (actual epicenter), Los Gatos (where I was working at the time of the quake), Campbell (where I lived, but close to the border of Los Gatos), and Watsonville, where some of the worst damage occurred because of soil structure and many old buildings. Santa Cruz also lost many old buildings, many of them in the heart of downtown, ripping their hearts apart, too.

Other stuff

Final note

Looking back, now, I wish I had taken more photos of everything: The room I was in when the quake hit, the lines at the gas stations, the gaps where people wouldn't stop under overpasses, me and mother-in-law and dogs sitting in the driveway with the radio; Sheba in a panic for days until the aftershocks abated...   I drove around looking for *damage* but didn't think about lifestyle images.

Let that be a lesson to me!  

The Pusher: The First Visit is Free

SUMMARY: Dad and me and big-people books and science fiction

My parents started me out very young with fairytales and magic. This one is still one of my all-time favorites.

When I was a somewhat older kid (um, somewhere between 3rd and 6th grade, but I think on the younger side of that), my dad took me to the UPstairs part of the library where all the growed-up books were and turned me loose on Bradbury and Heinlein and I was hooked from the start. He got a good talking to from the librarian about how kids would be much happier in the big beautiful bright downstairs library filled with kid-type books. Dad said I could read what I wanted to read. Thanks, Dad!

The library in question--  it's still there. I thought it was one of the most special buildings in the world!

I did love the downstairs library, too, a huge room of wondrous books. From Curious George to the (at the time) new Tripods trilogy, all good. (This article has a couple photos of the children's floor--don't recall exactly what it looked like when I was there, but I remember plenty of sunny windows.)

But upstairs had a whole lot more books with a whole lot more pages! So, shame on the librarian... and now I have several bookcases (of the 7-foot-tall variety) filled with fantasy and science fiction books. Can definitely blame that on Dad, too.

Parents' living room. There are 3 bookcases out of sight to the left, 2 to the right, and several in the family room and in parents' room and in various other rooms. Books. Lots.

Living room from the far end. Dad, disavowing all knowledge of  books. 
(You'd hardly know it...  that the cancer knocked him down completely
over the next 2 weeks and then he was gone.  Dad, who could never resist silly faces or gestures.)

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Disabilities, Disney, Dissonance, and related musings

SUMMARY: Walt Disney World planning vacation with scooter.

I did Disneyland 2 years ago with a scooter, after two miserable trips to Walt Disney World without one, where I was in agony constantly, making it a challenge to enjoy my dream come true. Seriously--after wanting to go to WDW my entire adult life, I finally got to go, and my body failed me.  It was a weird dissonance between full-on joy at being there and being in so much pain that at times I could barely walk.  Thoroughly having a grand time when sitting, and not so much when trying to move. I did a *lot* of walking those trips, but only a fraction of the miles I used to cover or needed to cover for that park.

I did my best to keep myself functional...

So I finally caved and got the scooter after that for my next trip to DL (see link above). I'd cover the longer stretches in the scooter, then park and walk around a smaller area, stand in line for rides, and so on. Sure wish I could've taken the scooter in some of those lines, but I didn't try. Just learned that at WDW you can take the scooter in many lines! Very happy! The less time standing with bad knees and back, the better.

I still took a lot of photos at that last DL trip, although tougher when managing a scooter.  Like this one of my sis, bro-in-law, and Mr Fox on the train.

Wait... what was sis taking a photo of??

It was good strategy, I think, to get a lot of scooter practice at a park with which I am intimately familiar, before crossing the continent to try at a much larger, much less familiar place.

Earlier this year I got a new hip, and after I get back from my 3rd-ever trip to WDW later this year I'll get 2 new knees.

I just got home from a walk of nearly a mile (on mostly level surfaces, with a couple of brief stops to talk to people) without needing to sit down. By the end, however,  I was wishing that I had taken a shorter route, and I'm not going to do much more walking today. And, BTW, that was to pick up a form from my doc allowing me to get a temporary disabled placard for cars I'm riding in because I can't always walk a long way.  A little dissonance there, too.  Some days are better than others.

