Sunday, October 29, 2006

Last Good Day of the Year

At this time of the year, the one song that keeps running through my mind is "Last Good Day of the Year," by a British one-hit-wonder band named Cousteau. (Great song -- they sound even more like Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach than Elvis and Burt did.) With the screaming winds driving the rain sideways and the shift to Standard Time happening this weekend, Friday might actually have been the last good day of the year.

Mother Says: Keep Your Blog Clean 'Cause You Never Know Who Might Visit

As a rule, I don't get a whole lot of comments or links on my blogs -- so it's always an occasion when I hear from people who have been reading these posts. Yesterday I heard from a friend I haven't seen since her wedding back in the '80s. (Hey Rachel -- drop me a line. Susannah will want to say hi too.)

Susannah came out to visit a couple of summers ago. Here she is with Charlie, who has a mutual admiration society thing going with her.

A belated shout out goes to Dave, aka citizentwain, keeper of the Too Stupid to be President Web site. He recently ran across this reference to his site from back in February, and sounded pleased that I named TSTBP among my favorite sites to visit. (It is! Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from screaming -- which explains why we watch almost all the time.)

Also from the Whodathunkit files: Back in this post I made a passing reference to our Mosquito Magnet. Next thing I knew, a nice man named Andrew from the marketing department at American Biophysics gave me a call to ask me what I thought of the Magnet, since I'd mentioned it on my blog. We happen to love the thing, since it keeps the Maine State Birds (mosquitoes) from carrying us off in mid-barbecue. Anyway, one discussion led to another, and just the other day I received a big package from Andrew with a free package of octenol attractant, a propane tank cover, a couple of Mosquito Magnet baseball caps, a matching tote bag, and a couple of marker pens. Hey, Andrew, if you're out there... Thanks!!

Lots of Rally News

It's been so long since I was able to sit down and write a post that I have even more news to catch up on. Back at the beginning of October, held a Rally Fun Day in Saco. Judy, our wonderful instructor, gave a brief explanation of the novice exercises, and then let everybody try.

Seamus got to be a demo dog when he wasn't sitting on Uncle Pat's lap. (Uncle Pat is our friend Traveler's dad.)

I have to brag on my little guy. Last weekend we headed to Littleton, MA to the at . Seamus broke his down in the morning trial, so we NQ-ed for the very first time in our lives. However, in the afternoon, we were able to restore the family honor with a second-place finish and a score of 206 out of a possible 210. This finishes Seamus's RL1 (Rally level 1) title, making him Sheiling Angelic Ties, HIC, RN, RL1.

There are many, many, many nice things about APDT rally. We like AKC rally and do well in it, but APDT trials are so relaxed, and everybody's so friendly. We fell in with a really nice couple from New Jersey and Millie, their Portuguese Water Dog. Another friend of theirs from NJ came up with a Field Spaniel and a Standard Poodle (what a pair!).

Other Dog-Type News

Dinah got her very first point at the Bangor shows a couple of weeks ago! One down, fourteen to go. Photos and details are on , as always. This show was the last one she could enter in the 9-12-month Puppy Class, and we made a nice finish. On to 12-18-month class!

The little princess celebrates her first birthday next week (November 3), the day after Seamus turns 4 (November 2, which was also Duncan's birthday). Somehow, she's started going through an energy spurt instead of just a growth spurt, and she just plain requires more exercise now than she has before. She's just not happy unless someone is throwing the ball for her (me) or chasing her at top flat-out speed (Charlie). She can jump five feet straight up, from a standstill. The boys are energetic enough, but if I could hook Dinah up to a generator, I could kiss Central Maine Power goodbye.

Charlie had minor surgery a couple of weeks ago to remove some fibroid growths from the skin on his back. He was already knocked out for a dental cleaning, so the vet removed the lumps and stitched him up. He had his sutures removed, so he no longer gets to be Frankenbeardie for Hallowe'en. At least the rest of his coat mostly covers the shaved spots. When he first came home, he looked as though he'd lost a fight with a weed wacker.

