Black Acorn Dogs

Sunday, April 20, 2008

We have a momma dog and pups that we're fostering at work. She had nine healthy puppies 4 weeks ago, and we were lucky enough to have most of our employee trainers able to be there during the actual delivery. It was a bit of a fluke that we were all there, but was pretty amusing watching five or six trainers fumbling around and scrambling over when to intervene and when to let things be and how and why until our one trainer with lots of whelping experience arrived. It was certainly a bonding experience!

The night of, I called dibs on getting to pick the puppies collar colors. Dibs was informal due to the fact that no one else was clamoring for the "honor". I finally picked the colors last week and marked the pups with dots of nail polish. On Friday, Diane and I went shopping for bitty little collars in all of the right colors (nine different ones needed!). Today Diane came in with me and we sized them up and put all the collars on the pups. I'm not sure what it says about me or my life that this was one of my most anticipated moments of the week. It's not that my week was boring, but rather that I found this whole process very exciting. I have a whole little key made up that hangs on the puppies' door with the description of each pup and their color. I made the appropriate updates today to match the tweaks needed for variations between nail polish color and collar color. The puppies colors are red, blue, green, yellow, pink, purple, orange, black (was white), and the one distinctive brown pup who had no color originally... rainbow! I carefully pulled out six colors of nail polish to dab little dots and create a rainbow on the color key on the door. Perfecto.

Dad and Cindi, see what happens when I blog? You find out disturbing aspects to my personality that you never wanted to know.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Hooked on the New & Today's Rally

Dad and Cindi, you'll be glad to hear this one:

Since getting our Garmin GPS, I did, without realizing, become addicted. Although it's not infallible, I no longer second-check directions before I get in the car and just drive. In areas where I am familiar, I often override it and go my own directions, but those are the exceptions.

Even Diane has learned the love the Garmin. She doesn't even know how to check the voice mail on her cell phone, and she figured out how to use it all by her little self. I have a funny feeling we'll be buying a second one at some point.

I drove up to Harrisburg last night for a Rally trial today, and left the GPS with Diane so she could drive up this morning. Good lord did I miss having it with me. I can't say I got lost, but I most certainly did take some extra "adventures". It just made me realize how much I don't miss pulling over and looking up Google Maps on my Trio. When I wasn't sure if I'd made the correct right turn, I kept waiting for a British voice (don't ask) to tell me that I was going the right direction and fix me. It's amazing how one new technology can so easily supplant another. It was only one year ago that I was utterly dependant on my Trio-powered Google Maps as my lifeline for getting around. Remember the old fashioned days where we'd use print-outs from Mapquest on actual paper? Shocking.

Yes, I do still carry regular maps... just in case. But I sure don't have them for all of the areas in which I travel.

We were in Harrisburg for a Rally trial at the Pawsabilities expo, and Ebby was fabulous. She stayed in the motel room without her crate, and although she was highly distracted at the trial in the expo center, at NO point did she get stressed out. I honestly think that's a first, especially considering that there were lots of people and a PA and the whole shebang. She handled the whole thing like a pro, and even with the distractions, I couldn't be happier. We are working on "double Qs" for our APDT Rally Championship, which means that we need to get a qualifying score in both Level 1 and Level 2 for five trials. We got two each today, so we have three more sets to go. Whoo hoo!

And after all that, I'm exhausted. Good night.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

I discovered this fall how easily it happens that people rent storage units and then never quite manage to give them up. We rented a 10 x 10 unit out of necessity when we put the house on the market this summer, and when we came off the market in November, I thought for a short time to have the unit cleared out by the end of the year so we could save the hefty monthly fee. I realized pretty quickly though, that it was worth quite a bit of money to me not to have all that crap back in the house. Lordie, did we have a lot of clutter. The next part of the plan was that we could try to get the stuff back that we need and care about, and maybe consolidate down into a smaller unit that we could just keep going for now. Hah. Despite the fact that there are a number of items we'd really like back, we've made one single trip up, and this whole holiday weekend passed without us managing to add to that tally.

