a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: 2021

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Living On The Edge of Agility and Memories

SUMMARY: Those were the days, my friend!
My Facebook post on Wed, July 22, 2021

Watching a day of agility (Steeplechase plus Masters Gamblers and Standard (?))* and watching so many people's videos** from these two local*** USDAA trials this month, I'm taken back-- 

I started competing in agility the week I turned 40. Wish I could've started years sooner, but dang agility had barely even been invented back then, local clubs barely started.

Ah, yes, I remember being able to run, pre-knee-and-particularly-spine arthritis! A blast! Loved living on the edge when my dog burned jet fuel almost on autopilot, racing through the course just on my words or a little body language and using their own experience as I barely managed to keep up or stay ahead, adrenaline peaking.

Remington, somewhere in those 1st couple of years, Qed 7 of 8 runs.
Very happy handler (I was concentrating too hard on the dog paying attention to the  photographer Bill Newcomb to remember to smile!)--my heart soared! 
Still one of my favorite photos.
(Wearing my Bay Team shirt, too!)

* I worked as timer/scribe on July 3 at the Bay Team USDAA in Prunedale.
** I still know so many people in agility, and they post on Facebook. Wins, near misses, contact joy, whichever videos they choose to post. So much fun!
***  Last weekend, SMART also hosted a USDAA trial in Prunedale; I stayed home.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021


SUMMARY: Wordless Wednesday
But I wUUUld not feel so all alOOOne...

[also posted facebook July 10]

>>  Visit the Wordless Wednesday site; lots of blogs. << 
I mean, technically, there are words here, but they're in the photos so they don't count.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Random Notes on Music and Love at First Sight

SUMMARY: While reading fan fiction online
Started from a comment I left on this chapter   In Feb 2021 (and started this post March 3, 2021). (Finished July 14, '21.)

This fan fiction was for Captive Prince, a trilogy that I am newly (March 2020) a fan of, but that I suspect has only a certain demographic of fans. Auguste is one of the characters.

About that music

I had music in my life from my earliest memories. We always had instruments in the house, including an old crappy piano. My mom still sometimes got out her old cello and played a bit, very rusty. She played the piano, too. Advanced beginner level, I'd say. I liked to pick at playing it, too: major symphonies such as Chopsticks.

In the fourth grade, I learned to play flute and how to read music. 

And I was always in the choir in most of elementary school and high school. (And in the Sunday School choir, too, I suppose simply by being there. I remember singing songs in the church at Christmas: "I, said the donkey, shaggy and brown...".)

And in band in elementary school, junior high, high, and college.

I told the story's author, "I know so many of the composers’ names and the titles of music from your story so far. I love how you weave music all through it." Told me that all those years of playing and listening to (I have albums, as did my parents...) so-called classical music paid of in a deeper experience when reading this.

This is not the albums I was referring to. But I have this, too.

I also said that I laughed out loud when I read: “Choosing a song from Don Giovanni isn’t exactly the proper way to get a girlfriend, Auguste.”  But one has to know Don Giovanni to appreciate that line in the story more fully. Fully pleased with myself.

About that love at first sight thing

Because love-at-first-sight was something that happened in the story, that I believe one of the characters didn't believe in, I noted that I believe in love at first sight. Not because it has happened to me, because it hasn’t. But I saw it happen to two male friends and their now-wives exactly the way you describe Auguste. 

Friend#1, on the day we arrived at the University 300 miles from home, while I and friend#2 were up in the dorm room putting things away, went downstairs to drive his truck to the proper parking lot. He didn’t come back for an hour; should've been about 10 minutes.  He finally walked back into the room with starry eyes and said, as I recall, “I think I’ve met the woman I’m going to marry.” After chatting with a freshman girl in the parking lot. And he did. And they’re still married. After – – 40+ years? we certainly teased him originally. 

My left arm is on friend#1; his new girlfriend's (now also a friend) left arm is on me.
Friend#2 is in the center.

