My Awesome Saturday

Weekly Photo Challenge: A Day in My Life

First time using the Gallery feature. Didn’t even know it existed. Daily Post, you may have created a monster.

 

Leo’s metaphoric ladder of success

Weekly Photo Challenge: Forward

leo forward

Leo would love to climb this ladder, but I doubt he ever will. He doesn’t seem to understand the nuances of his hind legs. Not that he’s disabled in any way. He can run and jump just fine. He is capable of jumping or climbing on the furniture, but half the time, he just rests his front paws on the bed or couch, leaving his hind feet on the floor. I help him out by lifting his back legs up the rest of the way. It’s weird.

I took this photo yesterday to represent a commitment to move forward. To help our Leo be the best Leo he can be.

He’s sort of a problem child. I found myself saying the other day, “Leo is not reactive like Isis was. When he barks at a bicycle, he’s doesn’t have a full-blown, out-of-his-mind reaction. We just have to watch out for his redirected biting … oh, who am I kidding? He’s reactive.”

Leo experiences barrier frustration. When he’s on a leash and sees a bicycle, he barks at it. Confined by the leash, he can’t get to the bike. He gets frustrated and lashes out at the nearest thing. Sometimes Mia’s head, sometimes our legs. Mia’s head can take it. Our legs are more sensitive.

Joggers and other dogs present a similar problem, but usually I can get him far enough away that he doesn’t bark. Lately, bicycles have become more of a challenge. Rob and I like to walk the dogs after dark, when there are fewer people around. Last Saturday night after 10 pm, we encountered two bicycles. I couldn’t get Leo far enough away. He barked and lunged.

I’m overwhelmed by the prospect of training this behavior away, because of what I went though with Isis. Writing her memoir, I’m still living those two years when I was obsessed with fixing her. With Isis, we got to a point where I could safely walk her around the neighborhood. I need to revisit those techniques to make Leo less reactive.

We started last week by taking Leo to a neutral location with Rob’s bicycle. Leo had no trouble walking beside us while we walked the bicycle. We got overconfident and tried walking around a larger area, inhabited by other people. A person riding a bicycle passed. I clicked and treated Leo, who didn’t react. Hooray. I let my guard down further and missed the approach of a second bicycle. Leo barked and lunged.

I burst into tears, something I don’t remember doing with Isis at this phase of her training. I failed him. Why is this so hard? 

Nothing is worse for reactive dog training than losing your cool.

I realized we need to go back before we can go forward.

We tried again yesterday with the goal of keeping it short and successful. Make sure Leo is calm before we get started, able to make eye contact with me. Have Rob walk by with bicycle. Click and treat Leo for calm. Have Rob ride bicycle slowly past us at a distance. End on success.

Leo became very agitated when Rob mounted the bike. He barked a high-pitched nervous bark (as opposed to the Big Boy ferocious bark) and I could get him to calm down. I moved him farther away, had Rob get off the bike and stand next to it.

Leo could not calm down 50 feet away from Rob standing next to a bicycle. Part of that could be anxiety because he wanted to get to his daddy, but it shows that we tried to move too fast.

So, that’s our starting point. Next time we will start with Rob standing next to the bicycle at a greater distance away. I will try some BAT techniques of rewarding Leo by moving him farther away when he shows calming signals.

We’ll take it from there. Move forward.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Image vs. Text

I drafted this post before I saw this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge: Image vs. Text, and was struggling to pick an image to accompany it. Should I borrow Evernote’s logo, since I’m giving them free advertising anyway? Maybe Rob has a picture of me using my Nook. I was tempted to steal photos of Louis CK, Fred Armisen and Vanessa Bayer, or at least embed the videos I link to below.

Given the challenge at hand, I have taken a post I didn’t know how to illustrate with one picture, and illustrated it with four images.

The Next Generation of Typos

I no longer know how to write things by hand, so I’ve begun making notes to myself on my Nook and my iPod touch. Evernote seems to be designed for such things, because it syncs to become available on multiple devices.

cloud_api_graphic

evernote.com

I turned off the autocorrect feature on my digital devices long ago, because I trust my own ability to spell over the computer’s assumption that when I type pissy,what I really mean is pussy. True story: my stepmother emailed my significant other that her Blackberry tried to autocorrect her message to him thusly.

In a pinch, I’ve used Evernote to jot down what could be described as a journal entry. Let me explain. In a world before blogs, people wrote things down for themselves as private documentation. Today I felt sad, or My best friend really pissed me off. Things you don’t want other people to read, but make you feel better to express.

I expect that these personal musings will be useful for future memoir or fiction projects, but because those pesky little touch screens are so small, my literal notes to self are riddled with typos. I’m terribly afraid that after my death, some historian will come across them and won’t understand that my spelling errors are a result of the technology of the time.

writing

I do all my writing by keyboard, but I still edit with a pen.

