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 Unwind in beautiful downtown Burbank. That's the yarn store featured in the HBO series Six Feet Under. 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 Border Grill in Santa Monica, Campanile and the La Brea Bakery, two different and fabulous Chinese restaurants whose names escape me (once for dim sum, once for a Chinese birthday banquet for Susannah), and Inn of the Seventh Ray 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 Family Guy and American Dad. 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.)
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 BeardieMainiacs email list on Yahoo! Groups, 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 The Yarn Sellar in York 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.