tiger_spot: (sword)
A few weeks ago, we all got a cold. After I'd had it for a little over a week, I announced that I was done being sick, really, and I was getting behind on Christmas prep, and I could stand to get better any time now. So it promptly turned into the Death Cold From Hell, and I was completely flattened for a few days. Andres stayed home from work to watch Morgan so I could sleep all day, is how flattened I was. I wore my pajamas for over 36 hours in a row. Entirely flattened.

Now I am back to just normal levels of sick, and apparently getting better, so I have caught up on a few of the Christmas-prep things I did not get to while I was more sick earlier. I still need to get stocking stuffers for the pets ([livejournal.com profile] suzimoses made them stockings, so clearly those stockings should be stuffed), wrap one more present (in the event that it arrives before Christmas, which it may well not), assemble Morgan's gift from my dad (Christmas Eve), decorate the tree (probably tomorrow; if not, then Monday; I know some people traditionally decorate on Christmas Eve but I am pretty sure we are already past the latest I have ever decorated a tree), and figure out what to do about Christmas cards (see next paragraph).

I missed sending out Christmas cards last year [1], so I wanted to be sure to do it this year. When I asked what a good time to take a picture would be, "after we're all over the cold, so we don't look like death" was suggested, but at this point (a) I won't be over it by Christmas and (b) Morgan fell against a bookshelf this morning and is going to have a giant forehead bruise for a while here, so I think we have lost our standing to attempt to not look like death. Also I think I am missing a bunch of cousins' addresses and would like to track those down. So I can either: print out some recent snapshots of Morgan and include them with these commercial holiday cards I have; take Christmas snapshots and use them to make New Year's cards; or take a semi-formal group shot and make New Year's cards.

I think I will do that first one for my grandparents, since they are very fond of snapshots of Morgan, and maybe then see about the addresses and work out something or other for New Year's cards for everybody also. That is probably a reasonable balance of wanting to Christmas card and still having a brain full of snot.

I have a hard time letting go of things when I'm sick.


The other big thing here besides me being sick and us getting ready for Christmas is that Galen had surgery. He has had these lipomas (benign fatty tumors) for years, and they've been growing slowly that whole time. It was kind of a tossup whether they were ever going to get big enough to really be a problem, but since they continued growing we decided that we'd prefer to have them removed now, so that we wouldn't have to have them removed later, when he's older and frailer and more at risk from the anesthetic. (That sentence has some really complicated tenses.) Anyway, that all went well and he is now a sad dog in a head-cone for a while, so he does not pick at his stitches. He was a very sad dog indeed the first day, but he is now energetic again and does not understand this "restricted exercise" concept.


Oh, oh! And Morgan developed a "yeah" to go with her "no"! It is very very exciting to be able to ask yes-or-no questions and get two possible answers!


[1] I have alarmingly sketchy memories of last December. It was the month I tried going back to work after maternity leave, and determined that that wasn't going to work. I know we got a little tree, and decorated it, and... that is about what I remember about the holidays. We took a picture to make a Christmas card with, and it had the dog in it and everything, but we wanted to do some digital cleanup first and then the actual card part just never happened.
tiger_spot: (foot)
Hey so I have a toddler now!

Motion
It is amazing how many things you think of as binary aren't. Walking vs. not walking turns out to have an amazing number of shades of gray in it, but at this point I think we can definitively say that yes, this baby is walking. She can stand up without pulling up on anything, she can toddle along through empty space for up to six or eight feet (which is a whole lot of tiny little steps!), and she is no longer distressed by falling down unless she hurts herself. She hasn't quite figured out how to stop walking yet, so she likes to launch herself at furniture or a parent so she has something to grab when she gets there. She particularly likes to stagger over to the dog's beanbag, fling herself bodily into it, and roll around giggling.

Communication
Yesterday, she started using the sign for "milk"! This is very exciting. She's been responding appropriately to "more" and "all done" at dinner for some time, and making some motions that might correspond with those signs, but "milk" is unambiguous. Yay it's a word! We think she might also be trying to say "dog", but we're not sure.

She also says "mamamama" and "dadadada", but they don't mean parents. Both of those sets of syllables appear in her normal neutral babbling with a variety of inflections (an increasingly lively and varied variety of inflections), and are also used with particular inflections to indicate emotional states. She uses "mamamama" when she wants something, and "dadadada" when she is particularly happy. So when she wants a cuddle, she'll come and lean on my knees pleading "mamamama", then snuggle in against my shoulder and contentedly sigh "dada". Also, if she wants something in particular and you correctly guess what it is and give it to her, she'll often indicate that it's the right thing with one affirmative "da".

She really likes clapping, and will imitate that or cheering with arms up in the air. I have not yet gotten her to play pattycake with me, but I keep trying. She'll also imitate waving hello to a person, and occasionally waving bye-bye, but she's a lot more excited about hellos than goodbyes.

Playtime
She's very fond of taking things out of other things (shelves, drawers, boxes, cabinets...) and beginning to occasionally be interested in putting things in other things. Not the same other things, mind you, but it's a start. She's often quite independent when playing on the floor, and will charge off to other rooms and play there for minutes on end without needing to come check on me or call me in.