But-- "nearly a mile" of walking will hardly get one in the door at any Disney park (historically I think I averaged 10 or more miles a day of walking happily at DL -- good way to burn off all the goodies).

So I'm hoping to be able to do a lot of walking at WDW, but following the same strategy as at DL.  I'm probably the kind of candidate that people might glare at or say something, grumps who don't understand that not all disabilities are full or are visible, but if they do, no worries. I'll be very, very glad to be able to enjoy this trip so much more than the last 2 and not have to cut my days so short and miss things. And then my joy at being there, and delight at doing things with good friends who are also my relatives, shouldn't have to fall into dissonance with my body's other plans. We hope!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Things. Boxes. Dog beds. Organizing.

SUMMARY: I despair of ever having the time or energy.

Oct 2005:
This is what the entry to my office used to be.  Clean, simple, no boxes (well, just one temporary clear plastic one) in the aisle (and Jake). Made me look almost like a neat, tidy, organized person. Plus room to stroll through. I'd love to get back to that.  NOTE that the side of the kitchen table where I always sit is above the big bed. That's relevant here.

Some differences that can't be helped:
  • No Jake.
  • The starry doormat seen at the bottom no longer exists.
  • The purple wastebasket broke (sob!).
  • The boxes on the bookcase are long gone.
  • (Carpet color didn't change; differences in cameras or processing.)

Oct 2019:
Main differences:

  • The dogs almost never used the smaller bed there: Either used the big bed or lay under the table. So I moved that bed under the table.  (The big bed is still there, with that burgundy/black cushion on it.)
  • Therefore the wastebaskets moved farther to the right (can't see them).
  • The filigree metal screen (you can just see its edge on the right in 2005) (it's about 5'x5') moved to the left side because it blocked me from accessing the wires for equipment on the desk.
  • Boxes boxes boxes. On *both* sides (you can't see the right side much). Almost all of them have been there 3-4 years (much related to my parents' estate, but not all). Makes me nuts every time I walk through there. But then, I'd have to look at each one and either make a decision of some sort (hard) or do with it what I had intended (often time-consuming). 
  • Exercise pen unfolded in front of some boxes. Actually it's there so that I can sometimes move it to block their access, either into or out of the office.
  • Too much stuff on lowest shelf of closest bookcase. (Bringing over all my parents' slides & photos is a storage challenge.)

Sunday, September 29, 2019

We Need To Get Out More

SUMMARY: Limited dog activities equals limited interesting photos

There's a new chat channel at work for sharing dog photos, with a different theme daily. I often think, oh, yeah, I have a photo of Tika or Boost or Remington or... doing that! And then I think, jeez, I never do anything with Chip and Zorro. (Which makes the challenges of taking them places worse and worse...)

So last night I took them to the pet store. Early success--Chip jumped right into the car (not the crate; the center of the car through the door, which he wouldn't do even there last weekend when I tried). So that's progress again. No idea why sometimes he decides that getting into the car is evil.  Actually--after last night--maybe I do: Too many scary experiences? Such a worry-wart.

I took one dog at a time into the store. Chip looked a wee concerned about visiting soil and trees in the parking lot, but moved along pulling hard at the leash.  Trotted through the automatic doors looking a little worried still, sniffed at the huge pallet of dog food just inside, and then, when my back was turned (I might have pulled the leash and said, come on), he slipped a little maybe? and there he was in that "I don't know how to stand up on this scary slippery floor and I'm too scared to lie down" pose. Oh, right, I forgot the whole incident at the guest house over 4th of July. I got him up, he took a few ugly muscles-locked steps, tail between his legs, and then froze. I finally got him another 20 feet in, where he dove for the the cashier's mat behind the cash register. So I said, "let's go outside," turned and headed for the exit, and he trotted quickly and without incident the whole way across the floor, tail low but not between his legs. 

