Sunday, April 30, 2006

Drive-By Blogging

Wow! Sorry it's been so long since I've had a chance to post anything to the blog. So much has been happening, and there's been so little free time just to sit and write. I'll do my best to catch up...

So Where the Heck Have I Been, Anyway?

Last weekend, I cashed in a few days' worth of accumulated comp time and flew out to LA to help my friend Susannah celebrate her Five-Oh Birthday. We met up with Pam (Robbie and Ghillea's mom), and we all indulged in mercantile and gourmet therapy to a fairly extreme level. Our adventures took us to in beautiful downtown Burbank. That's the yarn store featured in the HBO series . We also hit the Yarn Garden in Studio City. Susannah, who loves scarves, bought a few different yarns for me to knit up for her. Since one of my airplane projects involved mending a chenille scarf and returning it (I made it from Sirdar Wow! -- they should have called it Sirdar Dammit!), I needed something else to knit. Pam, who is beginning to favor more solid colors for socks these days, presented me with an armload of different self-patterning Opal yarns (my favorites!). All that, and a blue Beardie fix too! I'm overwhelmed -- she's always been far too generous to me.

All that shopping effort required that our energy be sustained, and it was -- in a variety of fairly famous, Zagat-rated restaurants. I don't mean to sound like Hayseed in the City, but you have to go all the way to Kennebunk to get memorable, non-chain-restaurant food in this area. Most of the time, our best meals are served Chez Nous.

In LA, you can't swing a soup ladle without hitting someplace amazing. Anyway, we managed to touch down between shopping trips at the , , two different and fabulous Chinese restaurants whose names escape me (once for dim sum, once for a Chinese birthday banquet for Susannah), and in Topanga Canyon.

Here are a few photos I snapped with my cell phone at Inn of the Seventh Ray.

I know this sounds totally amazing, but there were even points during the trip where were weren't either shopping or eating. Susannah recently replaced her Jurassic-era PC with a hot new MacBook Pro, and part of my mission in LA was to get the new hardware set up with MacOS, Windows, the DSL/wireless network, the Cinema Display, programs installed under each OS, and her new all-in-one printer. That experience has left me with a deep and serious case of Gadget Lust. Next time I need a new personal computer, I might have to get hold of one of those fabulous, elegant MacBooks for myself.

Susannah also arranged it so a friend of hers at Fox Television (her former employer) could give me a tour through the studios for and . I didn't see any of the actors, but I did get to meet the producers of both shows and to get a sneak preview of a few minutes of the Family Guy season finale from the sound engineer. Freakin' Sweet! (They don't have an employee cafeteria in the building, but they do have an area where the lunch orders get delivered. The neon sign above it is for The Drunken Clam!)

Susannah snapped this cell-phone picture of me with my favorite American Dadcast member:

The only downside to the trip was that United Airlines, usually pretty good, managed to lose my luggage both on the trip out and on the trip back. Seems some genius keeps confusing Manchester with Rochester (I'm not kidding!).

Shameless Brags for Seamus and Other Doggie Stuff

Cripes, I hope I can find a little more time to update Dog Show Newbie. Just because I've been jet-setting all over the West Coast and eating a swathe through the greater Los Angeles area doesn't mean I haven't done a thing with Dinah. She is all set to make her dog-show debut on May 7 at the York County Kennel Club show.

Before I get so wrapped up in that show, I have to brag: Seamus earned the second leg in Rally Novice at the Casco Bay Dog Training trial back on April 15. I had hoped that we could put on a good show for Steve Hersey (the judge), a fellow POC member and the instructor at our very first rally seminar. Unfortunately, I couldn't have predicted that a massive thunderstorm would pass through the area while the event was in progress. Seamus, who ordinarily doesn't much like thunderstorms, was in the car at the time the storm came through and was nearly apoplectic by the time I came out to fetch him. Once I brought him inside the middle-school gym where the trial took place, he planted his feet and refused to leave the building, even to fetch his water dish. A kindly steward gave us the remainder of her bottle of Poland Spring.

In spite of the weather, though, Seamus managed to gather together enough of his wits so we could finish the course and qualify. We finished in 6th place out of 6 entries, but we qualified -- so I can't gripe too hard. If I had been at the trial with poor old Doogie, he would have dug through the gym floor and been halfway to China in his panic. (Dinah would have barked back at the storm. That chick has nerve.)

We're BeardieMainiacs!

In my copious spare time, I've been helping to form a Bearded Collie Club here in Maine. Many of us also belong to the Minuteman Club in MA, but feel it's just too far to drive to join in their reindeer games on a regular basis. Anyway, I've created the , and we use the list as a means of getting information out. Thus far we only have 13 members, but everybody knows somebody else with Beardies. Hopefully we'll be able to find everybody and invite them to join. I tried to reach everybody I could think of, but not everybody has responded. My friend Val says she's received a pile of correspondence from people "from away" who just love the name, though. We could make a killing selling "BeardieMainiacs" T-shirts.

Our first organizational meeting took place yesterday. We didn't have a standing-room-only turnout, but we did have seven people there (plus a Beardie and an English Cocker Spaniel), and we managed to discuss quite a lot. I'm now the secretary of the fledgling group, and I've been posting stuff to the list, writing up minutes, and the like for most of today. (So this is what a writer does on her day off -- write some more.)

