Saturday, November 14, 2009

And While Being Not At the Nationals--

SUMMARY: I *was* at the nationals! After a nice dogwalk--er, walk with the dogs.

This afternoon, took the dogs out to a park we sometimes go to where people don't seem to yell at you if you have your dogs off leash if they're under control. Lots of people with their dogs off leash. Huge flat lawn where there can be a soccer game and still lots of room to do frisbee with the dogs and no one will even notice. Trail over a nice steep hill with undomesticated vegetation that the dogs can sniff around plus gopher holes galore. Fun.

So about that "if they're under control" thing. I took a pocketful of smelly Zukes with me to practice calling Tika back to me, rewarding, and releasing. She was good on the flat as long as there was no distraction, but she blew me off repeatedly on the hill, or came reluctantly along a path somewhat akin to what you'd see in Family Circus. And then finally she didn't come back at all, and I ended up pursuing her all the way around the hill and back down and halfway into the park before she turned around and I grabbed her and told her what for.

Then when I needed the "come", when she saw a couple of small dogs running and decided to charge over to investigate, I could see her step falter briefly at my call and then she just decided to ignore me again.

Back to remedial recalls. I've done this with her so often--but not often enough.

Fortunately she's good with other dogs, it's just that she often scares the *owners* because she charges in so fast. These were Yorkies or Skyes or some small terrier like that, and when she got near, one of them charged at HER barking ferociously, and Tika put her ears back, skidded to a halt, and turned to come right back to me.

We got in about 45 minutes of frisbee and hiking, and then 15 minutes later when we got home, they wanted to play in the yard, too.

However, I had other plans: Made a huge bowl of popcorn and sat in my office with the USDAA Steeplechase National [World] Championships final rounds playing in live stream on BOTH of the computers in my office (because the live streaming would freeze periodically while catching up on the download and this way one or the other computer was always showing action because they'd download at different times) set to full-screen display.

And also had facebook up to the USDAA page and my own page, posting comments and reading other people's comments as we went along, so it was almost like being in a crowd of agility people sitting in the bleachers watching the show! The next best thing to being there!

All the excitement once again; super-fast runs, amazing over-the-top handling, no holds barred full-out competition with some of the best dogs in the world (there were several World Team dogs in the assorted finals tonight, along with plenty of past champions of various sorts).

A lot of Bay Teamers just missed being in the Steeplechase finals--by fractions of seconds in a few cases. Dang! But my club still had a great showing. And not merely Bay Teamers but people I know fairly well--

Ashley Deacon and Luka (classmates) won the 16" Steeplechase for I believe the 4th time!

In 22", Nancy Gyes/Ace and Jim Basic/Sweep (our long-time instructors) were 1st and 2nd for the longest time but got barely edged out and ended up 3rd and 5th, pretty fine work for the hundreds of 22" dogs entered! And Diana Wilson and Cassidy (traveled to nationals with them 2 years ago), who won the semifinals(!) made what I believe is their first appearance in the finals as first seed, but they had bobbles in the final round, although you could still see the speed of that team. Silvina Bruera and Maja (classmates) also had bobbles but looked pretty darned good.

And in 26", an all-border-collie-except-one-terv group, Rob Michalski and Wings the Tervuren WON (have been involved in bay team together for a very long time & tika & his other dog are doing DAM teammates in december)! And Channan Fosty with Icon had a lovely smooth run to just get edged out and into 3rd place! TWO bay teamers on the podium!

It was exciting and exhausting. I love watching the finals at nationals; that's always one of my favorite parts of going. This wasn't quite as good as being there, but it was still pretty darned good. Thanks to USDAA for working out the kinks in their live feed.

So now I'm worn out physically and emotionallly and headed for bed. Yeehah agility fans!

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Body Parts Not Getting With The Program

SUMMARY: Ouch ouch ouch. But at least we're still at Disneyland. For another half a day.