I suppose everyone else in the world has an iPad or whatever, and has been word processing remotely for years, but Evernote has been something of a revelation to me. The members of my writing group provide one another with typed critiques. On a few recent occasions, I’ve wanted to work on my critiques in places that weren’t convenient to take my laptop. On an airplane to and from a weekend getaway, as one example. In the car at the Canadian border crossing, for another.

Disney

Celebrating Rob’s birthday. Didn’t feel like taking the laptop with me.

On the way back from Disneyland in January, I wrote three critiques on my Nook, then uploaded and corrected my spelling errors on my laptop before printing. On Sunday, I planned to do the same, but when I got in the car, I realized that my Nook’s battery wasn’t charged. I handwrote (as legibly as I could) two critiques before I remembered that I had Evernote on my iPod. I wrote the third critique on the tiny handheld touchpad keyboard.

Sometimes technology really a-freaking-mazes me. And I don’t even have a smartphone that uploads photos to Instagram.

Louis CK really nailed it with this commentary. (“Give it a second to get back from space!”)

nook

Pretty sure the coolest thing about my Nook is the sticker I put on the M-Edge case.

I will say (lowering voice like Kim Jong Un’s best friends from growing up), the Nook Tablet is not a great tablet. It’s a fine e-reader and the price was right. But it’s seriously deficient in apps (none for Facebook, for example, which would have been a dealbreaker if I’d known ahead of time) and the web browser is pretty shabby. My next electronic device will be a true tablet (unless my iPod dies and needs replacing first). Probably the iPad mini.

UPDATE 3.24.13: I spent $19.99 to turn my Nook SD card into a Nook 2 Android card. This may have resolved all of my tablet complaints, namely the lack of a Facebook app. Now I just have to adjust to the Android interface, which on first use does not seem as pretty as the Nook’s. Fortunately, I can easily switch between the Nook and the Android just by rebooting the device.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss

One of these weeks, I’m going to take a picture especially for the Weekly Photo Challenge. But for each of the three weeks I’ve participated, I’ve already had the perfect picture:

isis kisses rob

Isis kisses Rob

When I first took this picture (in November 2008, according to the metadata), I asked my mom if she thought it was too intimate to post on Facebook. She said, “I think so.”

Well, guess what? I’m writing a memoir I plan to have published, so we better get used to sharing intimate moments publicly. I asked Rob if I could post it, he said I could.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Home

My entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Home is titled
Northwest Retirement Cottage.

cabin

Sometimes my work takes me places other people don’t tend to see. Twice in my career, I’ve visited squatters’ cabins in the woods.

I visited this cabin a few months after its owner died. I hiked about twenty minutes from a logging road down to the river, knowing that the cabin had to be torn down, but sort of fantasizing about spending some solitude in the verdant woods. Maybe instead of dismantling the cabin, we could just clear out his stuff and turn it into a caretaker’s cabin.

The mountain man who lived here apparently had a drinking problem and took refuge in the woods. He posted yellow plastic smiley faces to the trees. He hung odd ornaments and stuffed animals, and appeared to have planted or relocated some trees to his liking.

The inside was creepy. The low-ceilinged interior had a wood-burning stove and a sink (although no running water). Two beds were pushed against the corners of the room, blankets piled high. If I didn’t know that the squatter had died, I might have worried that someone was sleeping there. Laundry was still clipped to clotheslines strung from the trees. I suspect the man spent most of his time in one of his lawn chairs or hammock.

Reusable grocery bags were tacked to the exterior walls. Several pairs of boots were strewn on his tarpaulin front porch. Perfectly good boots. None of us could bring ourselves to take his boots.

We were hard-pressed to find any kind of souvenir we wanted to take home. And no one wanted to move in.

The cabin was torn down a few months later. I’m happy I got to see the before and after.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unique

At my friend Jolene’s suggestion, here’s my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge:

Last night I revised the prologue to my memoir to include a description of this photo of Isis.

point no point isis splash4

Point No Point Beach, July 2008

Maybe it’s not unique under the larger category of dogs running on beaches, but as I wrote about the photo, I tried to find the words to explain what it means to me, and why I chose it as the photo that decorates the wooden box where we keep her ashes.

About six months after this picture was taken, Isis bit someone, and we never felt safe taking her to public places after that, certainly no place where we let her off leash. I shot, and this is not an exaggeration, about 3,000 photos of Isis during her life. Every single one is absolutely stunning of course, but many of them look alike. Isis chasing a soccer ball, Isis smiling at me as she waits for me to throw the soccer ball, Isis with her squeaky rubber Milk Bones in her mouth. Photos documenting her everyday life.

In this photo, Isis is completely free, operating on instinct, and blissfully happy in the wild, not constrained by the limitations we impose on our domesticated dogs. This moment would never be relived, and that’s why it’s unique. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime moment for my once-in-a-lifetime dog.