Over the past year, I followed many photographers as they shared amazing images. I decided that for me to grow I would need to open myself up to this experience. So this week I accepted Sheetal’s challenge to, “Show us the things you love that make your world spin or things about your world that make you delirious with joy.”
Charlie has captured my heart. My Australian Labradoodle just celebrated his first birthday. My life has revolved around this boy, and the bond is strong. The day starts when he says it does. He quietly calls out to me that he is awake. With his collar on, we head to his round bed where we snuggle for a time. Then out for our short walk in our court. Six houses and I take in the changes from day to day. Occasionally, we greet a neighbor or see a jogger. Then home to have breakfast. With no plans for the day, we settle on the couch, catch up on emails and take a morning nap together. I am the person who trains and cares for Charlie’s needs. We take a walk and play fetch. We have one training session a day, one game of “Find It!”, and one grooming session after dinner. Some indoor fetch and he settles while my husband and I watch television. Charlie has found a place in my husband’s heart. When I am away, Charlie keeps him company. Charlie is a people magnet. I just hope that he soon becomes more relaxed being out and about with me and my camera.
Charlie has us wrapped around his paws. Discovering each other, training together, and becoming part of the family.
Camera in hand, looking out at the world makes me happy. What I capture in the frame just depends on what catches my eye at the time. Small objects, funny signs, colors or shapes, patterns, contradictory images, animal and people expressions, and the people busy doing things. I don’t see myself stuck on one subject. My only limits are what kind of lens I can carry, and I usually only carry two. My camera has an added value in my life by connecting me to wonderful photo friends.
The pandemic has slowed down life, and I try and appreciate this new pace of life. One day, one goal. Thinking back over the decades I now wonder how I kept up that frenetic pace. I am home with my husband that I have known now for 54 years. We take turns arguing with the television over the news coverage. We share opinions on how to fix the world, if only they would listen. We read the newspaper and find books to read on our iPads. We play Scrabble, and figure out what we want to eat for dinner. It is a serene existence. We talk about what we want to do after “the pandemic”, and when will life return to normal. Actually, we also discuss what that normal will look like. Hopefully, eating out, traveling both near and far, and feeling less restricted to be around people. I look forward to new adventures with my husband and my Charlie.
I am taking the first step in sharing with the Lens-Artists. This is my new challenge, and I hope that I will be able to meet it!
Among the many problems created by the pandemic is the under socialization of my puppy. My nine-month wait coincided with CoVid 19. Born on February 7th he arrived home just after society was shutting down. Governor Newsom declared a stay at home order in mid-March. We picked up Charlie at 7 weeks rather than chance not being about to make the 2-hour drive to Orland, Ca, and Serenity Springs Labradoodles.
So instead of allowing Charlie to have many social interactions during this critical puppy period, we were busy having our groceries picked up through e-cart, and sanitizing them before bringing them into the home. No one knew what we were up against. Social interactions consisted of listening to Amy teach us on Zoom. Charlie would sit next to my computer and together we learned. Amy’s voice and treats were our first classroom at Baxter & Bella online training. As more was known about CoVid 19 I reached out to my friend Carly and a few months ago we went to our first in-person training with other under-socialized puppies.
Nearing one year of age, Charlie now attends class with the “gifted” pups training to be CCI (Canine Companions for Independence) dogs. Sometimes this works, and sometimes not so much. Skateboarders, cyclists, and motorcycles are triggers (Puppy training language). He was so alert last week, that when I asked for a paw he followed the instruction with his eyes on the road. It was funny to watch but frustrating to teach. In this new 6 feet separation society when you take dogs in public you may not want to let anyone pet your dog. So to be polite, you can say, “Please don’t pet my dog, but if you want he can wave to you.” Giving a paw is the first step in teaching dogs to wave. Good adaptation for the pandemic. Right?
Being anxious is detrimental to learning. To desensitize Charlie I decided to park in front of a store and let him watch the world around him. He feels safe in the car. I give him treats when he is calm. I listened to an NPR interview with Alexandra Horowitz, a cognitive scientist. Her research specialty is dog cognition. I have since downloaded one of her audiobooks to take with us. A perfect soundtrack for people watching from the car. While we watch I capture some images with my Fuji x100f. I like this camera for street shooting.
Last weekend my friends planned to walk the Johnny Cash Trail outside of Folsom Prison. Since my focus has been on Charlie I decided to take him with me. I brought my Fuji x100f to simplify the photo walk. This was a real test. I met the group in a shopping mall parking lot next to very busy, fast-moving street traffic. He was doing well considering the noise.
Group planning doesn’t always work out, so I decided to pass on the trail, and went in search of a nature trail. The Miner’s Ravine Nature Preserve parking lot was 1 1/2 miles down the road.