One more Whodathunkit: You can't swing last month's copy of Wired magazine without hitting some mention of MySpace and/or social networking sites on the Internet. It amazes me that so few articles mention social networking for dogs -- but the phenomenon is out there. Now, I'm not one of those people who dresses my dogs up like Disney characters and carries them around in a purse (66-pound Charlie would require the biggest American Tourister out there), but I'm not above sending the occasional goofy email from my dogs to their dog friends. I draw the line at baby talk, however.

Anyway, I've just ended up on Dogster. In one day, my dogs have amassed more friendly emails, virtual gifts and goodies, and shout-outs from fellow online canines than I ever did after a couple of years on AOL. I will never see another of those awful eHarmony or commercials on TV without wishing they would do one for Dogster instead. "We discovered we have lots in common, like rolling in dead stuff on the beach and sniffing every single tree on the street before we pee."

We ended up there thanks to a question on the registration form. The dog's biography portion asked what our Dogster ID was. I answered that we already had two blogs and a Web site, and then went off with Dinah for our photo session for the book. While we were waiting for our turn in front of the camera, we ended up visiting with quite a few other local dogs and their owners who were active on Dogster. Intrigued, I signed us up as soon as we came back home. It's only been a day, and already my two neutered males get more email from the girls than a lot of high school kids!

More Music News Than You Can Shake a Baton At

Greg's had a busy season of it, and it only looks to get busier. He's been writing CD reviews for a classmate at Curtis who runs a CD label, and he's been having a good time of it. They make him return the CDs when he's done reviewing, though -- so I haven't heard more than a minute or two's worth of music from any of them. One composer whose CD he really liked is Myron Fink. Greg raved about his music to me, and presumably he did so in the CD review as well.

This season, Greg has so many performances lined up that it's a wonder if I can remember them all. This coming week we're going to listen to the viol consort (Long and Away -- at least I think that's the title) played in Medford by the string quartet from the Longy School. The next day, Greg goes to BU to hear the orchestral version of Arkadia read for the first time. (Arkadia has been played before in a chamber-orchestra arrangement, but Greg recently expanded it for full orchestra.) If I haven't misremembered, I think his four-part choral piece April will also be performed at BU this semester.

He'll have another performance at the ACA Festival of American Music, and he just had to go through the submission process for next June's concerts. If the New Hudson guys are available and if there are other pieces for sax quartet on the program, they'll perform his Sax Quartet. If not, he'd like to have Clayton Runaround, the Cape Breton-esque piece for solo violin, performed.

The ACA concerts have turned out to be much more than just great places to have New York City premieres of new compositions. At least year's concert, Greg not only met the New Hudson guys, but he also got to meet Richard Brooks (a fellow composer and president of Capstone Records). Greg and Richard are currently working out plans to record their sax quartets, plus one by Lukas Foss and maybe another composer or two, on a Capstone CD with the New Hudson guys as performers. Everyone's schedules are fairly packed at the moment, so it might take a while to get this effort coordinated -- but it will make for a terrific recording when it comes together. It'll even be available at someday!

Knitting Progress

One thing I'll say for this crummy weather is that it provides a great incentive to stay inside and knit, instead of grabbing the closest available dog and going for a romp in the leaves. I finally finished the Oakley wrap for Susannah. The picture's still on my camera; I'll upload it soon. It took me a while to make my peace with Berroco Suede, but with patience and the right needles, it actually turned out to be pretty fun to knit with.

Because the UFO pile abhors a vacuum, I've picked up a couple of balls of red Debbie Bliss SoHo, and am whipping up a simple 1x1 rib scarf for my friend Caryll in London. I promised her last January that I'd knit her something, so I'm long overdue to make good on that particular promise.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Last Knit

The moral of the story is: Make sure you have plenty of stash, or this could happen to you!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Almost Famous Seamus and Other Stories

I just found out today that Dinah and I got into the Collie Club of Maine's herding clinic in Appleton on November 4th. I'm taking Dinah Moe to have a first look at ducks, just to see what she'll do. (Her first birthday is November 3, and I thought she deserved a nice present.)

