Monday, July 31, 2006

Swedish Chef - Hot Spicy Pepper Sauce

Speecy Spicy Chilli Juice-a! Bork Bork Bork!

The Swedish Chef is my favorite Muppet, since we're a Scandinavian household here. A long time ago, a colleague of one of my college classmates billed himself as the Swedish Tech Writer. Bork bork bork!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Peekaboo! Posted by Picasa

Sneak Previews

I don't usually shoot pictures of half-done pairs of socks, but wanted to show how her India sock yarn looks in the different stages. This yarn looks different each time I do something to it -- unwind the skein, wind into a ball, knit into a sock. Isn't it lovely? The colors are actually a tiny bit brighter in real life -- there are tiny flashes of orange in the mix, and the purple is more muted in the photo than it is in the actual yarn. (I couldn't find a clean, solid-colored towel to use as an impromptu background, so I swiped one of our beach towels and used the wrong side. Funky.)

The heat has transformed us into a family of slugs. When we're not taking siestas in an effort to fast-forward to the cooler times of the day, we're all holed up in the bedroom or the office, huddled around the air conditioner. I've made much more progress in knitting than I usually do on a given weekend, since we've mostly just watched the marathon of Adam Sandler movies (and not even the good ones) all weekend. (We saw "Click" in the theater. It was a hoot -- maybe not a candidate for next year's Oscars, but fun enough -- and the theater had its AC cranked to the max. That made the trip worthwhile on its own.)

I feel halfway guilty for wasting all that time when I could be doing something more productive, like cleaning or obedience training, but the dogs feel pretty much the same way I do. When I leave the nice air-conditioned room, they all follow me, but they immediately do a 180 and head back to the bedroom door, scratching and whining to be let back in where it's cool.

Not that all that time has been wasted. In addition to cranking out the socks at record speed (for me), I've also managed to make multiple updates to the , set up a Cafepress store for our logowear, ship off loads of club and dog-show paperwork, and get caught up on stuff I wouldn't otherwise find the time to do if I weren't trapped in the only cool room in the house with my knitting and my laptop.

Here's the club logo in all its glory, designed by my friend Maryann:

And in Music News...

Greg has been making little refinements to the Sax Quartet all week. Once he's finished with the actual composition of the piece, he goes back and places all of the dynamic markings, tempo markings, and any articulations he feels are important for proper phrasing. Since I played sax in a previous life, he's been asking me a number of questions about how one would play a certain phrase for best effect. I haven't picked up a sax in more than 20 years and don't currently own one, so I try to visualize what I'd have done (What would Charles Mingus Do??). Maybe generations of sax players will look on those articulations and curse, but I hope not.

After he's happy with the finishing touches and sends the Sax Quartet off to the New Hudson guys, Greg plans to turn his attention back to Niagara -- or more accurately, Ongiara. We saw a documentary on PBS about Niagara Falls, and one of the people they interviewed was Michael Daugherty, another composer who wrote a piece called Niagara. Like the documentary itself, his piece has more to do with how people have affected the Falls over the past couple of centuries. It's nice enough, but a bit hokey in spots (just like the attractions at Niagara Falls). Greg's piece focuses more on the Falls itself, the unrelenting power and texture of the water, and its place in Nature.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Party Animals, Puppy Puberty, and Profuse Prose

Whew! I can barely believe how much of July has whizzed by since my last post! There's good news, though: Pirate, one of my very first blog friends, is back with a new blog, and Pam has revived hers as well. Welcome back, folks!

Look at what passed over our heads this afternoon. Nothing else, aside from maybe a real fire-breathing dragon, can make that whooshing sound.

Party Animals!

Greg, Charlie, and I attended the first annual Beardie Bash and BBQ of our fledgling today. Seamus stayed home to babysit Dinah, who is in the middle of her first season. We decided that it would not be a good time to bring the lovely and talented Miss Burfitt to a dog picnic with intact males about. Since she's only a puppy herself, it just wouldn't do to have a bunch of little Travelers (Trav is her sweetie, and he's very much intact) bouncing around 63 days from now.

Here's a picture of the Lovely One herself:

Despite the rain yesterday and this morning, the heavens managed to smile on us just long enough so we could hold a meeting, grill some burgers, and visit with some people and pups. Charlie had a fine time for himself, and slept all the way home.

I'm really happy about how things turned out for our first meeting. 17 people came, another one or two sent regrets, and we're sure we can find even more members. I didn't even count the number of Beardies who came, but we had a goodly number, and they all had a lovely time romping together in our hosts' yard and nudging the assembled humans for petting and biscuits.

Another Musical Milestone (Almost)

Greg has essentially finished the Sax Quartet this week. He needs to add finishing touches such as dynamic markings and other performance directions, but the composition itself is pretty much done. He's hoping to get the score into the hands of the soon. They were so enthused when they met him in June at the concert. We both hope they like the piece when they receive it -- maybe they'd premiere it, or even consider recording it.