Lately she's gotten very interested in the dog's bucket of toys. She'll pull things out and leave them on the floor, which makes the dog happy, or snuggle them herself, or hand them to the dog and giggle, or hand them to the dog and then complain when the dog wants to keep them. The other day they decided that they both had to play with the blue and yellow fluffy bone and neither one was willing to be distracted by another toy -- either Morgan's or Galen's -- so I informed them that if they were going to fight over it, neither of them could play with it and put that one away for a while. The dog really does make an excellent practice kid now and then.
tiger_spot: (foot)
The baby's hobby is gross motor development. She continues to get closer and closer to crawling without quite having gotten there yet. So far she has managed to get up on hands and knees or feet, briefly, and collapse in a slightly forward direction. She can also scoot herself backwards at quite a clip. Right now she points herself at whatever it is she wants and flails, scooting backwards. Then she realizes she's getting farther from her goal and gets upset, but continues pointing her front end at the target. We've had a sort of conceptual betting pool going on whether she will figure out how to go forwards first, or whether she will realize she's going backwards and start doing it deliberately. There's also a possible third dark-horse candidate, because she just recently figured out how to roll front-to-back, so in theory she could now just roll all the way to her destination.

She's noticed the dog, and reaches for him pretty much every time he's in sight. He is still a little dubious, but seems to have decided that she is a social being of some sort. He wants to lick her face a lot. I don't know if milk breath is delicious or what's going on there, because he doesn't generally try to lick the grownups.

Her first tooth is now well in and very sharp. I think she's working on a second one; she's gotten interested in the cold teething toys again after a bit of an interregnum.

Andres's father, Francisco, and his wife, Martha, were up for a visit this past week. This is the first time they've met Morgan. The first night they came over for dinner, Morgan was already kind of tired and cranky, and the arrival of these strange new people was just terribly upsetting. It took her a long time to calm down, partly because ever time she would start to settle, Francisco would come over to say hi and set her off again. Eventually she decided she was hungry, and once she'd eaten she felt a little better and was willing to come sit with everyone while we had dinner. She was in her high chair between Andres and Francisco, and for the first twenty minutes or so, Francisco would lean in to interact, she'd start whimpering, he'd snap back upright, and she'd stop. Then he'd lean in, she'd start whimpering.... Eventually she'd spent long enough chewing on her giraffe* and eying him suspiciously that she let him retrieve the giraffe for her when she dropped it over the side a few times, and then after that they were friends.

We also went down to visit Francisco and Martha and the whole passel of relatives they were staying with a few times, which went better because those were both lunchtime trips and Morgan was not so tired to start with. She was still a little nervous at the beginning of each visit, but once she got used to the group she seemed to like the attention.

She is very interested in food, so most times we sit down to dinner we give her a little bit of something to explore. Sometimes it's just a taste of sauce, but if we've got chunks of something baby-safe we'll give her a bit to introduce the concept of texture. So far she has had samples of sweet potato, squash, regular potato, guacamole, daal, various soups, a bit of naan... most of it just gets smeared on her hands, but a bit does make it into her mouth. I don't know that much of it makes it any farther than that, but it's not like she needs the nutrition. Last night she got a bit of lime and made the most remarkable disgusted face while bringing it back to her mouth over and over.

* It is not clear to me why the Sophie giraffe is so awesome, but Morgan sure does like it. Something about the shape makes it very easy to hang on to. It lives in her high chair to keep her entertained while we're eating. She likes to gnaw on it, sometimes while growling. It's all very nature show.
tiger_spot: (Galen)
[livejournal.com profile] andres_s_p_b's brother sent a cute little toy moose for Morgan. I noticed that the tag listed all kinds of interesting characteristics, so I was checking them out as listed -- ah, the antlers are for teething, and there's a squeaker in here, and these bits crinkle, and -- about this point the dog trotted up going "That sounds awesome! I love things that crinkle and squeak! Did you say something about being meant to be chewed on, because I can do that!" and we had to explain to him that this particular toy is not in fact for him, and perhaps he would like to go play with his starfish now instead?

It would be nice if baby toys and dog toys shared fewer characteristics. Or more; I suppose if all the baby's toys were as tough as the ones we get for the dog then sharing would be less of an issue.
tiger_spot: (Galen)
Today I started teaching Galen how to close the door. (I figure, if he can open it, he may as well learn to close it too. It's a useful skill, closing the door behind you....)

This morning we did a quick session starting with "touch the door," and this afternoon we got up to "give it a good big push in the correct direction" in another few minutes. I am pleased. This is clearly a task that plays into his particular skills. It is possible that the final little hump into "close the door so it latches" will present trouble of some sort, but a couple from this afternoon were nearly there so I think if we have any trouble with that trying a few from a position where I'm holding the door nearly shut to start with so that the initial push is enough to get the latch and then working backwards from there should be enough to get around it.