Outside, I walked him down the sidewalk a little way, then back into the store. He was fine until he got to the exact spot where he went halfway down the first time, stopped short, started to skirt it, then went back into the "I don't know how to stand up on this scary slippery floor" mode. So I took him back to the car.

Next up: Zorro. Overstimulated just being out of the car as I walked calmly thru the parking lot. I had a pocket full of Zuke's treats (which Chip had had no interest in from the beginning = fear stress = would *you* eat if you were scared?). Zorro actually turned and looked at me when I said his name, so we practiced a couple of sits, then letting him sniff around, then more name-call and response, and then, finally, a Down. (Rewards for each success! Yay!) Across the parking lot and into the store. He's whine-yipping the whole time... not loudly, not constantly, but still overexcited. We walked up and down a couple of aisles, letting him sniff almost as much as he wanted to. When we passed aisles with dogs, he looked and whined but no horrid reactivity; good boy.  (He even Sat when the clerk told him to for a treat!) So I took him back out while we were still successful.

Chip was in his crate, standing, tail between his legs, when I opened the door. Traumatized by being left in the car? Left alone in the car?  No wonder he wants to stay home.

Such a challenge.  I felt so on edge with both of them that I didn't dare take the time for any kind of photo.

We need to get out more.  I will try.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

What's With This Mr Fox No.12 Thing Anyway?

SUMMARY: A little actual explanation.

Updated several hours after the original post--scroll down to the end for the breaking news.

Two or three or four years ago, posts between Sidney Thompson and various friends started popping up in my Facebook feed. They were witty, clever, entertaining, educated... sometimes made me laugh out loud. As I learned more, I discovered that Sidney is a Kromfohrländer, an uncommon dog breed that makes for cute and energetic photos, who lives in Cornwall, England, and performs uncommon activities (for a dog. Actually for a person, too).

Sidney in a contemplative moment.
And Sidney rules the world. I mean, not just like an ordinary pet would: He is fabulously wealthy (owns estates, islands, and possibly entire countries), fabulously talented (I believe that he once won both Wimbledon and the Tour de France on the same weekend), fabulously successful (he has run for  Prime Minister on several occasions), deeply generous (he allows his Assistants to sleep in the cubby under the stairwell despite their frequent pathetic activities).

And about the Assistants--poor, abused, ignorant slaves that they are--they post for him on FB (he's likely too busy to bother) and he dispenses wisdom through them.  It's always clear when he's being quoted:
Sidney says it's his 7th birthday today and let's face it, with all the doomsters, purveyors of misery and general negative thinking out there, he's sure his friends will join him in celebrating a true global community and positive force for good. For those that can't handle colour in their lives, here he is in black and white (as a pup) he says.
or such snapshots of his life:
Sidney says autumn is officially here and the grand fireplace has been brought back into use. It’s a rainy night so he’s sent his assistants outside to chop wood, he says.
Somewhere along the line, Sidney and Mr Fox (who eventually became No.1) met up and formed a partnership. Mr Fox No.1 traveled a bit and posted photos of himself doing fun things.  Fans of Sidney started clamoring for Mr Fox to visit *them*, too, so they could take Mr Fox to fun places and do fun things. Lo, it was discovered that Mr Fox was just one in a litter of some as-yet undefined huge number of Mr Foxes-- first about 7, then maybe 10, then about 16 by 2017 as reported in Vogue...

