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)

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Scooter at Disneyland

SUMMARY: It's not all fun and games

Facebook July 11, 2019: My comments (edited here) on a Disney group discussion about scooters

I've been to Disneyland many, many times.

My historical approach has been to cover as much ground as quickly as possible--e.g, dash over to Disney California Adventure (DCA) for ice cream at the Pier and dash back to Small World [at the far side back in Disneyland itself], or some such. And walk over from the offsite hotel and arrive at rope drop and stay until the park closes, hauling my camera and lenses with me, trying to take fun photos of many details and of my friends.

The early crowd, waiting in Main Street for the rope to drop to allow us into the rest of the park

It has been much to my dismay that my body no longer allows me to do this. Last time I went, I rented a scooter. I will say that it allowed me to do much, much more than I did the previous trip, where I tried to walk the whole thing but pretty much died in agony after a couple of hours each day.

I will also say that riding a scooter took a bite out of the fun--there is no dashing from place to place in a scooter because you don't want to hit anyone in the dense crowds or who isn't paying attention and walks right in front of you.

And taking photos as I go--no, can't really stop in the middle of the walkway, people will get upset, and it's difficult to steer off to the side, and it's not very maneuverable to get a good shot. Plus, now I'm at butt level instead of being able to see over or around people.

Taking photos of Linda and Paul at butt level from my seat

On the other up side, I *can* walk, and I can walk "quite a bit", just not nearly enough to get through part of a day at Disneyland. I wasn't overweight, I'm not old looking (well--anyway, *I* don't think so), I'm not visibly crippled. I'd use the scooter for the longer stretches, then park it off to the side and do the rides at that location, repeat, repeat, repeat. No one said anything to me about why are you using a scooter if you're perfectly able to walk--if they had, I'd have explained that my severe arthritis and nerve damage aren't visible on the outside.

I did hit a small child once while I was in a crowd, moving inches at a time, and the kid literally spun an inch or two in front of me; I immediately released the handle, but I dare anyone to react quickly enough to not move those couple of inches. Parent gave me some nasty words. I don't recall saying anything, because what can you say other than pointing the finger back at them. and it is, after all, the happiest place on earth and I try to remember that and act accordingly. :-) Thanks for reading. I'd so very much rather be walking.

Mr Fox No.12 did *not* need the scooter but, you know, red privilege and all that.

Monday, July 01, 2019

Ecology, Its Price

SUMMARY: We live in world-changing times--literally--
From Facebook: My comment on another writer's posting of the article mentioned below, June 30, 2019.

Back then: In high school, I wrote and delivered (many times) a [winning] speech on "Ecology: Its Price", went on a campaign to convince my parents to never again buy TP or paper towels or tissues that were dyed pretty colors (it was pretty common back then to have paper that matched your room...and I loved it until I read about the dyes and dying processes) and to recycle all our metal and glass, which we had to take down to the local volunteer recycling parking lot at the Junior College, smash them ourselves, and toss into huge bins for later pick-up, long before anyone thought it was cool (or required!) to do that kind of thing. A few very small steps in the right direction.

In between: Since then, on my own, I always recycled everything that I could, carrying them to recycling centers until local garbage companies started providing separate bins for curbside recycling.  I compost my own food waste so it doesn't go into landfills. (Used to compost all my yard waste until just a few years ago, due to my physical limitations.) Since then, it gets harder and harder to give up the things that one is accustomed to. I don't often eat meat any more. I'm resisting putting A/C into my house. But ...

Now: ...I still drive a gas-powered minivan [because I have larger dogs and need room for their crates and gear, right?] and drive places a lot and am planning my third round-trip flight to Walt Disney World in 4 years and have realized that the amount of plastic that I bring home just from the grocery store is insane but despair of having the personal energy to bring it back down again (I was perfectly happy to bring home peanut butter in glass jars; why would they mess with perfectly good washable reusable recyclable glass and metal packaging??).

Future: I'm pretty terrified about living to see how our current ecological disaster plays out. And my part in either mitigating or making worse. Driving--flying--home energy use--plastics OMG--diet--changing how I shop and how I prepare food--saving water--crazy things like, if I don't eat meat but I own dogs, there'll still be a meat industry for pet food, yikes--  I donate to organizations that I think have the right idea and that take action on the ideas, and I'm including political influence in there. One thing at a time, I suppose, like anything else. One small step at a time just like I did Back Then.