It's funny teaching Galen things. The usual idea with shaping[1] is that you don't put a cue on a behavior until the dog has it down pretty thoroughly, so that it's clear the cue means the finished behavior and not some kind of muddly half-attempt. Dogs that started out with clicker training and shaping as a learning method are (I am told) generally very enthusiastic about offering different behaviors or behavior variants in the presence of a clicker and the absence of a specific cue, so it generally goes quite quickly. Galen, however, wants desperately to be told what to do, so he just stares at me until I say something, and then if he doesn't recognize the instruction he'll try whatever seems to be working at the time. I suppose if I sat very patiently and tried playing 101 Things to do with a Box I might be able to get him trying more new things all by himself, but really on a daily basis quietly waiting for instructions is not a bad default behavior. So I wind up being very talkative and guiding ("Yeah! Give it another try! What got the click? How'd you do that? ::tap the door:: Was it something to do with this? YEAH!" when I'm trying to show him things, which is not in the abstract ideal but seems to work well enough for Galen.

He seems happy to have something new to work on. We haven't done any classes or anything recently, and he gets bored. I should go back to setting up little practice Rally courses in the park now and again. (He got kind of burned out on the Rally stuff because we were doing so much of it, but I bet he'd be interested again now.)


[1] Shaping is where you reward things that are increasingly like the desired behavior, starting from whatever the dog is doing that is most similar already. So in this case, I started by rewarding touching the door (because Galen is very willing to touch things -- if he hadn't been doing that right off I would have started by rewarding looking at or moving towards the door), then only touching it hard enough that it moved, then moving it in the correct direction, and once we get a few closed-all-the-ways I'll just be rewarding that, not the intermediate steps. It is distinct from luring, where you try to guide the dog into doing the correct action by, e.g., holding a treat where they can only reach it from the correct position/location (a lot of classes will start you off this way, because it's an easy technique for the human to learn), or physically manipulating the dog into position.
tiger_spot: (Default)
I have been up to everything lately. Here we go:

Friday was headlamp climbing at Planet Granite. This is an event where they turn out the lights and have you climb with a headlamp. It is difficult, especially on some of the more challenging routes where to keep your weight pointed in the right direction you need to know where you're going next.

There was also a costume contest, which none of us entered. Most of the costumes were not particularly climbing-appropriate, so we thought of ones that were, which we might use next year if we feel like it: Peter Pan, any superhero, a telephone lineman, James Bond, a spider, a piñata (I thought of that one watching [livejournal.com profile] andres_s_p_b get lowered from one of the really overhanging routes).

A few of the routes had chalkbags full of candy secured at the tops. I think they should do that all the time.


On Saturday, [livejournal.com profile] brooksmoses, [livejournal.com profile] suzanne, and I went to some friends' Gothic wedding, which was great fun and very them. Lots and lots of people had cameras, so I assume pictures will be turning up on the Internet soon, and I can point you to them then. It was a visual spectacular! (The cake was really good, too.)


On Sunday, [livejournal.com profile] chinders and I joined some friends to watch the San Jose Stage production of Cabaret. It was awesome! It's an intimate little theater, so there are no bad seats, and the entire cast did a wonderful job. Usually I would pick out particular performers to praise, but really everyone was great. Actually, I will single out the actress playing Helga, who also played the piano for the entire show and helped conduct. That was impressive and seamlessly done.

Later, we went to a Halloween party, which was also good fun.


Today [livejournal.com profile] cobalt_00 and I took Galen up to Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve, which has an off-leash area. We spent about an hour meandering around the off-leash loop. Galen had a good time checking out bushes and climbing over rocks and things. We found a random dilapidated staircase up the side of a hill, and he charged straight up it with great enthusiasm once we decided to go see what was at the top (nothing obvious, just some smaller, less official-looking trails). When we started out, he kept quite close to us and stayed on the paths, but by the time we headed out he'd used enough of his brain that he was kind of wandering off and getting more easily distracted by lizards and things.

On the way up to the off-leash part, we passed only two hikers, neither of whom had a dog, so trying it out on a weekday worked perfectly. I suspect it may get too crowded for Galen to be comfortable or safe there on weekends, but I will definitely go back when I have random weekdays off.

On the way back down, we found a car key lying in the middle of the trail. We took it back to the parking lot and tucked it under the windshield wiper of the car with the matching brand name. I hope the owner didn't get too stressed out between realizing it was missing and getting back to the vehicle.

Miscellany

Oct. 14th, 2011 02:46 pm
tiger_spot: (Default)
We have entered the dark time of year.

Lately, I'm getting up on train-catching days before the sun is properly up and biking home in the last little trailing bits of sunset. That means it's time to start buying my lunch more often, so I can take it out to the park and soak up some sunlight while it's there.

The other day, I went and bought lunch at the Indian place around the corner from my office, as I often do. However, it was cloudy and yucky out, so instead of taking it to the park I sat at the counter and watched the kitchen go. I knew the place was busy, but I hadn't realized quite how busy. I was really impressed watching all the various cooks zooming around doing six things at once, fetching and patting and frying and passing things off to other cooks and plating and serving and generally doing the well-oiled machine thing. An overclocked well-oiled machine.

