a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: November 2019

Monday, November 25, 2019

Rebuilding Holidays

SUMMARY: Thinking out loud around the hollow spots--

Holidays are a challenge because of the seismic shift after my parents died and we sold the house-- apparently not all of the family is enthused about everyone gathering together for fun and food and friendship among relatives. I, however, loved it. This will be the third Christmas since both Mom and Dad died, and no clear replacement for the family gatherings has appeared.

So, figuring out new traditions and activities instead: That's what one is supposed to do, right?

I used to get up early on Thanksgiving (sometimes Xmas!) and take the dogs into the hills for a good long hike, then go home & change & head to family's house. I'm pondering how I can do something like that with crappy knees and back! Even more adjustments...

And trying to decide whether I have the energy at the moment to do xmas decorating here at home and maybe even host whoever wants to get together--  (have been sick with a lingering cold the last 2 weeks, mostly better, but energy level still down).

I sound like I'm moaning and groaning about life. Well, that's the way I feel about the coming weeks, so there it is.  Trying to find ways to be upbeat and ready to make changes, though.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Florida Day 2

SUMMARY: Universal Resort: Harry Potter!
Backfill: Nov 17

See the post of the days preceding the trip, with a trip summary.

And here's yesterday.


None of us have been here before. We take Uber with my rented disassembleable scooter and meet up with Sis #1 and spouse.

Universal Florida Resort/Parks! 

Main goal is the new Harry Potter universe, split between two parks. So we have a park-hopper pass (you can take the Hogwarts Express or walk) to go back and forth.

Walking through the brick wall at the station to get to Hogwarts Express.

It's very well done, realistic, feel like we're actually in Diagon Alley or other environs. Ride a couple of rides. Eat and snack. Shop.

Breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron. I have oatmeal flan for the first time ever, and fruit... so healthy!
And, ahem, of course, bacon.

Universal did a wondrous and magical job of putting us into Harry Potter's world! Some of the many photos I took--

Two sisters and Mallory hangin' with their wands in Diagon Alley

Dragon breathes fire at random intervals. I waited and waited but never got the camera onto it when the flames came out.

Gringots. The place is just about made of money.


Mr. Fox chats it up with the driver and head of the Knight Bus.


Used magic wands to try to get all the magic-wand locations to do their things--it's tricky!
Healthy lunch: Shepherd's pie and salad! I'm trying hard to allow space in my calories for occasional junk food (i.e., sugar) during our stay.

I walk a bunch but very glad for the scooter. We tire out and the one park is closing early, so we take the boat across the lake to Sis #1's hotel, where we meet up with Bro-in-Law #2 and rental car.

Boat across the lake.

[dinner where?], then to our hotel for the rest of our stay (Shades of Green at WDW--this is my 3rd time at this military-owned/run resort, although it's very Disney-like), where Bro-in-law #2 has already checked us in and moved our luggage in. Great guy!

The Other Coast Disney

SUMMARY: Walt Disney World (WDW) and environs, Nov 1-9

There's always so much to say about these trips, and I took no notes at all while it was all going on, so some of it is a big colorful fun blur in my memory.  So I'm going to try to capture just a few things about the 9 days, for me, at least.

First, though, my seester is considerably more succinct in her Facebook post:
Now that the trip(s) are over.. sanity has returned and recovery is ongoing. Nov.1st. Flew to Florida. Nov 2 went to universal studios for a day to see Harry Potter stuff. Nov. 3-5 went to WDW, nov 6 did monorail resort hopping and drove out to see the Atlantic Ocean. Nov. 7-8 did More WDW. Flew home Nov. 9. Nov. 12th drove to Disneyland. Did Disneyland resort for 3 days, returning Friday the 15th.

To say that my feet hurt would be an understatement.. and I’m a bit tired..

Wednesday before the trip

Finished packing my big suitcase because that had to go early with my bro-in-law #2 who is going a day ahead of us to sign in for his Saturday and Sunday races (Friday and Saturday? See, I already forgot). Drove half an hour each way to drop off the suitcase at my seester's place (call her Sister #2). Excitement is high. Hoping I can sleep well the next couple of nights. At the last minute, I dash out to Target to buy a new 4 TB portable drive to use as backup for my photos while on the trip.

Thursday before the trip

Lots to do: My sister (call her Sister #4) has come up from Nevada to stay with the house and dogs, so I need to be sure that things are in reasonable order and that I've given her all the info that she needs. Plus making sure that all of my last-minute carry-on packing is done. Don't want to forget anything important, like the camera! Or the batteries!  Then early-ish to bed because...


Sis#2, I, and Sis#2's good friend from Australia (call her Mallory, because that's her Facebook handle) fly together from the San Francisco airport. We've all done Disneyland together a couple of times, and it's fun.

To Orlando.  Flight is uneventful.

Arrive around dinnertime. Take Uber to the Disney Swan hotel (haven't stayed there before), meet Bro-in-Law #2 for dinner. And all are very tired, so not too late to bed. Mallory and I share a room.

See a few details with photos.