(In response to someone posting this article about what climate scientists do at home to save the planet, which has good but tough ideas on how they've changed, and scary comments on how scared they are.)

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Eine Kleine Agility Training

SUMMARY: New dog, new handler, new class, some pondering

Today Zorro and I started with the first session of a 4-week class of agility-for-fun, Jumps and Tunnels. I felt so clumsy with even basic things, and it occurs to me: It has been 14 years since I last started a new dog in agility. (Discounting a very few previous class sessions with Zorro.)

New agility dog in 1995, 1997, 2001, 2005... I sort of figured it would keep going on like that. But nooooo--  Even had I been healthier, Chip arrived in 2014, so a big gap there. And Zorro in 2015. It should be time for me to be thinking about a new agility dog because my current ones would be getting up there in age!

Funny how things work out.  Instead, today I fumbled over how to get a leashed dog over a jump, how to use treats to lure a dog to turn with me, and how to do anything without bending over and waking up my back or my knee.

Today's lesson was nose touches to your hand (we had that down already), following your hand to circle with you as you move and turn into you as you turn (ditto), standing perpendicular to a jump and having your dog go over and back while tossing treats, then the same thing at an angle, then "around the world" from different angles. Then going through a very short tunnel, then a gradually longer tunnel, then jump-tunnel. Whooo!

I had to jam a treat in front of his nose as he blasted out of the tunnels to get him to not just keep going. Toy, even filled with treats, didn't cut it.

Zorro still won't play with toys anywhere but here at home, where he's crazy about them. Have known this for 4 years. No good excuse for not having worked on it. Should do so. Because it's a very fun feature to have in a dog.

BUT other than being super-excited to start with, he was really a Good Boy, willing to do All The Things for Zukes Minis and never running after any of the other dogs. And it all wore him out, which is really what I had in mind all along.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Best New Lyrics From Working In The House Today

SUMMARY: More corrected lyrics from your favorite station, K-TMH
First posted on Facebook June 29, 2019

TWO songs today--one by a guest poster who was inspired by my first song! (Below the photos.)
Such fun on Facebook!

But first: Taj MuttHall original:

Who's that barking in my yard?
Who's that making that noise?
Do me a favor, open the door, and tell 'em "Quiet!" 
Little Zorro, Brother Chip
Spunky Zorro's got some lip
Handsome Chipper, might take flight
Open the door and tell 'em "Quiet!"

-- True story. McCartney just got the words wrong.

Zorro barking while playing the tunnel game with Chip

Chip barking through the fence at next-door dogs

More lyrics from Kevin Cunningham, another creative dog owner (but Chip is not his dog's name).

Who’s that barrrrrking at my door?
Who’s that barrrrrking at my door?
Who’s that barrrrrking at my door?
Said the sleepy Ellen.
It’s Zorro and me, and we had to pee!
Said barkiful Chip the doggie.
We’ve got a squirrel trapped up the tree!
Said barkiful Chip the doggie.

-- Sung to tune of Barnacle Bill the Sailor (don't blame me if you look up the originals online)

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Things That Super Frightened My Pups

SUMMARY: Brave dogs, scardey dogs

I'm talking about things that are way outside the norm, things that could flat-out terrify them.

Who What Notes
Amber Nothing that I remember
Sheba Loma Prieta Earthquake and aftershocks She'd lie on my chest for hours (45-lb husky), panting and shaking, eyes looking like she was going into shock. (Amber would just look up and go back to sleep)
Remington Smoke alarm testing He'd go hide in the farthest point of our long half-acre yard and not come out for ages
Jake Nothing that I remember
Tika Vet's office In her last few years, would give her a little sedative ahead of time to take the edge off
Boost Pet stores. Unfamiliar uncarpeted floors. Various other random things
Chip Thunder, fireworks O...M...G
Zorro Nothing that I can think of

Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Problem With No A/C When You Want To Take A Shower on a Hot Day

SUMMARY: More reimagined lyrics from K-TMH.
Facebook: Posted there originally earlier today.

