Saturday, March 17, 2007

Enough With Everything Already!

And people wonder why I call him "Shameless"...

Enough With the Friggin' Skunks Already!

Seems funny to be talking about it now, but last Sunday we had yet another visitation from those strange black-and-white kitties. That morning, it was brightly sunny when I let the dogs outside... and what should I see wandering drunkenly around the backyard but another good-sized specimen of Stenchius Polecattius?!

Charlie and Seamus spotted it immediately and commenced to stampeding the fence, doing their best sheepdogs-of-the-Baskervilles impressions. Seamus tried to climb over the fence. Dinah bounded behind first one boy and then the other, barking excitedly because they were excited. Meanwhile, the skunk staggered around in circles, stopping to gaze in befogged amazement at the three lively noisemakers gyrating before him.

Skunks are nocturnal; you're not supposed to see them in daylight. If you do, they're rabid, they're roadkill, or they're waking up from a long winter's nap and are deeply disoriented (just like me before my morning caffeine). I called the animal control officer, who happened to be up and reading his Sunday paper. He assured me that the skunk was probably experiencing Case #3 -- sleepy rather than rabid -- and that it should be back in hiding within a couple of hours. If not, he advised, I should call him back, and he'd come out to shoot it. Mind you, I'm all for live-and-let-live, but not where rabies or the safety of my little canine/feline family is concerned.

Charlie has an iron-clad recall; he returned the second I called him, with Dinah still bouncing at his heels. (Dinah's recall isn't quite as solid -- she still subscribes to the independent school of thought that requires a good reason for anything. She doesn't want to miss out on any reward that Charlie might get, though.) Seamus, the dog I'm actually working with in obedience, possesses the power to humiliate me at any time. He has a fine "laboratory recall," but the perverse little bugger enjoys screwing with me at the worst possible times in real-life situations. I worry that someday he would happily run in front of an oncoming Hummer just because he enjoys defying me.

True to his usual methods, Seamus refused to come when I called him, forcing me to chase him around the dog yard until I cornered him and hauled him bodily up the stairs away from the skunk. This is not a method I ordinarily employ for training recalls, but there was no time for subtlety. I cursed; he barked. It's a miracle my neighbors' windows didn't crack from the long strings of cuss words that escaped me in the process.

Once back inside, Seamus's recall became rapid enough when it came time for him to take a nice ride in the car to rally class. You're think he was trained, forgoodnessake! We departed, glancing back at the yard as we pulled away to see whether the skunk had left.

By the time we returned from class, the little stinker (the skunk -- not Seamus, the other stinker) had apparently regained its senses and scuttled away. Good friggin' riddance, I say. Don't come back.

Enough With the Weather Already, Too!

A few days ago, Dinah performed her ritual dance to celebrate mud season...

Mother Nature is toying with us these days as well. Approximately 48 hours ago, the thermometer read nearly 70 degrees, and we appeared to be celebrating our infamous fifth season here in Maine: Mud. Not five minutes after Greg finished cleaning the floors, the dogs commenced to bringing the outdoors indoors on their muddy little Beardie feet. The experience was nearly worthwhile, if only because we could open a couple of windows and could fetch the mail without having to bundle up first.

Scratch that. Yesterday, the latest installment in our weather saga fell out of the sky -- about a foot of it. Greg still has the intestinal fortitude to be happy to see snow at this time in the season, but I responded to it with approximately the same the same exclamations of joy as the ones I'd used on the skunk.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Very Funny 9:40

Most of the time, I make fun of "aren't-we-precious" stuff about knitting and needlework (like the endless rain of mediocre knitting-shop mysteries), but this is a Wicked Funny Christopher-Guest-style "mockumentary" about knitters vs. crocheters. If you have 9 minutes and 40 seconds to kill and a sense of humor, take a look. (Oh -- and this video is even cooler because the Knit Cafe and Lettuce Knit are featured in it...)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Life Stinks! or: Yucky Chucky

Charlie got skunked a couple of nights ago. Our dog fence is secure enough to keep varmints out and our dogs in, but poor Chuckles managed to get sprayed in the face anyway. I theorize that either he was standing downwind when the skunk nailed somebody else in the yard, or the skunk got so tired of Charlie's barking that it ambled over to the fence and gave him a nice big faceful of Shut the Hell Up.

Here's the best part: Since Charlie was barking his fuzzy brown fool head off at the time, a respectable portion of the spray got him right in the open mouth. If you think dog breath is bad, try dog breath flavored with skunk stink sometime!

