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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dog Fix

We've been enjoying trips to the dog park much more since we benefit from the confidence of Sasha. She has a very Emily-like attitude and it's hard to find a dog she doesn't get along with. (Unfortunately, my dad's dog Molly is one of those. The one thing Sasha cannot stand is being growled at. She growls back, which makes Molly more frightened and growly, which makes Sasha...well, you get the point.)

So, since we've had beaucoup time off with the holidays, we had a couple trips to the dog parks, both in Modesto and Turlock, and I brought my camera along...

I think my dad would call the usual crowd at the Modesto dog park a "happy swirl of dogs". And I say Ha! to the "no unneutered dogs allowed" rule at some parks... Look at how well the Modesto dogs are getting along! There are usually at least a few pits or pit mixes at the popular times, and everyone generally gets along fine. Note how confident Cyrus seems... (although he's still not willing to go up for a sniff and petting of a person stranger). Sasha is harder to catch on camera, since she's dashing around like the social butterfly she is.


Herding dogs intimidate our dogs a little, since the "stalking" predatory behavior is what they use to get herds to move...or other dogs to play with them. Cy and Sash worry that the dog is really "after" them which is why there's some tension here, but they're learning to relax a little.

Tag team the big dog. If the two of them weigh as much as the one of him, that makes it fair, right?

The beagle's cute and he was friendly, but it's not hard to remember why I never wanted a scent hound... Every time he'd get excited, or other dogs would run near him in the same approximate direction, he'd start up with the baying again.

The Green Ring Press is born!

One of the last classes I took as an undergrad was printmaking. I loved it. We worked mainly in intaglio, mostly etchings. I've wanted to get back into printing ever since the end of that class, but etching presses are horrifically expensive. And extremely heavy, what with the steel rollers and press beds, so even if you can find one used, it'd cost a king's ransom to have it shipped.

So, to make a long story short, Matt and I have been trying to think of ways to build a press for some time. I am not a machinist, or even particularly mechanical, so it did not seem likely that I would be able to build an etching press myself, no matter how much I wanted one. Then I found out that my favorite online printmaker, of (how could I not be a fan of someone who does printmaking and adopted 3 retired racers?), built a press from instructions at a Mosswork's studio website, .

This is not designed to be an etching press, and I haven't tested it with drypoint yet, but it will do any manner of relief printing. (Unfortunately, the plates for those take a lot longer than I was hoping, so I won't have images of our prints to put up until a little later.) Still, it's very, very exciting and Matt and I have been having a ball so far with it. What a lovely guy I have to make something like that for me. (Afterwards, I bought him a "thank you Wii", so don't think he's all work and no play. ^_~)

Here are some images from the Making of the Press.

Here are the major components, plus a lot of fiddly hardware bits and some springs.

Getting started in the garage-cum-workshop

The doubled 2x4 is centered under the press bed, with a matching set at the top of the press.

All it needs now is the driving force, Jack. Captain Bottle Jack, to be precise.

This square of plywood will become the platen. The countersunk eyebolts hook up to the springs which retract the platen when the pressure from the jack is released.

Ta da!
We're still getting the hang of the actual printing process, so I'll have to post scans of our prints later. When we have nicer ones and I want to take time out of carving printing blocks to scan images...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Yay! Living up to the hype!

We'll work up to this slowly. Here, really quickly, is an image of a drawing I'm working on. I believe it's a 1.5'X2.5' image a tree against the sky. (pretty much branches, foliage, and blue), using my ink pen collection with tiny lines.

Yes, I'm neurotic. But it looks cool. Very Chuck Close meets George Seurat.

This weekend I attended the ASA Scramble and Archive Hunt. Wicked cool! But the best two hours were spent in Fresno, getting to visit Laurel, Nate, and their criminally adorable children. I had Cyrus with me and he fascinated the kids. He was ok (shy, of course, but not as bad as with adults) and they were extremely gentle and good around them. We've got to visit again! Here's the kids and their adorableness. I didn't take picture of the cute apartment, I was so preoccupied thinking Cyrus would growl. (Unfair - he never did, he's way too sweet for that)

Logan (his shirt says "My Parents are Exhausted")

Cutie Chloe! She was playing Peek-a-Boo with Cyrus. If you're related to me, friend Laurel on Facebook and check out her photo galleries of her kids. Particularly "Chloe loves".

