Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Pirate Christmas

My big Christmas treat was our Pirate Gathering. The Pirate Queens began many (and I do mean many) years ago with girls writing bad romance novels based on women pirates sailing the high seas on a ship called the "Anne Bonny". Anne Bonny was a real woman pirate who is related to me distantly. The whole idea of women pirates struck us as terribly romantic and exciting. The bloody reality never really crossed our minds and as a general rule still doesn't. The final version of the Pirate Queens came about approx 18 years ago. It includes myself (Brenna), Pin (the pin-striped pirate), Blade (I think the name says it all), and Red (pretty much self-explanatory as well). In the years since we try to get together as often as possible with all of us getting together almost once per year although Blade is harder to get together with as she is in California these days and it's a bunch more expensive to get her here.
This was a special Christmas as we were all together along with Blade's husband, Red's husband and daughter, and Pin's youngest son. Below is Red's family's Christmas Tree and Blade's husband.

Pin's Youngest Son

Red's Husband & Daughter

Blade & Husband

There was the usual talking and banter. It is amazing that in 18 years so little and yet so much changes. I wish we lived closer together. I don't have any really close female friends here. The Pirates are scattered and my other best friend, my sister, lives in BC. I really like lots of the ladies I work with but I'm shy about getting to know them better. I'd like to but it isn't something I find easy to do.

We did our usual present exchange and I must admit it is very nice to exchange pressies (presents) without having to deal with time delays on Skype when talking to Blade. I got some great books which I shall eventually review for you. Pin gave me the new Star Trek movie - which I absolutely adore. Who knew I possessed an inner trekkie? (More on that shortly.) I also have Red's newest recording. As per usual she sounds divine, even when singing opera. Below are some pics of us opening our presents. The Pirate Project was a great success, I am pleased to say. In retrospect it was an awfully ambitious project but I am very happy with the end results. I may include pictures of my favourite pages from it in a future blog.




Back to Star Trek for a minute. The Pirates have a long history of unusual discussions on a very very wide range of topics. One of the ones that came up this time was "if you lived in the Star Trek 'verse (means universe for non fan fic readers) which Star Trek race would you belong to?" After much discussion we concluded that Pin would be a Vulcan, Blade would be a Romulan, Red would be a Betazoid, and I would be a brash, impetuous human - much like Captn Kirk. I can live with that. In some backhanded way I think it is even complimentary lol

Another tradition in which we always engage is the singing of Christmas Carols. Red, as you may have gathered, is an internationally renown opera singer with a voice like an angel. She also plays a mean piano. Pin is equally proficient on piano and has a lovely voice all of her own. She is the only atheist I know who sings in a church choir because she loves singing. Blade sings for strangers while walking her dog but also has a very good voice. I mouth the words to prevent tears of pain in those who surround us. I can't sing at all. So this year, I devoted myself to getting pics of the others singing. As well as a few of Red's daughter joining us. The little guy in Pin's arms is her youngest son. He doesn't sing much yet but give him time. His older brother is already well on his way with the piano and sings better than his father (a criminal lawyer)'s clients.

Blade felt it would be great to tattoo the baby so she sent tattoos home with them. I like the diaper with spank me written on it :)

Red's daughter got a stamp set and she and I had a great time covering ourselves in ink (which does not come out with soap and water - thanks Pin!). I even got a special stamp just to see if I could make the music man jealous.

We had lots of great conversations which have given me multiple ideas for upcoming blogs - wait and see.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Someone asked my thoughts on Christmas...

We stopped putting up a Christmas tree or celebrating much at all after Joanna took the kids out west. It doesn't really feel like Christmas without them here and the season always acts as a heavy reminder that they're not here.

We travel back and forth as much as possible but think of how you'd feel if you couldn't see your kids on the holidays. At least there is a possibility Jacob will come back next year. He's of age so he can leave the province and he's talking about going to George Brown for their cooking program next fall.

So, if I seem a bit down, it isn't intentional. I just really miss them at this time of year.

We're almost there...

I've nothing left to do but wrap and finish my Pirate Project. Mind you I still have a lot to do for the latter so I'm really not that close and I've discovered a few things about size and closings and trying to make things fit. Talented I am not. I've persuaded the music man to get me pictures for it which is a huge achievement unto itself. Now to see if I can get him to come to the pirate gathering for an hour or so. That would be a coup.