...then by Sept 2018 even more...
Sept 2018: Sidney says as well as being his birthday today, not that he's making big deal of it or anything, it is also the birthday of all of the Mr Foxes. It was a rather large brood (as well as being a big lass their mother was a real vixen). Below is a list of all the Mr Foxes. Sidney would be grateful if they could be pampered for the rest of the day, he says:
  • Mr Fox no.1: Top Fox. @ Sidney HQ.
  • Mr Fox no.2: Breaking Bad fox @ Sidney HQ
  • Mr Fox no.3: Roxy Foxy, in Sidney's limousine @ Sidney HQ
  • Mr Fox no.4: Mr Typically Tropical (f.k.a. Ultrafox). Worldwide traveller. Currently having a rest @ Sidney HQ
  • Mr Fox no.5: a.k.a Twiggy. Living the dream with Auntie Chris (HAG, AA) and Auntie Cynthia in Salt Lake City, USA
  • Mr Fox no.6: a.k.a. Trevr. Living with Auntie Gail (SHAG, AA) in Colorado, USA.
  • Mr Fox no.7 & Mr Fox no.9: the original Australian foxes. Currently resting @ Sidney HQ
  • Mr Fox no.8: Arctic Fox. Living with Auntie Virva (SHAG) and Bruce the Moose in Oulu, Finland.
  • Mr Fox no.10: a.k.a Mr fox no.10 from no.10. Living with Auntie Catherine (SHAG SAG SNOG) at Cotterill Towers, Stafford.
  • Mr Fox no.11: a.k.a. Brendan Foxter. London Marathon runner. Living with Uncle Andy (MUG) in Cheshire, also his running partner and personal trainer.
  • Mr Fox no.12: California Fox. Living a hippy lifestyle with Auntie Ellen (AA) in San Jose.
  • Mr fox no.13: Lady Vixen a.k.a. Dark Fox. f.k.a. Lucky Fox. Shacked up with Sidney's nemesis Sparkle the Cat, NTAL and Auntie Judith (HAG) at Beamer's Castle in Porthleven, Cornwall.
  • Mr Fox no.14: Mr Chelan Fox. Living with Auntie Gailanne (HAG, AA) next to Lake Chelan, Washington State, USA.
  • Mr fox no.15: Living with Cousins Elsa and Will and Auntie Karin (AA) in Peoria, Illinois.
  • Mr Fox no.16: OzFox resting in Perth, Western Australia with Uncle Rob (MUG) & Auntie Ellie having completed a 20,000km circumnavigation of Australia on a motorbike and then crossed it again just to visit IKEA in Brisbane.
  • Mr Fox no.17: Baltic Fox or Konsta's Fox. With Cousin Konsta and Milla in Savonlinna, Finland.
  • Mr Fox no.18: The new Ultrafox. Living with Auntie Sylvia and Uncle Wolfgang near Vienna / Wien.
  • Mr Fox no.19: Hendricks Pinkman or 'HP Fox', a.k.a Neville's Fox. Living with little bro' Neville, Auntie Carol (SNOG) and Uncle Paul (MUG) in Reading, UK.
  • Mr Fox no.20: Living with Auntie Susann in Hannover.
  • Mr Fox no.21: Tamar Fox, living with Auntie Sally in the Tamar Valley.
  • Mrs Fox no.22: Brigit Bordeaux. Living with Auntie Ozzy & Cousin Mes in Frankfurt.
  • Mr Fox no.23: Wire Terrier Fox (WTF). Living with cousin Bertie Pickle, Auntie Tracey (SNOG) and Uncle Neil in the Hundred Acre Wood, Narnia.
  • Mr Fox no.24: Retro Fox, Living with Uncle Paul Jones (MUG) in Essex.
  • Mr Fox no.25: Africa Fox, living with Auntie Fiona Cameron (SHAG SNOG) in London.
  • Mr Fox no.26: a.k.a. Huron Valley Fox, living with Auntie Mary Dixon (AA) in Michigan, USA.
  • Mr Fox no.27: Living with Auntie Brydie (SHAG SAG) in Staffordshire
  • Mr Fox no.28: Wees Fox, living with Auntie Jan (AA) at Wees Farm, New Jersey.
  • Mr Fox no.29: living with Auntie-in-Chief Oma Carla, Staffordshire
  • Mr Fox no.30: Blaze's Fox, with Uncle Paul in north Essex.
2019 birthday update: 
Sidney says Auntie Virva just reminded him of this comprehensive list of his Mr Foxes. He's aware that a year ago his assistants should have sent Mr Fox no.31 to Auntie Georgette and there are a couple more homes that deserve a Mr Fox as well. Please bear in mind that his assistants are of a very limited ability and barking at them doesn't have any effect. Believe him he's tried, he says.
The original plan, when only a few Fox brethren had been discovered, was that each fox would stay with someone a while and then that someone would mail it on to the next person on the list.  Well, somehow, some Mr Foxes started being assigned permanent positions.  Right now, it's not entirely clear to me which of our Mr Foxes really should be moving along to new assignments.

