a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: 2023

Sunday, December 31, 2023

So now it's the 21st century and...

SUMMARY: It's going to be WHAT? 2024? No wayyy!
Inspired by my comment on FB: Dec 31, 2023

A friend on FB threw the question out to his world, having lost his partner of 20ish years: What is everyone doing for New Years Eve? Party? Family gathering? Champagne at midnight? Me? Probably in bed by 8, scrolling for a fun movie. No one to kiss at midnight.

Taj MuttHall responds -- I'll be doing something useful like washing dishes or OH NO donating to charities at the last minute, snuggle with Zorro a bit but no kissing because COAT BEING BLOWN WHY?! when winter is just starting?!, in bed I hope by 8 and hope the fireworks noise isn't enough to keep me or Zorro up. Last year he hid in my closet and seemed fine there. Thank goodness I don't have Chip's terror to deal with any more. [But I miss him none the less]

Wishing you and the world at large a happy 2024.

 (How can it possibly be that year?! I still keep referring to, for example,  six years ago as 2007. Or sometimes 1997. Too many years to keep track of )

Me and former husband at a friend's fancy New Year's Eve party.
Back in 2018.... 2008... oh good grief, 1988. I'm sure I still look the same

Saturday, December 23, 2023

A little Christmas melancholy but a very Merry holiday to you

T-shirt tales—Because every t-shirt tells a story, don't it.
And I have so very many of them. Shirts. And stories. ---- Tell me more. or Read all t-shirt tales

SUMMARY:  It is hard not to feel it. For me anyway. At this time anyway
Source: Discord chat with another writer Dec 22,2023

Somehow I seem to be more busy than before I retired, moved out of state, and left most of my family and friends behind. But I have finished my Christmas shopping since I really have only two family members, two dogs (Only one of them mine), and a couple of neighbors And friends to shop lightly for this year. Such a small number of gifts. So surely I can leave wrapping them until the last minute tomorrow.

As much of my life as I can remember – – and I'm retirement age, so that's...forever – – everyone in the family and their significant others (And often their parents and siblings) and their children and random friends and cousins from near and far and Dad's parents until they died (in the 1970s, but I can still recall how disquieting it felt the first Christmas that neither of them were there) gathered at my parents' house Christmas morning for an astonishing number of Christmas present openings. Even if each person received one gift, that was still a lot, but some of us--like my dad and me--enjoyed giving more than one gift to each person. Christmas at their place became legendary.

Then my dad died in 2015 and it impacted me like a crash and burn. We still all gathered that Christmas and still had a lot of gifts. But he had been the true driving force, And of course their house was good because it was huge because we all grew up in that house. The following year, mom's health declined rapidly and she died two days after Christmas, and we sold their house. We tried for a while, but it wasn't the same. I know they say that, to avoid this kind of sadness during the season, one should create new traditions. We didn't seem to be doing that. I didn't know what to try to create.

[Sidenote: That was a hard, hard year. Lost dad and mom, Tika and boost, dad's cousin who used to spend Christmas with us, and the beloved dog,Who got along well with Tika and boost, of My cousin (dad's cousins daughter) who also used to spend Christmases with us]

I have to work at managing the grief around this holiday. Not looking for sympathy, it's just a thing that is true. Three of us moved completely out of state to basically the same town and we are experimenting with planning a Christmas this year more suitable to three people than 20. We will open gifts, we will have a good meal, we will go for a probably short hike, we will drive out Christmas Eve looking at decorated houses,  we will see about trying to visit some of the many local waterfalls that we haven't seen yet, we will go through our notes and photos from our big trip in October, We will probably watch some Christmas shows or movies. we might do a jigsaw puzzle. Whether a new tradition will spring out of this remains to be determined.

This will be our ninth Christmas without Dad Cheering us on and preparing parts of a Christmas feast to browse from all day and mom trying to keep him moderate and doling out love. Missing them still feels like yesterday.

I have mom's Christmas T-shirt that she received fairly late in her life. It's almost new. I have worn it at Christmas. I don't feel like mom when I do. But the message on the front feels like her.

Friday, December 15, 2023

I'm a little behind in my blogging

SUMMARY: Maybe I'll just spam my own account

Whenever I have a topic that I want to bring up, or edit, or expand upon, or capture from Facebook (or other places) to a more permanent place, or add photos to first, I create a draft post here. 