Work is going well despite a major screw up on my part last week. I hate screwing up. Which is surprising considering how often I do it lol

Christmas cards and pictures still coming in.

This blog seems to be helping. I feel like writing more again so perhaps I will pick up my keyboard again and do some real writing. Dogs In Canada has changed direction a fair bit in the last few years so my normal fortes probably wouldn't be all that welcome but maybe some other magazine would take me in.

There were other things I had planned on telling you but I've forgotten what they were (yeah, I'm getting old) so I'll hold off later.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Have there ever been more heavenly words uttered...

I'm done my Christmas shopping. The last person I had to buy for was the music man and I finally found what I wanted. Now to pray he likes it :)

I may have the ultimate piece for a dog breeding paper loving person - craft paper featuring german shorthaired pointers - yes, you heard right, that's craft paper featuring crazy gsps and other sporting breeds. I'm in love :) I also found a die cut of a guy and his GSP out hunting. Check them out:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ready for Christmas?

As we pull into the stretch I find myself thinking of everything that I still need to finish before Christmas. I've got most of my shopping done. I'm still waffling on what to get the music man but the rest is thankfully finished - at least the rest that needs to be purchased. The homemade stuff is a different story. As I waited for materials to arrive and juggled work, puppies and exhaustion with getting the pirate project finished - I ended up behind. I should have at least one completed before our gathering and I'm really hoping I can get them all done but I'm starting to feel under the gun to finish it. I may have to enlist Dad's aid. He's very good at cutting, etc - and actually does a much straighter job than I do lol

The puppies head home today and tomorrow much to everyone's relief. See the other blog for details on what a heartless fiend I am that I'm actually cheerful they're leaving.

I wanted to mention a few of my favourite sites for the holidays for those of you in a giving spirit.

The S.A.D. Draft Horse Rescue: http://www.drafthorserescue.com/index.html

This is an Ontario charity that saves draft horses sent to slaughter/meat auctions, rehabilitates them and adopts them out. I visit their site routinely. I have a real weakness for animals with hooves the size of dinner plates and one day - when funds and space permit - would love to be able to rescue horses as well as dogs. Like all rescues their expenses always far outweigh donations so if you love horses this may be a nice way to give back.

If you favour large dogs rather than large horses check out http://www.trinityofhope.on.ca/ Trinity of Hope Dog Rescue.

They specialize in large breed like Saint Bernards and Newfoundlands. They also never refuse to help when you need a hand with another rescue. They've helped me with German Shorthaired Pointer and Siberian Husky rescues over the years.

Yes, my favourite charities are all animal related. When it comes to giving for the two-footers I generally do my donating year round through various campaigns.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ever had to finally decide...

say yes to one and let the other one slide? It's not often easy and it's not often kind. Did you ever have to finally decide?

I'm sure that someone besides a beer commercial deserves credit for that song but the beer commercial is all I can remember at the moment. It about sums up my position with the girls from Becca's litter. I took pictures of them Monday to try to help me decide and then I went on to ask opinions from my various gsp/show dog lists. I got back a fairly even split on who I should choose with several mentionning Mocha and Cappucino as well. It is still between Beans and Latte for me and I'm really starting to lean towards Latte. Latte reminds me intensely of Bug (her great aunt) as a puppy and while Bug may indeed be a royal pain in the a** much of the time she is also a very very nice bitch from a conformational standard.

I watched the finals of the American So You Think You Can Dance last night. I'm favouring Jacob although they were all really really good. That man is sooo flexible - and I actually mean that in a non-nudge-nudge-wink-wink way. Tonight I'll watch the results while I do my Christmas baking. Thursday is our pot luck at work and I still need to do my baking for the vet office, Dad's ladies at the town office (they're not really his, please don't misunderstand - that's just how I keep them identified in my mind), etc so tonight will be busy. I'm thinking I'll do cheesecake squares (two kinds - pumpkin and Bailey's) and maybe some lemon white chocolate shortbread cookies. I'm debating adding cranberries to the latter. No decision yet though.

We had a frightening moment at work yesterday. Someone parked in front of the branch hit the gas instead of the brake yesterday and drove right into our front door. She then tried to reverse and spun around taking out our ABM sign (and I mean taking it right out of the concrete) and then hitting to other vehicles parked out front. It was pretty scary but thankfully no one was injured so it could have been much worse.