So I've been hiking with the sierra club every week for 4 or 6 miles. Briskly. Well, maybe not every week lately. Every other week. And I try to get out with the dogs for a mile or two walk every day. Well, lately, maybe not every day. Maybe 4 or 5 times a week. Or three. And I have agility class every week. Except not a couple of weeks ago because of Instructor Prior Engagements and not this week because I'm not there. And I put probably somewhere between 8 and 10 miles (nearing 20,000 steps) on my pedometer every agility weekend, and I do 20+ weekends of that a year. Except, well, maybe not lately because I'm trying to cut back. Maybe 15 this year? Maybe one every 4 weeks.

But the point is I cover a lot of ground on my very actual feet on a fairly regular basis. Two years ago I came to Disneyland and I had no trouble at all covering miles of ground from park opening to park closing every day, and I can assure you that I wasn't in nearly as good a shape as I am now. In theory.

But this year? Icing my knee every evening. A couple of times. Blisters on my feet. The latter I blame on bringing the wrong darned shoes. They are my bumming around in general shoes, maybe my walking 1 or 2 miles with the dogs shoes. They are not my covering 10 miles a day shoes.

Maybe that's what's doing in my knee, too.

I finally took my tripod into the park tonight and went off on my own to take all those photos I've been wanting to take, and my knee told me repeatedly and in no uncertain terms that it would really prefer to be lounging around in the hotel room snuggled up to a nice cozy ice pack.

So here I am, 10:30 p.m., park doesn't close until midnight (well--the rides anyway--then it stays open "for you shopping convenience for our profit making convenience" for another hour or so. But I am here with a progressively more chilly knee and a whole slew of unshot photos in my head.

Tomorrow we're heading home midday. Dogs and dogsitter will be glad to see me, I'm sure. There will be much rejoicing. Yaayyyyyyy.

And sometime, maybe this century, I'll get to post some photos. And we're already planning our next trip. January 2012. I promise I'll walk 5 miles every day for two months before that. Plus bring the right shoes.

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SUMMARY: We've been here two full days now--

One more full day to go, then a few hours Sunday morning, then home again, home again, jiggity jog.

I love being at Disneyland! So much to see and do, and even if I come every couple of years (which I've been doing for a long time), it's still a wonderfantabulous experience. I like just walking around and looking and being there.

Plus taking photos. Unfortunately I've discovered that my old laptop's software doesn't recognize my new camera's raw format, so I've got nothing to upload here at the moment.

And we've done so much, it's hard to shrink it to a quick post. We've done several things more than once each: Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan, Astro Blaster. I've done a token Indiana Jones and Matterhorn and don't need to do those again this trip. We've sailed the Rivers of American in both the Mark Twain and the sailing ship Columbia. We've explored the pirate's cave on Tom Sawyer's Island. Had lunch at the Blue Bayou. And so much more!

Tomorrow we'll hit California Adventure until it closes (3 hours earlier than Disneyland, I believe) or until we run out of things we want to do over there (possibly way before closing).

And tomorrow for crying out loud I'll remember my tripod finally (I promise, really I will) and finally get some of those night shots I've been trying to get hand-held and some that I know I can't get hand-held.

And when I get home--hundreds of photos to sort through (already) as usual. AFTER i've worn out the dogs and taken them for a long walk, presumably.

In honor of the fact that I'm not leaving for USDAA Nationals in the next couple of days, I've worn two of my USDAA Grand Prix of Dog Agility Championships polo shirts. It's all about the clothing, you know!

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Disneyland Versus The World Championships

SUMMARY: Me to Disneyland. Everyone else to Scottsdale. Musings.

Today's Facebook status:
Ellen Finch wishes the very best of luck to all of her friends who are heading out soon for the Nationals aka world championships in Scottsdale--while *she* bags out this year and goes to Disneyland! Woohoo! Maybe not tons less expensive than Nationals, but not nearly as stressful! Such as I don't have to get up at 5 a.m. to walk and memorize 6 different courses. Enjoy!