It's getting out of hand. 94 drafts. If I were to publish one a week, that would give me a year and a half of posts. BUT many are within the last year, where I felt that I haven't had time to turn them into actual posts becauseI'mtoobusyreadingclickbaitonfacebook because I'm still unpacking the house and trying to organize things and now also get ready for xmas.

It occurs to me that, perhaps, I should not wait for the editing or the photos or the additional info, but just spend 10 minutes each and post whatever it ends up being. (Backdated to their original date, of course...?)

One challenge is that many of my original ideas for posts have become obsolete, or the focus will necessarily have to change. Of my two earliest drafts--

Nunes Agility Field, used both by NAF and by VAST (Valley Agility Sport Team I think)--consisting of the same people-- has changed drastically. "John" died several years back. Then the group decided to decommission the NAF organization. Then the leased/loaned land was reclaimed. Pretty soon nothing was left, and this year VAST dissolved as well. A very different story.

The Future of Dog Agility has changed so much (is USDAA really on the way out? How about CPE? Will UKI take over?) that the questions (those questions) weren't even on the horizon back then. Furthermore, whatever I had intended to say 18 years ago (OMG!) I didn't even outline in the draft. Wish I had. I'll bet it would have been interesting to read now.

Meh. Requires making decisions. Plus my speed  at creating drafts has increased lately, it seems:

  • December: 4
  • November: 5
  • October: 1
  • September: 4
  • April/May/June/July/August: 0

Instead, I've created this actual post about Drafts. Is this some kind of meta thing? 

Instead, back to fretting about boxes of books and holiday decor nowthatI'vespent45minutesonthissuddenunplannedentry.

Saturday, December 09, 2023

And to you your xxxwassailxxx Wagtail Too

SUMMARY: We haven't been walking the dogs for so long--
More best-loved lyrics straight from your favorite, K-TajMuttHall radio

--and that's where K-TMH dreams up so many of their fun Alternative Lyrics.

Here's from yesterday.

Here we come a snuffeling [it's 3 syllables, yes, just--sing it like that, ok?] along the weeds so green
And here we are a-wandering so furry to be seeeeeeeennnn--

Treats and toys come to you, and to you a wagtail too
And Dog bless you and snuggle you with flappy floppy ears
    And Dog snuggle with flappy floppy ears

We are not evil squirrel thugs who rob your feeder seed
But we are neighbors' puppy dogs who are always starving because no one gives us regular meals so food is what we need

[Co-author's note: Dog poets are not always known for their innate rhythm sense, nor veracity]

Treats and toys come to you, and to you a wagtail too
And dog bless you and snuggle you with flappy floppy ears
    And dog snuggle with flappy floppy ears

Dog bless the master of this house no matter gender role
And give us rotten apples please to bury in a hole

Treats and toys come to you, and to you a wagtail too
And dog bless you and snuggle you with flappy floppy ears
    And dog snuggle with flappy floppy ears

Friday, September 15, 2023

Peninsula Living, Part 2

SUMMARY: But don’t you have to drive a while to GET someplace? Lol
Answering this friend's question on Facebook Sept 11, 2023

Depends on what you mean by "someplace". Within 5 minutes I have Costco, Home Depot, Safeway (and 2 or 3 other local/organic/nonchain groceries), Walgreens, Rite Aid, YMCA, local medical center, hiking opportunities, Dairy Queen, Burger King, McDonald's, Papa Murphy, Applebees, Taco Bell (plus nonchain restaurants and cafes)... and Walmart if you're inclined. 15 minutes to Toyota dealer if I want them to do things on my car, Wendy's... trying to identify local places by familiar names.

I *do* miss: Target, Macy's, Trader Joe's, Penney's (yes there is one up here!), Panera, major movie theaters, ... but all and many more are in Silverdale usually <60 minutes from here, so we just make it a day (or morning or afternoon) and go enjoy ourselves and do the shopping we need.

The biggest issue: Closest 24 hour emergency vet is also in Silverdale.

