Cougar!

Aug. 6th, 2015 12:20 am
furtech: (no cookie)
I recorded an animal lifer on the dogwalk tonight: Cougar.

Honestly, this is the one lifer I -never- wanted to see. Coyotes are annoying (and city coyotes are more mellow then their wilder relatives); raccoons are moderately dangerous (more so than coyotes, really); skunks are just a pain.

Cougars scare the crap out of me. None of the others are capable of killing an eighty-five pound male husky and then leaping over an 8-foot fence carrying it (which happened around here a few years ago). Cougars are seriously scary.

We were walking/hiking around midnight (too hot to walk during the days now) near a gated community, at the north end of the neighborhood near the foothills. The border collies had been restless this evening and at one point took off after something. I heard a new sound in the darkness (never a good thing), a brief kind of "Rackh!" sound. Something bounded down the hill and leap a drainage ditch: for a moment I saw it silhouetted against the night sky: a long, lean shape.

My first reaction was, "Huh." Too big for a cat; too big and too long for a bobcat; and that tail-- uh-oh. The long, fat tail. Fuck. Fortunately, it had to be a yearling: The dogs were able to startle it into running and from the brief sighting, it had the smaller size of a yearling. She took off and the dogs returned to me, good boys!

I'll say that getting back to the car was unnerving. I kept fearing the cougar would change her mind and circle around to snatch one of the dogs. We were still a mile away from the car.

I'm still freaked.

R0ndo

May. 26th, 2014 07:05 pm
furtech: (R0ndo Goodbye)
[Memorial Day is as good a day as any to take care of this: I had been putting off the public post about this for a while now.]

R0ndo

R0ndo Bordercollie died on February 11, 2014. He had been recovering from a neck injury for several weeks when he unexpectedly went into cardiac arrest. We were all blindsided by an undiagnosed heart condition (Hypertropic Cardiomyopathy, for those curious). R0ndo was my Great Dog and my best buddy.

The last four months have been an emotional hell-- a rollercoaster of events brought on by his passing. He was only nine years old and I had fully expected to have him around for at least another six years.

Friends and family who knew him well have been my anchor. The BCR folk have been especially supportive with stories about their Great Dogs and loss and moving on. There will never be another dog like R0ndo and it took me four months to begin to understand this.

N00b

One action that has helped is the addition of a new dog to our reduced pack: An00bis, a year-old Kelpie-bordercollie mix. The road to this point has been torturous, but we're still here. And by we, I mean Apache and I. She was just as unsettled by R0ndo's passing as I was. She is *slowly* warming to the Noob, but she is definitely happier and calmer since Noob arrived about a month ago.

R0ndobye

So long, R0ndo. You took a big chunk of me with you when you went.
furtech: (R0NDOSANTA)
Another BCR Xmas!

BCRxmasfunday2013
BCRxmasfunday2013

The weather was perfect: light breezes, temps in the 60's, clear skies. As opposed to those events where the temps were into the triple digits F (around 42C) or 40 mph gusty winds...or that year when the even ended with people scrambling to beat the snow storm heading that way. Those events always have me remembering to be grateful for mild weather.

There was the usual abundance of home-cooked food and dozens of hyper border collies. No altercations, though-- which would surprise most border owners. There was much begging, though: even the dogs trained not to beg at home know this is a *special* place and time.

The interesting thing that happened was that I found a R0ndo doppelganger. She looks like she could be his sister-- very similar markings, mannerisms. I think her name is Savannah. Very sweet dog! Speaking of doppelgangers, Tay's doppel was here, too: Skeeter looked great!

R0ndoDoppelganger

Apache was somewhat low-key, as noticed by several people (usually they have bruised noses soon after she arrives...and she didn't jump up this time). Probably the prednisone she was on. But that didn't stop her from her usual mischief towards the other dogs. Instead of her usual "11", she was more like a "9" that day.
furtech: (snowdogs)
R0ndoApacheOrnaments

I got a surprise present from an artist friend I work with: a pair of R0ndo and APache ornaments! ! She did a *fantastic* job of capturing their physical details *and* their personalities! Thanks, Laura!

She does great 2D and 3D art: check out her website! She also does toys and puppets!
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
The dogs and I got a precious, rare invite: to celebrate King Dog Tay's birthday up in Oakhurst!
Oakhurst Snow
There are more gorgeous images of the Ranch, dogs and snow here

The timing turned into the most perfect trip we've ever made up there: the day after we arrives it snowed. Just enough fell that the ranch and the mountain turned into a winter wonderland. This was *ideal*: the snow only lasted for about two days-- then it melted and allowed us to drive safely back down the hill and home.