Monday, December 14, 2009

An Up And Down Weekend

All is well no but I had a semi-major meltdown on Friday when the surgeon's office informed me that it would be another 4-8 months before I would see the second surgeon for the consult. Once I gained control again I spoke with them again and arranged an appt for Jan. 13th to discuss skipping the second consult. I think I'll lose it if I have to wait another 4-8 months. I'm holding on by threads as it is.

Had a blow out with the music man as well but that is mending.

We also had our branch Christmas dinner. We went to Osso Bucco in Brampton. The food was divine and there was so much of it. I was full before we reached the main course. I had a veal tenderloin done to perfection (I like it blue so it has to practically moo when I eat it to be what I like. There was salad (with a creamy goat cheese sprinkled on top), pasta (loved the sauces), the main course, and dessert platters (I had a tartufo). I love good italian food. Take good food and mix it with great company and you have a wonderful evening. I'm lucky. I work with a great bunch of ladies.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Getting Caught Up

Last night was my catch up night. I got the website updated and you can see my take on the munchkins on the dog blog - http://nuthatchgspsthebreederfiles.blogspot.com As you can tell I'm still torn between Latte & Beans. I'm thinking that I'll get some stacked photos taken this weekend to see if that clarifies things a bit for me.

I also ended up watching So You Think You Can Dance. Normally, I'm not much for reality tv. I admit to an occasional moment of watching American Idol. I did fall for Adam Lambert's voice last season. If I'm watching tv though and it's on, I really both the Canadian and American versions of So You Think You Can Dance. Dance isn't something you get a chance to see a lot of most of the time unless you a) watch a lot fo music videos - and that's not me or b) attend a lot of musicals and live performances which doesn't fit well into my schedule either as a general rule. By watching the show I get my fill of dance and I get a huge variety of styles of dance including some I'm less familiar (crumping anyone?). I adored Vincent from the last Canadian one and I'm really liking the finalists for the American one.

We don't have cable so I don't really watch a lot of tv period although I do tend to rent whole seasons when they come out on dvd and watch my favourites - House, The Mentalist, Bones, Castle, anything by Joss Whedon, etc.

I have a friend who often includes soundtracks to her notes to help set her mood in the mind of the reader. I thought that for curiousity I'd see what conclusions you could come to based upon what I was listening to last night as I was working. Here's the soundtrack list:

Sublime's Santeria

The Rolling Stones' Blinded By Rainbows

David Guetta/Akon's Sexy Chick

10CC's Things We Do For Love

Burton Cummings' Fine State of Affairs

Black Eyed Peas' Let's Get It Started

Johnny Rivers' Slow Dancing

KD Lang - Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah

Adam Lambert's For Your Entertainment

The Spoons' Those Old Emotions

Etta James' At Last

James' This Bed Is On Fire

The Spoons' Arias & Symphonies

Can you draw any conclusions from this list??

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My Weekend

Yup, it snowed while I was in Rhode Island and for dangerous driving reasons I did not end up doing much sight seeing. I did have a great time though. The first day Lucy won her class at the specialty which pleased me. She isn't mature enough to be competitive for the points but she is doing well against youngsters the same age as her. I brought her home with me and I think she'll do just fine up here for now. On Sunday, she went second in her class so no disgrace.

It was Buffy's first time in the ring in six months. We pulled her the first day as Sarah had a conflict and Buffy isn't a good dog to just hand off to a stranger. On Sunday though she went third in the open bitch class against some very nice bitches. She might have done better if she'd been happier but Sarah's going to work on that. Buffy is staying down there for awhile to see if we can finish her American championship.

The highlight though was Charlie. The old man will be eleven at the end of the month and he danced around the house like a puppy when I gave him a bath and asked if he wanted to be a show dog. The first day he went second in the Veteran sweeps and Veteran Dog classes and the second day he won. I was very pleased. The dog who beat him was several years younger and I had many folks tell me Charlie should have won in their opinion. He enjoyed being in the ring and hearing the applause.

There is something special about old dogs and veterans. When he gets in a ring now it makes me a bit teary; I wonder if this will be the last time he gets to show off like he loves to do. I'm so very proud of him and all that he has accomplished. He is our first homebred GSP champion, our first homebred group winner, and then he just kept going. Most importantly, he is still the heart of the house.

