Sunday, October 30, 2005

Rally-Oh, Part Deux, and the Return of Frankenbeardie

Poor Charlie. He came home from the vet all ready for Hallowe'en, and this year he has to go as Frankenbeardie. The vet removed five benign tumors from his hide while he was under anesthesia getting his teeth cleaned, so now his poor coat has a bunch of shaved places and rows of sutures. All he needs now are a couple of plastic bolts for his neck, and he can be the scariest monster on the block! In a couple of weeks the sutures get taken out, but the bald spots are going to last a while. I was considering doing a Donald Trump-style comb-over with the rest of the fur on his back to cover him up properly, or maybe send him to Fur Club for Dogs.

Seamus was completely lost without Charlie here to tell him what to do. He forgot how to eat without another dog eating in the same room. I put down his breakfast and he walked back into the kitchen as if to ask, "And what do you expect me to do with this?" Likewise, he refused to go outside to do his business without an escort. If I hadn't gone outside with him and stood in the dog yard waiting for him, he might have exploded from the pressure of "holding it" until Charlie came home.

I'm happy to report that Seamus looooooves our new novice rally class at It's a Dog's World! He's one of only six students (three Goldens, a Lhasa, a Berner, and him), and the group is really congenial and relaxed. Judy Kay, our instructor (whom I knew from the Old Colony club), is absolutely delightful. She emphasizes positive training for the handlers as well as the dogs, and we all leave class feeling as though we're ready to jump into the very next rally trial and burn up the course. She promises that after six weeks with her, we'll know all 31 rally signs cold and be ready to compete for real. Seamus isn't the half of the team who needs to worry about messing up. I'm the one who needs the additional training! I'm very proud of the other half of the team. He was happy and relaxed and watched me the entire time.

It was nice to go back to It's a Dog's World after a few years' absence. Charlie and I took agility and show-handling classes there for a long time, and Duncan and I took obedience. Charlie also went to day care there a number of times when he was a puppy. Everyone remembered Charlie and was happy to see him, and we ran into people (and dogs) we knew. I always enjoy Old Home Week. The meetings did take a few turns for the bittersweet when people asked after Duncan, and when I found out that a few of my friends' older dogs had also gone over the Bridge.

Seamus and I also take novice-level obedience classes on Wednesdays with POC. Taking regular obedience will keep those skills sharp while we do rally, and I'd like to compete in regular obedience with him as well, once we can work together with that kind of precision.

The FO Report

Don't look now, but there's been a steady procession of finished objects leaving my needles and going out into the wide world to their intended recipients! I'm a hairsbreadth from finishing another felted tote bag for my friend Libby -- this one in the Pine Shadows (green heather) shade of Lamb's Pride Bulky. Libby wanted a needlefelted Beardie on hers, so wish me luck with my first attempt.

My friend Jody has been searching for just the right knitted hat for a couple of years now. When I was a brand-shiny-new knitter, I made her one from some gorgeous yarns she picked up while we were in New Orleans that year. The result, while pretty, really didn't make for a durable, well-fitting hat. Yesterday, while waiting in the hair salon, I whipped up a circular-knitted roll-brim special out of a hank of gold-green-and-brown Reynolds Handpaint Wool, and I think the result might just be the hat she's looking for. It's cute, it's warm as anything, and it's realllly soft. I'm trying to score a second success with some Nashua Handknits Painted Forest in autumn foliage colors, but I ran out of wool just before I needed to start my decreases. The nice ladies at the yarn store will laugh at me when I call them again to put aside one of those skeins; I just did that last week with the green Lamb's Pride.

It must be Hallowe'en, because all kinds of monsters are trying to emerge from the Frog Pond. Remember the infamous World Series afghan, the one I messed up to a fare-thee-well during the 2004 World Series because I got too absorbed in the game and completely forgot what I was doing? Well, now that the 2005 World Series is over and I want my #15 circular back, I'm starting to pull that piece apart and get ready for another go.

Next projects in the queue: My first pair of socks (or bust) and a Charcoal Heather felted tote for my friend Kathy (who owns Seamus's niece Layla). Kathy and Layla roomed with me at the Beardie National this year, and Kathy had many opportunities to examine the blue felted totes I brought to the auction.


Last week, another semi-Perfect Storm came to town. Hurricane Wilma, after absorbing the remnants of Hurricane Alpha, met up with a nor'easter from Canada out in the ocean east of here. The wind gusts were impressive, and each one drove the torrential rains so hard it sounded as though someone had turned a fire hose onto our roof.

I was working at my desk in the office during the storm when I heard a huge CRACK! from the front of the house. Brave, brave Sir Seamus ducked under the desk and cowered. (He hasn't enjoyed hunting season, either.) I waited for everything to go black and silent, and for me to lose my Internet connection (this happens fairly frequently during thunderstorms in this area). Nothing happened.

Charlie and I went outside to investigate, and found that one of the tall pines on the near side of our pond had fallen, breaking off from its neighbor at the base, and taking down a few limbs from the stand of smaller pines with it. Miraculously, it missed the house and all of our wires; otherwise, we could have been off the grid for a long while.

My neighbor, who mows the pasture and takes care of the yard, has been after me to cut the old pines down all year. I didn't want to do it -- I hate cutting down trees just for the sake of cutting them down, and it's an expensive job if you're unable to do it yourself. I'm afraid I have to give in to him on this point, though -- the fallen tree had begun to rot in the center, and the other two old pines probably aren't that far behind. I'll miss them when they're gone, though.

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