Sidney also has the most astounding team of creatures who surround him; Mysterious Sue who speaks only in morse code, knows all and sees all and, I believe, can see the future, for example. (If one sees photos of them all, they look like your regular stuffed toys, but wow what an unusual collection with the creative names that always give me a smile.)

And, it also turns out, Sidney bestows titles on some of his followers.  I started commenting on Sidney's posts and then posting posts to Sidney's page after he accepted my friend request, and it continued giving me fun. Suddenly, during one of the annual award ceremonies, I was promoted to... OMG I don't remember (Sidney is quite sad about my memory)... special reporting correspondent or such.  Pretty exciting for me!  But I was not yet an Auntie.  Auntiehood and Unclehood are bestowed only on those who go above and beyond some level of something that only Sidney and possibly Mysterious Sue understand.

And a year or so after that, to my surprise, I earned the basic Auntie title (AA), and then another year later, Auntie HAG ( where the HAG stands for something and again I've lost the post where it's all explained).

And also somewhere in there, Sidney sent Mr Fox No.12 to keep an eye on me!

Mr Fox No.12 ("Cal") at Morro Rock in Morro Bay.
Apparently not pleased with the scenery or the photographer.
So-- Mr. Fox No.12 came and we've done many many things together and I've barely posted a few of his photos anywhere--here or Facebook or my photo page. But, for reference, here are the Taj MuttHall posts that, so far, mention Mr. Fox, describe his arrival, or include photos of him (you might want to start with the oldest first).

And here are some photos that I don't believe have been posted anywhere yet...

Cal relaxing in the nifty old travel trailer that he rented one weekend via AirBNB.
The experience was delightful and full of flamingos, he says.

Cal found a taste of Europe here in California.  He's not sure how authentically Danish it is,
but there were windmills and pastries, so he was happy.

Here's my question: Which of my friends originally befriended Sidney, and how, and when? Because currently many, many of my friends are also his friends.  Maybe I should ask Mysterious Sue.

Update several hours after the preceding post:
Sidney says this is very comprehensive assessment, sufficiently fawning without stretching to sycophancy. He says AA stands for American Auntie and HAG is Holy Auntie Group. Auntie Ellen thoroughly deserves her Auntie status, he says
And Gailanne M., a friend from agility for quite a few years who now cohabits with Mr Chelan Fox in Washington state, lays claim in a thoroughly credible way to being Auntie Ellen AA HAG's introduction to Sidney's Little World of Happiness and Tennis BallsTM

Friday, September 27, 2019

That Addiction Thing

SUMMARY: Summary of my agility years
Facebook: Partially posted there Sept 27 '19. Edited here.

I might have covered this in previous posts. Who knows?!

Another handler posted a "warning" to a new competitor in a Facebook agility group that she started in agility just for something fun to do with her dog—and 10 years later she's an addict.

Hahahahaha!!! (I laugh with her, I'm sure...)

I know so many who are (or have been) in the same camp! In 1995 my life was full—work, house remodel, writing fiction, activities with spouse--and I was training hard with my dog (Remington) in Obedience, aiming for a championship, a goal since my childhood. But it wasn't enough for him (brain or physically)—I had abandoned tracking after 16 weeks (Note to self: to look up--have I written about that before?**), and I'd taught him more tricks than any classes were offering, so I signed up for a 6-week agility class for what-the-heck after urging from one of my obedience instructors. And...