While Dinah has been out of commission as far as her show career is concerned, I've been busy filling out forms and making arrangements for both the Canadian and American Beardie Specialties. Dinah makes her Canadian show debut at the end of August, and we fly to Seattle in mid-September to do some sheep herding, show in the regional specialty, and see her breeders again. They haven't seen Dinah since she left Wales at the age of 10 weeks, so I'm looking forward to seeing what they think of her now. Wonder if she'll remember them.

Dog Show Newbie will have updates on Dinah's shows as soon as we get out there and start showing again. The Canadian Specialty will be her next show.

Socks and More Socks

Dangit, I forgot to take pictures of the nifty pair of socks I knitted for my sister. I think they were from Socka yarn, and they knitted up into sharp-looking stripes of hot pink, turquoise, and yellow, along with a little black and white.

I pulled out part of the second sock I was working in Trekking yarn, and the yarn tangled up to such a degree that I just balled the whole thing up in despair and stuffed it into the bottom of the yarn stash. Trekking is one of the prettiest yarns out there for socks, but mess with it and it'll make you pay Big Time.

Lisa will be tickled to hear that I've cast on the hand-dyed yarn I picked up from her a little while back. The yarn is in her India colorway, which includes regal purple and gold as well as some other shades. They'll make amazing socks, and photos are forthcoming! If you love hand-dyed yarns, want to support the dyeing and spinning habits of a couple of fellow Beardie-loving yarn fanatics, and want to knit something that no one else in the universe will ever have, go on over to Lisa and Kathy's Etsy shop and feast on the colors.

Just before we left for Greg's NYC concert last month, I picked up some cheap-but-cheerful Moda Dea Sassy Stripes yarn to play with on the plane. I'm about 1 3/4 of the way through that pair at the moment. I finished the first sock in Jody's size, and will send that pair to her while I'm untangling that godforsaken Trekking yarn to finish her second "nice" sock.

When I can't really concentrate on what I'm doing or when I'm watching something like a movie with subtitles, I'll cast on sock cuffs. Oddly enough, I don't really suffer from Second Sock syndrome -- I really love to finish up pairs -- but I like to have various stages of socks in the pipeline.

I think that I've completed five pairs of socks now, not counting the ones I balled up and stuffed into the frog pond. They've all been knitted from the same pattern I learned at sock-knitting class. It's time to explore other patterns and possibilities. Maybe the next pair (or five) will come from Lucy Neatby's Cool Socks Warm Feet.

Also back in the Frog Pond: the Black Sheep Kristina bag. Things were going so well, and then I misread the graph and accidentally skipped some rows in the repeat pattern. I just haven't had the intestinal fortitude to rip them out and try again.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Dinah and Seamus take a break in the middle of their most recent landscaping project. Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 03, 2006

Howdy from Vacationland

Pardon me while I sweep the cobwebs and dust off this blog. At least I'm always telling the truth when I say ,"A lot has happened since the last time I posted."

Brags from Team Shameless and Other Beardie Stuff

A couple of weekends ago, Seamus and I attended our very first APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) rally trial at down in Massachusetts. Although Seamus's and my training has been almost exclusively AKC-oriented, APDT rally is about 95% the same. The signs look different, and APDT has some exercises that AKC doesn't, such as the Front and Forward. In addition, mixed breeds may compete, and you can reward your dog with pats and treats in between exercises. It's a great way to get started in rally.

Another thing I really like about APDT rally is that trials are generally set up so you can (in theory) bring home a new title at the end of a trial weekend. Seamus and I are used to the one-shot AKC competition, so we put our all into the morning trial, and barely had enough left over between us to qualify in the afternoon trial. We did manage to bring home two Qs, and would have done a third on Sunday if we'd entered. We're already signed up to finish off this title at Gemini's October trial. When Seamus gets this one, he will be Sheiling Angelic Ties, HIC, RN, RL1 (though AKC will only recognize the RN).

We already miss our regular rally class, though. Judy had planned to teach through the summer, but her husband's hip replacement surgery was moved up, so she decided to cancel classes so she could stay home with Bob while he recovers. I had hoped to attend classes with Seamus all summer and try for the AKC Advanced in the fall. We can still train, but it looks like we'll be doing more on our own, as well as searching out as many matches as we can find.

Dinah has been a busy little grrrrl, too. Her exploits appear on my other blog, . We've been bringing home lots of pretty ribbons from the dog shows lately -- no points, but we do get bragging rights.

Charlie's had his summer buzz cut, and is feeling very cool (in both senses of the word). He looked so handsome in his long brown coat that I hated to clip him. He's just so happy with the crew cut that any lingering regrets I've had have fallen into one of the canyons he's dug in the backyard. He's also pleased to be able to go hiking with Greg and not bring home half the vegetation on the mountain in his coat. I'll try to get some decent pictures to post.

The pups and I spent Saturday visiting my friend Linda. Her latest litter of baby Beardies is in the process of leaving for new homes, and I was invited to come down and smooch them all before they left. (There's a possibility that one of the brown girls might have to wait a couple of weeks for her new mom to come home from a trip. Since Linda has to depart for the UK in mid-July for a family wedding, Bubbles might be coming to Summer Camp at our house for a little while.)