It feels so odd not to be going, after all those years of attending. Tika is completely qualified for everything this year, and in fact has done extremely well in all the Performance Tournaments, placing in several Steeplechases and Grand Prixs, and taking gold with her partner Brenn in team at a big SMART trial and then silver even at the Regional championships. She's done so well in Performance uin general, despite not starting Perf until late spring, that she's in range of Top Ten in both Gamblers and Snooker right now. This could be her big year.

BUT--She's also had to be scratched from several runs or even full days this year when her neck comes up sore. Like that heartbreaking Steeplechase finals at the Regionals where she ran half of it beautifully and then yelped and came out of the tunnel limping, and that was it for the rest of the day.

I couldn't stand the disappointment of getting to Scottsdale (all that time and money and hope) and have to scratch her from her runs. I really couldn't stand it if we got lucky and made it to the finals and that happened. Not that I think it's super likely--which is another reason for why I'm not really missing the nationals this year. We're good, but we're not great. Sometimes we get lucky. But that's an expensive hope to pursue.

And Boost just still isn't ready. She Qed in Team by the skin of her teeth thanks mostly to her two teammates (I think we were just a couple of points out of 1200 or so above the cut-off), and that was her ONLY team Q this year out of all our tries.

She hasn't Qed in Grand Prix since May of 2008.

She did somehow Q twice in Steeplechase this tournament year. Twice. Out of 12 tries. Sure, those 2 qualified her to run at Nationals, but the one time of those two when we actually ran in Round 2, she ran past a jump for elimination.

I will really miss watching all the final rounds. There is nothing like being there in the stands, on the edge of your seat, watching the clock as the finest competitors in the country (and even in the world) try to peel another hundredth of a second off the clock to take the prize. The runs are blazingly fast and the handling is on at the extreme edge of human capacity at times--watching some of these handlers get to position and make a front cross (in which their body turns 180 to 270 degrees or more at a full run) with impeccable timing is something that videos just can't do justice to.

I'll miss not being there to take tons of candid photos of all of my agility friends, as I have at the previous seven Nationals I've attended. But on the other hand then I won't be looking at hundreds of photos to sort and label. (Never did finish the last couple of years' worth, for example.)

But in the larger scheme of things, I'm generally glad I'm not going. The stress is off, the push is off, the managing of two high-energy dogs for a week out of town is off.

And I'm going to have a blast at Disneyland without them. And, OK, I'm sure I'll still have a squillion photos to sort and label when I get home anyway.

So I'm off to Disneyland tomorrow through Sunday, and many many of my agility friends will be dribbling out of town between now and Monday to make their way to Arizona for next week's competition. Most likely the last time it'll be on the west coast for a very long time.

Ah, well, Boost, if only you'd become the Super Agility Dog a bit faster!

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fun Rain Facts and Sorry Kate Elliott's Books

SUMMARY: An interesting first storm of the season, plus fun facts to know and share!

Fun fact: The Taj MuttHall-owned portions of San Jose got 3.5" of water in the last 24 hours! When the whole entire last rain year it got 11.5"!

Fun fact: 3.5" of rain in 24 hours can add the long-forgotten water jump obstacle feature to one's local agility field!

Fun fact: If you give a border collie a rawhide bone because you can't do agility so you want to keep her occupied for a while, she will spend 3 minutes out in the rain burying it somewhere in the yard!

Fun fact: And then come inside and look at you in a bored and reproachful way!

Fun fact: Tika can look bored and reproachful, too!

Fun fact: If you like sleeping with the windows open, and a big rainstorm is coming, and you leave them open only an inch or so because what could happen, there's a screen in the window to keep the rain out, right?, then you can learn some fun facts about the permeability of window screens! (Photo post-closing of window, showing permeable window screens.)

Fun fact: Curtains hanging 6" from windows in such situations get sopping sopping wet!