I loved it. The connection with my dog; learning so much more about training and behavior!; The physical & mental challenges for both of us; increased fitness; so many new friends around the country; so many places visited, and...

Dogs #2 and #1 (Jake and Remington, 2002)
Easy to be happy when you've had a good weekend, earned a championship, and have a Human Mom with treats.

After the first year, I started a database of every run.

After 19 years, 4 dogs, nearly 300 weekends* of competitions (and a gazillion classes, seminars, and practices), a full set of agility equipment, buying a house and vehicle to accommodate the activities, around 4700 runs*, multiple nationals competitions*, 160ish titles* (counting everything* at all levels including CH's, Top Ten, Lifetime awards), thousands of ribbons* (yes, I brought them all home: doh!)—and, you know, we never talk about $$$ — only my body stopped me. And I'm far from being one of the most successful or addicted handlers.

What's your story?

Dog #3 (Tika 2008): What it big deal is? I is fun just having.
Plus fun Steeplechase check is gots.

Dog #4 (Boost 2011) -- Is good girl was do. Why Human Mom using is annoying face-machine?

ALL the ribbon things

* And, yes, the database can give me almost exact numbers and tiny details. If I want. To be. Obsessive. Which I never. Am. Never.

** Yes, I have mentioned tracking before.  Here  and a BRAND NEW POST for 1995!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019


SUMMARY: The games dogs will play, no toys needed.

I play a game similar to Whack-A-Mole with some of my dogs. When I’m in bed, my feet are under the covers at the end of the bed and my feet stick up. I wiggle one foot and kind of attack the dog with it. As the dog goes for it, I drop that foot flat and go in for the attack with the other foot. Repeat repeat repeat. Kids are sometimes so easy to entertain.

I do this with Zorro currently. Did with Boost and I think Jake. And Remington? And Amber? All the little things that I take for granted with my dogs, vanish from my memory so quickly sometimes. But the game lives on, whoever will take the bait!

I'll have to try to get a video some morning...

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Sooooooda Detritus In My Recycling Bin

SUMMARY: Wordless Wednesday

--  If you're desperate for words:
I limit myself to one soft drink daily. With caffeine. I don't do coffee. My current favorites are Diet Dr. Pepper and Diet Coke Zero Cherry.  --

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

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Levy Rays

SUMMARY: When someone just needs to be reminded whose opinion matters around here.

I don't recall who coined the phrase. Levy rays. Shooting out of the eyes of any of the women in the Levy family, which is a small, finite set. Mom. All of us sisters.  I suppose, possibly, next generation, my nieces. But this hasn't yet been confirmed.

Occasions for their use (only in generally good humor, not in true anger) by someone towards you:

  • Particularly bad pun
  • You've been told to stop taking so many photos, and yet you keep taking them
  • You admit to maybe having done something illegal or at least naughty at some time in the past
  • You make a suggestion that you will do something illegal or at least naughty at some time in the future (e.g., "I think that, the next time my wife is gone for the day, I'm just going to load up everything from the garage into the truck and take it to the dump."   >>  Levy rays from  wife.

Mom was the originator. For all the years that she done did 'em, I never labeled any photo with that phrase, and yet I'm sure I *must* have taken some at some point (see item #2 above).  I hunted and hunted and found one where she's exaggerating a bit for the camera, but you get the idea. 

Note to self: They have no impact on the dogs whatsoever. Although sometimes I think they use them on me.

Missing Mom's Levy Rays.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Postcards From The Resistance

SUMMARY: Enough is enough.

Added links at the end, Sept. 8, 2019.

I struggle with how best to ensure that this country goes back to being on track to being Great. And I am NOT talking MAGA, in case you had any doubts. I'm horrified by the assault on human rights, on our economy, on the world's environment, on acceptance and tolerance of all people, on honesty, on science, on civility, on women...

