Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Just Got Lucky

Just can't get this song out of my head... I laughed like crazy when they used it in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," but I've loved this song since it first came out.

Anyway, it makes a good soundtrack for all of the good news that we've had here of late.

Music News

Greg's Sax Quartet finally came out on the CD Quartet at the Crossroads by the New Hudson Sax Quartet. Here is the link to the MP3 version on Amazon, where Greg's tracks are numbers 6-9. Sadly, iTunes has misspelled the title to read "Corssroads," so no one will ever be able to find it using title search; you'll have to search on New Hudson Sax Quartet to get anywhere.

I've been blogging about this piece, and this recording, for so long that I don't know which piece to announce next. Halling has been re-orchestrated for solo cello, and will be released on CRS at some point.

Greg himself has been busy planning a few live improv concerts for the fall. There will be another performance on Meetinghouse Road, and possibly other venues as well.

Canterbury Tales

The lovely and talented Miss Dinah Moe is now... Am/Can CH Breaksea November Storm HIC CGC RL1 RN!

We almost didn't enter the rally trial where she earned the title. You see, we love doing APDT Rally so much that I focused onto entering the APDT trial the same day at All Dogs Gym. When I hesitated just a little too long and the entries filled, I decided to override my own dictum about not entering any more outdoor trials until we had trained and proofed outdoors some more. The Lakes Region Kennel Club was holding an AKC obedience/rally trial in NH with a slate of some of the nicest judges I've ever trialed under. I've stewarded for one and showed Seamus to two others. What the heck, right? Even if the Princess decided to make me Talk to the Paw, at least I'd be among friends.

Greg had always wanted to see the Canterbury Shaker Village, so he helped set up the EZ-Up and then dropped us off for the day. A few of our friends fro POC fund us and hung out under or near the EZ-Up, so we had our own little cheering section.

Since Dinah and I were entered in Novice B, we were able to watch our friend Barbara qualify with one Aussie boy in Advanced and the other in Novice B. Charlene, one of our classmates in Staci's rally class, ran in Novice A with her English Cocker and qualified. Finally, it was our turn.

We knew the judge from the BCCC Specialty in 2008, when I stewarded for him through a very long obedience/rally trial. Dinah even got to be the honor dog for that rally trial. He gave us a huge grin and said, "Let's see what that Beardie can do now." The course was a nice, clean, fairly simple design without any traps or surprises, and we managed to get through all of the stationary exercises without my being given The Paw. We were even tied for second place, but finished a few seconds after the other second-place finisher -- so we took third with a 94.

The temperature turned from Sunny and Quite Warm to Just Plain Stinkin' Hot for the afternoon as the sun moved across the sky and the shadows shrank to zero. I considered moving our base of operations to the tree line on the other side of the field, but there were too many cars parked in the little remaining shade. We huddled together under the EZ-Up and toughed it out, and Dinah snoozed on her waterbed.

Barb's Novice dog had finished his RN the day before, so both boys ran in Advanced. Charlene and Delta qualified again in Novice A, and then we took our turn in Novice B. The afternoon course, while not as simple as the morning course, contained a couple of turns in unexpected places. I worried about them while studying the map, but walking the course and talking to myself out loud usually helps engrave the movements into what little muscle memory I can acquire in ten minutes. This is where looking like a lunatic during the walk-through helps during the run -- we took third again with a score of 97 to finish Dinah's Rally Novice title.

Could it really have been that easy, after all the agony we went through for one stinkin' leg at Vacationland? Apparently it was, for Dinah. Unlike the trials at the cluster, Dinah was attentive and happy, paying attention, and moving nicely on lead. LRKC presented us with a lovely New Title medallion, which Dinah modeled all the way back to the EZ-Up. Greg picked us up eventually, and we sang Dinah's praises all the way home.

The next day, with the forecast threatening even more dire heat, we moved up to Advanced A. I was grateful to run a little bit earlier in the day, with my car right there for a getaway before the sun reached its zenith. Would Dinah tell me to Talk to the Paw in our off-lead debut? Would I end up singing opera again, as I did with Famous Seamus?

The girl managed to surprise me again! She did a good enough job -- a little sniffing here, some curious looks at the offset Figure 8 there -- but she managed to hold it together enough for us to qualify with an 83. The course was definitely an order of magnitude more challenging than the ones from the day before, and we ended up finishing in second place.

Now, we have one leg of Rally Advanced and fairly high hopes. The next trials we've entered (one APDT, one AKC) are both indoors. Maybe, with luck and a little more training, we could make a little more progress.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Music, Travels, and a Busy Summer Indeed

Compared to last summer, we've just had a frenzy of activity here on the old homestead! Here's a condensed version of the latest news:

Sound the Trumpets -- er, Saxes!

Remember Greg's Sax Quartets CD, the recording that just never seemed to have any luck getting released? I'll link to the previous stories about this later, but this was the CD that just had everything going against it: one of the composers was displaced by Hurricane Katrina, the recording engineer first got sick and then was killed in a traffic accident, the label was sold to another company when the original label's owner retired... and on and on. For a while there, it looked as though this one would never get released. That would have been a sad thing, since one of Lukas Foss's last compositions (as far as I know) is one of the quartets on the recording. The New Hudsons (New Hudson Sax Quartet, that is) even set up at his home to do that recording session.

Quartet at the Crossroads will finally be released on August 31, after 4+ years in the making! Amazon has announced its availability for pre-order, and you can hear samples on the page devoted to the MP3 downloads. Greg's quartet spans Tracks 6-9.