Fun fact: Because Taj MuttHall Human Mom is not as quick-witted as Team Small Dog Person Member when disaster strikes, TMH never gets photos of things like large pools of water on windowsills and nice oak bookcases! Which are now nice oak bookcases with wet spots! The camera never comes out until the worst of the disaster is already cleaned up! So too bad for you blog readers who wanted to see actual puddles of water on furniture!  Go look at TSD to see cupcake batter on the floor instead!

Fun fact: Wallpaper, being attached with water-soluble paste, can easily be separated from the wall simply by becoming moist! 

Fun fact: To absorb some of that annoying permeating water, you can leave one's down comforter on a chair with its back to the window even as much as 18" away!

Fun fact: Books, particularly those made of paper, tend to absorb water, but only if you leave them under an open window!

Even covers of books! (Sorry, books of Kate Elliott.)

Fun fact: Sometimes you can get giant air bubbles behind wallpaper! Especially if it somehow becomes moistened and thereby detached from the wall!

Fun related fact: You can unobtrusively remove air bubbles from wallpaper by pricking with a pin!

Fun related fact: Vinyl wallpaper, especially when made of actual vinyl, holds water!

Fun very related fact: If you prick a giant air bubble in vinyl wallpaper that has recently been somewhere in the vicinity of an open window and a large rainstorm, be prepared for the fact that all the air inside the bubble is actually water and will ooze all over the place for half an hour!

Fun fact: When it rains a lot, the street gutters fill with water! And it doesn't get charged to your water bill!

Fun fact: Grocery shopping in the rain is not so much keen fun! For anyone!

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Thank Goodness For--

SUMMARY: --many diverse things--

  • Nieces who go to Colorado and bring me back entertaining magnets like this one!  (Thanks, Elizabeth and Katie.)
  • Agility friends who are stealth blog readers who have bought a new camera so we have arranged for me to get her barely used Canon 40D! Tomorrow! Yay! (Thanks, Cheryl.)
  • Pet Club store near me, which doesn't take credit cards, but when I am horrified that they charge $33 a bag for my dogfood, I just have to walk into PetSmart and see the same bag for $54 to be grateful for the discount.
  • Fanatical agility friends who have brought Sylvia Trkman to Silicon Valley in December so we can do her seminars! (Thanks, Ashley.)
  • Disneyland-o-phile sisters who arrange trips to Disneyland so I can just go along for the ride! Yay! Just a month away! (Hence the push now to get the camera--) (Thanks, Linda.)
  • Dogs who let me sleep in in the morning! Even to 9:00! What good girls! (Thanks, Tika and Boost.)
  • Mild California autumn days,  not too hot, not too cold, everything still in bloom, grass growing-- (Thanks --uh-- whoever's responsible.)
  • Expert Apple friends who not only arrange for me to borrow a cable that Apple didn't think to send with their new equipment, but also drive out of their way to deliver it! (Thanks, Steph.)

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Crossword Results

SUMMARY: I was right--ended up about in the middle.

The complete crossword tourney results are now posted here. I placed 29th out of 57 contestants.

I had perfect scores on the first 3 puzzles but missed 3(! more than I'd have guessed) on the last one. But, even had I had a perfect score on that puzzle--which would've added 225 points to my score--I'd have *still* placed only 27th! And that's because of the phenomenal time bonuses that others received.

Like that last one, which I barely finished in 59 minutes out of the allowed 60--the top placer finished in TWELVE minutes! I'm just nowhere near that league. I can't even hope to get to the Over 65 (age) category--a bunch of those sharp-minded "seniors" finished way above me.

(Details on scoring were in my prior post. Only thing that' interesting that I don't understand is that the maximum number "wrong" appears to be 99 several times--I'm wondering whether that's a "too many to bother counting" score?)

So, OK, I like being in dog agility where I can be within fractions of a second of the winner--or sometimes even win--not 48 minutes slower than the winner! (Although some of my runs have felt like that.) Guess it's back to working my contacts.


