Sunday, February 27, 2011


This evening we went to dinner with friends and then to a concert up at NC State.  Very recent Grammy winners,  Stanley Clarke and Hiromi.  Outstanding!

On the home front, dog training continues.  Day 2 was a walk with Ivy.  Not quite so successful as Ngaire, but then I didn't expect it.  :-)  We walked around the still new-looking park.

Even inside the park the sidewalk ends.  Sigh.

But they do have a spectacular brick paved walk.

Lots of sidewalk chalk art.

And when you leave the park the sidewalk ends there too.  But it's a nice quiet road so I shouldn't complain.

Day 3 (Friday) was another walk with Ngaire, just as pleasant as the first! It was warm and windy and glorious....and I remembered the better camera.  We seem to have just one crocus down by the mailbox.

One of the larger turtles was swimming along keeping an eye on us.

Others were milling around waiting for us to go away so they could come out for some sun.

It was quite windy and refreshing.  And the clouds were moving fast.

I can be a little shy about taking photographs on a public street in an obvious way, but this, though it's right beside a very busy road, was too good to miss.  :-)

The mergansers were swimming about.  Still not a good photo.  Sigh.  Some times there are two couples.  I don't know where they go when they aren't here.

The geese hissed mightily at us for daring to walk by.


 And a nice sit-down on the back porch with a cup of tea, and watching the trees blowing in the wind.  :-)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dog whispering in the springtime

A couple of years back, we purchased and read Cesar Milan's first book, "Cesar's Way."  Which admittedly, is not a dog training book.  Cesar clearly states he's not a dog trainer.  The book is chock full of theory, but nothing practical or concrete for the novice get a hold of.  We both read it with interest, and I thought we got it.  And I'm always trying to keep it in mind when I'm dealing with our small pack.  So, doggone it, why weren't our dogs getting it?  We know we can train them, as witnessed by how calmly they wait to be fed.  So why can't we stop the madness when the doorbell rings or visitors arrive?  Why can't we go on a pleasant walk?

On our last trip to the library I picked up another Cesar Milan book, "Be a Pack Leader."  Again...lots of theory, 250 pages of it.  But wait!  There's an Appendix (37 pages!), with practical guidelines to becoming a better pack leader.  Yessss!  This is more like it.   I'm not a particularly intuitive person.  I need concrete instructions on how to do something.  You know, the type who needs diagrams drawn for her.  :-)

So this is Training Day 1, for both the dogs and me.  I really want to enjoy every minute with them so something has to give.  As I started to work with Ngaire and ready us for our walk this morning I began to realize that though we had carefully listened to the trainer when she was a puppy and had read the books and watched the TV shows we are "whispering" much too quietly and the dogs aren't hearing us.

I lay out my jacket, keys, gloves, the leash and the backpack which, as usual, made Ngaire run around in circles crying anxiously and the dogs being left behind go apeshit in the kitchen.  (sigh)  And I just stood there with my back against the front door.  And waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Got out the cell phone and read my email....and facebook.  And waited.  Finally the racket quieted down and we got to the point where Ngaire stopped fussing and trying to push between me and the door and actually lay down at my feet.  Woohoo!  Had we reached that nirvana called calm-submissive?  I reminded myself that I didn't have to hold my breath :-) and started to put on her backpack and leash.  So far so good.  Oh yeah....breathe woman, breathe.  Then my jacket etc.  We usually let Ngaire sit and lean against the door until she is quiet before we go out.  Now I know that I should be closest to the door.  So I sent her back into the hallway to sit and wait.  It took at least six tries opening the door before she could keep her butt on the ground.  I went out first, waited a moment, and invited her to join me. 

Then the magic happened.  According to Cesar, the goal is to have your dog follow you on the walk, not you follow the dog.  Ok.  This is the part that was making the walks miserable for us all.  Our attempts to keep the dogs beside or behind us meant lots of leash yanking and sore shoulders and say nothing of the high anxiety level of all of us.  Apparently, Ngaire was so impressed by the leadership role I was taking she immediately started walking a little bit behind me.  I was speechless.  Amazed.  Thrilled.  (you have no idea!)  And so we had about 45 minutes of just about the pleasantest out-of-the-house companionship I can remember.  I am so looking forward to being able to do this with all three of them together.  Stay tuned.  (reminding myself it's only day one...sigh)

As a bonus, though it was pretty dull and cold this morning, there were new signs of spring absolutely everywhere.  (note to the dog is cooperating I should carry the better camera)  I saw camellias in bloom.

What is this?  Redbud?