Parma (the new record company) wastes no time, much to their credit. The tracks will probably show up on iTunes shortly.

Road Trips

The Man and I haven't taken a real road trip in years. He does get two weeks' vacation time from his job, but he rarely takes it. My primary traveling companion for all of my excursions is Dinah Moe, since almost all of my road trips involve dog shows or trials. I'll post the tale of our latest road trip to Canada to my Dog Show Newbie blog.

Because we attended so few dog events last year (largely due to our standard of living on unemployment), I've tried to make up for the lack of activity by getting out this year as often as I can. We're hoping for more good news in AKC Rally at the Lakes Region KC trials at the end of the month. In September, we'll do one day of Finish Forward's APDT trial, since we're doing CGC testing at Meet the Breeds on the other day of that weekend.

(Attention Locals: Meet the Breeds will take place on Sunday, September 19, at Tractor Supply in Scarborough. Come visit the lovely and talented Dinah Moe, Distraction Dog Extraordinaire, and members of a number of local all-breed, obedience, and rescue clubs from around our part of Maine.)

One road trip I will not be taking is the one to the National Specialty this year. I must apologize to the host club, but I'm just tired and I need a year off. My local club will be hosting the National next year, and I'll be wacky busy getting ready for that. I'm really of more use to the club by staying home and close to my broadband connection.

Yarns About Yarn and Other Adventures

As far as knitting goes, there's not that much to report. My lovely Crock-O-Dye socks (in color Grape, of course) are still in the cuff stage. Until very recently, it's just been so sticky out that the thought of holding wool in my hands just makes me sweat. I still haven't even tried on the Kureyon socks I finished ages ago. When the weather gets cooler, I'll be making up for the lack of knitting activity.

Not that there are many other adventures to report either. Pop on over to Shaggy Dog Stories to see what we've been up to there. Dinah has become an artists' model, and she doesn't even have to pose for long periods of time!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Epilogue and More Summer Plans

Dinah's certificates arrived from APDT this afternoon. I'll forgive the APDT office for giving Greg top billing on her certificate in spite of the fact that I'm the one who does the training, takes the classes, makes the entries, speed-dials the groomer, pays for the vet, and so on. He deserves a little bit of doggie limelight for driving the doggie taxi all over hell when I can't.

Anyway, we received quite a nice surprise in the envelope! We were expecting the RL1 certificate all right, but it turns out that Dinah also earned a Level 1 Award of Excellence (AOE-L1)! I had to go look this up. Apparently it's awarded when your first three scores in the A class are all above 190. Woohoo!

It will be several months yet before the trialing year is through and the national rankings are compiled, but this makes me happy. Our first Q in Level 2 will never make the world record for Highest Score Ever Recorded, but hey -- we did pretty well, considering we hadn't really even practiced Level 2 before going out there. Any double Q is a good double Q, but the very best ones are the ones that count toward the ARCH.

We're entered in the Lakes Region KC's AKC rally trials at the end of August. I swore we would never attempt another outdoor rally trial until we'd done enough proofing, but we just adore the judges and wanted the opportunity to trial under them. If we can do a not-too-shabby job on a rally course at an outdoor demo with some hundreds of people in the audience and some dozens of fellow POC members with better-trained dogs watching our performance, then we stand at least a chance to look good for judges we really like.

Of course, going to the LRKC trials means we had to give up on APDT rally at All Dogs Gym that same weekend. The choice was actually made for us when the trial filled up; I was still trying to decide what to do when the announcement came out that the waiting list was filling up. Ah, well. We snooze, we lose. Maybe in the other venue, we won't do either of those.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Rally-Roo and Other Stuff Too

Since we in the Freakin' Northland have to hibernate during the winter due to a dearth of events and crappy traveling weather, each weekend in the summer is always stacked twelve deep with events, activities, and other stuff. Of course, we want to take part in all of it. It's often hard to choose just one thing to do on a given day or weekend. Maybe it's just me, but it seems that this summer we've had more to choose from than ever, and every one a difficult choice.

The lovely and talented Dinah Moe earned her first leg in AKC Rally Novice, her APDT Level 1 (RL1) Rally title, and her first double Q (qualifying in Rally Levels 2 and 1 in the same trial)...

Photo by Jerry Bergen.

Charlie and Dinah attended the Fifth Annual BCCME Beardie Bounce and BBQ. For once, the weather was sunny (if baking hot) and Dinah didn't come into season...

Charlie on the half shell
Seamus and Charlie got their summer haircuts...

"Looking Good, my man!" (actually took this last fall)
...and Badger was immortalized by a talented painter friend of mine.

"Waiting" by Jeanne McNally, shamrockartworks.com. Copyright Shamrock Artworks.
Dinah Moe finally finished her Canadian CH, which you can read about on my Dog Show Newbie blog if you're interested...

That's Penny Cary handling The Lovely One. Photo by Walt Norris Photography.
...and we've signed up for even more events for the remainder of the summer. I'm hoping to enter a few more AKC and APDT Rally trials, and we're entered in the BCCC National Specialty next week. Wish us luck!

Greg, Dinah, and I attended the annual POC Demo at York Days...

Look, Mom! We're almost there! Photo by Greg Hall.
...and we're looking forward to getting back to Rally classes with Staci in the fall. Until then, I'm hoping we get even one summer day when we can laze around!