Puppy hunt! Cyrus didn't actually get to chase any rabbits. His group (himself, JJ, and Pearl) didn't scare up any rabbits close enough for them to see. The first person to see a rabbit run yells "Rabbit!" to get everyone's attention. Since the puppies didn't know what they were doing, they all looked at the yelling person rather than trying to find the rabbit. Oh, well. It was great fun anyway. The other 5 sets of dogs got pretty good courses, particularly the veterans (who all know what to do when they hear Rabbit!), and it was a full day with interesting saluki people and beautiful dogs. Plus, getting to walk Cyrus. We are both exhausted.

Seven of the 11 Rock 'n' Roll puppies came. Here are JJ, Strider, Kody, and Quila (from the left). Not shown are Pearl, Rider, and Cyrus.

Cyrus strikes a pose while we break for lunch, after a frustrating 2 or so hours of being "on the line" and seeing no rabbits close enough for a course. Isn't he cute?

I tried getting some video of the courses, but the dogs were sooo far away by the time the camera turned on that it never worked. Plus, my camera doesn't have great zoom. So here is a consolation video of Cyrus and Sasha playing on the porch. Trust me, it's more action than you can see in the grainy, blurry, "this is a field of dry brush" videos I took at the hunt.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Busy month

So, it's been a busy few weeks and my blog is woefully neglected. I'd like to point out that my zoo still has it fairly well. We signed Cyrus up for a puppy hunt next week (no, we're not hunting puppies) and he had a show last weekend. We brought Sasha with us (Mya happily visited Mom and the rest of the family), so she had a good time too. Once again, we came in dead last, second to brother Rider, who - incidentally - was gimpy. >sigh< I think I am not meant to show. I believe Cyrus will do much better when Jim takes over showing him. We know, in my own unbiased opinion, that he is clearly a gorgeous dog, deserving of all wins. :)

But the up note was that we visited the Turlock dog park for the first time. That's a nice park. Set on a slope, so there's good exercise on varied terrain. They divide the park between large and small dogs, and on Saturday there was this little black dog whose favorite game is getting the big dogs to chase her up and down the length of the dividing fence. All us owners leaned back in satisfaction and said, "Yep, they'll sleep tonight!" as they ran pellmell up and down the 150 ft fence, slope included. Good pups. On Thanksgiving, we had the park to ourselves most of the day, so even Mya got to go in. While we waited for the last couple people to leave, I took Mya over to the great children's play area they have. Here's some vid of her on the slides (I'm not sure everyone believes me about how much she loves them). I didn't get better shots because I was manning both the dog and the camera - Matt was in the dogpark with the big pups - and it was tough to get Mya to wait at the top of the slide for me to get ready with the camera rather than zoom down pellmell as soon as I put her up there.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Happy Moments

My mom seems to think that having 3 dogs and 2 cats and a snake is unbelievably complicated and a drain on time and energy.

Right now, I'm busy with a lot of things, including working full time and deep in two master's classes online.

All these crazy animals help keep me sane. Sure, it takes time to walk them, play with them, feed them, and clean up after them. But there is only so much time I can spend on "work" things. Judging by my previous two semesters, I am probably not spending any more "free" time doing non-work, non-chore things. When I reach a certain stress threshold, I check out and do something like read or watch a movie. Pet-time has taken the place of much of my reading or other elective activities. Walking the dogs is much more refreshing than watching an episode of Kare Kano. Sure, neither activity gets the bathroom cleaned right now, but cleaning the bathroom doesn't leave me feeling happy and recharged, the way a good 10 or 15 minutes of tug and fetch with Sasha does. The Zoo gives us a full and happy house. I wouldn't trade that for a spotless floor or even a magically-emptying dishwasher.

Here are some happy moments from this weekend, despite working on two school assignments and some house projects. (You can bet I wouldn't be posting pictures of a clean kitchen counter, even if I had one)

Sasha test-drives the new dog house, under construction. She seems to approve.

I love this shot. True, she is still round as a bullet, but this pic makes her look speedy. She accompanied us to Home Depot for dog-house-building supplies. It must have been Take Your Dog to Your Local Hardware Store Day, since she was one of three pooches there.