One advantage of getting up before sunrise is that I cannot possibly be woken up before the alarm by the chickens or wild birds or anything, because nothing whatsoever is stirring out there. The chickens have been slow with egg production lately; Norska and Phoenix are both molting, so they're out of commission for a while. I may give in and buy store eggs again to support my ice cream creation experiments / late-night chocolate cake needs. (The five-spice syrup, by the way, worked stupendously. Piña colada next!)

***

Lunch today was exciting. I made a new recipe, kale bread, which is a fried Indian flatbread with kale, coriander, and chilis in it. They came out fairly tasty, although next time I am going to knead by hand, not using the food processor, because the food processor isn't really big enough and just makes a mess to clean up. Also I put too much water in, so the dough was really sticky and had to be overfloured to work with properly. As a proof-of-concept they worked, but I think I can make them better next time. [livejournal.com profile] brooksmoses helpfully fried them for me while I was finishing up the rolling and making a salad to go with them.

After the frying was done, the pan got a little overenthusiastic and set off the smoke alarm, which set off the dog, who remained agitated for quite a long time. One of the other alarms decided that ten minutes after the first one had gone off was a good time to start beeping for a battery replacement, which I'm sure reassured the dog not at all. He decided, after the beeping had in fact stopped, that the best thing to do was let himself out the front door. After being retrieved, he tried the back door (open to the screen to let out the smoke, so that one was easy). After being retrieved from there, he was not any happier about existence, and kept running around whining like something was making a noise I couldn't hear, although none of the other alarms were beeping or anything. After I sat out back with him for a while, he calmed down (and did a great job ignoring the chickens). Sunlight is magic, I guess.

***

I have noticed that some of my shirts are fitting differently in the arms and shoulders lately. I can only assume that I'm putting on muscle from climbing. In the abstract, this is good, but it is making it even harder to find shirts that fit, which I frankly didn't expect was possible.

Clearly I should only wear tank tops from now on.

***

The other day, coming home from the train station after Sociological Observation Shopping[1], part of my rear bike light fell off. I didn't realize it at the time -- I thought the noise was me running over a plastic cup or something of that nature. The next morning I checked the spot where the noise occurred (in the park) and found the light cover and the batteries. I reassembled the light and continued on my way. Unfortunately, the cover fell off again later in the ride, and before I could safely retrieve it a great big car ran right over it and pulverized the poor thing. (I did manage to get the batteries, which had not been pulverized.)

So now I have a nice new rear light. The screws holding it to the rack don't want to go in very far, so I'm a little concerned about its stability, but it seems to be doing okay so far.

[1] Sociological Observation Shopping is like shopping, but without the expectation (or in this case the fact) of buying anything (well, lunch and cream puffs, but those hardly count). It's much less stressful than the other kind. Oh, and we went to Paxton Gate, which I will have to take my sibling & sibling-in-law to if they ever come visit, because it is awesome. I wanted to buy them this lamp with chicken feet and a sort of bathysphere aesthetic and an anglerfish/lotus flower thing on a stem and a tentacle, but it was too expensive. (Aha. Not this one, but a similar one.) The website looks all respectable; this is a lie. The store is full of disreputably alarming things like mouse skeletons dressed up as cherubs and taxidermy unicorn heads and bowls full of penis bones and strings of dried pufferfish. Occasionally you get this feeling like you're being watched, and of course you are, by six things that have been dead for years and have their heads swapped around on the wrong bodies.
tiger_spot: (Galen)
Galen is sad that the electricians are gone. Now he doesn't have anybody to supervise, and the world is boring again.
tiger_spot: (Galen)
Being a Somewhat Compressed Version of Events

Galen: What the hell was that?!
us: Nothing. It's fine.
Galen: No, shit, those are explosions! We're under attack! FEAR! FIRE! FOES!
us: Yeah, okay, they're explosions. But they're fine! Nothing to worry about.
Galen: Are you sure? Perhaps you did not hear the explosions. THOSE WERE EXPLOSIONS, GUYS.
us: Trust us, we know what we're talking about. Do we look worried?
Galen: No... but you TOTALLY SHOULD.
us: It's all right. We know. Everything is okay.
Galen: You're not taking this seriously.
us: No. No, we're not.

Those of you who have heard my dog cuss can perhaps envision this more accurately. Ah, hounds.
tiger_spot: (Galen)
This weekend, we walked downtown with [livejournal.com profile] cobalt_00 and [livejournal.com profile] argh128 to get gelato. [livejournal.com profile] cobalt_00 and [livejournal.com profile] argh128 got dinner, too, since they'd spent hours building a new cat tree and hadn't managed to find time to eat yet.

On the way back, we stopped in at their place for a few minutes.

Galen found the cat tree. )

Cat in a dog suit, I swear. Needs levers to work the legs, which explains why he trips over them sometimes.
tiger_spot: (Galen)
Tonight Galen has successfully completed the Relaxation Protocol. We did it a little differently than described on that page, repeating each "day" of exercises as a unit until he could stay both put and relaxed through the whole thing. I treated "disappear from view" as "exit the front door" and "leave the room" as "exit the back door and walk back around the house to the front", since my main aim here is door-related. He took ages on Day 14 (when exiting the back door was introduced) because he kept wanting to follow me, but once he got the hang of it the additions in Day 15 went pretty quickly.