The night we arrived there was also a bit of excitement: on the night walk Carol and I discovered a brush-burn that had gotten out of control (these are supposed to be watched by the burner until the fire dies down). Between the windy gusts and all of the pine needles that hadn't been cleared, the fire had spread well into the brush nearby. A fallen pine was in flames and embers were spreading under the pine needles. We went back to get Eric and shovels...Carol got all of the water jugs (they keep them for pump failures).

firefighter

With a lot of work we got the flames down and the embers mostly doused. The owners of the lot finally arrived with a tractor and used that to completely bury the rest of the fire. They were grateful that it had been discovered, so it was all good. Plus, bonus activity points for me.

new snow

We awoke the next day to a winter wonderland: several inches of snow fell during the night and it was cold enough to stick. Check out the link above to see how beautiful the area became. The dogs (all four border collies) and I took a number of hikes in the silent, white world. I love walking in fresh snow (especially when it's only a few inches deep) and watching four crazy border collies run around on Very Important Business.

There are few places that aren't improved by a fall of snow. Since Casa Coyote starts out quite lovely, the snow transformed it into a fantasyland. R0ndo and Apache loved it: they had experienced a dusting of snow in Seattle a few years ago and had a lot of fun...but this was like doggy-disneyland for them. They bounded through the small drifts and still managed to dig ghost varmints. They loved that it was nice and chill out and if they get hot or thirsty they can just eat the refreshing "white dirt".

Tay was showered with goodies and treats. He enjoyed the ribeye steak he got as a present. As any good tyrant, he tolerated the manic attention of all three of the other dogs. He's well-deserving of his Kingdog title!

Muttnik

Nov. 18th, 2013 05:01 pm
furtech: (apache)
My dog looks like something launched by the Russians in the '50's.

muttnik

Both dogs got bitten by fleas at a friend's house (where said friend feeds the neighborhood cats). R0ndo just scratched a bit and that was that...Apache is so OCD that she literally licks herself raw in minutes.

I tried a cervical collar (so she could still use the dog door), but after a couple of weeks I gave up: she's just too limber and too determined.

So I tried an inflatable collar...and that didn't work-- though she was able to make herself look particularly pitiful with this thing. She also demonstrated how clever she is by trying to get a puppy-friend of hers to bite the collar off (witnessed by puppy's owner!) It was amazing.

Finally I gave up and put the Cone-O-Shame on her...only to have her be able to work the cone down so she could still lick. Agk.

So I was forced to go to the Ultimate Combo: the inflate-a-collar and the Cone-O-shame. She looks ridiculous.

UltimateCombo

However, the good new is that for the first time in over a month, the wounds are finally drying out!! Hopefully I can give her a skin treatment to ease any residual itching. Plus more Benedryl.
furtech: (R0ndo-doggles!)
R0ndo

Today is R0ndo's eighth year with me! He was adopted 11-11-05 from Border Collie Rescue (NorCal).

Today he got a hike at Stinkyville and a big, meaty bone.

r0ndo7mos

I went back and read my first posts about him. I'm all-teary now. He is a great dog and I have my sister (the dog-sister) to thank for that.

Good Boy!
furtech: (Thenardier)
I had the "Today" show on in the other room this morning and heard a woman talking about "Adoption Month" and "Forever Families" and people ringing a bell by their forever family when the adoption is finalized. She said there were twelve adoptions that morning and there would be twelve bells rung.

Rushed into the room expecting to see happy shelter dogs...and was profoundly disappointed when it turned out to be human kids being adopted.

I am such a misanthrope.

At the same time, I still think it is weird that this adoption organization is using all the buzz words more commonly associated with pet adoption (especially "forever homes" and "forever families"). She never used the words "boys and girls" or "kids" or "children"-- just "adoptions". The way she was talking it sounded like people on Rockefeller Plaza had literally just adopted kids that morning-- like at a pet adoption event.