Seamus is almost famous -- almost. We went to the York Days obedience demo back in August along with the rest of our obedience club. We heeled around the ring, did some simple Novice exercises, let some spectators pet him, and that was that.

Well, come to find out that Dog In Sight magazine was there. They interviewed other members and took pictures of the freestyle and flyball demos and stuff, so I didn't think anything of it. In their recent issue, they mention a Bearded Collie among the breeds that were there. It's only a quick breed spotting, but Seamus was the only Beardie there.

Wish us luck tomorrow -- Seamus is hoping to be famous at the APDT rally trial this weekend. If we qualify, we'll finish his RL1 title.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Well, Whaddaya Know?

I was just uploading the photos from the Beardie Club's rally-o fun day and I found this on the card...

Not to mention this...

Pretty neat, huh?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Well, That's Irony for You

Charlie peeks over the deck, watching me fiddle with the camera

Cripes, wouldn't you just know it? Just when Blogger finally gets its collective act semi-together and fixes its furshlugginer picture loader, I miss out on the most amazing photo of the season. Sorry that I have to make you all settle for a mental image, but here goes...

The monarch butterflies are getting ready for their winter vacation in Mexico. They don't tend to congregate in huge bunches here as they do when readying themselves for the northward migration, but they will take over a flowering shrub, a dozen or two at a time. From a short distance away, you'd never even know they were there until a "leaf" or a "blossom" on the bush suddenly flutters to a new location. At that point, you notice that there seem to be quite a few monarchs flitting into and around all the bushes on the fence line.

I tried my best to get a decent photo of this phenomenon, but things just didn't go as planned. I hope your mental images were lovely, though. As soon as we get enough colored leaves on the ground, I'll gather some into a pile and see if I can persuade Dinah or Seamus to roll in them for the camera.

Dog News This Week

If you could ask Charlie which dog sport he preferred, he would probably answer, "Hiking." Chuckles never really did see the point of all the silly dog sports we used to try together. We tried obedience, agility, herding, tracking, and just about anything else we could find. Tracking came closest to Charlie's idea of fun, but he really just wants to race on the beach with me or up the hill trails with Greg. He's picked his sport.

Seamus, if asked the same question, just might pick agility. Due to the fact that there are only so many days in the week, I couldn't sign him up for two sessions of rally and regular obedience and agility, and still have an evening or two left over for attending meetings, training Dinah, or just catching up at home.

When Dinah and I went to the Canadian Specialty in August, a dog trainer there asked me about how Seamus was doing, and expressed genuine surprise when I didn't include agility in the list of activities we do together. Anyway, I took her advice and enrolled the little guy in beginning agility just to see what he can do.

Agility is Seamus's sport. He smiled from the first time he entered a tunnel all the way through the drive home. He knows way too much to be stuck in the poky little beginner class I signed him up for, but I needed to know what he knew. Poky little classes aren't all bad; we can use the time to learn to work together as a team. Just for chuckles, we'll try entering an agility show-and-go at the end of the month. That could be fun, and it could show me a lot of things I never even knew about my quirky little dog.

The other thing that pleases me about doing agility is that we have to work off-leash. This should help us "cross-train" for off-lead work in Advanced Rally. We can't progress any farther in rally without working off-lead, and we need to be able to build on our teamwork before we dare enter any more rally trials.

Knitting Progress

...can be summed up in three little words: Next to None. I've had only a few minutes here and there to pick up the needles, and haven't much to show for it.

I picked up a couple of balls of Nashua Painted Forest out of the bargain bin at the Yarn Basket last time I was down there. The colorway I picked reminds me enough of fall foliage that I thought it would make a nice little scarf in a simple, TV-friendly 1x1 rib. I whipped that thing off in record time, but am busy searching the stash for something appropriately funky and color-coordinated for fringe.

As for the Oakley wrap, I've made one ball's worth of progress already -- which translates to about 15% progress if you count the fringe. It's basically "idiot knitting" at its finest, which is why it appeals to me. I can pick it up, add a couple of rows to it here or there, and then put it down to wait for the next time I can give it some attention.