Thursday, May 31, 2007

Women In Art

My best girlfriend, who is an artist, passed this one on to me this morning. Beautiful piece of "morphing" work!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Life in the Slow Lane

Seamus and I just returned from a weekend in Rhode Island. We entered an APDT Rally trial at Lincoln Woods State Park and came away with Qs in three out of four trials, plus a rosette for placing fourth in the second trial. Whoopity whoopity!

Since Seamus already has his RL1 title, we moved into the Level 1B category, and we're shooting for our Level 1 championship title (RL1X). We need ten Qs to make the title, and now we're 3/10 of the way there. This was an outdoor trial, so you can bet we only entered the on-leash portion of the trials. We'll shoot for an RL2 at the indoor trials, thankyouverymuch. After our first off-lead showing in AKC rally, I'm not taking any chances.

I love APDT rally for many, many reasons, but most of all for the relaxed atmosphere. By the end of the weekend, many of the dog/handler teams were old buddies. I shared a shade tree with a friend of mine from the Cape and her Akita, whom we know from AKC rally trials. On Sunday, a beautiful little Aussie mix named Amy (who had a crush on Seamus) and her mom Gale joined us under the tree. We had ourselves a fine old time. We shared treats and stories and cheered noisily for one another. Much as I like AKC trials, they could hardly be described as having a party atmosphere.

Actually, it was downright inspirational to be sharing a shade tree with Sissy (my friend with the Akita). She's managed to put an AKC RAE on her male and an RE on her female. She came away from this trial with a first-place ribbon from one of the trials, so she's further inspired to go on in APDT. Just FYI, an AKC RAE doesn't automatically entitle you to shoot to the top in APDT rally. You have to start at Level 1A like everyone else.

The inspirational part of hanging out with Sissy lay in hearing how many times she tried, and how hard, to succeed in rally and regular obedience with Akitas. I no longer feel quite so bad about having bombed out in our first attempt at Rally Advanced. Persistence does pay off. She stuck with it, and stuck with it, and entered trial after trial until they managed to get there. If she can keep trying, then I can. Thanks, Sissy. I am no longer discouraged.

All three of us took part in an interesting conversation about whether to do the best you can in rally with your chosen breed and your quirky dog, or to get yourself an "easy" breed and presumably do better, faster. The answer depends on what you like better: the sport or the breed. If you like the sport better, then good for you -- as long as you don't simply discard your dog for not performing up to your expectations. Go ahead and enjoy the sport with your "easy" breed, and have fun.

For those of us determined goofuses who are out there with non-traditional breeds, or mixed breeds, or simply with extremely quirky dogs, the road may be harder, but the rewards along the way are mighty sweet when they come. It will always take us longer to get to the big titles, but it will be worth it -- and hopefully, so will the long journey.

It's nice to be reminded that other people are taking long journeys, too -- not everyone gets to ride the expressway to the championship. We don't have to struggle in the slow lane alone -- and on this trip, it's mighty nice to have company.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

It's Here!

I promised that I'd put up a glimpse of the new wheel as soon as I could. Sue, this post is for you!!

Look who rode all the way up from Maryland to meet me at the York County show... and buckled up for safety, of course! My friend Barbara, who graciously picked up the spinning wheel on the way home from a dog show in Maryland and drove it back to New England, says she didn't hear a peep out of it the whole time.

Here's what the spinning wheel looks like when it's not riding shotgun in a minivan:

I know less than bupkus about spinning, to tell you truthfully -- I couldn't tell a lazy kate from a niddy noddy to save my life. I'm looking forward to figuring all that out, though.

And in Other Knitting News...

Wow -- it is so unlike me to actually go into a class properly prepared, and with my pre-work done ahead of time! Lucy Neatby's class isn't until the 13th of June, but I had some time to myself a couple of days ago and whipped off all 5 swatches. The one for the buttonhole class was particularly fun, since I could easily see where things were going by the time I'd made it to the turn row of right-side purl stitches. That class will definitely teach me something I can use many, many times -- and I really do like a neat finish.

I've also been sneaking in a little time on my second Trekking sock while watching The Daily Show. I do love how pretty this yarn looks in the ball, but I'm afraid the socks that come out of it won't be much of a matched pair at all. The first one has some stripes of intense color. The second sock's stripes are more muted and "tweeded" with the main color of the yarn. They've both come from the same ball. Go figure, eh? I don't mind wearing slightly mismatched hand-knit socks, but these two have only a slight family resemblance.

Boyohboy, I do love dog events, but I've been showing every weekend for the past four or five gazillion, and I'm looking forward to taking a little break this summer. Seamus and I are in a rally trial in RI for two days this weekend (Monday is just for meeee, meeeee, meeee!). Next weekend Dinah and I have a show, then a weekend off, and then another show. That last show in mid-June will be our last for a while -- I can't see the fun in showing a black, long-haired dog in hot summer weather -- and I'm really looking forward to having some more knitting time. Who knows? I might even figure out the spinning wheel this summer.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Beardie on Saturday Night Live

This is what Seamus would do to us if he could...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Charlie Hits Double Digits!

