Sunday, January 29, 2006

Right Before My Very Eyes...

She's growing! I swear Dinah's already bigger than she was last week. Sorry to be so slow in posting updates, but this little Dinah-mo has really been keeping us all hopping.

We've had a bit of a warming spell this week, so before long, most of my outdoor shots will feature a black puppy silhouetted against some lovely brown mud. I'd better post these snow shots while I can!

Dinah has already become quite the little social butterfly. She had her very first play date with Tucker, Sampson, and Ecco (though Ecco didn't romp much -- she was very sweet to this rowdy puppy, though). Dale and I didn't get very much knitting done, though we talked about knitting a good deal, and had our lunch picnic-style on the kitchen floor so we could keep the puppies company. Val couldn't resist the oh-so-obvious song cue: "Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah...". No banjos were strummed in the making of that play date, however.

Yesterday, we packed up everyone (except Persephone the cat) and drove down to my friend Linda's for a Beardie Bounce with her Beardies and my friend Jane's Beardie and her miniature Australian Shepherd. Unfortunately, even though we remembered everything else from the 25-foot canvas lead to the roll-up rubber piano, we completely forgot the camera. Jane took plenty of pictures, and I hope there are good ones of the whole pack bouncing in the snow. A good bounce was had by all, and all the Beardies slept until we were almost home.

Here's a shot of Dinah and Charlie romping outside in the snow. Charlie still leaves most of the puppy-play tasks to Seamus when everyone's indoors, but he enjoys a good run with his new little black shadow streaking along behind him.

Dinah loves her Seamus, too...

We've already enrolled in Sue's next puppy class at Reigning Cats and Dogs in February. I can't wait for Auntie Sue to meet the charming Ms. Dinah-mite! Dinah sits on command already and comes when called most of the time, but we don't want to start formal obedience for a while yet.

Gill emailed to tell us that the Kennel Club has picked our registered names for us, and none of them are what we expected... but they're not all that bad. Dinah will probably be Breaksea November Storm. Her litter sister Buffy will probably be Breaksea November Mist. This leaves November Frost for the sister who went to Ireland, and November Gales for the brother still in the UK. Who knows what the KC was thinking, but at least we can now start registering our puppies in our respective countries.

A Little Brag on Seamus

Well, two, actually. Seamus has been an escape artist in the past and has been known to run around taunting me when he's escaped. Yesterday at the Bounce, I put a 25-foot lead on him (the kind we use in herding training), and then dropped it on the ground. Seamus was then free to run with the pack, but I called him back to me and gave him a goodie each time - and he did it! This is a big improvement for him, and I couldn't be prouder!

He does make me prouder, though. Seamus continues to shine in rally class, and the only reason he'd ever be denied a perfect score in a trial is when his dumb handler screws up. We stayed after the regular class today to attempt the Advanced course, and we both enjoyed the off-lead work even more than the on-lead exercises we'll do in the Novice trials. I handle better without the lead filling up my left hand, and Seamus senses that I'm more relaxed and performs even better, I guess we have to get through Novice as quickly as we can so we can start having some real fun out there!

But Wait, We Have Knitting Too This Time

It's true that having Dinah at home means that I've had less free time to knit of late... but I am making progress and will shortly have a second finished pair of socks to show off! These are in the rust-colored Kroy Socks yarn that I mentioned in an earlier posting. The first sock is done, and the second one is very nearly at the toe decrease.

I'd taken the second sock to the UK with me, to work on while sitting on the plane with six-and-a-half hours of pure, unadulterated me-time each way, plus a full iPod's worth of audiobooks and podcasts to catch up on. The airport security people in Boston had no problem at all with my bamboo dpns or my teeny, inoffensive-looking 12" Addi Turbo, so I knitted quite happily all the way across the pond.