Now we move on to the extension I've written[1] specifically for chilling out about people coming to the door, which for the first time will involve other people. I do hope it's helpful.

If you want to volunteer to help us practice, I am all for it. The more people we get to practice with, the more likely it is to generalize. In a week or two, when I've seen how it's working, I will probably have a better idea about how I want to schedule that and will put out a call for assistance. There could well be cookies involved. :)


[1] Well, am writing -- I've got a 6-part section based around the other people having already been hanging around the house for a while, so that they're not too exciting to start with, but I'm still working on the subsequent parts in which the people are actually approaching the house from outside, being all new and exciting and stuff.
tiger_spot: (Default)
Today I set up the tent in the backyard so that we can introduce the dog to it and make sure he's generally comfortable with this new object and familiar with the basic Rules of Tent ("This is inside. Do not pee on it.") before we take him camping. So far I have learned the following things:

1. The diagrams in the tent assembly manual are misleading and not comprehensive.

2. It is possible for one person to assemble the Giant Tent of Doom, but I don't know that I'd recommend it.

3. Assembling a tent in the backyard startles the heck out of the chickens.

4. Boy, it's hot out.

5. These stakes bend really easily.

6. As it turns out, Dragon can slither through that space in the dog crate[1].

7. Teckla reacts to accessible junior chicken just exactly like one would expect (i.e., the sort of chase that ought to be scored to "Yakety Sax").

8. These color-coded buckles on the tent & rain fly are really handy.

9. Galen thinks the tent is pretty cool.

10. He shows no inclination to pee in or on it (though it is in the yard, and he is in general not all that willing to pee in the yard), but he thought maybe it would be a fun place to dig. The workings of the doggish brain are inexplicable.

11. The tent walls statically attract dog hair with a force greater than the force of gravity. This looks kind of cool but is probably going to be a pain to clean up.

12. The correct way to enter or exit the tent, according to Galen, is with a high, graceful leap over the little sill with the zipper on it.

13. The vestibule has a tendency to pull off the stakes if they are not firmly sunk into the ground. I am not willing to bother sinking stakes into the ground any more firmly than they go when I step on them when the tent is set up in the yard for dog introduction purposes.

14. The air mattress inflating pump should not be stored with the batteries in it, because one of them leaked. I have cleaned it up and think it will be okay once it dries out, but checking whether Galen has an issue with air mattresses will have to wait for another time.


[1] I moved the junior chickens outside yesterday. They're in the plastic dog crate that Galen chewed up, tucked under the coop in the shady part of the run. I covered the chewed-up bits with duct tape so nobody would get scratched, but there was still a space below the door where plastic was missing. It looked a little borderline as to whether the small chickens could fit through it, so I figured I'd give it a try and fix it later if it turned out they could. There is cardboard there now. Also yesterday, I got out all the material needed to divide the run into two parts so each set of chickens could have outside space until the little guys are big enough to be safely combined with the older chickens, then looked at how much space the dog crate takes up, how difficult it would be to arrange a temporary divider in a way that still allowed access to the crate for feeding and cleaning, and decided that the first idea I'd had, where each pair of chickens can alternate days out in the run, was in fact a fine idea.

Beasties

Apr. 13th, 2011 04:19 pm
tiger_spot: (chickens)
1. Galen was out sunning himself on the porch this morning, as he likes to do. Eventually, he decided he'd had enough, but I was back in the office and not handy for door-opening duties. So he let himself in.

Intelligence is not necessarily a desirable trait in a dog.

2. His other I-am-too-smart-for-my-own-good behavior lately is substantially more annoying. When we're out on walks, he's supposed to sit and wait for permission before crossing a street. (This is a safety measure.) He's quite good at this and knows darn well what he's supposed to be doing, although occasionally he gets confused at oddly-shaped curbs. Lately, he's taken to sitting beautifully and quickly... so long as we are headed away from the house. As soon as we turn around and start walking back towards home, he's all "Okay, okay, so the rule is, first I sit down, then we cross the street? So if I don't sit down, we can just turn that way and keep walking, right? Right?"

Not right.

Irritating.

I figure if I just don't let this work, in the sense of changing my mind about where we are going, he will eventually give it up, because walking, even in the direction of home, has to be better than standing on a street corner for minutes on end, right? Right?

3. The little chickens are seriously into flying right now. Eventually they'll be back to the usual chicken jumping with a power assist, but right now they've got a good combination of low weight and thoroughly feathered wings. I don't remember Norska and Teckla doing this, but these two are definitely going through a stage of I Am a Bird and That Means I Can Fly! Today, I was standing near the brooder holding Phoenix, and Dragon climbed out of the brooder and flew over to my shoulder. Awww, she likes me! (Or she was just trying to stay close to the other chicken, but I'll take what I can get.)