Something else.  :-)

This homeowner has pathways winding all through their property.  Out front is this broken winged statue and the rock says Wounded Eagle Trail.  Cute!

Forsythia.  I want some!

The storm drains in our neighborhood are marked.  Makes you think.

Cherry trees maybe?

The willow is suddenly green.

I'm assuming these are cherry, they are all around the pond, and they had berries on them.

And daffodils, in my own garden!  Yay!

And after the walk, breakfast.  Feeling empowered, I even got Maisy to take her eyes off her food for a bit and look at me.  :-)

"EAT girls".  Like pigs at a trough.  :-)

Next step is to get a remote doorbell so I can hide the button in my pocket and work on doorbell etiquette.

Now....if only the same methods could help me dominate the dog hair on the floors! 

Monday, February 21, 2011


It's funny...well no, not really "funny" at all...just an odd feeling. As I was getting ready to post a photo of the wonderful New Zealand cheddar I found, ESD (Evil Step-daughter) popped up online to see if we were aware of the earthquake in Christchurch. We were.  She and the rest of The Tramp's family are safe on the North Island but we are quite upset nonetheless. For myself, ever since being so close to the action on 9/11, I find the pictures of damaged buildings and rescues very hard to look at. I can only imagine the horror.

Putting that aside for the moment and going back to cheese.  I was very excited to find the cheese in Whole Foods and happy I could bring it home as a treat for The Tramp.  It really is very nice.

I was also actively looking for sausages for Bangers and Mash and despaired of finding anything but Italian or Polish sausage.  And lo and behold Whole Foods also had bangers!   What fun!  I really only go to Whole Foods for bulk goods but I guess I should go there more often.  :-)

Today was a gorgeous warm day and it was so nice to have the windows open.

I worked on getting all the straight-line quilting done on three quilts.  Yay!  Now they are waiting their turns on the Juki.

And this evening I got busy on another UFO, a wedding present.  It's just a square-in-a-square made from a Spumoni Bali Pop but I think it's going to look great.  Twenty-eight blocks down and only fifty-two more to go.  Slowly but surely this turtle is going to win.  :-)

And speaking of turtles....

There are five turtles sunning themselves on the bank of the pond and you can see the ripples in the water where the other four slid back into the pond as I approached.  I'm hoping the turtles are an omen of spring and good things to come! 

Back to the New Zealand news.  :-(

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Where the sidewalk ends

It was Ngaire's turn for a long walk Thursday morning before breakfast.  Now we all know I'm used to northern New Jersey type urban living.  So I just can't get used to the dearth of sidewalks here.  The sidewalk always ends!  And we won't even mention the appearing and disappearing lanes on the roads, that's another story.

So rather than tiptoe along the side of a very busy road we took the alternative route.  Across a field, down a slope...a well traveled slope I may add.

Startled a pair of geese on a pond.

 Headed towards the creek.

Hopped the creek.  Or rather Ngaire did.  I teetered ungracefully from stone to stone.  :-)  (This is the creek where The Tramp twisted his ankle at Christmas.  It was full of moving water then!)

Through a short woodsy patch and back onto the road.

Then back to home sweet home.  :-)

Along the way...I kid you not...I saw this!  I'm wondering if her husband had seen it yet!

When we arrive home, the dogs who were left behind go crazy and get the angst out of their systems, and then we get ready for breakfast.  Ngaire and Ivy are watching for my signal to eat.  Crazy Maisy is making sure her food doesn't suddenly disappear. 

The Juki got to stretch it's legs on Thursday too, as I rushed to finish quilting a charity quilt before the guild meeting.  I didn't piece it, I just volunteered to quilt it.  A great way to get some practice!  Since it was Christmas fabrics I went for loops with holly leaves.  It's not too bad.

On Friday I spray based two more quilts (2010 Christmas UFOs, would you believe!) and they're patiently waiting.

Today was garage cleaning day.  We bought more shelving, put it together, then sorted, shelved and tossed.  Very satisfying.  I brought my laptop down to the garage and as we sorted I listed about a dozen items on Freecycle.  Of course it meant I had to constantly monitor my email but everything is either spoken for or picked up already so we're very pleased.  There is also a thrift shop pile and a Craigslist pile which we'll worry about tomorrow. 

The dogs had me up early this morning.  Of course I had to admire the pond.  :-)

Then I turned my attention to the eleven brown bananas on my countertop.  Three loaves of banana bread before 9 am.  I must be sick or something.  I keep forgetting I don't like to cook!

Oh for heavens sake! Put that camera away already.