I got to see many friends while there too which is always nice. I don't get down to the US too often and few of them make it up here so shows offer me a good chance to reconnect with old friends. One, who had recently lost her old girl to breast cancer, reminded me of how precious our old ones are to us. People often think of dog shows as being places where dogs spend long hours in crates, taken out for only a few minutes and then returned but that isn't usually the case. Travelling together and spending time together while you're on the road, in the ring or doing whatever sport is your thing brings you much closer together and you bond over that time. The dogs enjoy it as much as the owners. Charlie was thrilled when I asked if he wanted to come with me and I was and am privileged that he would prefer to spend his time with me on the road then sleeping on the couch.

I'll add some more pictures from the weekend later.

This last photo was sent to me by Heinz's family. He remains a very handsome and well loved young man.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Possible Addiction

Is it possible to have an addiction to paper? We're not talking fancy paper that tastes good or hides secrets written in invisible ink. We're talking about plain old 12 x 12 craft paper. Admittedly in a wide variety of themes and designs but still nothing exotic. (Although I must admit, I tried to find some exotic paper for Blade's Christmas gift but apparently fetish, BDSM and craft paper don't go together very well?? Mind you I did find some rather naughty stickers!)

I see it and instantly feel a need to have it in my growing number of paper drawers on my rapidly diminishing desk space. What I will ever use it for I don't know. I'm just not talented or devoted enough to make that many projects before I die. Particularly not at the rate I'm acquiring it.

Don't think me odd, after all people like to look at much stranger things, but I like poring through the piles and looking at the various designs and imagining what it could become. It's kind of like the tunes you compose in your head but cannot translate into notes on a page or - in my case at least - sounds from your voice either. If only I could hum or sing but alas I could make cats killing one another sound delightful by comparison.

I think EBay has become the modern devil, tempting me to fiscal irresponsibility as I find stacks of paper just waiting to be opened and discovered. Not that I was ever good at resisting temptation but those stories are best left untold...

It's Packing Time ...

I'm trying to get myself organized to leave tomorrow morning. I did laundry this morning and have my list of what needs packing ready. Going places with the dogs (in this case Buffy & Charlie) is always somewhat complicated. While they would probably love to dine on nothing but doggie bags while away, I need to consider packing leads, food, dishes, water buckets, blankets and crates for them. After all that is packed, I can almost guarantee they'll sleep on the bed with me, eat leftovers from my meals, and drink out of the hotel room toilet.

Sarah has asked me to bring her chocolate beer. She had some the last time she was in Canada and can't find it in MA. I've been to two liquor stores so far and both are sold out. Still, this is Ontario and every town, no matter how small or large, has a liquor store so I'll keep trying on my way out of the country tomorrow. Personally - chocolate and beer just doesn't do it for me. I would much rather a good Australian red wine or a smooth single malt scotch. Speaking of which I found two new reds (one called Jester and I think the other was a Magpie Estates Barossa region Shiraz) at the liquor store while hunting for chocolate beer that I have to try. One (the Magpie) has a GSP on the front of the bottle being walked by a penguin. Needless to say I bought both.

I use dog shows to help alleviate my travel bug. I love going somewhere I've never been before and just wandering around. I get lost. I get un-lost. I may stop to look at things. And shop. Or, I may just drive for hours. When I'm at shows I can take the dogs with me which is something I really enjoy, particularly when travelling alone.

This time around I'm hoping to get to explore Cape Cod. The show is in Providence (Rhode Island) and I'm staying just outside of Boston. The coast is mine and we all know how much pirates like the coast :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's a Good Day ....

I'm on track to make my sales goals for this quarter which is an unusual thing for me. Last quarter was the first one where I made my goal. I kow it sounds silly but I was very happy with myself when I made goal and it seems to have given me more confidence in what I'm doing and that's paying off this quarter as far as I can tell.

All is well with the music man which I'm sure is contributing to my good mood as well. I got to dig him out of trouble for a change. (I like not being the one in trouble!)

Mom flies back tonight after visiting Jo and the boys for the last two weeks. It's an odd thing to say I suppose at my age but I missed her. Normally I touch base with her throughout the day via email and bounce both work and personal ideas off her. She's also the ideal travelling companion if you need to take a jaunt to a dog show. Is it wierd to have a mother who is a friend too?