4. The Humane Society Silicon Valley is having a set-your-own-adoption-fee event for adult dogs and cats all month.

5. Speaking of dogs and cats, I must brag on Galen for a minute here. This past weekend, we went over to [livejournal.com profile] brooksmoses's place to help clean things, and Galen did very well with the cats. Julie went and hid in the dresser, as usual, but Beatrice stayed out in the main part of the house and remained unmolested for hours. She was a little discomfited when he went to see what the meowing was about, but as [livejournal.com profile] brooksmoses said, "I don't know what you're complaining about; you called him." (And he was perfectly polite in his investigation, not even running to get there.)

Towards the end of the visit, Julie came out to see what was what. Unfortunately, the exaggerated cautious slinking was a little too interesting, so Galen stood up to see what it was, and that startled both cats enough that they left the room and didn't come back out while we were still there. I'm amazed they got that far, though -- I didn't think Julie would ever consent to be in the same room with the dog.
tiger_spot: (Default)
News in snippets:

Last weekend, [livejournal.com profile] chinders and I went kayaking with one of her coworkers and a large party of birthday well-wishers. It was fun, although I think I like kayaking more as a way to get somewhere, perhaps somewhere with a picnic lunch, than as just a thing to do paddling around for a while.

We saw lots of sea otters and sea lions. The otters were adorable. Ever so often an otter would pop up with a crab or some other food item, and a seagull would immediately swoop down and sidle up to it, keeping a careful watch for dropped bits. (I didn't know you could sidle while swimming, but seagulls seem fairly good at it.)

If you rent an open kayak, the rental guy will offer you a bunch of waterproof clothing. TAKE THE WATERPROOF CLOTHING, no matter what he says about it not being very breathable and how nice a day it is. You will wind up sitting in a few inches of water, gradually delivered to the interior of the boat via the paddle dripping on your knees, so you will be happier with waterproof pants. I did not take the waterproof pants (I did take the jacket), and while I was not miserably cold out on the water, I was trying-to-remember-symptoms-of-shock shivering and clumsy once we got on shore, while I was changing into my dry clothes.

After the kayaking, we ate at this seafood place that was remarkably busy for three in the afternoon, and had all manner of artichokes. Mmm, artichoke smothered in cheese.


Monday, Tethys had surgery to remove a few lumps. She is recovering very nicely.


Monday and Tuesday I was sick like a sick thing. I am also recovering nicely, although I am ready for my nose to stop running. Any time now, nose.


Thursday, [livejournal.com profile] brooksmoses and I took the afternoon off to explore the city. The weather was not the sort of weather we'd been envisioning for this, but we figured if we let it change our plans we'd only be encouraging it. So we charged off down Folsom, stopping briefly for Extreme Pizza (the pizza was not particularly extreme, but they did have a chair made out of skis). Then we went to Humphry Slocombe, where we had strange ice cream (mango carrot sorbet and fluffernutter sundae) and planned to come back and have more strange ice cream later. Afterwards, we poked around the Mission looking at murals, stopping in a used bookstore, poking our heads in another interesting store or two, and getting hailed on twice.

Brooks was pretty tired by the time we got back to the train, and our backs were sore from used books and things, so next time we may plan around bus schedules a bit instead of walking the whole time. But there will definitely be a next time; despite the weather's best efforts we had a good time.


Saturday, the weather was also foiled by my going out to the Save the Bay event with [livejournal.com profile] plymouth. All of the plants of the type we were working on (sticky monkeyflower) had been planted by the time we cleared our last few patches of ground, so we wound up planting some of the other kind (yarrow) instead. It was amazingly muddy, but pretty much all the volunteers who'd signed up showed up despite the rain (hah, take that, rain!) so we finished up early.

Finishing early was good, because it meant [livejournal.com profile] chinders and I could make it out to the tail end of the rally obedience competition to watch the Novice event, which is what I'll be competing in once I actually sign up for a competition. It was educational, although we should have brought paper to take notes -- by the time they announced the scores, I couldn't remember what the dogs had done exactly so I couldn't tell what they were losing points for.


I am really glad tomorrow is a holiday, because I am bone tired.
tiger_spot: (Galen)
It's raining this morning. I checked the weather earlier and determined that as far as the radar was concerned, it was just going to keep raining all day at about the same level of raininess, so rather than wait fruitlessly for it to stop I went and got my raincoat and my bag of dog-walking implements and the dog, who had been lurking about making hopeful eyes for a while.

Then we had this conversation, loosely translated:

me: You wanna go for a walk?
Galen: Oh boy do I! Yes please.
(I attach the leash and get my keys; Galen sits attentively by the door, which I open.)
me: Okay, let's go!
Galen: Hang on, it smells wet out there.
me: Come on!
Galen (emerging slowly from the house): But there's water...
me (stepping off the covered part of the porch): Let's go!
Galen (remaining very solidly on the dry part): How 'bout we don't?
me: You wanna go for a walk? Come on!
Galen: I bring to your attention the water falling from the sky.
Galen: Also my feet have suddenly fused with the concrete.
Galen: You should come back on the dry part too. Don't you know it's raining?
me: But walking!
Galen: But dry.