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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Crossword Scoring

SUMMARY: Compared to dog agility scoring--

OK, after that huge post the other day about Qing in USDAA, thought I'd put up some notes about crossword tournament scoring. If I remember correctly, it goes like this:

* 10 points for each correct answer (across and down).
* 150 bonus if your entire puzzle is complete and correct.
* 25 points bonus for each minute under the scheduled time that you turn it in.
* 25 points penalty for each incorrect letter or empty square, subtracted from your time bonus.

We did 4 puzzles--two 15-minute ones (I finished in 7 and 6 minutes, respectively) each with about 70 answers, one 30-minute one (I finished in 8 minutes, if I remember correctly) also about 70 answers, one one-hour one (I finished in... cough...59 minutes) with maybe 120 answers? That last one prevented maybe a quarter of the contestants from finishing within the hour, so i felt pretty good about getting through it.

So a perfect score on all 4 puzzles would've been around 3900, plus 25 for each minute under time--and people were turning in their puzzles in HALF my time, even on the ones I felt pretty fast on!

Sixty people competed. But, unless I misheard, the top 3 scores were in the 650-to-750 range. This tells me that people weren't getting anywhere near perfect scores.

I'm dyin' to see the results and scores. Don't know how long it'll take to post them. Of course, I'm spoiled with our club secretary posting the results for our agility trials within a couple of days--and that's a few thousand runs, with almost 500 dogs in dozens of different heights, classes, and programs. So how hard could it be to post single scores for 60 people? :-)

They probably have to double-check the scorers' marks on the individual pages, and load the results into the computer for all 4 puzzles. I would assume that the computer calculates each person's score (after the scorer has counted errors) so they don't have to do it manually.

Anyway--still eagerly waiting--


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No Cross Words at Crossword Tournament

SUMMARY: Different kind of Saturday competition.

ADDITIONS: After original posting time/date--scroll to bottom.

I'd never entered a crossword-puzzle tournament before, but I do a lot of crosswords, so I thought I might give one a try. Summary: It was fun, and I don't yet know how I did, but I didn't win. Now--compare and contrast to dog agility.

Dog agility: Spend up to two hours on Friday packing MUTT MVR. Another half hour to an hour printing the running orders, making sure I've got copies of my confirmations, directions to the trials, etc.

Crossword tourney: On Friday, find the registration form that has the address on it.

Dog agility: Go to bed Friday at 8. Get up at 4 a.m. Don't feel like eating yet. Take the dogs into the yard, no matter the weather, to potty them, & load them into MUTTMVR. Load cold drinks & refrigerable snacks into the cooler. Make sure I have my banana holders to protect my bananas from all the brouhaha. Drive 2 hours in the dark to the agility site.

Crossword tourney: Go to bed at usual time Friday. Get up at 8 a.m. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and do the crossword puzzle in the paper. Give dogs breakfast. Grab a soda and a banana. Drive an hour to Alameda. (It's the first rain of the new rainfall year, but I don't have to be out in it.)

Dog agility: Spend an hour hauling my gear, setting up my canopy and such, walking and exercising the dogs. Sometimes stand in line to check in or get dogs measured. Find course maps wherever they're located.

Crossword tourney: Park across the street. Walk up the stairs--

-- and through the door, into the room, pick up my name tag, and sit down anywhere.

Dog agility: Negotiate the day's schedule covering hundreds of dogs and more hundreds of runs in 3 rings, keeping track of how far down the running order the dogs in my current ring are so that I can be there on time and not too early, keeping track of whether a ring is delayed or going faster than planned, check back with the gate steward regularly, refer frequently to my multipage catalog to see what class is next and which of my dogs is in first, etc.

Crossword tourney: Refer to hand-written schedule on wall. From my chair.

Dog agility: Work my buns off all day, probably at the score table, but also tracking down equipment, people, answers, and so on. No time to browse the vendors.

Crossword tourney: Finish a puzzle way early. Go for a stroll and see that the high school woodshop makes and sells dog houses!