Universal Florida Resort/Parks! None of us have been here before. We meet up with Sis #1 and Bro-in-law #1. Main goal is the new Harry Potter universe, split between two parks. . Ride a couple of rides. Eat and snack. Shop. Then to our hotel for the rest of our stay (Shades of Green), where Bro-in-law #2 has already checked us in and moved our luggage in. Great guy!

See a few details with photos.


who knows about more details or photos. Jeez, have been at it for hours. So many photos! So little time!







Up very early. To Orlando airport in plenty of time for breakfast at Ruby Tuesday's. Home again, jiggity-jog. Exhausted but not successfully sleeping on the plane again, and the window-seat occupants keep the windows closed, so no views. That's OK, though. It's peaceful.  At home, I unpack only a couple of things that I need and call it a night.


How is it possible that, to unpack, I have to take one or two things to each of a thousand different places in my house and car?!  Took a lot of time, but glad to get it done and everything stowed away to await another exciting adventure.


Woke up with a cold. Children! Airplanes! Not enough sleep! Excitement, adrenaline, blah blah! Ah, well, it was worth it--and I'm on hiatus from work, so plenty of time to rest!

Florida Day 1

SUMMARY: Travel from CA
Backfill: Nov 17

See the post of the days preceding the trip, with a trip summary.


...Up at 5 AM, dress, grab carry-on bag and jump into house/dogsitter Sis#4's car to Sis#2's house, then she takes Sis#2, me, and Sis#2's good friend who's from Australia (call her Mallory, because that's her Facebook handle) the 45 minutes to the San Francisco airport. We've all done Disneyland together a couple of times, and it's fun. After automated check-in, we have plenty of time to get healthyish snacks at the airport shops and snack bars near our gate.

In SFO. Golden Gate Bridge plus Halloween spiderweb.

In the air again...  

Flying the friendly skies from SFO

We fly to Orlando.

Although I keep nodding off momentarily, I've never been able to sleep except in a window seat where I have a corner for my head. No, those little neck pillows (demonstrated by Mr Fox No.12) don't help much.
Free snacks are Stroopwafel (tasty cookie) or pretzels. I have water as my free drink; already had caffeine at SFO.
I love flying in an exit row--plenty of room to stretch out legs onto my carryon beneath the seat in front of me.

I'm on the aisle seat, so I can't really see the scenery most of the time... but sometimes.  Flight is uneventful.

San Francisco is not sliding off into the Pacific; plane is rising steeply.

Hello, Rocky Mountains!

Look--now we're in Florida! (Green and water and clouds and stuff.)

Arrive in Orlando around dinnertime. Plan was for bro-in-law #2 to drive back to the airport in the rental car to pick us up, but google traffic says traffic is a mess from his direction. So I request a Uber driver and he's there in 6 minutes. Trip to the hotel is less than half an hour; driver answers some of our questions about the parks, the traffic, and the hotels. (We've not stayed at the Swan before.)

We are here!! Yayyy!!!

We four have dinner in a cafe at the Disney Dolphin hotel (staying at its partner, the Disney Swan, the first night because ... reasons). And all are very tired, so not too late to bed. Mallory and I share a room.

 I try to eat healthy (love salmon! plus veggies!)

Walkway from the Dolphin to the Swan

Swan Hotel

Dolphin Hotel

Walkway from the Dolphin to the Swan at dusk -- lighting on the trees keeps changing!

Dolphin Hotel across the lagoon.
Nowwwww  ---- see tomorrow's post.

What Breed is Chip?

SUMMARY: I have no idea.

His previous family didn't know, either. They guessed maybe a Whippet mix.  He doesn't look very Whippety to me -- although he is lightweight for his height and has a fairly deep chest.  Maybe crossed with a German Shepherd? Or a Yellow Lab?

For fun, I used the power of the WWW to bring me photos of dogs claiming to be such mixes.  And it was fun to see!

See all the Whippet/Shepherd photo results.  None seem to have erect ears like Chip's.

But this is the most interesting of them: Oh my goodness!  This could be Remington for sure! And maybe Chip...

Here's my actual Remington.

See all the Whippet/Retriever photo results. Again, none seem to have erect ears (which one would expect here, since neither of those breeds have them).  A few similarities, but nothing that leaps out at me.

Maybe he's a Carolina Yellow Dog (photo from Wikimedia Commons):

Someone I met in agility many years ago, who was from the south, asked whether Remington was a Black-Mouth Cur -- I was pretty sure he wasn't.

For Chip, am I going to try DNA testing for fun? Pretty expensive fun, and not necessarily accurate. But it could be cool to see what one of the services comes up with.  Always wanted to do it for Tika, but when it came time to hand over the credit card, I never could justify it: She was what she was and I was satisfied with my guess of Husky/Aussie. And if I were to get started, I'd want to keep going: As in, what breed is Zorro really?

Amber was the only mix whose parents I actually knew in real life: German Shepherd and Golden Retriever. But so many breeds can combine into giving a Big Yellow Dog (aka Finchester Yellow). It's all a guessing game no matter what method one uses.

Just an idle Sunday morning yellow diversion.