People are weird. Or I am.
furtech: (halloween)
Once again, I anticipate my favorite holiday and, in the end, do very little. The trouble with Los Angeles is that either the events are tiny and mundane or HUGE AND LOUD AND DRUNKEN. There used to be parties thrown by people in the effects business that were pretty cool, but I haven't heard of one in years. My favorite event is for the dogs, literally.

orcavsraptor

My boys went as a Sci-Fi Channel Low-budget Movie Special: ORCA vs RAPTOR! (<--you just wait: that WILL be a Sci-Fi Channel movie in the future...and I'll bet these costumes are better than the CG effects Sci-Fi will use!)

dogscostumes2013
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
Before friends bought a house in Los Osos, I had never heard of this city. I was more familiar with her sister city to the north: Morro Bay (and its famous rock). After visiting this beach town, I'm in love with this area.

LosOsosSunday
Full Flicker Set Here

I can see why they chose this locale: this city is beautiful. The people are nice- if a bit on the organic-side. But any town where drivers take notable care to give walkers, dogs and bicyclists room and do it with a smile is aces in my book.

The hiking is fantastic: the cool ocean air lends itself to nice weather year-round. There are plenty of hills and trails, along with a town that is just fun to walk around. There are beaches everywhere-- including a large sand spit (several miles long) that looks like it would be a great place to explore. The sunsets (as you can see) are like something out of a Bierstadt painting. The dawns are equally stunning: mist giving way to views of the 9 Sisters (an impressive chain of cinder cones) and the Morro Bay Rock. The dogs loved the dawn-hikes up sandy trails. Much digging ensued.

Due to the poor soil and misty (not rainy) climate, a species of oak grows there called "Pygmy Oaks". These trees are wonderful: they only grow to a height of about 12 feet...yet are every bit like a "regular" oak. The result is something called the Elfin Forest: little mounds of oak groves with ancient trees that only grow to about a dozen feet tall.

I visited Spooner's Cove which has great sand: coarse, but polished smooth-- wonderful for Bonsai toppings. There is a large sandstone outcrop in the middle of the cove. This takes a scramble to climb up, but it's worth it: you are surrounded by crashing waves and sea.

A nice bonus is that my friends compete as cooks: all are *very* good cooks and the meals-- breakfast and dinner-- were fantastic. There is nothing like people competing to make great meals.

I also visited two of the nearby apple growers. Ever since I picked apples in Connecticut a few years ago, I realized that I -love- fresh picked fruit. One (Avila Valley Barn) was a bit touristy for my tastes, but the other (Gopher Glen) was pure-apple and had GREAT fruit!
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
Thanks to a Really Useful Post by a Trip Advisor user (great travel site, BTW), I knew that Tuesday would be market day in Leipzig! (The other day is Thursday) Open air markets are one of the great pleasures of the German cities I've visited. You wander them and snack on fresh fruit and bread. One more reason I think Los Angeles is just too darn big.

Leipzig082613Tuesday
Leipzig2013Tuesday

Leipzig's market is wonderful: plenty of beautiful fruit and vegetables; cheeses and meats; plants and flowers. There were baskets of mushrooms, too. Oddly, they looked like a type of boletus mushroom, which I thought were (as a species), "edible, but not palitable." I'm guessing this variety is delicious, from the amount they were selling.

The highlight of the market (also pointed out on Trip Advisor) was one vendor selling fresh bread. Really, really fresh: they had a portable iron oven that her husband was baking country bread in. As you would imagine, bread hot and crisp from the oven is *amazing*. I got a loaf of steaming bread, stopped by the salami vendor and got some European ham (for my American friends: it's more like prosciutto than American ham). Bit of cheese from another vendor, raspberries from a nearby stall and a Coke Lite from the curry shop and I was set for lunch.

Lunch

Near the market, I saw an interesting breed of dog: he was gorgeous! He looked like a large, black schnauzer, but with a smooth coat. His owner was very proud of his dog and happy to let me snap pictures of him. Friendly and intelligent dog. Any guesses anyone?

Leipzigdog

I wandered over to Thomaskirche: this is the church were Bach spent his last 25 years. The acoustics are reportedly amazing and groups and singers book time in there just to experience this sound. While I was inside, there was a soloist practicing. I consider myself lucky to have heard him: heavenly. I think more churches and cathedrals should have music playing during the day: organ or singers or choirs. These structures seem to come to life with music! Transformed from dusty shells to living structures. The soloist was higher than a tenor: I am thinking that there are not catratos any longer...what would he be called? (<--I am counting on readers being sophisticated and not rude-- thanks!)