Dog agility: Get my dogs out regularly to stretch their legs and/or potty them. Play hard before each run, run with them in the ring, cool them down and reward them afterwards. Check their water. Check whether the sun has moved around and their crates need shade. Apply covers to avert (a) Tika barking at passing dogs or (b) Boost throwing herself at crate sides at active dogs.

Crossword tourney: Browse the students' hallway art looking for pictures of dogs. Here's a painting of a hand painted to look like a doghead.

Dog agility: Admire and pet many other people's dogs as the day goes on.

Crossword tourney: During one break, stroll around the building and discuss this woman's rescue dogs. And admire them and pet them.

Dog agility: Fight my way through the crowd around the accumulator sheets and wait my turn to look at the results for the class I'm interested in (typically 4-5 classes each day for each dog). Find my dog somewhere on the *#(!&# accumulator sheet. Figure out our placement (if it's not obvious). Copy down our time & faults & points & the SCT & the yards & the winning dog's score & ... what?...yes of COURSE that's all important!... When I get home, spend 30-40 minutes typing it all into my database.

Crossword tourney: Wait for them to announce the top 3 finishers. It's not me. Wait for them to post my single numeric score on the web site, sometime in the next few days.

Dog agility: Repeat everything for a 2nd full day. Then finish up around 5 or 6 in the evening on Sunday. Potty dogs. Potty myself. Change my shoes and maybe my shirt. Tear down my canopy and everything and repack the car. Put away all the score table gear. Help tear down and move all the equipment and tables and ring ropes and so on and so on. On the road maybe 7 p.m., exhausted. Maybe take a nap on the roadside on the way. Crash in bed as soon as I get home.

Crossword tourney: Finish at 3 right on schedule. Potty myself. Drive home. Spend the rest of the day doing fun things. Update blog and photos.

Which reminds me: See a lot of other photos, with a brief story narrative, about my day in Alameda including Victorian homes & other old buildings, cool student artwork, and like that, here at my usual photo site.

ADDITION: Added the next day (Sept 13, 2:00p.m. PDT)
Dog agility: (Typical)
* Organization hosting the trial: The Bay Team.
* Held under rules of sanctioning organization: USDAA
* Benefits: Bay Team is a not-for-profit corporation. Most profits go back into maintaining our equipment for hosting trials. But we also sometimes do demos for other charitable orgs doing fundraisers, and every year we donate money to one or more dog-related charitable org's.

Crossword tourney:
* Organization hosting: Bay Area Crosswords
* Held under rules of sanctioning organization: ACPT
* Benefits: All profits go to The California Dictionary Project, whose goal is to supply every 3rd grader with a dictionary.

Dog agility: Regular celebrity appearances at local USDAA: Greg Louganis, perhaps the greatest Olympic diver of all time, competing with his JRTs and now Border Collie. And doing fairly well, I might add.

Crossword tourney: Celebrity appearance: Tyler Hinman, youngest-ever winner of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, featured in the film Wordplay, and now an unprecedented 5-time champion. Helped run this event and contributed the final puzzle, which will also be next week's New York Times Sunday puzzle.

ADDITION: Added about 30 minutes after original post:
Oh, yeah, one more thing:

Cost to enter 2-day agility trial with 2 dogs: $300.

Quality time spent with dogs: priceless.

Cost to enter one-day crossword tournament: $20

Relaxing time doing something fun and different by myself: Priceless.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Recap and What's Next

SUMMARY: Who's anal, who ate too much of the wrong things, who needs a camera, who's doing some real hikey-climbey thing.

Who ate too much of the wrong things (at Vicon)

Spent Friday through Sunday at the 25th annual Vicon (VIsalia CONvention, although it's not a convention and this year wasn't even in Visalia, so some people are calling it Sarcon because it was in Saratoga this year). It's a giant 3-day sleepover party for a bunch of college friends who have somehow turned into programmers, tech writers, parents of teenagers, VPs of engineering, PHDs in psychology, executive administrators, retired Captains, and other sorts of things that you wouldn't expect to see at a sleepover party.