However, when I arrived at Gatwick a few days later to take the shuttle to Manchester, I noticed a large sign while standing in line at security: NO KNITTING NEEDLES. Faced with the horror of having my beautiful Addi needles confiscated and thrown who-knows-where, I put on my best mea-culpa face and approached the guard.

"I'm sooooooo awfully sorry," I whimpered, "but I was allowed to take my needles on the plane from Boston, and I really don't want them confiscated. Is there anything I can doooooo?"

The guard asked me to show him my arsenal of weapons of yarn destruction. I handed them to him, still attached to the half-finished sock, and he asked me to continue through the security check while he asked his supervisor what to do. I envisioned myself asking for the yarn back, even if the needles had to be taken from me (read: pried from my fingers).

After I completed the tour through the X-ray machines, the guard came to me and handed me back my needles (and half-finished sock). "Just don't take these out of your carry-on while on the plane, ma'am," he said. "You don't want to upset the other passengers." I promised to read on the shuttle trip instead.

Anyway, I never did finish that sock while in the UK. Things in Wales were just too lively with all the Beardies bouncing around, so I started another sock cuff in Lorna's Laces Shepherd's Sock on a plastic 11" Balene circular. The first half-finished sock ended up traveling in my checked luggage for the trip home, and I didn't dare take out the plastic needles until I had left Heathrow for home.

It's all good, though. Not only do I now have a mostly-finished second sock, but I'm a good way into the cuff on the first sock of the Lorna's Laces pair. All will be finished in the end.

Gosh, I sure would like to join Lisa's Year of the Sweater knitalong, but I don't know if I can put the socks down long enough to do a sweater -- even a sweater knit in sock yarn!

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Thursday, January 19, 2006


Meet Dinah, the new little puppy who really puts the grrrrr in grrrrrl! If the UK's Kennel Club approves, her registered name will hopefully) be Breaksea November Gael.

I'll have to tell bits of our adventure story in reverse in order to get everything in. Anyway, Dinah is a fearless, inquisitive, energetic little soul -- not to mention cuter than the dickens. She and Seamus are already an item. The two of them play together every morning (not to mention most of the day), and their games of chase look and sound like the Scooby-Doo and the Keystone Kops recreating the chariot race from Ben-Hur.

Charlie is polite, though he prefers to leave the paws-on interactions to Seamus. He rarely has to assert his alpha-doghood, and Dinah doesn't pose much of a threat to his supremacy at 10 weeks of age. (Give her a year. She'll be running the household, and Charlie won't know what hit him.)

I think Dinah wore both boys out...

If you think I go goofy over little puppies, you should see Greg. He is absolutely smitten with Dinah. Except for the time when he played Santa for the Minuteman Beardie Club and got to hold Qi (Seamus's half-sister, who was probably 5 months old at that time), he had never met a little Beardie puppy before. He just can't get enough of this one!

Dinah is a better traveler than I am, and she stole hearts on two continents on the day we flew home (Tuesday the 17th). I have to say that the staff of British Airways not only did a fantastic job of taking care of her, but they took pretty good care of me, too. There's probably nothing worse (in the decibel sense) than an anxious puppy-mommy worrying at the top of her lungs about her puppy getting on the plane. When I brought Charlie home from Nebraska by way of Chicago back in 1997, I nearly received an Oscar for Best Dramatic Actress.

Nothing fazes this puppy. She took her very first ride in the car the day before we flew home. She rode on my lap, looking out the window, and Gill drove. She never showed any sign of fear or carsickness -- she just looked out the window and calmly took everything in. She was also well-behaved at the vet's and endured all the probings and pokings with grace. She did surprise a Border Collie mix who was just minding his business by barking at him and telling him to get out of HER waiting room.

She is already coping well with celebrity life. Alan brought us to Manchester Airport to see us off and to help us get all Dinah's flight details settled. He held her while I got the crate weighed, paid her fare, and so on. When I turned around to look for them, they were surrounded by BA staffers and a few travelers from Belgium who were obviously smitten by her. She greeted everybody with smiles and wags, and with the kind of old-time-movie-star aplomb you'd associate with someone like Greta Garbo. She didn't even squirm, but allowed herself to be admired and cooed over.