After this I wandered through some of the malls and ogled at the stores. One toy store had a great selection of Schleich figures. Plus, the great Irish explorer, "Marc O'Polo" had a shop, too!
furtech: (Eurofurence)
Wednesday was opening ceremonies: the con is official! Before that happened, though, I took a walk to the mall across the street and bought more stuff. Saw a beautiful English (Rough) Collie- her owner was quick to point out that English collies are smaller than their American counterparts. Very cute: almost mid-way between a Shetland Sheepdog and a (American) Rough Collie.

efweds
Full Flickr Set Here

Back at the hotel, things were gearing up and more people arrived. I hung out in the Pawpet Show backstage area and generally tried to stay out of the way as I watched the crew made silk out of sow's ears.

Opening Ceremony was fun: leis were generously handed out to all-comers. Some found creative ways to make use of the extras...

That night I watched an amazing spectacle: the last rehearsal for the Pawpet Show, "End Tide". As I've come to enjoy: I love watching things I've made be brought to life on-stage. Definitely a highlight of the convention for me.

I am in awe of this crew: on top of big convention duties (virtually all of them had committee-level positions), they do a last rehearsal on Wednesday night. This set a new record-- ending after 8am Thursday. Yes-- they rehearse all night, catch a quick nap and then they resume doing their convention duties. Such a Herculean effort!
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
I managed to scrape together the money for Eurofurence again. Love Germany, love this con. This time I tried something different: flying out of SFO and staying at my sister and BiL's place for a few days before and after. Big difference: much less stress because anything I forgot I could still get in SJ. Also, dogs stayed at dog-sister's place, so were less stressed than if they'd just been boarded (their regular boarding place is great, but still a boarding place).

latosj

Full Flickr Set Here

The trip started well: food and more food. A friend highly recommended a place in Buttonwillow, CA to stop and eat at. A bit early in the trip, but he raved about this place. He was right. The pulled pork was delicious on its own...and the salsa that came with it (served on the side!) was also perfect-- a pleasant burn, deep flavor. But the PIE! Oh, the peach pie was the best I've had in decades. Crisp texture, deep flavor and a perfect crust. So good we're making a roadtrip -just- for this pie. 100 miles and worth it!

Same friend also got tickets to the Ikea Crayfish Party . I'd never heard of it, but they sell out fast. Thank goodness there was more than just crayfish- which has too low a ratio of reward-to-effort. Eat, eat, eat.

A big bonus was getting to meet Don Knuth and his wife, Jill (who were part of the group). He wrote the seminal book, The Art of Computer Programming. Anyone who has taken a college-level computer class has seen this book; it is so far out of my ken that I have to take their words on this. Not only is he a really nice guy, but he brings a unique take on current events. I could listen all day, week, year to him. My friend was also able to get him to autograph another seminal work: an early writing sale-- to Mad Magazine. Read his Wiki: wicked sense of humor!

I also got to visit a friend who's back to working at Apple: like most large, hip tech companies, they have wonderful food-services. The seared ahi sandwich is...wonderful. It's no wonder I gained four pounds even before leaving the country. This, despite a bunch of hikes with the dogs in the hills around SJ.
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
...which are now early summer updates. I've been busy, but not that busy: just distracted. Some of these distractions I direct you to below.

Life Bullet points:
• Now I remember why I never grew many tomatoes: they are like an organic super-magnet for pests, disease, fungi. Up north it was always whiteflies: clouds of them. Down here it's spider-mites. I've tried nearly everything short of an ariel Malathion bombardment. Most of the solutions (soap spray, neet, root-absorbed pesticides) seem to make the mites more robust.

• Despite the pest-problem, I remember why ripe, fresh picked tomatoes are so wonderful...and how awful store bought and even Farmers Market tomatoes are.

• Over the hump of the worst of the foxtail problem (most have fallen off by now). Two surgeries and countless painful removals later both the dogs and I are relieved.

• Enjoying June Gloom. Daytime walks. Chilly nights.

• Added a berm to the back of the lawn so the dogs don't jump down any more (hard on their backs). Also gives the lawn more character.

• Discovered (was told) that pet-safe snail death exists! Joy!

Links!
• For artists: Check out/friend James Gurney on Facebook . He's best known for "Dinotopia", but he is an amazing teacher and source of art information. He also does tutorials and links to useful resources: you won't be sorry!

• Here's an example of something he linked to: a 17th century figure drawing manual ...that can be downloaded in ebook form for *free*!! Amazing resource!

• Since Dome is just starting on tv, here's something timely: !
Stephen King Character Flowchart Now you can see how King connects EVERYTHING!