So we didn't go for a walk this morning.
tiger_spot: (Default)
Hello, living.

I am not sick any more. It got me awfully behind on things, but I seem to be about caught up. Now I shall catch you up.

Our Thanksgiving trip was quite nice, and I have here on my desk a giant hard drive full of all the home movies ever, courtesy my sibling. Yay sibling!

While I was sick, my permanent retainer succumbed to the pressure of years of flossing. I had my dentist remove it, polish off the remaining adhesive, and recommend me some orthodontists to consult about whether it (and/or my top retainer, which has been broken for years) should be replaced or altered in some way or whether I can just have teeth like a normal person now. I am really enjoying having the back surface of my front teeth back, so I intend to be very thorough about explaining to these orthodontists, when I get around to calling them, that I do not care what my teeth look like as long as they are more or less symmetrical, I did not want braces in the first place so the effects of said braces wearing off are irrelevant, and really they should only recommend I do or wear anything if not doing it is going to hurt or make it hard for me to eat. I like eating.

I made cookies for a holiday cookie swap and swapped them for other cookies yesterday. They are mostly gone now. The swapping-party was fun.

Andres put the house lights up and we hung the wreath on the door, but we haven't got a Christmas tree yet. This feels late to me, but we will go fetch one and decorate it up this weekend and there will be plenty of days of Christmas tree. (The live tree we used to have is no more; it was scraggly and horrible anyway, because of having been painted blue before we got it, and it's hard to keep container plants alive outdoors here. Or, as Andres put it: "You murdered Sparky!" Yes. Yes I did.)

Galen has been doing fairly well learning Rally Obedience. The class proper is over, but the instructor has started doing drop-in classes to cover the Advanced and Excellent exercises. He's still having trouble with right-hand finishes, which I expected given how long it took him to learn left-hand finishes. He's having trouble with them in really interesting and consistent ways, which reveals a lot about his thought processes and learning style, but it would be nice if he would just get the hang of them already. Also, apparently he really likes backing up (this was one of the new exercises last week, although I vaguely recall working on it a little bit just as a trick a while back). I should practice that this evening just to see if he's still as enthusiastic as he was in class.

Galen also had a veterinary incident a little while ago. Google has dispensers containing a particular kind of chewing gum that is high in xylitol, an artificial sweetener with some antibiotic properties. Unfortunately, xylitol is also extremely toxic to dogs. Someone spilled some of the gum, and Galen, who loves gum, found and consumed it instantly. Three pieces of the stuff is a lethal dose for a dog his size, so Andres rushed him to the vet, and he was unhappy for the rest of the day but is fine now.

The chickens have been molting. This is an unfortunate state in which feathers fall out, new, itchy, poky pinfeathers grow in, no eggs are laid, very little food is eaten, and tempers are even crankier than usual. (I would be cranky, too, if my feathers fell out in this weather.) I think Teckla's about coming out of it, though -- somebody's been starting to eat a reasonable amount of food again, and all the feathers clogging up the bedding-scoop have white spots so they're definitely Norska's. Also she's been merely her normal level of cranky the last few days, rather than the Bitch Queen From Hell she was last week and earlier.

Cathy is sick again, poor thing. She has a well-deserved promotion and accompanying massive raise to comfort her in her extremity, but it's awfully unfair to be sick again already.

Tethys is no longer sick, which is surprising but good. I was expecting her to need to stay on the antibiotics to manage the respiratory disease, since that is what the boys needed, but one course seems to have cleared it up. Hurrah!

As of yesterday, all the presents that need to be shipped have been ordered and/or mailed. I thought I had about half the household Christmas present shopping done, but then I got an e-mail that one thing I ordered wouldn't be in until after the new year (and did I perhaps want to cancel, which was very nice of them to ask, so I said no, I'll save it for a birthday present or something, but I should come up with another little Christmas thing in the meantime) and decided to maybe add a few things here and there, so there will be more happening on that front. Also the first of the presents I ordered to come to me arrived, so I can begin wrapping now. We probably need more ribbon, I think we were low last time I used some.

Tomorrow I will begin using the Clipper public transit payment system. I think I have set it up in such a way that it will actually work, and if this is so I will e-mail the various companies involved to tell them how to do that, because their customer service departments were well-meaning but entirely unhelpful. Or perhaps I will be ignominiously ejected from the train. We'll see.

... and I think that is the entire contents of my brain at the moment.

How are you?
tiger_spot: (Galen)
Last night, Andres and I were talking about the dog, and I mentioned that with all the nice things he has, we've never given him a bone. Andres pointed out that, in addition to the plush bones and the Nylabones and the bone-shaped biscuits, we had in fact tried him on an actual honest-to-god bone shortly after we'd gotten him. Admittedly, an extremely cleaned and bleached and processed sort of bone, filled with some kind of bacon-flavored goo or gel, extremely unlikely to get meat filth all over the carpets, but made of actual bone. The dog never evinced the slightest interest in it.