Cyrus borrow's Sasha's collar (he can do that, now that I walk the big dogs separately, to work on pulling issues). I think he looks snappy in it. Matt says he looks girly (he already has enough people saying, She's pretty! because of those lovely blond locks framing his face). It's hard to get walking-the-dog pictures of their faces... there's too many interesting smells! (In contrast, almost all of the at home shots are face shots. Never know, I might be getting ready to feed them something at any moment, right?)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Building a new exhibit

Between work and school, I hate to spend more time at a computer than necessary. This is bad for a blog. So, for a quick update... Sasha and Moira continue to settle in nicely. We are also working on a new exhibit named "Dog Palace" which will be big enough to shelter all three dogs from the weather at once. We do at least know they will all curl up pretty close when they want to, as is evidenced by the picture below.

Lest you think they don't get along after you watch the video. The kittehs get along great. And are super cute together.

'Course, Moira's supercute on her own. A little circle of kitteh.

Here is the new exhibit as it develops. Good to have a handyman in the house! I helped. I didn't mash my thumb.

Mya appreciates Sasha, who contributed the lovely lounging platform that Mya is using. She was bored being inside on housecleaning day. It was so nice outside...

As we can see, Sasha is now perfectly comfortable on all furniture. Cyrus' look of concern is from the fact that Sasha is clearly possessed by demons.

Now for the fun video from our local panther exhibit.

Monday, October 5, 2009

And Now for Someone Completely Different

Well, not completely different. If you notice, she's quite like Cyrus...

Sasha is a greyhound-husky mix and her arrival means the zoo is full. She is a joy to have and is fitting in well her. I think she likes us.

Monday, September 28, 2009

New to the Zoo

I believe one dog is too few and is destined to be lonely, especially when few families can make it on one income. Matt feels the same about cats. Although Quincy gets along great with the dogs (he frequently pounces on Mya or Cyrus to initiate play), there are stretches of time where the dogs are outside and Quincy is left by himself. Plus, let's be honest, Matt wanted two cats to begin with. So, without further ado, we welcome...

Who can resist that face? Moira came to us from the Manteca Animal Shelter. I don't know how they do it, but they manage to lower the adoption fee on animals that have been spayed or neutered. I know the procedure is an expense for the city/county just like it is to us regular citizens, but I think that is a wonderful way of encouraging ownership of altered animals. We need more programs like this, less of the "mandatory spay/neuter" type.

Anyway, Moira, a.k.a Sugar Bell, had been previously adopted by a woman who apparently had not run the idea past her husband. When he got home, he made her take the cat back to the pound. Although there is a delay on owner surrendered pets before they can be adopted out again, the lady at the shelter allowed us to take Moira home. As corny as her name was, it totally fit her personality... this kitten is pure sweet. I think the shelter employee was just happy to see her go to a good home. So were we.

What does Quincy think of all this? I think he likes her. They're getting to know each other slowly. Cats, y'know. She's a little older than him, but only by a matter of a week or two. Matt reports that he has actually seen them playing together. I haven't yet, but it's mostly because the dogs follow me around, and they get all excited when the cats get excited and Moira's still a little shy about dogs coming over to sniff her. (She's a trooper, though. She stands her ground very calmly, then walks away. Totally opposite of Quincy's paw-to-the-face method, but still effective.)

The most unexpected thing? Take a look at this! Are they going to be friends? Or is Mya just keeping an eye on the new interloper? I like to think friends.

On a side note... Look! It's a real garden! Actual flowers that I planted myself! So pretty... (Some of my standards are woefully low...)

And let's not forget the home orchard. Isn't it a thing of beauty? These will be the best four mandarin oranges in the world. I just know it.

A New Page

Well, the house appraisal is done. Whew! One more step that we can check off our list. Since we had everything neatened up for the appraiser, I took some pictures. Look how far everything's come!

Living room from the left side.

From the right side...

Kitchen/Dining Room

And some fun stuff. A rare video of Mya and Cyrus playing tug-o'-war. My favorite part? When he pulls it away from her, he stops and holds it still, like, "Oh, grab back on. Got a good hold? Okay!" The growling is all Mya.

