Sunday, November 25, 2012

Taking a Break

Taking a break from blogging for a while. 
Perhaps just a month...maybe longer. 
I will miss you.
Wishing you all The BEST of the BEST! 

Monday, November 19, 2012



First off, bad news from a friend.  Bad.  Like my first impression was:  "In no way is this good."  So right away I try to think of Something Positive.  People say you have to think positively in order for good things to happen.  People say your energy can effect not only your own life, but also the energy of others.  Not only those in the immediate vicinity - but everyone in the whole world.  Or in the universe, even.  Or in many galaxies, even.   Even a long time ago, far far away.  But...wait.  That's a bit far, I realize.

Even though I don't entirely understand "the universal power of" I have always leaned toward enjoying life, as much as I do - in fact - often find myself thinking along positive lines.  It's a habit, at this point.  When something bad happens, you look at it, learn from it, and then turn around and find something good.  It has something to do with survival, and...the universe? 

So!  We turn our thoughts to a positive outcome for this bad news. 

GOOD THOUGHTS!  GOOD ENERGY! doubt we'll learn something from it.  Something.  I don't know what, yet.  Learning is good, isn't it?  Most of the time.  And perhaps my friend and I will become closer friends, through this experience.  That's good.  Isn't it?  And....there's something else that is's.....just beyond my reach....right now.  Shoot. 

I can feel it, but I can't see it yet, and I sure can't describe it.    Yet. 

But, hey.  There was a super cool agility trial at the fairgrounds this weekend.  The UKI OPEN!  I was an all-day worker for a couple of days at that trial last year, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  This year, I didn't even visit.  Even though I'd planned to watch the Finals, at least. 

But I have certainly enjoyed all the videos of runs that have been posted on Facebook! 

I DID visit the fairgrounds during the trial, actually.  Riff and I had an ECS training session there on Friday night.  We trained in the rain, in the dark.  The trial was over for the day, so we didn't see anybody run.  Training in the rain was a whole new experience for us!  The Riffle doesn't like rain, as a general rule, but he was FINE on Friday.  Riff was mostly absolutely lovely.  He did very well on the tests, and I was really proud of him.

Today we wanted to get on an agility field and RUN....(we have a Need for Speed!!!)  but that wasn't in the cards.  And now the field's been closed because of a parvo outbreak at the ASCA Nationals.  Bummer.  Sad.'s all for the best, yes?  Soon.  We will run again.  Sooooon.....

And hey, watch out for mushrooms in your yard, if you live with big trees.  They're popping up everywhere! 

My turkey showed up today.  YAY!  It's a beautiful little range-fed number.  So I'll be cooking a turkey dinner for some of our family members on Wednesday, and then I'll make a marbled pumpkin cheesecake to take to a friend's house on Thursday.  We've enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner at Joanie's place for...oh, I think it's about 17 years now.  Wonderful people. 

The holidays have always been a bit of a challenge for me.  Dysfunctional history, blah blah blah. And now Israel/Gaza.  Crikey.  But.  Life.  Goes. On. 

And - lucky for us - families come in all shapes and sizes. 

LOVE YOUR FAMILY!!!   ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Hug yours today!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Comment

Okay so I love that we elected Obama! 
I do not understand Romney and his cohorts.  They have strange viewpointss regarding women's rights issues...and the rights of all minorities...and the middle and lower classes....etc.etc.etc.
And they believe in the "trickle down" theory regarding wealth.  It hasn't trickled down yet, so I can't understand why they believe it will in the future.  If all of the rich businessmen would be both able and willing to create jobs for their fellow Americans AFTER the elections, why were so many of them shutting down plants and moving jobs overseas (for many years) BEFORE the elections?  What is it, exactly, about having even more money, that will convince them to rebuild plants and bring all the jobs BACK?  I just don't get it.  And will the continued de-regulation of Wall Street help those brokers stop packaging shady deals into wobbly investment accounts, in an economic language that No One Understands, so they can make a few billion dollars more?  I don't think so! 
Greedy men tend to stay greedy....especially if they're given both a blessing and a free-rein.     

Those are just a few of the points that helped me vote for Obama.  He has an incredibly difficult job to do....inherited in 2008.  I think he's made some slow and steady progress.  Although obviously not perfect, I think he's learned a lot and is willing to learn more.  He seems to be able to all kinds of people, about all kinds of things.  That means a lot.  And I think it's amazingly generous of him to want to continue to work at learning how to be a good leader...and to continue to struggle for fairness for all. 