It tears me apart regularly. It interrupts my sleep. It interrupts my days. It makes it hard to do anything at all, actually, because I start feeling like our country is being ruined and there's no going back. Deep inside, really, I think that's not the case, but I have enough of my own issues to deal with to find the energy to do anything more than spread money around.

So, I do.  I donate regularly to an assortment of organizations that I believe have the right chops to make good use of it. Some are the Sierra Club (and/or other local similar groups when local resources are endangered), the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign, the Democratic party or various campaigns therein...

Today I attended a postcard "party" put on by a friend and working within the Postcards For The Resistance grass-roots organization. (Not sure on the right website; there are, it turns out, lots of groups with similar approaches, which is awesome.) It's a great idea: Big things can get done by many, many people doing small things and knowing that personal communication is the most effective way to get people to take action, such as: Register to vote. Vote.

So, you make your own or order postcards with a clear message (e.g., Vote) and personalized info (vote for xxx in the upcoming election because yyyy, and thanks for being a voter). Handwritten and addressed. (They provide addresses, for individuals who have already expressed an interest or are registered Democrats.)   And then you do 5. Maybe do another 5 during a commercial while you're watching TV.  Maybe you do 5 on Saturday.  Maybe you do 5 on your lunch break. And when thousands of people do the same, the message gets out, and they've had documented success with this in the 2018 election.

When I get more specific links, I'll post them.  But here's the kind of thing I did today. The message is predefined; you can add notes like "dear voter" or "thanks for voting" or the like. But you write it all by hand. And draw or color the postcards.  Personalized.

I did at least 10, for an election in an underserved parish in Louisiana.  It's a start.

Related links from my friend, the co-organizer of this event. I hate being overwhelmed with things I *could* do, and links, and organizations.  So here are a couple of places to start (I wish some gave more info before insisting that you sign up for an account on their site):

Links just in my area (for me):

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Taking Tika From a Wild Young Thing to A Champion

SUMMARY: A bright memory, updated.
Posted on Facebook August 10, 2019.

As a younger dog, Tika was, at times, frustrating beyond belief. Independent and too dang smart, knowing what she could get away with when I didn't know how to fix it. For those who might be tempted to give up hope with their own crazy, challenging, overwhelming dog:

7 years after Tika retired from agility, in the 22" Performance category, she's still #13 over all in Gamblers, #11 in Jumpers, #11 in Snooker, and #13 in Standard. For "all-breed" (mixed breed), she's still #2 in Standard, #1 in Snooker, #1 in Jumpers, and #1 in Gamblers.

And I was able to hike off- and on-leash with her in so many places (well--not always perfect--but mostly).  (And so many other things, too: Tricks, visiting, being around any other dogs at any time...)

I'm proud of what we accomplished, and it paid off in spades in the immense joy I earned on and off the agility field with her.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Dad Gone Four Years Today

SUMMARY: Still aches like yesterday.
Reposted and edited from Facebook.

He was an amazing man. Here he is on the day he received diplomas for both his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in math and physics [after serving in Korea and now with wife and kid]. When the de rigueur person shaking the grads' hands asked when he was going to get his 3rd diploma, he answered, "Two is enough for one day, sir."

I have no idea what the fist was for (way before the Mexico City Olympics). "Nerd Power"? Unless I find more info somewhere, we'll never know.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Things Human Moms (or Dads) Say To The Kids

SUMMARY: How about you?

Updated Aug 10, 8:30 AM: Added "Are you listening" and "Models" at the end.

"That's the third time today I refilled your dish. You think water grows on trees?!"

"Your face is going to freeze that way!"

"One day, Dog willing, you'll have one JUST like you!"

"It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye!"

"If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?"

"Get those elbows on the table!"

"There are starving dogs in Africa who'd love to eat your salad!"

"Brush your teeth or they'll all fall out!"

"Are you listening to me? Look at me when I talk to you!"

(Models: Zorro, Chip, flip-flop by Boost, Sheba and Amber, Boost, Tika, Chip, Jake, Remington)