(If she can keep that up in the show ring, she'll be amazing!)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

One Foot Out the Door...

(Thanks, Jana, for the fabulous photos! Isn't she stunning?!)

I should be packing instead of blogging, but wanted to put up this photo and wave bye-bye to all of you first. If I have the time and the technology, I'll try to blog from London and Wales. In any case, I'll take lots of photos while I'm there, and will let you know the puppy's name as soon as I figure it out.

Happy trails! "See" you next week!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

And a Happy Roo Year!

Seamus says "Rooooo!" whenever he's excited, and he's excited a lot. Here's something to roo about...

(Photo courtesy of Jana Jezkova Jr., Glen Albyn Beardies)

Isn't she cute? It's official -- I'll be bringing this little girl home with me! A BeardieList friend from the Czech Republic just brought this puppy's sister home to Prague over the weekend. The littlest girl is almost as big as the others, and she is going to her new home on Sunday. The little boy has a show home waiting for him in England, so he won't have to travel far to get where he's going.

The registered names will all have a storm theme to them, since the kids were born in a real howler of a storm. The little girl in Prague, whose call name is now Buffy, will probably be registered as Breaksea November Rain, after a song by Axl Rose. I submitted a few suggestions to the breeder, and will find out soon which one she picks.

I've decided to hold off on our puppy's call name until I meet her. Every day I favor different names, and I've narrowed the list down to a few dozen. Seamus's name just occurred to me the morning after his first night with us. The same thing might happen after my first night up in Wales with all the Breaksea Beardies. I'll probably wake up the next morning and just know what her name is, just as I did with Seamus.

The trip itself doesn't quite seem real to me yet, in spite of all the shopping and all the preparations. I picked up my British pocket money at the bank today and made reservations for the night before my flight at a hotel near my office building. I'll park my car at my office for the week I'm gone and take the company limo into Logan Airport. Bless their hearts, they were happy to let me bring the puppy on the trip home! The Sherpa bag that my friend Kathy loaned me will come in handy after all. (Greg offered to meet us at the airport, but I won't drive in there if I don't have to, so why put him through that misery when he could be comfortably at home, chilling the champagne instead?)

And Speaking of Bags...

The felted ones, that is. Two of the three have reached their new homes, and the crowds are going wild! Both Kathy and Jody have received theirs and are simply over the moon about them. It makes me happy to know that my knitted pieces are going to loving adoptive homes. Now to get Susannah's on the needles... which I'll do as soon as I can bear to put the rust-colored socks down!

The Bargain Hunters' Triumphant Return

Dale and I did what any red-blooded knitters would do on New Year's Day: we went on a road trip to Patternworks in NH to take advantage of their 20%-off-on-the-store sale. I told Greg I was planning to go there to pick up Only One Thing, a blocking board big enough to hold sweaters. (He didn't say "Yes, dear," or even "Yeah, right," but he had a perfect right to think either one.) In spite of the several rooms' worth of 20-percent temptation surrounding me, I was astonishingly good: I picked up a plastic Balene 11" circular so I could work on my socks on the plane next week, plus a few more balls of sock yarn and some small-sized stitch rings and rustproof T-pins for the board.

Dale was likewise pretty well-behaved, but she has all she needs to start on her next sweater project. All we need now is the time to knit!

We have the best road trips, though. Since coffee is the most important meal of the day, we ended up stopping at the Wolfeboro Dunkin' Donuts for refills (twice!), and had a wicked good Mexican lunch at the Bad Moose Cafe in Moultonboro. (Get the chicken quesadillas. They are simply To Die For. Trust me on this.)

A Quick Shout Out Lisa, POC person and a real author like Barbara, not just a word mercenary like me. Thanks, Lisa, for all the kind words!