I have no A/C in my house. I close all my windows early to keep hot air out. Which works about as well as standing and waving your arms in front of roaming buffalo to get them to stop moving, which is maybe not as effective as you might think.

I showered around noon today in my bedroom shower. The results inspired me to provide new words to an old favorite song.

Home, Home, San Jose

I took a hot shower
At a very late hour.
Now it's humid in here, I must say.
I think I am hosed:
With the windows all closed,
My room will be steamy all day. 
Home, home, San Jose,
Where the skies are not cloudy all day,
Where the temperatures soar--
Dang, I can't take much more--
I wonder how much a really good central air conditioning system costs to install ... anyway?

Original music and words

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

On Expectations

SUMMARY: Getting a dog who wasn't as successful as a previous dog
Originally posted in a Facebook comment on June 19, 2019

A friend asked (and I shortened this):
I was just wondering if people had a similar experience. I had/have an amazing agility dog who was/is getting older so I got a new puppy. [...] Unfortunately, my dreams that the pup [now 4 years old] and I would supersede the success of my first dog were unrealized and I let my disappointment rob dog and handler of the joy that should have been ours.

Has anyone else had an experience that the subsequent dog never met the greatness of the first dog? How did you handle the emotions?
Here's my first perspective:
As someone who lost an amazing companion (Boost) to cancer when she was barely 10 and *forever* one superQ away from her ADCH--something that we all *try* to do and some are more successful than others: Just have fun with him! Live every day for joy, whether your agility goals are being met yet or not! How you'd hate yourself if your last agility training or trialing experience with the dog was being upset about not doing well on course, whether at yourself or at the dog. I can think of many runs and many days that I wish I could have a do-over for, not to fix the run, but to fix my attitude. Seriously. Lots of people appear to be successful at it, but Sarah George Johnson in particular leaps out at me at this moment--she whoops and hollers and rewards every run as if they'd just won the world championship.

Here's my second perspective:
Remington, my first dog, was good... started out very good, deteriorated rapidly, and didn't get better again until I was able to truly own that preceding perspective for him (I just kept running full out whether he was off course or not and whether or not the error was fixable, and just whooped it up at the end). So, he ended up a pretty good but not great dog. 
My 2nd dog, Jake, was very good to excellent. My third dog, Tika, was super duper awesome. 
So it wasn't first-dog-itis when I got my 4th agility dog and we couldn't be consistently successful for the world. I tried to embrace the first perspective above, but she was SO fast and SO smart, and I really did expect that she would be even better than my 3rd dog. Damn expectations. I could've practiced more on our weaknesses, for sure, but I didn't always understand why things that worked fine in drills and practices fell apart on the course. 

I understood in many cases that it became my own level of stress--we started failing super-Qs that were gimmees for the skill set that we did have (e.g., "all I need to guarantee a super-Q today is for her to get to the #6 aframe--and she ALWAYS sends ahead to aframes and ALWAYS gets the contact" I mean, literally always... and then a refusal at the aframe. I KNEW how stressed I was by then and wasn't good at choking it down.). 
But I wish every day that I had her back in my life (fuck cancer) and wouldn't care about agility, I swear it. The irony for me was that, the more I cared about agility instead of simply loving running with my dog (which is why I started agility originally), the worse we did (both my 1st and 4th dogs). Jake and Tika dealt with it, but I was so seldom unhappy with them... I dunno which came first, success or happiness. 
So, your question, how did I handle these emotions? Answer: Badly. I try to atone for the times she knew I was unhappy (or people watching me on course knew I was on happy) by saying, See my first perspective above, please please please. Find a way to embrace it. I can't promise that it will improve your agility. But you'll be much happier and so will your dog.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Folsom Toenail Blues

SUMMARY: If Johnny Cash had a dog...

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

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

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

Monday, June 10, 2019

Chip is a Very Good Boy

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

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

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

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

Buds playing, September 2015

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Vantage Points

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

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

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

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

On the bench on the deck

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Celebrating Four Years Together

SUMMARY: Zorro's Gotcha Day (June 7)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Keep your pets at home. Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I'm putting my long response here.

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


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

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

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