Can you really ever plan something?

About two weeks ago I prepared myself to be a long-distance grandma. I began to investigate photo frames to get pictures all the time. It would be some time before David and I could travel to be together. Thoughts went through my mind, and I felt sad but hoped that by moving to another state her family would find peace and happiness.

Packed up and ready for their big adventure!

My daughter and family sold their house and packed up to move to Knoxville, Tennessee. This was a sudden decision pushed forward quickly by the CoVid 19 pandemic. School was starting soon and her thought was attending school was better than distant zoom learning. Well, after driving for 4 days in the van with her family of 4 boys and a small dog they arrived in Tennessee. Driving up a road named 13 curves proved to be Knoxville’s undoing. Got a call, and in less than 2 weeks, the family arrived back in Sacramento on September 8th. Costly lesson learned. Don’t buy a house sight unseen in a place you have never visited. Luckily, her husband was able to resume his job.

Life has been a bit of a roller coaster ride. Charlie enjoyed having visits with the boys. Eli is particularly good with him. and his pitching arm has landed a couple of balls in my neighbor’s yard. Lucas, the four-year-old, helped with the training by playing a game called, “Mother May I”. The baby has clean toes compliments of Charlie’s licking them. Wyatt, the two-year-old just thinks Charlie is funny.

So Eli started third grade on Zoom, the family made use of our water (showers and laundry), and my stressed-out daughter took care of reestablishing herself. Moving is always a stressful situation. Looking for a home with a contingency is not much fun. It is a seller’s market. Good for the house she is selling in Tennessee, not so good for finding a home she plans to live in.

All her stuff finally made it to Waldon, Tn. in a Pod. It took almost a week of negotiating a “Gypsy Moth” form to get her possessions to return to California. It was filled and refiled almost a dozen times. The date of arrival is in early October. The question remains, where will this family of 6 live???

Tension abounds here, and everywhere.

The strangest year – 2020 – note the cobwebs!

Inhaling the smoke from the fires that surround the area can be the equivalent of smoking 20 packs of cigarettes according to the governor. Add to this a presidential election year. Sorry no pictures. I only went outside to take Charlie out for many, many days.

This is a very, very, very important presidential race. This county desperately needs some sanity in a leader.

Becoming “Ruth less” with the passing of the Notorious RBG. I think this was designed before her passing, and I hope that next year she will reign supreme!

RIP Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Add to this the large response to protest continued police killings of our black citizens and the tension is felt by all. Some of the businesses are boarded up to prevent loss of property. While many peacefully protest there are others who take advantage of the situation and break, trash, and steal.

Boarded up windows provide a place to share words of hope!
I found this painted on a parking lot space

And then there is CoVid 19.

Face Covers Required

As of this writing, more than 200,000 people have died here in the United States. It has been 7 months since the Corona Virus has taken a firm grasp in our state. I heard rumors of a virus in mid-February, but it was March before changes started to happen. Now in downtown Sacramento, there is evidence of this pandemic.

Reminders everywhere. Masks help reduce the spread of CoVid

To mask, or not to mask.

Sorry sight. I’m sure there was a trash can close by.

To go along as if there is nothing to be concerned about, or to ask the question, “Is it worth the risk?” For the most part, my husband and I have chosen to be cautious. David is a diabetic who smokes. I have a post nasal drip that will probably clear out anyplace I venture out to. Most of our shopping has been online. Many of my activities have been delegated to Zoom Meetings. Even Charlie is being trained on Zoom. When I do go out I am masked. Actually, since the arrival of my puppy, there has always been someone here with him. We go to no restaurants, travel no further than a couple of miles, and if I am out it is an outdoor photoshoot with few people around me. So all the family comings and goings started to play on our minds. This did not sit well with all. No one likes this intrusion into our way of life. But I want all to be safe rather than sorry.

This past weekend I ventured downtown to meet up with my CTD friends. Since 2017, Sacramento has invited artists to participate in “Wide Open Walls”. Murals are painted on the walls around the city. The event usually runs about 10 days, but with the smoke, heatwave, and CoVid 19, and political tensions have extended the event. This time I did not capture any artists hard at work.

There is much evidence that this country wants to unite for the good of all its citizens!
Black Lives Matter. We stand with you.

For many years I taught 4th grade with the social studies curriculum being California. This mural reminded me of the first chapter where I taught the four regions – Coast, Desert, Valley and Mountain regions.