So, we did get a second cat for Quincy (and Matt). She's great, too - she'll get her own post a little later. But I wanted to highlight the fabulousness of Q-Ball, the Tailless Wonder. This cat has cajones and I'm so happy he ended up with us. He and Cyrus are great together.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Saint Emily

This morning I heard geese overhead, heading for warmer climes ahead of the cold they know is coming. Although we still technically have a week left of summer, this year is turning inexhorably to winter, a time of rest and darkness. It was cold this morning and Emily did something she'd never done before: she came into our room to curl up on the blanket we have down beside our bed in hopes that the other two dogs will sleep there rather than on our blankets. I think it was because she was cold in the living room and wanted a place to sleep in out of the drafts. Matt tells me that it was her way of saying, "I love you and we had a good life together. I know it's time and I think I'm ready."

I'm glad she does not have to face another winter. I was afraid she wouldn't make it through the last one.

Today was one of her good days, which were becoming rarer. I think it helped that she got to sleep in a little longer than normal, since I took the morning off of work. We were early for the vet apppointment, so I took her on a walk through the empty lots near the office. She did get to wag her tail again when she saw Dad. I miss her, and I don't think I'll ever get over the guilt, even though I think it was the right decision.

June 1996 - September 15, 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

New Arrival at the Animal House

Our newest member of the Zoo Family is Quincy. My cousin Keren found Quincy as a wee black puffball. He was around 4 or 5 weeks old and clearly abused (he had burned off whiskers and we suspect that his tail may have been pulled off rather than naturally manx). Even so, he has a lovely, friendly and brave disposition. My cousin kept him for us around 2 months while we prepped the new house, since we couldn't have a cat in the rental. She raised him well and her tiny chihuahua, Sugar, was Quincy's best buddy. They tousled and chased and Sugar taught Quincy a little about dogs. Now, an older Quincy has joined us. Here he is exploring his new digs.

From the beginning, he had little fear of (although a healthy respect for) the dogs, despite the fact that Cyrus, at least, is an order of magnitude larger than Sugar. We found that this bravery extends equally to a willingness to, say, attack feet carelessly left unattended at the edge of the bed. I hear that's a cat thing.

Here is a video of Quincy and the dogs. He will actually sometimes play with Cyrus (he likes to bat Cyrus' fringed ears), but he persists in swatting Mya. This is because Mya is determined to try and bite him at every opportunity. She's like the dog from Bunnicula, determined that our house is being overrun by the spawn of evil and she's the only one who can defend us...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Exhibits

So close to being done! Our living room is shaping up nicely, with only a few more feet of tile left to go (compared with the 1000 square feet we started with). It's going to be the most beautiful remodel ever. Says me.

Surprisingly peaceful scene...all three dogs napping together. Emily is deigning to share space with the other two. She's usually much more standoffish, since she was an only dog for so long. Mya and Cyrus, on the other hand, love to snuggle.

We heard that lovely Layla was visiting Jim and Linda for the weekend. Since she and Cyrus hit it off so well at the dog show, we brought him over to visit. Here, all four siblings are in the puppies' kennel (Rider, of the black- and fluffiness, wisely escapes the heat by laying on top of his dog house and refusing to get involved). Cyrus' familiarity with sharp turns and tight spaces gives him the advantage... All the puppies from this litter are just wonderful.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Coming right along

Unfortunately, I didn't think to take "before" pictures, but I did save the photos from the original listing website. Here some are for comparison.

We are about halfway done laying the tile in the living room. The tile is completed everywhere else (although the hallway and living room still have to be grouted and sealed).

Mighty man Matt in a heroic pose, since I didn't have a good comparable picture to the one above. But here, you can see the new pain as well as the color we are painting the doors. The previous post has a good picture of the tile we're putting in the living room.

The floor is done in all the bedrooms. You can also see the decorative thresholds that Matt designed.

Blah in the old picture! Especially the chocolate brown baseboards.

Ignore the clutter. I really like our paint colors.