Charlie relaxed, and when I asked him to wait, he allowed me to capture some images. This was a win-win situation.
I plan to make a point to take Charlie out with me daily. After all, someday we all will not be homebound. I hope!
I finally decided that I needed to visit my dentist for a cleaning, and realized that CoVid 19 would no longer provide a good enough excuse. Teeth cleaned. My dentist wants to see me again in December. I needed to replace my tired electric toothbrush, and I purchased an updated version.
I quickly discovered that many changes have been made over the years. Now I needed a booklet of instructions. I read over the safety directions. My last brush had an on and off switch. I have 6 choices for various parts of my mouth: teeth, tongue, and gums, etc. One light lets me know if it is charging, and another tells me if I am pressing too hard. Ok, I understand the need for those lights. But I stop at the point of blue tooth connection. My brush can keep track of how well I brush each part of my mouth. Do I really need to know this? Maybe if I had problems with my teeth. I do not!
I have an Apple watch. Let me say straight out that I refuse to take directions from my watch when it tells me to stand or breathe. I purchased the watch feature to keep track of steps and listen to podcasts and music when out walking. I started to use it to answer my cell phone “Dick Tracy” style. Remarkably, most people I speak with don’t even know I am talking on my watch. Setting a timer, checking the weather, reading messages are helpful features. Sometimes I am asked if I fell and should I need help. Luckily, this necessary feature has not been used, yet. But last week I found that my watch let me know if I was washing my hands long enough. 20 seconds = Good job or Well done! Maybe the app developers are working on a way to let me know if I am standing too close to another person. Corona help me.
The telephone on the left depended on an operator to put through your call. It probably was part of a party-line based on the numbers on the dial at the top. The telephone on the right reminds me of my first experience with a telephone. As a telephone operator, I still put through a couple of party line calls in 1970’s.
Having a cell phone makes the pay phone a thing of the past. No more hunting for change. Looking for a working phone that won’t eat your nickels and dimes. No need to make collect calls.
In my first apartment when I worked for the telephone company, I did not have a telephone. My landlady’s phone was downstairs and if needed I could use it. In my second apartment, there was a payphone downstairs in the foyer. To reduce our rent we helped the landlord by doing odd jobs around Magnolia Manor. Many “interesting” characters lived in this house divided into one-room apartments. Hence, the continuous emergency calls.
I still have a landline as a backup. When it rings my dog Charlie gets all excited. I’m not exactly sure why. The phone is located near the front door, and he acts like he may miss an important call. So funny.
How many of you have a landline? I remember being connected with a cord and having to wait and wait and wait for a doctor to answer. Stuck. Cutting the cord was a BIG improvement. Cordless made its debut with an added addition of voice mail.
If you think about it our mobile phones have not been around for very long. In 1997 I connected using what looked like a large rectangular box. Searching the Internet I came across this article, The Evolution of Cell Phones. Now most everyone is dependent on using pocketable cell phones for much more than connecting with others.
In this time of isolation, I see more people reaching out by computer. And I often do this. But sometimes I just get the nerve and call someone that I haven’t spoken to in years. I find this a daunting task, but so far reactions have been well received. I have two aunts in their 90’s living on the east coast. The last time I saw them was 2004, and it was good to hear their voices. After the death of a second cousin early on in the pandemic I just felt the need to reach out to his wife (second cousin in law). I barely knew her, and she only knew of me through my parents, but I felt that she had been left alone in her house for the first time in probably over 60 years and she could use the company. She is not online, and her cell phone is her only connection. Forty-five years pass so quickly. With the help of the Internet, I was able to locate a college friend and call her up. Now if only Corona leaves we may get to visit. It turns out that her son now lives near me.
My Doodle Charlie helps me connect. Many doodle owners come together from all over and share. I sent out and received around 50-holiday greetings from other members of DoodleKisses. It’s fun to see all the different dogs. I reconnected with my friend Carly who is a CCI trainer. I wanted advice on socializing Charlie. Now Charlie and I attend class masked and outside with some very well behaved CCI pups in training. I belong to a couple of Doodle groups on FB. Feeling connected when raising a new puppy is important. We met other doodle owners at a local park in October. Charlie enjoyed his cup of whipped creme “Puppichino”. The larger doodles are teaching him how to share.
Zoom has helped many of my groups stay connected. Having a meeting scheduled gives my day some structure. It goes on my calendar, and I feel like I have made a commitment to attend. My brother and sister-in-law organized a Bingo Event, Birthday celebration, and Chanukah Party. I may not have gotten to eat any cake, but the connection is made!
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.
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.