Celeste, our wonderful emergency backup groomer, comforted us when we called to see (read: beg) whether she could clean Sir Charles up for us. (Her shop is several miles closer to us than the closest grocery store, so she's easier to get to than anyplace that sells hydrogen peroxide for do-it-yourself jobs.) She told us to bring him on down yesterday afternoon, and she had just the right formula available to restore him to his normal, sweet-smelling self.

She was right, of course. A couple of hours later, she had transformed Puppy Le Pew into a handsome, clean, nicely-scented version of himself. The only problem she mentioned was that she had nothing to take the skunk stink out of his breath, and she had to hold her own breath when he kissed her as she soaped him. (You really had to have been there, I'm sure...)

And in Yarn News...

mittens are done! (Photo to follow.) I love the brown-sugar color of this yarn. The size of the strand got a little scrawny for #7 needles toward the end of the yarn ball, so I'm not completely satisfied with the top of the second mitten. I have another ball of bulky-weight yarn from the same spinner in a black-brown-white tweed that I'm going to attempt next. Those should make warmer mittens than the brown-sugar Shetland wool. If Sue likes both pairs, she's welcome to both.

In the Interest of Absolute Accuracy...

I have an erratum to report. Earlier on in the blog someplace I mentioned that Greg was preparing orchestral parts of Arkadia for the Holyoke Symphony -- but he's doing the orchestral arrangement of Water instead. My bad.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Mother Nature is a B***h Sometimes

Dinah enjoying the nice muddy ground on Thursday, just before the last snow. Look at those feet!

Oh, I am soooooo annoyed. Seamus and I were pumped to try for our first Rally Advanced leg yesterday at the Collie Club of Maine show. We ended up getting dumped with snow yesterday morning -- enough so getting on the road to Portland would have been a bad idea, since this town seems to feel that plowed roads are for sissies -- and so we had to stay home. Eating the entry fee was a pain, but not as much as knowing that we would have shown under a good obedience/rally judge, with all our friends and our instructor there to cheer us on. Seamus and I got our first Rally Novice leg at that show last year, and I was beginning to like the tradition. Now I have to find other trials to enter that aren't happening at the same time as conformation shows. BAH.

Make-Your-Own Yarn Stash

I'm planning to take Dinah to the show next month. I got to chatting about that with an old Beardie buddy in the area who came up to the SPA Knit & Spin event a couple of weekends ago. She's offered to give me a spinning wheel she picked up in a trade a while ago -- she's bringing it to the dog show and tucking it into my vehicle for the drive home. Guess this means I'll be learning to spin next. ( is coming out to visit in June sometime. Although we'll probably spend a lot of the time on the road in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, I'm hoping she'll give me a lesson or two on the spinning wheel before we leave town.)

If All Else Fails, Knit

There's really only one thing to do when the weather cramps your style as badly as yesterday's storm did to me: pull out the needles and knit. I picked up a couple of skeins of lovely handspun, undyed wool in a brown-sugar shade for mittens. Because it's a handspun, the yarn varies in thickness quite a bit, so the knitted fabric is not perfectly even -- but I think it's really attractive, and I love the texture. Sue will like the fact that she can wear them to the barn without having to wash them every single day. (By the way, if you go to visit Sue's blog, you'll see not only some really great photos of the landscape and of her latest quilt, but also the beginning cuff of her first pair of mittens!) It took a bit of searching to find undyed yarn that wasn't white, but when I found some, I had a great time looking at all of the natural shades out there. I really wanted the black tweed Jacob yarn, but there wasn't enough of it to make a pair of mittens... so I went for the brown-sugar yarn instead. Later on, I'll dig the label out of my knitting bag and report back as to the breed of sheep that produced it.

Mitten #1 is almost done. It needs only a thumb (actually, half a thumb) to become complete. With a little luck, I should be well into the second mitten by the time the weekend's over.

Socks are coming along as well. Sock #2 of my blue-and-purple Sockotta pair needs a foot and a toe, and then that pair's done. (With regard to my embarrassingly large sock yarn stash, that's one pair down and 77 to go.) I've even cast on the cuff for a pair of socks for Greg in charcoal-gray Wildfoote yarn. The Trekking socks are still in the bag someplace -- one sock done, one ripped out and needing re-starting. That yarn is so pretty that I can't ignore those socks for too long.

I shipped off the Manos cotton ribbed scarf to Susannah, who is madly in love with it. She says she's put a box in the mail to us, and I wouldn't cry if I doscovered a few more skeins of Manos cotton in there to make her more stuff. The yarn is pure pleasure to work with, and the knitted fabric is so soft you just want to cuddle up with it.

I'd knit Susannah anything she wanted at this point, anyway -- she bought me one of as a belated birthday present. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you'll see what I mean. There's plenty of room in one of those bags to hold many, many skeins of Manos cotton.