Yucky brown in the kitchen! Looks much nicer now.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lompoc Dog Show July 25-26, 2009

The show actually ran Thursday through Sunday, but we drove down Friday morning and I only entered Cyrus on Saturday and Sunday. My goal for the weekend was for him to have a good time for his first show. He has a long memory for bad experiences (don't we all?) and I didn't want to start him off with a dislike of the ring. In that respect, we came home winners because I think he enjoyed himself. Bits of leftover prime rib in the ring on Sunday may have helped. He did come home with a ribbon from Saturday, but statistics were with him. There were only five puppies in his class.

There was a grand family reunion, with most of the puppies from the litter attending. Cyrus would definitely like to see more of Layla, preferably where there is sufficient fenced ground for running around like the whirling dervishes they are.

If there was a ribbon for cute, Cyrus would have come in first.

Left to right the dogs are: Kodi, Cyrus, Pearl, Rider, Aria, Strider, Layla, JJ, Solaris, and Quila.

I think this is the best still shot from the ring. He's doing a whippet impression, which is his way of saying, "Mom, the grass is wet and cold and icky." Or, "I don't like the judge" or "I'd rather put my feet where I want to put them" or "This is boring, let's go play with Layla." The whippet impression is very versatile. He uses it often.

Cyrus held it together pretty well his first day, I think. He was a champ about letting a stranger open his mouth and feel him all over. It wasn't until we completed the "down and back", and the judge tried to pat his head, that he decided enough was enough. As we set out for our last trip around the ring, you can see him keep looking over his shoulder... "Is that scary guy still after me? He might be following us!"

Sunday, July 5, 2009

New House Updates

Oh, the blessing of knowing men with "skills." In this case, tile-laying skills. Thank you, thank you, to Dad and Aaron for all their hard work (and Mom and Matt for helping clean grout lines, grout, keep up a steady supply of clean water and tile, etc. Don't think I sat back and twiddled my thumbs, I helped clean and grout in the back rooms, until I wore out my knees crouching on the floors). Anyway, the bedrooms are nearly all finished, with a little bit of tile left to lay in the master closet, thanks to the hard work of my dad. Yay, Dad!

Aaron came over yesterday to help start the living room. Between the two of them, they laid more than 100 sq ft of tile in one go. Rock on! The smaller, 12" tiles seem to go faster than the 16" we picked for the bedrooms. It looks gorgeous.

Props also to Matt for the idea for the inlaid white/charcaol border in the living room.

This is early in the afternoon, not long after Aaron arrived.

This is much later in the evening, but still before Dad finished the last of the bucket of Mastik/thinset and we decided to call it a night. There is even more tile set than this picture shows. All I can say is, wow. Also, much better than any stinkin' laminate!

Lovely, ain't it? No dog pictures this time. They had to hang out outside to avoid messing up the tile. Thankfully, Mya is blasee about fireworks (the neighbors were having a huge block party, with occasional mortars going up) if her person is relatively near, Emily can't hear them any more, and Cyrus was willing to be convinced that fireworks were no big deal after I sat out and held him in my lap for a while, whilst Emy and Mya wandered around and ignored the loud noises. Good dogs, all!

Sunday, June 28, 2009


All our free time lately has been going into working on the new house to bring it up to a livable state. Fortunately, the fence is secure and I've been able to bring Cyrus and Mya with me pretty much everytime I go out there to work (Emily loves to have the house to's nice to nap without the smaller/younger dogs bouncing around all over the place). Most of the painting is done, which makes the place look 100% better right away. Dad's laid the tile in one of the spare bedrooms and is almost done with the tile in the master. In the above picture, Cyrus is supervising our work. He's also contemplating the camoflage opportunities presented by our color choice.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

This week, of course, we have mostly been concentrating on the new house. We have most of the interior painted and are well on the way to starting the tile (that will be tomorrow). Of course, I'm trying to shoe-horn in some time to work with Cyrus, who has his debut show in Lompoc at the end of July. Hopefully, we will be in the new house by then. Luckily, he looks just as cute there as anywhere else. As you can see.

Housework just wears those dogs out...

Although, you can see Mya is too dedicated to take her eyes off of Mom, even when she's resting. I think she would rule in agility. Even if she never gets the chance, she is a wonderful dog.

Cyrus earns his keep by helping us dig trenches. Just in case we wanted to lay PVC for sprinklers right here, diagonally across the yard... He makes a perfectly straight trench, about three inches wide. Just wide enough to fit his nose in it. Or a sprinkler line.