How we did spend time today was that we went out geocaching again and made it a good excuse to go walking in the cold. We walked something between 3 and 5 miles and were pretty glad to get back home at the end of it, especially since the wind had picked up and we couldn't feel our hands. So far, we've found 3 caches out of 7 or 8 that we've hit. Three of the ones we can't find, we've been back to more than once. Argh! I do still think it'll be easier as we get more experience, and the hunt really is half the fun. We certainly won't run out of caches to look for since I downloaded 44 sites in Ashburn alone (there are more than those!) plus a bunch near work or along my commute in Arlington and quite a few near places that we often shop in Sterling. Yep, this is pretty addictive.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Like I Need Another Pastime

Oh dear. I think we've found a new addicting hobby. I got a GPS unit for Christmas (thanks Dad and Cindi!), and we've dipped a toe (or a foot) into geocaching. I've thought to try it for a while with the GPS on one of my phones but it appears that it might not have worked out so well anyway. I was extremely surprised to discover that there are some 10 caches in easy walking distance of our house, so I want to use it as a good excuse to get our butts out the door and keep going for walks even while the weather is turning cold. We hit about five sites today and found one cache. One location was tricky because of high amount of vehicle and foot traffic, and one we put off for later due to dark and rain. The other two I hope will be easier as we get the hang of knowing what to look for.

If you're not familiar with geocaching, it is basically a giant scavenger hunt / treasure hunt where you find hidden locations primarily by their GPS coordinates. The "find" can range from a tiny watertight container with a simple logbook to a larger container with room to take a 'treasure' and leave a 'treasure'. The one we found today was a film canister, and I think some of the ones we didn't find will have been even smaller.

Ben came with us on the hunts, and we're deciding on the best way to teach him to sniff out caches (kidding!).

Friday, December 07, 2007

Lavender and Snow

We had our first snow on Wednesday... just a few inches, but a real snow. There's a lavender plant in the garden beside driveway that's been blooming consistently all summer long, and I'd noticed just a few days ago that it's still been in bloom despite the fact that we've had several frosts. I love lavender. While I was brushing snow off my car, I could still catch whiffs of lavender. Incredible.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Okay, yes I'm a few days late, but I could be writing this in June, eh? No whining!

We had the most stunningly beautiful weather on Thanksgiving -- shorts and t-shirt weather. Well, at least for the first part of the day. I worked for part of the day and by the time I came home and we took the dogs out, the wind had picked up to a level that made me worry (legitimately) that a tree was going to come down on our heads. Hey, it's not snowing and I'll take what we can get.

It was just Di and I this year, and we were about as low key as you can get. The plan was to get a spiral-cut honey ham and eat at the dining room table. Whoo hoo! Well, we got the ham early, and Wednesday night we decided to just go ahead and break it open for dinner. So we did. Then Thursday night by the time we got back from me working and then us taking the dogs out, we caved and just sat downstairs in front of the TV like any usual night. We did open a bottle of sparkling white and had a mimi-toast before we started eating. Does that count for something? To all family reading this, I really missed you, I really plan to come for at least at few days at Christmas.

The other fun thing that we did this weekend is put up a Christmas tree. We haven't had a tree up now in some four years. I think in 2003 we were moving for the week of Christmas (on Christmas Day, actually... we got to have a moving truck extra days for free because of that). In 2004, Indie was still a baby puppy so I was worried about him causing chaos with the tree. In 2006, Ben was still new enough in the house that he was randomly chewing on things and getting into trouble. I don't remember what was up in 2005, but probably the house was just still in too much disarray to be worth dealing with a tree, or maybe I was working too many hours to care about it. But we now have three lovely grown-up dogs who didn't flick an ear at the tree while I was putting it up, and haven't shown the slightest inclination toward removing ornaments. No one even paid it any attention while I was putting it up and decorating it. I should note that it is a fake tree, which may help it be less interesting. I was careful not to put up anything at all with wire hooks and there's only one fragile ornament on the entire tree. I was also careful not to put anything on low branches that I would be heartbroken to find in a masticated mess on the floor. So far, no worries though!