It would be nice to establish a Beardie Club here -- not only for Bounces, but also to promote conformation and performance, and to serve as a resource for Beardie owners who haven't had a community to help them develop their own interests in Beardies. Some folks may feel that conformation folks are clannish and elitist as well as hyper-competitive, but they are the people who have the greatest interest in perpetuating the dog fancy, as well as the greatest expertise in such areas as grooming, breeding and bloodlines, and breed history. Heck, if it weren't for breeders, we wouldn't have the dogs!

And I Thought I Wasn't Special

The more I knit, the more I discover that I'm a pretty exotic species. Except for the other students in my sock knitting class, I'm the only person I know who knits sock cuffs on a 12" circular needle. Not that I have anything against the three-needle approach; I use it myself when it comes time to turn the heel and finish the toe. As a long-time fan of circulars, though, I enjoy the fact that they're speedy and convenient. I was thrilled to bits to discover that Addi made Turbos in sock-cuff sizes. Of course they won't work so well for you if you're knitting real Fair Isle socks, but it will be a long, long while before I get through my current stash of self-patterning yarns. For faux Fair Isle, they're simply the stuff.

Dale and I dropped in to a Chicks With Sticks night down at a few weeks ago. Everybody was really congenial, but I surprised the other two sock knitters when I whipped out my cuff-in-progress on the 12" size-1 circular and proceeded to whiz along in the round. Who knows? They might even try it. I hope we can find the time to go back sometime.

I couldn't find a 12" Addi in either of the very nice shops we went to in LA. I could find dps aplenty, but I guess either the fans of the little circulars had snapped them all up, or sock knitters there would think I'm pretty exotic as well.

There's so much more to tell, but Greg just proposed a dinner at the Weathervane tonight, and I'll take any excuse to get out of cooking on a Sunday night. I promise more anon.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Dinah and Seamus catch the air after spending the morning at the groomer's. Those feet won't stay white for long! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 09, 2006

From One Extreme to the Other

Whew! It's been a while since I've had time to post, but that doesn't mean that nothing has been going on. Au contraire, mon frere (or ma soeur, if you prefer) -- far too much has been going on, and with far too little time to say anything about it.

It sure has been a time of extremes. F'rinstance, Dinah graduated from Auntie Sue's puppy kindergarten this past week. We had a great time. All the puppies performed the exercises we've been working on in class (Dinah's sit-stay is getting better, but she doesn't quite get down-stay yet). At the end, each puppy received a mortarboard, a diploma, and some wonderful treats from Auntie Sue.

The little boy who came to class with Emma, the Golden Retriever, begged his mother, "Please, could we get a picture with Dinah Moe?" His family, the owner of Mia the black German Shepherd (Dinah's favorite classmate), and maybe some of the other folks in the class want to come up to the York County Kennel Club show next month.

Fortunately for us, Auntie Dale showed up and took some terrific photos to capture the moment...

Isn't she pretty? Doesn't she look nice? Most of all, doesn't she look clean?! Contrast that puppy with this one...

Hardly seems like the same dog, does it? Let's just say that Dinah's lessons don't just end the minute she steps out of puppy class every week. She's been taking Dirt Appreciation 101 with her brother Charlie, and evidently she's a star pupil.

Puppy class has gone on hiatus for a couple of weeks, and then we'll start a second session on Monday nights with Auntie Sue at her POC puppy class. Dale and Sampson will be our classmates, which should be fun.

The Mysterious Disappearing Banner

You might be wondering what's happened to my Blogdog banner. First it disappears altogether, and then it gets replaced by plain boring old text.

Welllll... the answer is... I haven't a clue. The file might be corrupted, or something else might be the problem. Anyway, it suddely stopped displaying on my blog a couple of weeks ago, and nothing I've done has brought it back. If all else fails, create a new one...

This Week in Wool

Lisa's online yarn store on Etsy is now a reality -- and what a gorgeous reality it is! Really -- go check it out and fantasize about those amazing colorways -- and adopt a skein(s) if it suits your fancy. The skein of hand-dyed merino fingering-weight yarn in the India colorway has already been spoken for... sorry, knitters.

Dale paid me a compliment I don't actually deserve, but it was sweet of her just the same. We were working at the Maine Coast Runners flyball tourney yesterday, and we were chatting with another member. Dale mentioned that when it came to knitting, I was just a sock-knitting fiend (my paraphrase). I haven't been all that fiendish lately, sorry to say. I've completed one of the socks in that gorgeous, weird, tweedy orange Trekking XXL yarn, and have been knitting the cuff of Sock #2 for the better part of a week (or two?).

I also have a couple of repairs to do on a purple chenille scarf I knitted for one of my college friends out in LA. The yarn is maddening; it keeps unraveling, and I keep having to reknit it. Fortunately, I have another skein of the same yarn. I might have to tie the two skeins together and knit a whole new edge with a very long tail.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

April Foolery

Dinah practices up for today's Beardie Bounce with the Minuteman Club. News at 11. Posted by Picasa