Our culture is firmly GLOBAL now.  There is no going back.  We humans are in touch with each other - all around the earth - as thoroughly as if we were all next-door neighbors.  In fact we ARE all neighbors.  Different cultures in different neighborhoods, but neighbors nonetheless...and mixing together more all the time.  We need to be mindful of that.  Mindful of how we talk to each other, and how we treat each other.  And mindful of how we treat our precious earth. 

Sometimes "current events" can make me feel mighty depressed.  I love the PBS Newshour, but it can certainly drag down a person's good mood.  I wish I could wave a magic wand and make everything better.  In lieu of that, I just try to BREATHE, and take care of myself, my family and friends.  I like meditation because it helps me stay calm and forward-thinking.  It helps my mind stay open to possibilities. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

To Enter or Not To Enter

That is the question. 

My "trialing" switch has been stuck on OFF for so long it's difficult to decide when to start trialing again.  People say Riff has been running well during our weekly agility class.  But are we really ready?  I keep talking myself out of entering. 

There's the money issue.  But!  A couple of Bay Team USDAA trials are coming up Right Here In Town - and since I worked a few trials this year, I have certificates!  Otherwise - yes, it's true, we are pinching pennies these days. 

There's the training issue.  I haven't been training much agility, outside of class.  A few rental sessions on the same field as class, is all.  I like to work on short-sequence foundation exercises during our practice sessions.  So Riff has led a very quiet life during the last year-and-a-half.  We haven't been to any "fun matches."  (The OFF! switch....)  We haven't been to the AARF field (or any field other than LeapDog) since May.  I haven't even taken him to the fairgrounds to hang around at the AKC trails there, other than to run him in the exercise field a couple of times.  (OFF!)   

There's the ringside issue.  He was really nice at the Regionals in Prunedale, back in August, when we skated in as "guests" on LP's shirttails.  That's actually the last trial at which we "hung around."  Even there, I kept him mostly by the RV.  Foolishly, I did not bring a wire crate for ringside!  All I had was the soft crate.  I didn't want it to rip or break a zipper, since he had to travel in it. Riff does not have the best crate behavior, ringside.  
Mostly we went hiking on the trails....alone...or playing in the exercise field....alone.  When I took him to the Regional ringside areas, he stayed on-leash. 
Riff is a gracious, well-behaved handful, ringside on-leash.  He's sweet and friendly with almost every person, although if someone he doesn't know well suddenly leans over him, he gets nervous and ducks away.  He's interested in playing with some dogs, and he is politely friendly with most dogs....but he does take a disliking to a very few dogs.  I can always tell because his ruff goes up.  History:  He's been thoroughly jumped on - a few times - by loose dogs, when he was younger.  Three times at LeapDog (during field rental), and once at the sheep lady's house.  He was on the losing end of all of those encounters.  And his older sister Keeper has jumped him a couple of times here at home, putting him in his place.  (I really wish they were better friends.  She'll play with him a couple of times a day, out in the backyard...but in the house she's Queen Bee, and will always remind him, if he forgets).   So if a dog runs up on him, or if the dog's ruff goes up....he gets weirded out.  Pretty typical dog stuff, actually.  (I think.)  Regardless, I always keep a close eye on him.  It is what I expect from all other handlers with high-drive dogs, so it is what I do. 
Riff also gets quite excited if someone is using loud verbal commands while running their dog in a nearby agility ring.  Especially if the handler has a high, shrill voice.  He wants to get out there and run, too.  Sometimes he starts barking.  (Bad crate behavior, in my book.)  If he's in his crate I usually give him a toy, and he plays with that instead of barking.  It's a nice diversion.  It tires him out...but it's worth it.  Basically we don't hang close to rings, if we don't have to.  It seems silly to put anyone through the angst of that kind of excitement.

Having worked quite a number of trials over the years, I can guarantee you that our ringside problems are not unique.  In fact, they're very low-key and minor, compared to many I've seen.  Still...what a pain in the back it can be, to handle.  Riff is very fit, and very strong. 

There's the health issue.  So, yeah.  I tell myself I'm not afraid of falling, or of being pulled over by Riff on our way to the startline.  You can't be afraid of falling if you're going to RUN your dog in an agility trial.  Everybody falls, once in a while.  Riff works best if I RUN.  He loves running, and gets excited about running a course.  (Thank goodness!)

Sure, I've fallen while practicing agility, or while jogging...but I always get up.  Sometimes with a sore knee (arthritis).  And - one time I wrenched my back pretty bad.  And - another time I broke my humerus...a nasty little break right up by the shoulder.  So, yeah.  Those things are difficult to forget.  But you just need to let that stuff go....