It's interesting how the way we decorate trees reflects a great deal of our personal style. The vast majority of our ornaments are red, a significant percentage are wooden or wood-facsimile, and almost all of them have some sort of nature theme. There are two garlands: one of red and gold beads and one of "wooden" red mini-apples. There are about 12 red birds perched on various branches. There are a plethora of horse-themed ornaments and then a bunch of other animals like dogs, cats, reindeer, moose, bears, a Chinese fish, and even a hermit crab. I went through the Christmas box and am going to Freecycle some 30 or 40 ornaments I've been hauling around since the late 80's, so the remaining ornaments are the ones that I really like or the ones that have special meaning, and that's pretty cool. The last interesting thing on the tree is the lights. This year, we used lights that are blue, although some of them are washed out so that the lights are actually blue and white and shades in between. We're really enjoying the unique effect, although I think Diane is going to look for new blue lights so that next year we can have solid blue lights with all of the red (and natural browns) of the ornaments.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Death to Nerds

Not the human kind of Nerds... just the kind in my blog that certain people have been whining to me about for months. You know who you are. Or rather, you know who you are if you've had the patience to keep stopping by my blog in the past 10 months in hope that I've actually posted here. I was thinking today that I should just remove the blog link from my website, but since that was effort, I thought: what the heck, maybe I should just do a quick post instead.

So Cindi, Dad, Jenni, James and others... this post is for you.

I'm still actually online quite a bit these days, but my relationship with my computer is a lot healthier than it used to be. That doesn't mean I'm not sometimes still sucked into staying up until 3:00 AM doing ridiculous and unproductive things (though clearly none of those things have been included updating my blog!), but at least Bessie and I are not attached at the hip anymore. Days do in fact go by without powering her up. It's a good feeling.

Here's an amusing story I was going to share back around May but never got around to posting, however it continues to be just as entertaining to me now as it did then.

Back when I worked at AOL, I always had people assume I was vegetarian. After this happened many times with close co-workers and a boss, I finally assumed that it was because I always had "health food" out on my desk: fresh fruit, granola, peanut butter, 64 oz bottle of water, etc. Then sometime around April, I was finishing my second sessions with a dog training client and I told her how a fellow trainer had been feeding chips and cookies to Ebony as treats and how it would never occur to me to feed those kind of things to my dog, but then, I didn't really eat chips and cookies much myself. My client said "Yes, but you always eat so healthy". After I drove away, it dawned on me that it was a weird thing for her to say. How the heck would she know what I eat?

Two days later, I was planning to share the story at a sort of "happy hour" with some of our WOOFS! trainers. We were eating pizza, and as mine was handed to me, our owner (my boss) turned to me, physically took my pizza off my plate, and said "No. You can't have that." I just stared at her until she explained "It has meat." I could only laugh as I said "I'm NOT a vegetarian!"

Since then another co-worker also assumed I was a vegetarian, but he's since learned his lesson. A few weeks ago he had trouble believing me that I was eating a duck sandwich, and didn't believe you could just buy duck at the grocery store. I'm also pretty sure he didn't believe me last week when I brought in bear for lunch. It was just ground bear meat that I used to make a meat sauce for pasta, so it didn't look much different from ground beef. Bear is pretty gamey so I used an olive-heavy spaghetti sauce so that the strong flavor of the sauce would balance the strong flavor of the meat. Honestly, the best part of eating bear is getting to tell people you're eating bear.

I guess I'll always have that "vegetarian vibe", but I think, at least, that my boss and current set of co-workers have pretty well figured out that I'm not vegetarian.