November 30, 2008

A fair walk for a fine day.

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , , , , , at 7:26 pm by czygyny


I thought I would break my long silence with the results of a nice three hour hike taken today. Above is one of my favorite cottonwood trees with Bass and Saddleback mountains in the background. What a beautiful day it was today, mid 70s, no wind, deep blue skies. Very nice.



I could not pass up this drying, checking mud, with its geometric shapes and peeling layers. This image comes complete with dog prints.



I love Bear Mountain, and I never pass up a chance for another picture, especially if I can get the lookout. I hope to go up there, someday.



This snaggle-tooth mouth shaped knothole made me laugh. it looks like a lamprey mouth or laughing alien creature.



This tree is slowly losing it’s life. It stands ever starker and barer as time pulls the spirit of the tree. It hangs over a tall bank looming with its grasping branches.



These orange spotted Eriogonum stems are almost shockingly bright for such muted early winter colors that abound right now.


Here is the last leg of the journey, just before we get back to our unpaved road. It was a good time for dogs, who wallowed in the mud and explored all over and for me who just enjoyed the quiet and beauty and muted colors of an autumn near ended and a winter near come, that are right in my back yard.

I am so blessed.  🙂



July 3, 2008

Dogs, dogs, dogs

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , , at 12:24 pm by czygyny


Where would we be without dogs? Whether it was sharing the warmth of a fire and a scrap or two with our wild ancestors, to the pampered life of a pedigreed pooch dining on the richest menu, we love and depend on our dogs.

Many a happy memory can be found in our hearts of the ‘good old days’ when we could be gone all day running around the neighborhood, perhaps with a dog in tow. In my instance it was in Etna, a small community in Siskiyou county, with our black Labrador, ‘Raven’. We would build forts in the bushes, wade through the creeks and ditches, and search for bird’s nests in dusty old barns. Her patience was wonderful, for at times we would tease her, and all she ever did was curl up a lip and turn away.

When I grew up and moved out, I have had my share of dogs. My first dog, ‘Reckless’ was a mixed cur who mauled my first sheep I ever had. After that, I became involved with stock dogs. ‘Tillie’ was the first, and by today’s standards, of poor conformation for an Australian Shepherd. With cat-feet and short coat she would not have won any awards, but that sweet dog would be my close companion for 12 years. She went hiking, camping, swimming and exploring, sometimes with her cat companions, until kidney failure took her. When she died, her longtime cat compantion ‘Fangus’ mourned her death. She had the uncanny ability to know when Fangus was out of food and she would pester me until I would feed him.

‘Shilo’ came in to my life when Tillie was still alive. She was a Queensland heeler, a blue merle with striking blue eyes. She was with me for 13 years, most of which was spent without sight, the victim of Progressive Retinal Atrophy. That little dog could still find her way all over the property, altough she lived in fear of falling into the swimming pool. She always gave it wide berth. I miss my little Shilo.

Later on, ‘Jake’ came along. Jake was an Australian Cattle Dog, a stray with no takers. He was a wild man who loved to fight and roam. I cured him of his roaming by taking him on lots of outings and also utilized a big ‘donut’ of wood attached to a long chain where he could wander about, but not get far, by dragging the donut about.  After a few months of that, he could be trusted to stick by my side. He and Shilo had a lot of adventures together.

The funniest outing he ever had was up at a small pond behind my house in Shasta Lake City, which was home to a beaver. Jake spend nearly an hour swimming about trying to catch that beaver, but the beaver made a game of it and would swim leisurely about the pond until Jake would get close, then he would slap his tail and dive. As Jake would swim in circles and whine, looking for his foe, the beaver would pop up on the other side of the pond and start the fun all over again, swimming right by me and I swear it seemed like he smiled at me when he went by. It frustrated that dog to no end, but I’ve never had a better belly laugh! Oh, for a video camera!

But, time took its toll on him, as well, and this year was his last. By this time he was staying with my ex spouse, who took his death very hard. Jake was also 13 years old.

Dogs have a way of finding me, and I have rescued ten or more over the years. Thankfully I have found the owners of most, but some dogs showed up and never left. “Harley’, another Queensland heeler was found by the roadside, terribly abused and emotionally crippled. I worked with him for a year, but he continued to bite family members so with great regret I had him euthanized. People need to do their research on these difficult breeds before bringing one home. What a waste of an intelligent, clever, fast as the wind, faithful friend. Robin from Lodi, you should be ashamed of yourself. (The dog’s original name was ‘Blue’, and the owner’s name on the tag, but left no forwarding address) Shame, shame, shame.

‘Ginger’ is another one of those dogs that found me. She came to us at Thanksgiving some six years ago, a pup of three or four months, a rolly-polly thing with RottweilerX heritage, and a crescent moon on the back of her neck. I tried to shoo her away, but she looked up at me and that ‘connection’ that will sometimes occur with me and cats and dogs was made. After posting notices and running a found ad with no success, Ginger was here to stay.

During the upheaval with my crumbling marriage, in fear for my safety, I began to look for a full blood Rottweiler in need of a home. ‘Jewel’ came along in a needful time. Her person could not take care of a big dog anymore due to health reasons, and we had the room and the know how to care for the breed. We traveled up to Burney one fine summer day to get her. She became our ‘Big-Dog’ who indeed was a sufficient presence to deter any harm aimed at me.