I sorted out some things in the den closet today. Mostly I went through the pet stuff, sorting out which dog toys can be given to the dog, which need repairs, and which have been demoted to raw material. I also threw out a really remarkable quantity of very expired rat medication. While I was tidying, I had the closet door open. Galen wandered in as I was putting things back, and there -- there on the bottom shelf, which I had forgotten had any dog-related things on it -- he found an Object of Interest. He sniffed, and poked, and Was Deeply Intrigued. So I gave him the object -- have you guessed it yet? -- and he settled down very happily for about an hour chomping away on the aforementioned bone, after ignoring it completely for ten months.

Sigh.
tiger_spot: (Magritte)
We have entered that unpleasant time of the year in which I both get ready for work and come home from work in the dark. The cold, damp, unforgiving dark. I don't like it.

Must remember to go take my lunch to the park more often when I'm up at the office. Midday sunlight is not everything, but it's helpful. And speaking of sunlight, I have been a total hermit lately and should cut that out, so if you invite me to anything with sunlight in it, I will most likely take you up on it unless I'm working. Possibly things without sunlight, too, if they happen at a time when there is not otherwise sunlight to be had.

Today I am suffering what appears to be a repeat of the same cold I had earlier this month. This time I am resting the first day I feel sick, instead of trying to bull through to meet clumps of deadlines and falling over ded towards the end of the week. Maybe it will go away faster. Maybe not. In either case, I don't have nearly such a severe case of Urgent Deadlines Only I Can Meet this time, which helps with the resting.

In the opposite-of-resting corner, we the humans of the household have taken up indoor rock climbing. [livejournal.com profile] chinders started going with some of her friends from work, and sort of talked the rest of us into it. The first time I tried it, I got very freaked out about the part where you get lowered from the top of the wall instead of climbing back down, but having done a couple practice falls from much lower down, I don't mind it nearly so much now. (This was a useful lesson from teaching Galen how to freak out less about other dogs -- work under threshold. If you are already having the freaking-out reaction, no learning is taking place, so get comfortable with the troubling thing at a low enough level that you don't freak out, and then gradually you can handle higher levels without freaking out either. On our first recent rock-climbing trip, I did a lot of under-threshold practice at trusting the harness and belay system, and what do you know, it turns out to be pretty trustworthy.)

Speaking of the dog, he has a new adventure too. The two of us signed up for a beginning Rally Obedience class, which should serve many useful functions. I'm getting out of the house (see also, total hermit), the dog is getting an interesting mental activity (he loves classes; he doesn't always have the endurance to pay attention for the whole hour, but he always has a great time for the first forty-five minutes or so), and we will both learn many useful things about heeling. I was also thinking it would be useful for Galen and I to have an individual bonding experience -- this appears to have been wildly more successful than I was hoping, as he is under my desk right now, and has been otherwise lurking about much closer to me than he usually does, after just one class. Very odd. All his previous classes have been attended by all three humans, but [livejournal.com profile] chinders is taking a computer science class this semester and has No Extra Time, and [livejournal.com profile] andres_s_p_b is hard to wake up before noon on weekends. Or weekdays, really, but especially weekends. The only other people in the class are a couple and their two Akitas, so we'll be getting lots of personalized attention.

There are some aspects of the class I'm less sure about. It meets outside, in an area at the Humane Society Silicon Valley's new complex that turns out to be directly adjacent to the large dog side of the dog park. During the first class last weekend, it rained on us the entire time, which made poor Galen terribly unhappy but also meant there were no other dogs running around being distracting. If Galen can cope with other dogs over there, it'll be really excellent practice at ignoring them, but assuming the weather is better this weekend (cross fingers, but the prediction doesn't look good right now) the presence of running dogs on the other side of that fence is going to be one heck of a challenge. I was concerned about the new location itself being distracting, but after the first lap around the fence, during which he acted like he'd never heard of heeling, he realized we were Doing Things and treats could well be involved and started paying attention. So that's all right. He refused entirely to lie down, but I wouldn't lie down on wet artificial turf either so I cannot blame him. We did the down exercises with a sit instead, and then tried them at home once we were both dry and warm and happy again.

Axial Tilt

Sep. 12th, 2010 08:30 pm
tiger_spot: (glare)
Axial tilt: I don't like it. I want my sunlight back!

Also, today I raked, mowed, edged, and raked and weeded the flowerbeds around the front lawn. Galen hung out with me while I was at it, so the kids next door and umpty-hundreds of their cousins (well, three or four, but it seems like a lot when they're all moving around!) of course had to come over and pet him and sniff him ("Look! When I sniff him he sniffs back! Watch this!") and hold his tail and ineffectually attempt to order him around (it works better when you don't have six kids trying to tell the dog to do something, even if they're all trying to tell him to do the same thing, which is not necessarily the case).

I'm not really sure what Galen thinks of kids. He always seems happy to see them, but often looks a bit overwhelmed once they've actually arrived. To be fair, this is how a lot of kids react to him, too. He is very patient with the whole petting and ear-tugging and general manhandling thing.
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