Most of my doctors are in Port Townsend (by choice--that's where I started up here and I like the facility and the docs etc) which is 35-45 minutes, but I'm so used to driving it that it doesn't bother me at all, AND... no traffic! The only traffic lights are at the onramp to 101 by my house and maybe one in Port Townsend--and within town they use roundabouts.

But NO TRAFFIC getting to all these places is such an amazing benefit--

I mean, it could take me an hour to get home from work in San Jose because freeways were jammed (15-20 minutes on a weekend). So driving freely through quiet mostly wooded areas for 40-60 minutes is nothing.

Not everyone else up here thinks that way. They just shop at walmart and online.

Yes, then I do have to consider gas prices. [shrug] I'm far from wealthy, but it's not like I make those drives every week.

I do avoid going to events in Seattle--it looks close, but it's either a 2-plus-hour drive or a 2-hour trip with less driving but waiting for and riding a ferry, less gas, plus ferry ticket. Ferries are pretty reliable.

You can drive around locally and find eggs and fruits and veggies and flowers and more at people's homes or at local small farms etc. And often it's just a small booth with the product and a sign stating the price and a place for you to drop your payment. Pretty cool. Of course, as population grows and more thieves arrive, that might go away.

Any more-specific questions? 😉

Photos from various  visits  to Silverdale (I have selected a whole bunch more, but from blogger into photos on my iPad, there's no way I can find the ones that I want. So I'll have to come back later on my Mac and figure it out.) ...(OK, I give up, the captioning and things don't even work right on my iPad. Here's what I've got so far kinda.)

This is a couch I've been considering for months. Then I bought that tie-dye thing. Oh well.

Sister and husband buying rugs at Macy's in Silverdale.

Monday, September 11, 2023

9-11 Twenty-two years later

SUMMARY: We'll never forget, but we can't remember every day of every year
From a reply to another blog about today

My dad's photo of the New York city skyline, when we visited in1975
The World Trade Center only 2 years old

I didn't realize what day it was until I had to write the date on something. It doesn't kick me in the gut so much any more. Not like the first day, watching the videos (on TV of course--most channels it seemed) over and over in shock. Not like the 2nd day, watching again. And, by afternoon, realizing that if I kept that up, I might never climb out of that hole. I recorded a couple of hours of the news, then turned off the TV and didn't go back to it. But there was no escaping the numbing realization of what had happened -- not just to the iconic buildings, but so so many people who had nothing to do with anything. Just people. Dead. Hundreds of men, women, children; moms, dads, sisters, brothers, business partners, cousins, lovers, husbands, wives, teammates, best friends--whole departments of companies wiped out-- and all of the first responders who paid the worst price of their professions.

But now--it was a long time ago.

Twenty-two years. More than a generation. My youngest--barely adult--niece wasn't born yet and the next youngest was only a year old. Over 13,000 babies were born in the US on that day (this article from 2021 shares some of the things that these adults will never know as a result of the fallout from the event). Imagine 22 years more of that many babies born every day, making well over a million US-born residents who have no idea what life was like. And it was different!

Day after day now, we encounter restrictions that didn't exist. There's a boundary of Before and After, like a black line drawn across time. A curtain beyond which, looking back, can't be seen through, really, unless you were there and already know.

But I don't think about it much, any more, really. Life is what it is and it's hard to stay angry and afraid this long. Still, today, and 9-11s in the future, I'll remember.


A couple of my photos from 1983 from atop the towers (unedited, sorry). The tower was 10 years old.

It fell at age 28.

Some of the bridges across the East River into Manhattan (where the towers were); I think the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges

It was a long, long way down.
You can barely see how many taxis there are (yellow)
I haven't taken the time to identify the streets or buildings--
but I wonder how many of these still exist after the disaster--

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Peninsula living

SUMMARY: Ferries

As I post most of my life to Facebook, I periodically think, I should repost it here every time it's something I want to remember, because I have much more control over the content here than I do on Facebook. Probably anyway.

I intend to do a better job all the time. And you see how well that has turned out. So, expect some random stuff while I try very hard to get back into blogging mode. NOTE ABOUT READERS iSUBSCRIBING HERE: I think there's a way to set it up with some service or other. I might have to pay for it. TBD.