Except this year, because it was closer to home, most of the weenies showed up only for Saturday afternoon and evening. Only half a dozen of us slept over, even though it was only 20 minutes from our assorted houses. It's the spirit of the thing, really. Felt kinda lonely Saturday and Sunday morning from the usual 20 people for breakfast. But it was still fun and something like 34 people (including half a dozen small children) made an appearance at least briefly sometime during the weekend, so it was pretty successful anyway. I woke up to a stunning swath of bougainvillea both mornings. What could be better? (I slept on a lawn chair; one guy slept in a tent.)

No dogs at all--TMH Merle Girls stayed home with Renter--but coming out of the kitchen on Saturday, trying to negotiate the small children's toyfield, I almost tripped over this:

The hard part was eating healthy. We had robust healthy breakfasts.

Vegetarian lunches.

Hamburgers and thickly mayoed potato salad for dinners. Plus handy snacks.

And dessert. The cakes arrived with no phrasing, so I was volunteered to add appropriate messages.


After a weekend spent mostly trying to take photos in difficult lighting situations of mostly moving objects with a basic point-and-shoot that doesn't like difficult lighting or moving objects, I really really miss having a real camera. Took my borrowed one for a few photos, but battery is getting low. The difference in photos was obvious in most cases. Sighhhh. So what to do about... [ominous fwahhhh]...the Glacier Point hike?


It's T minus 5 days. Less. In 5 days at this time I should be on the trail going up. To some AWE. SOME. VIEWS. Need camera. Will figure out something.

This weekend, to prepare for the hike, in addition to my healthy diet regimen, I walked for 2.5 miles around the neighborhood--no hills, but inclined streets--on Saturday, another 1.5 on Sunday, and hauled tons and tons of heavy gear from my house to my car (kinda like dog agility, only not as furry) and in to the party site and helped set up and rearrange and so on all weekend, for a total of about 6 miles worth of steps saturday and not sure how much Sunday, since my pedometer somehow reset itself.

The neighborhood is fancier than my neighborhood. Neo-plantation homes, fancy shrubberies, huge lawns, like that.

This 3-bedroom, 2-bath house is for sale. How much do you think they want?Did you guess $1.7 million? (Details here.) THIS is a depressed housing market? Sure, because it says that average listing price is $2.2M! Life's rough.

Here is some cool information about the trail to Glacier Point, with some photos and a link (at beginning of article) to a topo map of the trail and more photos; thanks, Dad, for the link.

That anal thing

Got home yesterday evening. Middle of the night, Tika starts licking her under-tail vicinities vehemently. Crap--could it be anal gland again? Have been trying to keep an eye on it. Will have to wait till after sleep and breakfast. By then, however, Tika had popped it open by dragging the afflicted vicinity across the hard soil. Very muddy. Bloody. Gross, actually. So I cleaned it up, applied warm compresses, applied ointment. Will repeat 2-3 times daily for a week. Plus MORE PRUNES!

OK, fans, that's all the excitement I can handle for today. And I am just not in the mood for rotating those photos because Blogger's upload is not behaving itself and I just don't have the time or patience. Turn your head sideways. I'm sure they'll work just fine that way.

I have many many photos to post for the weekend; will do later. Maybe much later.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Fair is Fair

SUMMARY: TMH takes a break from the TMH dogs and visits the county fair.

Have cameras, will travel. To the really really scaled-down urban Santa Clara County Fair. A mere shadow of what it was 20 years ago, barely hanging on by its fingernails. County supervisors want to sell off the land for housing and/or business. We seem to be the only county in california that can't put on a successful Fair. This year, parking and admission were free, and STILL almost no one showed up. Sighhh--

Apparently dogs were allowed onsite, as we saw several on leash. But the chaos with Tika and the livestock would have been--uh--distracting. So they stayed home. But plenty of doggishness going on anyway!