But then, eight years later, it happened to friend#2, too! We were long-time friends who had also ended up working at the same company.  Over the weekend, he went to a party that included a few mutual friends. He arrived at work Monday morning, and said, "I think I’m in love." The first time they met. This is a guy who had hardly ever even dated anybody. They’ve been married now for about 38 years.

The latter couple (friend#2) with rabbit ears behind him) came to visit maybe 15 years later
with their three kids. (Me on left in colorful shirt.)

Love and music?

When I hear music, I often feel many emotions. Some evoke the feeling of love.

When I think of love at first sight, I think of music. I blame the movies. ("Love at First Sight {A Montage of Movie/TV Couples}")

And that pretty much sums up life, doesn't it?

Sister and me at Mountain Winery for a Moody Blues Concert

Back in the day

Things Photographers See That Others Might Not

SUMMARY: Wordless (mostly) Wednesday

Five of us sat in the same location. Four wondered what on earth I was shooting. One of us just smiled. 

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


Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Keeping My Young Self Off the Streets and Out of the Gutter

SUMMARY: Or: What creative things did I do?
Backfill: from a FB discussion July 11, 2021

A friend posted: 

"What time-consuming but creative thing did you do as a child/teen?" She gave the example of her daughter and friends creating a mystery movie, complete with dramatic cuts, etc.  And of her own childhood where she harmonized with herself using two tape players, and also created fake interviews where the answers were all lines from songs (sourcing from a phonograph with records!)

So, other than practicing my flute, taking flute lessons, practicing some more, being in the band, and sometimes playing just for the fun of it -- oh, and choir, too-- here's a quick [maybe] summary.  

(I've posted some of these photos before.)

  • Drew.
    part of a colored-pencil picture

  • Crafted things. Anything. Clay, paper, glue, beads, jewelry...)

  • Painted or colored by numbers (mostly of dogs but also The Monkees).
  • Painted and assembled models of World War I aircraft.
  • Role-playing with friends; you know: cowboys and Indians  (or bad guys), superheroes, pirates, army...
  • Art Club in junior high. (High school was too full of band, choir, speech and debate, drama club and involvement in performances (as long as that was available) and creative writing club.)
  • Sewed.
  • Wrote tiny bits of short stories. Mostly never finished any until I started making a serious effort late in high school, I think.

(In 4th  grade, got a bad grade on one paper where the assignment was to write about “if I were president“ because I went all nonsense, letting my imagination run wild as a fourth grader who wasn’t very happy with that particular class. (I never said anything about the teacher. I did say that I would do away with all schools. A long long time before I heard “hey, teacher, leave those kids alone!“) She said, "that's a bit silly, isn't it?"  I thought, well, duh... (although "duh" wasn't invented yet). Funny: after that, she became the school librarian instead of a teacher, and she was a wonderful wonderful elementary school librarian! My other teachers usually loved my writing.)

I still love doing all those things. But then, you know, photography, dog agility, blogging, facebook, ...

What time-consuming but creative thing did you do as a child/teen?

Years after, remnants of a shirt I sewed as a HS sophomore.

Ceramic trivets, jr. high

Late elementary school years -- I painted this computer, complete with little lights (or pushbuttons) and maybe blinking displays for Bad and Good?  I had actually seen a tape drive.
(The box, which Dad built for us, is not distorted; that's a trick of the angle and the lighting.)

High school I think.

'90s era

What I've mostly concentrated on in the 2000s: My photography.

Ellen - note to self -- there's an HTML comment embedded from here XX to here xx.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Nothing tastes better than [location] served with [food]

SUMMARY: Going places, doing things, relaxing, eating.

I'm a big believer in the  nothing tastes better than [view of  something] served with [edible item] life-enhancing method..

And I'm a believer in photographing the experience, or what's a camera heaven for?* / **

Allow me to take you with me.