For today: being on a peninsula means being surrounded by water on most sides. Which affects transportation options. Between the Olympic peninsula (where I am living) and the "mainland"--such as the biggest city of Seattle – – there are no bridges. Just a variety of ferries.

This past weekend, one of the ferries across the Puget Sound into Seattle lost power partway through the 60 minute trip (at about 18 miles an hour) and ran aground in the mud, thank goodness it was that simple. It took hours for them to evacuate the passengers. And they couldn't get their cars until they towed the ferry at high tide back to some dock the following day.

Ferries are the only way around to get from one side of Puget Sound to the other. Other than driving all the way to the south end where the Tacoma Narrows Bridge is and then drive back up the other side.

I kept thinking about all the people who were on the ferry to pick up someone at SeaTac (the big airport) or to catch an airplane there or had tickets to a show or more urgent things.  And that boat will be out of service until they can figure out why it lost power and repair any damage that it might have suffered, although it sounds like there wasn't much.

The truth is that the Seattle ferries are apparently ancient and sadly in need of replacing, let alone upgrading and repairs, even more let alone needing more ferries. But, at least, when a ferry becomes unavailable like this, there are other ferries in service doing other routes that will get you to where you want to go, even if it takes a little longer.

Map of ferry routes. For scale, from port Angeles to Victoria is over an hour and a half. From Port Townsend to Keystone is an hour. Note that you usually needt to be there at least half an hour before your scheduled departure time or you might not make it onto the next ferry. ...also note Sequim, where I live now.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

That White and Gold Dress (what? Blue and Black? No Way! (Visual or optical illusions)

SUMMARY: Brains are fascinating things. So are colors.

Things in shade or shadows take on a blue cast. In sunlight, they might appear blue or white or green or who knows, but also may take on a yellow cast.

If you know that an item is in shade or shadow, your experience and your brain know how to subtract the blue subconsciously--If you have the proper context.

Photographers and artists know this. 

Photo: Note blue shadows on backlit trees and the path

Painting: Shadows are blue or bluish
from Mark Mehaffey on Artists' Network
(I couldn't figure out how to just include this directly from the page, it's set up oddly)

The famous dress --
white with gold or
 blue with black? (Via Wikipedia) 

As a photographer, I'm very aware of the color effect of shade. For example, if someone wears a white and gold dress and I can see the whole person and the whole environment around them (e.g., it's sunny in the background but they are standing under the shade of a tree), your brain can subtract the blue tone from the shaded area and correctly see the colors--and ditto if you can also see the wearer's face and see that it is vastly overexposed like the background. 

But if you zoom in so that you see only a portion of the dress in the shade and everything behind it lit up, your brains (and cameras!) no longer understand whether it is a white and gold dress in the shade or a black and blue dress in the sun or very overexposed or WHAT.

I think that photographers and painters tend to see it as if it is in shade, which means it's white and gold modified by the blueness of shade. We know that it's blueish because of the shade, so we automatically subtract the shade to make it what it "really" is: white and gold. My mind has great difficulty accepting that it is anything other that that. Even after seeing photos of the actual black and blue dress. 

It's a fascinating example of how your experiences and interests might affect your perception, versus mine.

This professor of psychology and neurology notes that about 2/3 of viewers see it as white and gold (unless I got that backwards).

Here's a photo of a Disneyworld duck. (Because I paid so much to get to Florida and get into the park, I just want to stand there taking photos of ducks?!?) It was a sunny day, as you can clearly see.

But wait--that's not how the image actually came out of the camera. I asked Photoshop to adjust the coloring for a sunny day, because it was a sunny day but it came out of the camera quite bluish because it was actually in the shade on a sunny day. Which version is better? I like the former because it better shows what my brain saw, not the colors that the mindless camera chose to apply.

How do you see the dress?

Meanwhile, speaking of visual illusions and ducks: Can you unsee this once I tell you that ducks all wear a dog mask on their face?

Friday, February 10, 2023

Dogs or houses or what?

SUMMARY:  I am remiss!

My blog itself promises to be about dogs. My recent (not very recent) posts promised to talk a lot about my new house! I have done neither. Mostly I've been posting to Facebook. I have a backlog of things that I want to post here, and mostly in real life I am emptying moving boxes and trying to figure out where to put everything in the new house. Soon! Probably.