As usual, I come late to the party... but yesterday, Charlie (WayToMe Midsummer Knight, HIC), the dog of a thousand nicknames, celebrated his 10th birthday with the ritual slice of meatloaf and the singing of "Happy Beardie to You." He also received an astonishing number of birthday emails and virtual presents from his buds (and some brand-new friends) on .

Wow, it seems like only yesterday since the little hunk of fudge came home with me. As his first act, he clamped his jaws on Doogie's ear, and didn't let go until he was almost 3 years old. Doogie learned to walk with a 20-pound weight (then 30-, then 40-, then 50-...) hanging from one side of his head, or one leg, or his tail.

Charlie has always been a bon vivant, well aware of his good looks and charisma and determined to coast by on them as much as possible. I should have registered him as Good Time Charlie. He decided early on that dog sports weren't for him (unless a swamp or mud puddle was involved), and he chose hiking as his favorite activity.

He was genuinely put out when the City of Boston gave the contract for the Big Dig to some other contractor, since he would have happily dug the whole thing himself for half a turkey sandwich and some Meaty Bones. Moreover, he would have fnished the work on time and under budget!

Since we're a musical family, all of our dogs have theme songs, and they recognize them when we sing them. What's Charlie's? you might ask. "Charles in Charge" -- what else?

Happy Big Ten, big guy!

Family Resemblance!

This video shows Dinah's lovely litter sister, Buffy Burfitt and her mom Jana practicing the retrieve, front, and finish. Doesn't Buffy look exactly like The Lovely One?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

My Dogs Are Barkin'!

...and I'm not talking about the Beardies!

As mentioned in her blog, this past weekend was the show. As usual, I ended up wearing several proverbial hats at once: obedience chair for the show, one of the hosts for the BCCME Supported Entry, exhibitor, trash picker... you name it. I swear I've been on my feet for two weeks straight.

The crack squad of stewards from made sure that the obedience and rally trials ran smoothly, and they were most forgiving of a first-time obedience chair whose duties hadn't been explained before the fact. I hope we all get to work together next year just to show them how much I've learned.

The held its first supported entry at the show and lived to tell the tale...

We ate, we drank, we showed, we shopped, and we all went out for lobster after Saturday's show was over. People appeared to have a pretty good time.

Dinah got dumped in the ring both days, as I'll discuss in my later on. That's the biggest bummer about conformation showing: there can only be one winner, and everybody else has to lose. In performance events, everyone can qualify at a trial (at least in theory), so you don't have to go home empty-handed if you didn't get High in Trial.

Like I Needed Another Hobby

The spinning wheel is here! My friend Barbara kindly and graciously drove it all the way to Maine from Maryland when it was obvious that there was no room for it in (or on) my Subaru. She even carefully buckled it into the rear passenger seat so it could safely enjoy the ride.

Pictures are coming, Sue, I promise! The wheel is a vertical type with a single pedal, and it's been painted a soft blue-green. the friend who gave it to me also threw in a baggie full of the loveliest, most perfect roving to get started with.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Oh No! Heresy!

All right, I admit it. I just haven't felt like knitting of late. This might explain the dearth of recent knitting news in this blog. (We'll get the the dearth of other news in this blog when there's time -- but the lack of time explains the rest of it pretty well.)

To look at the blogs of other knitters, both net-famous and otherwise, you'd figure that no one goes through a fallow period. Other people's needles spew forth miles upon miles of exquisite knitted lace, sweaters, socks, baby stuff, gifts for people they met at the bus stop last week... you get the idea. If they're not actively knitting, they're spinning enough yarn to reach to the moon and back. (You need about that much for your standard lace shawl, anyway.)

But ah, not me. When I took up knitting a few years ago (3? 4? I forget), I took to it with all the zeal of the newly converted. All my embroidery, cross-stitch, needlepoint, and quilting projects-in-progress commenced to collect dust as I bent myself over the needles, determined to master this new skill that grabbed me so intensely. I've made a truckload of scarves, innumerable felted bags, several pairs of socks, one sweater, and assorted other goodies. For some knitting superstar, this probably represents a week's worth of output -- but it's not so bad for a slow knitter who manages about an hour or so of uninterrupted knitting on a given weeknight.

Honest, I never planned to take a breather. Now that I'm signed up for a Lucy Neatby class in mid-June, I should be whipping out swatches by the bucketful; I'm going to need that many to practice the buttonhole and finishing techniques we'll be learning. I just can't muster the desire. Please tell me I won't be pulling all-nighters to make a bunch of damn swatches.

I do go through the motions on occasion with the front of my Seacolors sweater. It's "idiot knitting" at its finest -- row upon row of stockinette, just enough to keep the hands busy during the hour or so that I get to relax before bedtime. At the rate I'm going, I'll probably finish this sucker in the year 2015, but at least a row or two per night constititutes some forward progress.

Even my beloved socks just aren't singing their siren songs loudly enough for me to hear. When I dropped a stitch in the foot of my second Sockotta sock and just couldn't recover the thing no matter how cleverly I plied the crochet hook, I gave up and pulled out the whole thing, then rewound the yarn and let it sit. Rather than take up and knit it again, I opted to untangle the Trekking yarn from my other pulled-out second sock and make a neat ball of that. Now I can stare at them both, trying to muster the desire to take up either one.

I sure hope this fallow period ends soon. It's a shame to be staring at so much yarn, and yet not touching any of it.