Nothing tastes better than [a view of the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River (High Sierras/Yosemite)]
 served with [homemade trail mix].
August 2013

Nothing tastes better than [hills beyond hills beyond rare California natives near San Jose] served with [homemade banana bread].
March 2013

Nothing tastes better than [Hermit's Rest at Grand Canyon] served with [Cinnamon roll].
June 2010

Nothing tastes better than [Elk at Grand Canyon] served with [protein bar].
June 2010

Nothing tastes better than [Grand Canyon on a cold winter day] served with [hot chocolate and cookie].
November 2016

Nothing tastes better than [Eastern Washington mountains farmland] served with [fresh from the nest scrambled eggs].
June 2018

Nothing tastes better than [dog agility] served with [nothing because I'm in the ring].
April 2014

Nothing tastes better than [London from St. Pauls Dome] served with [um...a device that gives a recorded self-guided tour?].  
July 2014
(I feel like this is cheating on my theme, but it's the only one of the 3 photos of me while I was there, and the others don't have a view. Took no photos of feet. No hands. No food. But whatcha gonna do?)

Nothing tastes better than [an eager dog about to get a treat] served with [Wild'n'Reckless Sherbet]
June 2020

Nothing tastes better than [the county fair] served with [a huge chocolate-dipped soft-serve ice cream cone]
August 2018

Nothing tastes better than [the Death Valley General Store] served with [ice cream on a hot afternoon]
November 2016

Nothing tastes better than [the Scottish Games in Pleasanton] served with [chocolate/vanilla swirl soft serve ice cream]
(Do you detect a theme here?)
September 2016

Nothing tastes better than [a sister and Haunted Mansion at Disney World] served with [an OttoPop (think "Frozen") Lemonade Juice Bar]
January 2015

Nothing tastes better than [Tuolumne Meadows Grill, Yosemite] served with [ice cream]
August 2013

Nothing tastes better than [Rue St. Paul, Vieux-Montréal (Old Montreal) ] served with [a triple tornade ice cream cone]
September 2008

Nothing tastes better than [Frontierland, Disneyland] served with [cotton candy]
January 2015

Nothing tastes better than [Disney California Adventure] served with [a Ghirardelli Mint Hot Fudge Sundae]
November 2015

Nothing tastes better than [the Ghirardelli Store at Cannery Row, Monterey] served with [a Ghirardelli Mint Hot Fudge Sundae]
January 2016

Nothing tastes better than [Joshua Tree National Park] served with [a ...map!? and bottle of water on my belt]
May 2010

Author's Note: After about 3 hours [so far] of looking through photos for ALL THE TIMES I held up food in front of a view and not finding them (probably lost in "I'll label these someday"Land), I realize that even when I think to take selfies in interesting places, I do it with not-so-interesting backgrounds. Like here: Joshua Tree National Park. And not a Joshua Tree to be seen in this shot. (But the rocks are well-known there, too, so, OK.)

Nothing tastes better than [Red Rock State Park, Sedona AZ] served with [a freshly made turkey sandwich]
June 2010

Nothing tastes better than [Port Townsend, WA] served with [a hot dog and fries from a popular hot dog hut. And a sister]
May 2021

Nothing tastes better than [Cannery Row] served with [whatever's in that restaurant straight ahead]
July 2017

Nothing tastes better than [the Denver Airport] served with [popcorn and mint swirl fudge]
September 2008
The Denver Airport is a horrible horrible place to have a layover or transfer--popcorn! candy of all kinds! those wafflecones stuffed with ice cream! So much more! I can't begin to tell you how many calories this airport has forced me to eat! (At least... prepandemic anyway...)

Nothing tastes better than [a dine-in theater] served with [whatever you want to order and they will bring it to you]
August 2019

Nothing tastes better than [the South Rim Trail, Grand Canyon] served with [oops Ate first, asked for photos later]
June 2010

Nothing tastes better than [sailing on the San Francisco Bay] served with [Peanut M&Ms]
May 2016

I abandon ship for now. My messy digital archive pile of tens of thousands of photos holds more--but where? Why have I not labeled most of them? (Why why WHY?!)? Are those missing photos more like photos of the corndog that I knew that I took at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk--but turns out it was only of the corndog? Or of my legs up, popcorn in lap, watching a movie on TV, surrounded by dogs, which were horribly underexposed?

