You have to love New England. Last week it was still getting into the 30s and night, and this week it made it up to almost 90 during the day. I wonder why I even own "transitional clothing," clothing intended for warm and cool weather (as opposed to hot or cold).
Greg and I packed up the two puppers and took them to the annual New England Old English Sheepdog (NEOESR) picnic in CT yesterday. A lot of people have both Sheepies and Beardies, plus there were several "honorary sheepdogs" of other breeds present.
I've belonged to NEOESR for quite a few years now, and the picnic is the one event I try never to miss. It's quite an amazing thing to look around you at dozens of happy, sweet, well-cared-for Sheepies and Sheepie-mostlies and realize that almost all of them were once rescue dogs. During the Rescue Parade, each Sheepie's owner is allotted a few minutes to tell the Sheepie's story. Some were abused or neglected. Some were beloved family pets whose owners died. Some were literally five minutes away from death at the animal shelter when people intervened to save them. One at last year's picnic saved his adoptive family from dying in a house fire not long after having been adopted. After listening to each story and seeing how each lucky dog has blossomed in a new and loving home, it's hard not to tear up, at least a little.
NEOESR itself is a wonderful success story -- 41 years old, large, well-funded, with generous and heroic members all over the world. They have never turned away a needy sheepdog or sheepdog mix, regardless of age, medical condition, or whether or not it has a tail, and many of the members have adopted multiple sheepdogs from the organization. I have been involved with some of the rescues that have taken place, but only a few.
They even maintain the Sheepiestuff Web site, where they sell many different Sheepdog-related items, and the profit goes to rescue needy Sheepies. We stopped at the Sheepiestuff table and brought home one of the handsome new mugs with the NEOESR logo. Not that we really need more coffee cups, but we needed THAT coffee cup.
As usual, this year's picnic was just plain fabulous, thanks to the hard work of the host and the other members. One of our favorite "small touches" was the addition of the drinking water buckets on one side of the open-air building. Each one had had a little toilet seat attached to it, so the dog would look as though it would... oh, never mind. You have to be a dog person to think that's funny, anyway. I can tell Greg's becoming a dog person; he thought it was hilarious.
Charlie and Seamus had a fine old time for themselves. They got to meet lots of sheepdogs and Sheepie people, and to bounce around the grounds together. Charlie particularly enjoyed the kiddie pool, and kept jumping into and out of it whenever we walked by it. Seamus hesitated for a little while -- maybe he didn't want to get his pretty show coat all mussed -- but he eventually joined Charlie in the pool, bouncing and splashing.
I mean to get started on knitting a felted bag or two for the NEOESR annual fundraising auction in October. I wish I were prolific enough to send a huge number of handmade Sheepie things; handcrafted items tend to get snapped up for goodly amounts of money, and the resulting funds all go back to help more needy Sheepies.
Small Knitting Progress
I have done a little knitting here and there of late, though I'm still measuring progress in baby steps. I finished the scarf I was knitting in Lion Brand Incredible (the space-dyed ribbon), and the results really are cute. I especially like the way the ribbon fringe flutters in a breeze; I wish I'd made the fringe a teeny bit longer. Yeah, I know it's cheap yarn, but I'd knit with it again. I like the results as well as the colorways.
Sometimes the thing that separates the cheapo yarn from the better yarn is the color sense of the people who produce it. I can't bring myself to like Lion Boucle no matter how much I touch it; every single one of those colorways is so garish that I'd be forced to knit the stuff in total darkness with sunglasses on. Whoever oversaw the shades for Incredible over at Lion Brand should take over for Boucle and stop producing those nightmare shades.
On to the indisputably good yarn: I've finished the left front of my Fletcher sweater in Noro Iro, and am maybe a quarter of the way up the right front. I matched all the cast-on edges so that they begin with the same color (emerald green), but the rest of the coloring is as random as ever. It's beginning to look like an actual sweater, even while still in pieces. I'm so pleased!
Sax Mountain Becomes Sax Mountain Range
Greg managed to get a fairly decent amount of composition work done on the drive to and from the picnic. Sax Mountain has transformed into a suite for sax quartet, and Mountain itself has become the third movement of four. Greg did quite a bit of work on the fourth movement, the Scherzo, yesterday.
He is off to New York City tomorrow to oversee the rehearsal for his Water song cycle, to be performed at the ACA concert on Saturday. On his way down there, he plans to drop by Guildford, CT to the factory that made his custom organ shoes, to see whether he can get them in a half-size larger. These days he plays the organ in his boat shoes, but he'd have better control of the pedals in his real organ shoes.
Greg will return home on Tuesday night, and the two of us will go to NYC Friday night for Saturday's concert. The puppies will go to the puppy hotel for a sleepover, and I'll retrieve them on Sunday morning while Greg is at church. Persephone used to feel very put out when we'd go away for an overnight and leave her here with the automatic feeder, but these days she seems happy enough to have the occasional dog-free run of the house. She'll watch over the place while we're gone, and then she'll lecture us when we return.
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Old English Sheepdog