We arrived at 11:30, to discover that "dog demos" occurred from 10-11:00. I had spent 20 minutes trying to find anything at all of use on their web site. They told me that (a) there is a fair, and the dates, and (b) the concert times. NOTHING else, NO...THING. I wonder why no one comes to the fair?? Had I known about the dog demos... well... So onward.

Most of the goats and sheepies looked like dogs in their x-pens: Snugged up against the side, keeled over, snoozing their little heads off. But this goat couldn't get enough attention. He liked his face and throat scritched exactly the same way that Tika does! And wouldn't let me go for hours! The beast!

It was kind of like agility--people walking around with handfuls of ribbons. Except in their pockets.

At the midway, dogs of diverse breeds hung around everywhere!

And there was dog food aplenty, too.

Whoaaaaaa! Now here's a probably non-dog-related unexpected dead celebrity encounter! Do you think that this helped them attract more kiddie customers?

In the building containing all the various student's submissions in zillions of categories, I particularly liked this prize-winning container garden:

And here we see that my sisters with their Very Large Dogs(tm) as reported in an earlier post do not in fact have a monopoly on riding in style.

Finally, last thing before we left, we met this gorgeous critter who, it turns out, is NOT in fact Boost. His mother was [something like] an Aussie/Border Collie mix and his father was [something like] a Kelpie/Cattle Dog mix. This would have been my PERFECT next dog, absolutely perfect!

Blue merle. Mixed breed. Smallish (a bit smaller than Boost). Short hair. Apparently extremely energetic and driven, based on how he was described (although here he just wanted to keel over and snooze his little head off, probably after worrying about all those unherded goats and cows and sheepies all day). What are the odds I'd find something like that if/when I'm ready for the next one?? But this gives me hope that he/she might be there--someday--

Meanwhile, if you'd like to peruse ALL the County Fair photos, including piggies and fun with photoshop, with captions, go here.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Antithistle Crusaders Strike Again

SUMMARY: What I do on nonagility weekends, number 33.

The native grasses in California were predominantly perennial bunch grasses, which were less inclined to flame on. Today, hillsides and meadows everywhere are predominantly tall, dry, highly flammable annual grasses such as oats and foxtails. Various groups make heroic efforts to try to preserve some of the few remaining bunch grass meadows. One effort is in yanking out the nasty invasive yellow star thistle from Los Trancos Open Space Preserve.

I've heard about these efforts for years but never tried it before; this year, I volunteered for the project and, so, got up to the alarm at 7:30 on this Saturday. OK, sure, that's better than 4:30 for dog agility, but the operative phrase here is "got up to the alarm." Bleaaaahhrrrr.

Dogs were excited, though, because 98% of the time when I get up to the alarm, it means DOG AGILITY YAYYYYY!!!! My goal was to be out the door by 8:30, showered, dressed, breakfasted, with lunch and supplies in hand. And, according to the official Taj MuttHall clock, yay!, I made it!

Had my official TMH purple leather gloves, knee pads, and my official Salinas/Monterey Agility Racing Team water bottle ready to go, so it would be almost exactly like being at an agility trial, at least as far as water bottles are concerned.

Dogs drooped miserably when I left them at home. Poor babies. But thistle would not go well with dogulouses.

...But wait--! MUTT MVR's official clock says that is is 8:41! Where did those 10 minutes vanish?

Ha ha, I always set MUTT MVR's clock ahead by 5 to 10 minutes to help me make sure to get places on time. Maybe it works. There have been no scientific studies to prove it.

I get to the open space place on time after just under an hour's drive, and we spend nearly 4 hours pulling the nasty stuff.

Now I'm home, dogs inform me that they're bored, I have photos photos photos backlogged everywhere plus am a little sleepy from getting up to the alarm bleaaaahrrrrr. So if you'd like to see more photos (about 20 total) and commentary, you will have to pop over here.

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