• Clockwork toy: the most amazing wooden clockwork toy I've ever seen. Applejack's Harvest (My Little Pony)
Applejack's Harvest

• Love tidepools and sea life? Aquamarine Discovery is a great blog!
furtech: (acorn)
...well, Chatsworth and Valencia, but close enough.

On a couple of recent hikes I have seen creatures (or creature-spoor) that I had not realized lived in this area or have only seen once before.

First up: Ring-tail cat track
[livejournal.com profile] martes and I were walking in one of the dry washes in Valencia when she spotted an odd track: her guess was a ring-tail cat and subsequent Googling seems to prove her right. I have never seen one of these creatures, but they are -very- elusive and nocturnal.

ringtailcattrack

Next up, on the same hike: horned toad!
I have seen one of these before, but not one that was so lightly colored-- almost an ivory hue. He patiently let me take several pictures and then proceeded to burrow into the sand.

horntoad

Last up: Long-tailed weasel!
I did not even consider that we had native weasels in this area. Escaped ferrets, maybe, but not a weasel! On the way to visit a friend in Chatsworth for a (hot) hike, I drove past what I initially thought was a dead ground squirrel. But something in my mind threw a flag out: the color was wrong. On an impulse I went back and checked more closely. I was glad I did: that wasn't a ground squirrel-- it was a small weasel! A bit of research tells me it was a long-tailed weasel, which apparently -can- be found in this area. I've certainly never seen them in the wild.

Not long after, on my way home, nature's garbageman was hard at work: a turkey vulture was making a meal of the unfortunate weasel.

Weasel pics under links: while the first isn't that graphic (small image), it -is- deceased.

weasel-deceased, small-image

Larger pics of weasel, somewhat more graphic

All in all an interesting week of wildlife!
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
I am so behind on posts. I can't complain, though: work has been busy, but not so much that I have to sacrifice hobbies and hiking and dog-enrichment.

dogspring
Here's the fully annotated Flickr set

Dogs, foxtails, vets, Pet Expo, silken windhounds, dog-with-a-blog under cut )

For those who did the TL,DR I give you instead an adorable video of a pack of 11 border collie puppies!

furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
petexpo2013
Complete Flickr Set Here

This last weekend I was at this year's 2013 Pet Expo in Orange County. I look forward to this event every year: I love running the dogs and helping them to find forever homes. There's a lot of validation when you see a dog with issues that make them not-for-everybody be adopted by someone who is absolutely perfect for that particular dog. We had some great dogs out this year and four of them went home with neat people. Considering how few adoptions seemed to be happening this year, I was really happy.

For the most part the majority of rescues were pit-mixes and chihuahua/yap-mixes. I was surprised by both the large numbers of these dogs here and that there was such a plethora of them.

I got to see a Silken Windhound for the first time in-person. Very Saluki-like in demeanor. Also saw a Japanese Ken for the first time (I think). They are bigger than Shibas and smaller than Akitas and much more out-going than either of those sister-breeds.

By Sunday I was exhausted and Apache (who was at the breed booth) was even more done.
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
Pet Expo this weekend! Tons of fun-- great dogs available (where you can interact with them directly and get the skinny from the foster families)-- see cool rare breeds (Beaucerons!)-- lots of neat pet stuff.

oester demo

Check it out!
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
title or description

Full Flickr Set Here

2012 went out with things beginning to look better. I was lucky to not be hit with any disasters and managed to survive my own personal financial cliff. The dogs are healthy and the home is doing well. Work is slow but looking to pick up. I have some friends who were not so lucky, suffering some terrible losses. These are all people who have seen me through some terrible times of my own. I am glad I was in solid shape to help them get through some of that.

2013: The Year of the Snake!

Snake years (as I recall) are supposed to be filled with money and prosperity all around. We could use some of that...

2013 has come in with a lot of promise and hope: I think things will start to pick up...and hopefully build some positive momentum. Work should be very interesting for the next year. My friends are getting better. The dogs are happy.

You can click on the Flickr link above to get the details of my January so far. Most of the photos are annotated.

Hsssss...! Gung Hey Fat Choy!
furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
Looking for an entertaining way to avoid some chore or homework or relationship maintenance or whatever? Here are some cool and distracting links. If at least one of these things doesn't amuse, fascinate or educate you, I'll eat a bug. Small one. Ants are bugs, right?*

DON'T LOOK IF YOU REALLY CAN'T AFFORD THE TIME!! )

For those of you that ARE too busy-- have my favorite dog lol of 2012:

imnotfat

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