California diversity. Four distinct regions of the state.
PEACE – Amazing artwork.
Making the alleys soar!
Painting on such a large canvas. So peaceful looking.

Sometimes parts of murals interest me.

This mural fascinated me the most.

Along with the murals I enjoyed walking the streets of downtown Sacramento. This year I missed the “Chalk It Up” event. To create a safe environment this event was spread out . I came across this one, and wanted to show myself enjoying the artwork. Plenty of electric scooters just left on the sidewalk. Bumper sticker that says it all! Vintage retail sign l liked.

This mural prompted me to look up Betty Inada

How to train Charlie?

Charlie finished his 6-week Baxter & Bella Online Puppy Training. After a brief break we are enrolled in Intermediate Training. When in training mode, he is right there. After 1 hour he is tuckered out. He becomes a wild pup, and need a time out before he takes his afternoon nap. I feel so bad when he looks at me and barks. I know he is saying something. They are not just random barks. I think he is saying now make my time with you exciting or I’ll zoom around, jump in the air, and make trouble. Funny, how a cute puppy can make you feel like you’re just boring. After more time with Charlie I now think I am experiencing a puppy version of an overtired toddler having a tantrum. So maybe I am not boring.

When I say “Settle” he gives me his smooch-face!

Group classes are still not widely available. Not being sure I was able to change some of Charlie’s less than desirable habits I searched out help. Albree Dog Training and Alan Miller was recommended by a friend. After spending over an hour I am more confused. All my reading, training, and practice were discounted by this trainer. We were not a good fit. I guess I’m not ready to go the chokehold route. So this week I am returning to my Baxter & Bella zoom Intermediate class and I’ll keep on practicing.

Like a growing toddler, my Charlie grew out of his small plastic crate. I thought I would take him out to Petco and pick up a larger crate. I am trying to expand his world. Well, with all the smells, other dogs, and friendly employees I thought this would be a positive experience. Nope. A loud noise in the parking lot changed his mind, and he wanted to get back in the car. Not to be deterred I encouraged Charlie to enter the store. His mind would not be changed, and when we were in the middle of the store he pulled his leash out of my hand and took off for the front of the store. I followed and saw that the automatic doors were wide open. Out he went, and ran right over to my car, and sat down and waited for me to catch up. My heart was pounding, Charlie jumped right into the car, and that was the end of our shopping trip. Now I know he is smart, but I didn’t think he would be able to recognize my Subaru Outback from other cars in a parking lot. Go figure.

We just got past a double whammy. Ten days of record-breaking heatwave (110+ degrees) and fires breaking out all over California. Not much outdoor time, and certainly no long, leisurely walks. When the asphalt gets hot, I have to remember that my Charlie is walking along in his bare paws. This is the west coast version of being snowed in. So I have to be patient with my training and Charlie’s lack of socialization. It will happen, just a bit slower than I would have liked.

Charlie is always ready to fetch a ball!

Trying to stay focused on positive experiences!

The Psychology of Selecting Toys

Puppies have a lot of energy. Well, much more than I have. They play hard and then fall asleep. My foot serves as Charlie’s pillow. This way I am required to stay in place while he naps. Did I say he is so smart?

Charlie is 6 months old. Sometimes I feel like I am getting better at being able to read his mind. Other times, I know that he knows how to manipulate me to his whims. So how do I keep my Charlie amused, tired, and out of trouble? A game of Fetch is a good start. We look for a ball, I throw, he retrieves, and gives it back. Repeat. This works for both the outside and inside. Food is a good motivator and a frozen Kong in his “room” can occupy about 15 minutes, tops. Then … off to look for something to chew.

He just loves to chew, and chew, and chew. Given Charlie’s determination to chew I have to watch him with his toys. He sleeps with his Snuggle Puppy, but the other day he proudly took his puppy out of his room (crate). Then proceeded to shake it wildly. Ok, not a problem. Then he settled down, and quickly eliminated the tail. In short order, I looked and his puppy was tailless and missing an ear. I felt bad taking the toy away, but now I worried if this toy would create a health issue. Carefully watching his behavior, and reading his poop. Yup, my new pup has put me in charge of poop patrol. Given a stuffed toy he picks an appendage and works at it until it just disappears. Swallowed up. I am so nervous that he will hurt himself with his compulsive eviscerating of stuffed toys. Even called my vet, and asked if I should be worried. The advice given was if he eats, plays, and poops without a problem then he is probably ok. The fibers are probably concealed.