Two large dogs are quite sufficient for my liking and for my small house, but my ex called a few months ago, despondent because he could not keep his dog due to his full time care of his father. He had brought ‘Sam’ home from a shelter, apparently abused by his former owners (what is WRONG with people, anyway?), mainly because he looked like Jake. He took Sam everywhere, even to job sites, but he was moving to the 30th floor of a condo in Emeryville, and that is no place for a cow dog. How could I turn him down?

He had already done a lot of work helping Sam adjust and trust, but it has taken some work to get him adjusted to our situation. We have had a few dog fights, he can get in and out of any gate (and in with the sheep to give them a good run around!) he rolls in ANYTHING stinky and pees on my garden! But, he is an intelligent, attentive, goofy, loving critter. He yells at me if I have been gone too long, eats my strawberries and barks at buzzards, and does the craziest ‘zoomies’ I have ever witnessed.

I’ve been through broken legs, blind eyes, illness, fights, heartache and joy. I’ve been awakened by skunky dog at 3am on my sleeping bag while camping, watched with joy as my dogs run along the banks of the lake while the boat leads them on, taught them to swim, been trained to do their bidding, been comforted by a cold nose and warm heart through my tears, and thanked for a bowl of food by a nose settled gently on my lap.  I’ve endured muddy paws, stinky fur, bloodied ears, bee-stung eyes, and nights filled with anguish during their illnesses, but I can proudly say my life has  ‘gone to the dogs’, and I love it!

April 13, 2008

Sunday evening

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , at 9:07 pm by czygyny

Here it is, the start of the third week since I was let go by the newspaper. It has been an wonderful time of drifting from one project to the next. I am amazed at how the things in need of my attention have just swallowed up the hours that used to be set aside for work. It is going to be difficult to start really putting effort into a business or going back to work for someone. I am also amazed at how distant those 26 years of my life seem, now.

The lilac, the apple and dianthus blooms mingle with the fragrances from the meadows and creek in the warming and lenghtening evenings, it makes an intoxicating scent that can almost be swallowed down like a fine wine. Frogs and crickets sing at night and the ever growing number of nesting birds sing during the day. The jazzy cadence of the meadowlarks, the raucous cackling of starlings, and the bickering call of the Western Kingbird starts the day.

A house finch has taken up nesting in the Leptospermum bush by the front door. I sneak an egg out every once in a while to look at. Another old wives tale bites the dust. Most birds have a poorly developed sense of smell, and momma bird always comes back after I return her delicate cream egg with brown spots. Our little finch family that lives in the old, torn macrame hanger in my back yard has produced as many as three separate broods in a good year. I would set up the ladder so the kids could watch the fascinating infant bird’s growth and eventual departure.


My picture taking hasn’t abated one bit. I am on image 1,461, already! I purchased a case for my camera. As soon as it comes, I will be able to take it with me when I go some place. I have already filled up a 4+GB DVD backup of ‘keepers‘. And, this is all from just around where I live! I love being able to create a tangible memory of every special thing I see.

This image is what I saw when I woke up this morning. This only happens a few days out of the year, when the sun rises through my kitchen window and shines on my bedroom door. I thought it made a cool pattern.

It is a somewhat serene image, I think.

Even the roadside weeds hold a certain beauty if you take the time to look. This is vetch, a common legume found blooming in our area right now.

Even the grill on my old Chevy dually can be a attention grabber. I really should have put this truck up for sale for Kool April Nites! It is a rare year. It used to be a hay truck for the Smith Ranch.


My soft heart has me in trouble again. My ex asked me to take care of his dog ‘Sammy’, while he cares for his ailing father in Emeryville. His dad lives on the 30th floor of a condo, and it is no place for a Queensland Heeler. I am very familiar with the breed, having had stock dogs for twenty years. I have been used to the slower, mellower attitudes of my other two dogs, Jewel and Ginger. Sammy is the typical highstrung, pushy, exclusive, jealous cattle dog. We’ve already had a few minor scraps between he and Jewel. Trouble is, Jewel outweighs him by about 70 pounds and knows how to fight, so Sammy better get it straightened out before fur flies and blood shed. Sammy also likes to get up on furniture, which is a big no-no in our house. He is, though, a smart, clever, loving, obedient dog, and maybe I can teach him to herd up these stupid sheep of mine!

Here they are, top to bottom: Jewel, full-blood Rottweiler; Ginger, our ‘Parttweiler’; and Sammy, the Queensland Heeler.

I live in a tiny 680 sq. ft. house. There are two adults, three dogs, a 55 gallon tank housing six bantam chicks, a 30 gallon terrarium,  a betta and guppy, a six foot swiss-cheese plant, and numerous other plants, home office, plus too much furniture. There is just a little too much ‘living’ going on in this abode! Walking around at night half-asleep is a challenge.

Well, even though I have no job to go to, tomorrow, I still have kids to get up and get to school, then a garden to put in and many other things. I think I’ll call this Sunday a done deal. A well done and satisfying deal.