Mysteries abound. 

Enjoy yourself wherever you go, whatever you taste, and whatever you serve it with.


* Obscure Robert Browning reference
** Haven't I posted about this before? Hmmmm...


Sunday, July 11, 2021

The Challenge of Mothers' Day

SUMMARY: My mom. Missing her.

I discovered recently that there are different Mothers Days depending on where you live. In the U.S., it was two weeks ago. In the UK, it's today.

Interestingly, a friend just posted on her blog some Mom Musings. Much of what she muses about matches my Mom's situation. 

My family contained 5 kids and Mom and Dad. And the dog. Dad worked "at work" (not at home); Mom stayed home. It was a full-time job. Probably more than full-time. At some point in my teens, I had to start doing my own laundry, sometimes. It was a mystery to me at first, but really it was one of the simplest chores I probably had to do then. I'm sure I resented it.

Mom in her 50s, peeling apples and prepping them for apple pie or some other apple dish.
On the back deck. (note the sugar/flour/spices mixture in the measuring cup.)

So she did all that Laundry. Making sure we had meals 3 times a day (if it were a school day and we didn't like the cafeteria offerings, she might make us sandwiches; my favorite was cream cheese and jelly), vacuuming, dusting, more laundry, always in Mom mode for her kids--

My dad's photo of her. Probably in her 40s. 

Even when we camped, Mom cooked. Yosemite, early 1960s.
(Dad would do the tent, carry things, find firewood and chop it up--like that.
At least, that's how I remember it. Reality says that they probably 
helped each other.) (Dad's photo)

Oh. Plus cranking out all those babies. Plus Diapers. Sleepless nights. Breast feeding.
Starting in her 20s.

Nine years later...#5.

So I don't know how she managed to have time for gardening. But she made that time for herself.  Earliest I remember was at the place we lived when I was in 1st/2nd grade, the first house that my parents actually owned. She let me plant some seeds, too, and they grew. I was hooked. At the next couple of houses, she grew food, too.  This is how we learned that dogs figured out that cornstalks held ears of corn--and how to get at them.

Mom in her 30s, at that first house with part of her garden! (Dad's photo)
The house was new, so bare dirt ruled when we arrived.

(Oh--and she always had other activities, too! A Girl Scout almost her entire life,
she served as troop leader for two or three years, as well. And Environmental Volunteers.
And League of Women Voters. And more.)

I have no photos of her doing any of those things except I think one photo of her standing at the kitchen sink (*found some others in Dad's photos just now* ... and a few more of mine*). All those everyday things that it never occurred to me to photograph until much later in life. OK, film and processing were expensive, but if I had had any tiny thought about reminiscing about NORMAL life, not just vacations and activities, I'd have taken so many more.

Mom in her 70s. She never wanted to lick the beaters herself, 
so would offer to anyone around, particularly her kids.
She didn't have much of a sweet tooth. Dad did.

I gradually started taking more, the older I got. But by the time I was really into it, Dad had retired, she was mostly arthritis-ridden, and Dad had started doing most of the household tasks (cooking (as little as he could get away with, not always the healthiest, which Mom had made a priority), cleaning, laundry). He mowed the lawn and trimmed the shrubs and trees and really took good care of the yard until we finally convinced him to hire a mow-and-blow team in his 80s.

Mom was the reason we had flowers to stand in front of
for all the important school photos.

[Poor Dad, I just thought about this now: Thought he was retired, but nooooo--took over Mom's full-time job. At least there were no kids living at home any more.]

Dad at 70. 

But yard wasn't the same thing as garden.  Mom still tried to keep up in one small plot out front, probably with Dad's help, or some of us kids. She loved flowers and birds. I learned so much about all those things from her. Someone hung a hummingbird feeder in front of their living room window, where she could see it from her favorite chair. And the hummers gladly came.

I miss all of that. I miss her. And Dad.

Dad in the kitchen

Mom in the kitchen