So now I am searching for that toy that will satisfy the urge to chew that lasts more than 10 minutes. I look online, read reviews from other pet owners, and visit my local Petco.

I skip past all the cute stuffed chew toys. Even the ones that say “Tuff”. I brought home a toy made from the same material as a fire hose. No problem for Charlie. Then I enter the aisle with hard stuff for chewing. I have one blue dog bone that I had for Libby. She never cared for it. I liked the fact that it was actually made here in the USA. Well, Charlie is not a fan either. I guess that is why it looks perfectly new. No teeth marks. I look at some softer rubber toys in a variety of shapes.

What appeals to a puppy? Does your puppy have a favorite toy?

This looks like a long stick, and the material has some give to it.

As you can see, not destroyed, but not a winner either.

Again, Charlie pretty much ignores it. I looked in the bargain bin. Figuring if it gets destroyed my pocket won’t feel too bad. Here is a squeaky bright green figure of a character doing a yoga pose. I start up a conversation with another pet owner. I tell her that there is another larger “Yoga Hero” in the bin for $4.00, but she says her retriever would attack the foot in a matter of minutes. I can’t tell if it will be too big for Charlie’s mouth but I decide to take a chance. It is a hit with Charlie. He likes to make it squeak. When thrown Yoga bounces randomly. It took a while but the yoga foot has been crippled.

Charlie will search for his Yoga toy on command

Luckily, I found the missing piece, so there will be no ongoing poop search.

Charlie loves food. He perks up when he hears the word Kong. I freeze his kibble and top it off with peanut butter.

Charlie is about to consume his frozen Kong

But the search to find the best chew toy continues. I just have to learn to think like a puppy!

Taking my new Fuji xt4 out!

The story of my new purchase. It started about a year ago when my friend asked if I was interested in parting with my Nikon D7100. A perfectly good, solid camera I have been using for many years. Well along came my mirrorless Fuji x100f. Fun camera and great for grab n go, street photography. This led me to reconsider my Olympus mirrorless that I did not find any happiness with. So KEH (company buys used cameras) came along and purchased all my used Olympus stuff. I replaced it with my Fuji xt2 and some lenses. I found my system. Oh, so back to the Nikon. Well, I still used it, but not as much. I hate to have a camera sit unused. So I sold the camera to a friend of a friend. Now I had a lot of additional lenses I have collected over the years, and along came KEH again. This time buying all the rest of my Nikon gear. I now had credit at my favorite camera store, Action Camera in Roseville. And I let it sit since I did not really need anything. CoVid strikes, and I have too much credit at a small retail establishment. Fuji just put out the xt4 so I decided to use my credit and order this new camera.

Meanwhile, my friend Anne purchased a Fuji xt3, and she wanted to try out her new x100-400mm telephoto lens. To be a real birder you need a long lens, big muscles, money, and lots of patience. I lack big muscles so I shy away from a lens I am not willing to or have the ability to hold. But I can’t say my interest wasn’t piqued just a bit. Especially. if my friends were going to be out shooting birds, peacefully. My longest lens x55-200 wasn’t going to be long enough for birds,, but since we would primarily be in a car I also took my wide-angle lens and my macro lens. My Subi Blue needed a wash so I offered to drive.

The Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area is located along the causeway on Interstate 80 between Sacramento and Davis. Nice and close to home. In natural settings, you never know what you will find. But anytime I get away with my camera in hand is a good day. There are some impressive upgrades to this camera, but I just set up the basics this time out.

President Clinton designated this floodplain in 1997 as a wetlands to be restored. It serves as a flyway and home for many birds.

3,700 of the 16.000 acres have been transformed into a wetlands.
The summertime dirt road is easy to navigate.
Restored wetlands demonstrates “leading lines”

I was interested in capturing landscapes, Anne had her long lens and her focus was birds.

Caught this Great Egret busy preening!

Quietly got out of the car and hunted flowers and insects.

Pay close attention to all signs!
These reeds caught my eye.
25 square miles just off Interstate 80. Peaceful!

My Fuji xt4 performed well in the field. The feel of this shutter is amazing. Hard to describe but it is different is a wonderful way! I was happy to capture these images to remind me that nature is not too far away!

P.S. My friend decided that she would return her long xf 100-400mm lens, and get the xf 80mm f2.8 Macro that I just love. So I will also save myself some money.