The puppies are all gorgeous, and many are destined for show homes. The brown puppies all gravitated toward Charlie, who gave them lessons in Dirt Appreciation. I wish I'd had a camera to capture the scene of all of them napping happily in the dirt together, after digging their very own holes to China. It must be a tradition among brown Beardies, handed down from brown to brown. Seamus and Dinah like dirt, and Dinah likes to get muddy, but with Charlie, dirt is sacred. (It's a brown thing. We wouldn't understand.)

Dinah Moe has grown a bit since I brought her home in January, but I hadn't quite grasped how much until I saw her with the other dogs. She's nearly as big as Seamus's half-sister Qi, who turned a year old in May. She's huge compared to the little puppies.

Musical Stuff

Greg's been working away madly on his Sax Quartet, and just about has the thing finished. He's received some very positive responses from the New Hudson Sax Quartet guys, and he wants to get at least a movement or two off to them as soon as possible. Who knows what might happen if they like it and want to perform it, or even record it?

Hot Weather Knitting

Even though the weather has almost been summer-like in between rainstorms, I've been able to do some knitting even in the heat. I had to frog back my second Trekking sock because I wasn't paying attention when I did the decreases after the heel. Getting that restarted was less than zero fun. I still haven't spent much time with it.

When I need something to do with my hands and don't need to pay strict attention, I start sock cuffs. For that reason, I have yet another first sock in progress. This one's from some cheap-and-cheerful yarn that I liked the look of -- I think it's Moda Dea Sassy Stripes. Maybe I started that because I felt guilty at how much I'd messed up the sock out of the expensive yarn. (Actually, I grabbed it to take along on the plane on the plastic needles when Greg and I went to NYC.)

I finished the Sockotta socks for my sister, and will post a picture of those shortly. (Add this to the list of promised pictures.) They look pretty cool, and I didn't screw anything up. 'Nuff said.

Since I'm on vacation this week, I hope to get in some leisure-time knitting (though I have to get away from the computers to do it). I'd even like to get another sweater started and catch up on the backlog of scarves from yarn my friend Susannah bought for me. (I tried the one in Berroco Suede a couple of times, but ripped it out. I'm working from a pattern, albeit a simple one, and will need to pay some attention to what I'm doing.)

Born on the Fourth -- and Fifth -- of July

Greg and I will probably spend much of the Fourth in the car, on the long trek between here and my brother's house in my home town in Massachusetts. I've just come off a long few weeks of commuting and dog shows, and frankly, I'd skip the drive if I could. However, my twin niece and nephew are having birthdays, and it wouldn't do to just stay home when I haven't seen them since Christmas. I generally loathe all small children except these two and my best girlfriend's daughter. (Sorry. Baby pictures just don't do a thing for me -- they all look more or less like E.T. -- but show me a little puppy and I'll just melt.)

Emmy is the older of the two, having been born just before midnight on the Fourth of July -- so tomorrow really is her birthday. Max was born about half an hour later, on the fifth of July. The two of them share everything, even birthdays, so they've consolidated the whole birthday thing into about a week. The family party is tomorrow. Thanks to the gods, the kid party is some other day.

Happiness Is a Warm Puppy and Hot Hardware

Today's post comes to you from my hot new computer. After months of near-terminal gadget lust from installing and setting up my friend Susannah's MacBook, plus shameless urging from Greg and a bunch of my fellow Mac-head girlfriends, I finally broke down and invested in one of those 17-inch stainless-steel beauties for myself.

But Karen, you ask, don't you already have multiple computers? Yes, I do. Current operating population (not counting Greg's laptop or any of the hardware not currently in use) includes my Toshiba laptop, a work-issued Gateway workstation that dual-boots XP and Linux, and a SunBlade 100 that runs Solaris. Somewhere on an Airborne truck is a new machine issued from work, a SunRay 170 (the iMac of Sun hardware, with an all-in-one design). If you saw my desk, you'd either burst out laughing or flee in terror. I'd advise both.

All those machines are okay, and I like them well enough -- but they aren't Macs. Greg is a confirmed Mac user who kept wishing he had a PC until he bought a new Mac laptop with OS X. I was a long-time Macomaniac who had to abandon the platform because the tools I needed for work ran only on Windows, Linux, and Solaris. All but two of the old computers around this house are Macs, and I'd always wanted another one.

After spending the better part of a week at a conference for work where all of the academics worked on hot new MacBook Pros, I couldn't take the pressure any longer. I broke down, availed myself of the employee discount, and sat whining by the front door until the nice FedEx guy delivered my new baby.

Ah, but it's good to be back home again. This is the first OS X machine I've ever had, and I'm overjoyed to see that it, like its predecessors, Just Works. If I'm feeling frisky, I can even open up a UNIX shell and play command-line pilot to my shrunken little heart's content. The truly sweet thing about the new Intel-based Macs is that they can run Windows XP as well. I downloaded the BootCamp utility, set up my Windows partition, and can dual-boot into XP if I should ever feel the need.

I'm still working out a few logistical problems with my byzantine network setup and I haven't yet figured out whether I can successfully migrate my files and settings from a PC to the Windows partition on a Mac, but I'm working on it. It's just plain great to be back using a machine that's more than just okay.

Freakin' sweeeeeet.