In spite of some of the uneven and hard surfaces where these trials are held (like the dirt at the fairgrounds)...I know I need to RUN.  But...honestly?  Afraid.    So I read (and re-read) the book NERVES, and I do understand the mechanics of my fear, and I just have to work my way through it.  I mean - I'm already nervous just because I'm competing and I always want to win and I'm never sure we're ready.  Then the "fall factor" got added....

The other day, I a-a-almost fell at practice.  I had Riff by the collar, because he was excited about another dog on the field, and I didn't have his leash.  He swerved in front of me and I tripped on his back legs.  We were on grass, so it wasn't TOO scary.  I just reached out to brace myself with my free arm (the left, which I recently broke), and....just seeing that arm reach out in such a familiar way (ouch!)...I thought "NO!" and somehow twisted myself back up onto my feet.  Riff helped, because I never did let go of his collar, and he really didn't want to be underneath me again (yeah we've done that one before, too....cracked my sternum on his hard little head).  Somehow, Riff pulled me back up.  He's such a good boy.  It's been five months since I broke my arm and I have to just Get Over It. 

I have to trust myself, and trust my dog.  I have to stop being such a big weenie.  And get out there and show him again. 

The GIANTS never gave up, in spite of all odds.  Giving up is not what I want to do.  So I tell myself I haven't totally given up.  I still really like our agility classes.  I really enjoy our practice sessions. 

What I have left to do is...what I haven't done need to enter a trial....and be around all the excitement and population of a trial.  I need to enter, and then actually show up for it. 

Some day....

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veteran's Day.... the Vietnam Memorial Wall replica in Sonoma.  This "moving wall" travels around the country.  We were lucky enough to have it in our county during Veteran's Day. 

Riff pulled on his leash to visit with a man who was about my age.  Riff wagged his tail, sniffed his hand, and gazed up into his eyes.  The man knelt down to smile at Riff, and said, "You are so beautiful.  Thank you so much."   Then he started to cry, turned and walked away....

Monday, November 5, 2012

Riff's 4th Birthday!

It's hard to believe this baby dog is 4 YEARS OLD already!!
 We really can't call him a puppy any more,
and certainly not a baby dog.
'Young fella' is more like it.

We still call him "Goombah" once in a while, but the nickname we use all the time now is "Bubula."  ("Booboola" - accent is on the first syllable.)  No idea where it came from.  It just bubbled up one day about a year ago and seems to have stuck.  It wasn't until I heard a couple of other people use it that I knew it was a "for real" nickname, and that we must be using fairly often, and in public.  We still call him Mister Riffster, Riffle and The Riffling, too.  Plus (once in a deserving while) "His Nibs" and "He Who Must Not Be Named." This dog has more nicknames than any other dog I've owned....and of course he's earned every single one of them. 
He's smart, smart, smart, and as athletic as they come. 
He's pretty.  He's super cool.  He's friendly.  And he's fast! 

ten weeks

nine months

thirteen months

two years

two-and-a-half years

almost three years

three years


three-and-a-half years
almost four

Is it time for some ice cream yet??

Thursday, November 1, 2012

♥ All Kinds of Family ♥

When Halloween rolls around, you can't help but think about family.  At least that's how it is for me. 

Like most of you, my "families" come in all shapes and sizes.  In addition to my kids, my sisters, my sweet husband and his dear friends, I have a "dog agility" family and a "theatre" family - two much-loved groups of passionate people.  Then there's my "Giants" family, "environmental canine services" family, "wild women in the woods" and "birthday dinners" families.   My "FB" and "blog" families.   And (of course!) our sweet border collies, and all those who love them.


Winter holidays are filled with "family times"...and Halloween ushers them in.  This year we started the festivities at my friend BT's house.  She served a marvelous meal, and I helped serve candy to little-folks-in-costume.  What a pleasure!  It was raining...but no one seemed to mind.  Her neighborhood was alive with trick-or-treaters.  Cool!  Our section of the hill doesn't get any.  We have no sidewalks, and the street light hasn't been working for a long while. 

BT and her grandson, Hudson Kipling
Handing out candy reminded me of Halloweens-Gone-By, and the good old days. three sons with a Skeletor buddy

This year, instead of scrambling to make black capes, I tuned into the Giants' World Series Championship Parade in San Francisco.  That was all kinds of fun, even though we weren't there.... I could feel the good energy through the TV.  WONderful!!
Matt Cain and his family, in the parade
My eldest son was busy working at the opera house...but not too busy to text this photo, along with the message "This opera is lo-o-ong..."     :-)

Will at work

My middle boy has been busy with comic book conventions, TaeKwonDo, teaching drawing classes at Megamoth Studios, and working as a dispatcher.  He is a designated "first responder" in Sonoma County and, because of him, I'm thinking quite a lot about the first responders to Hurricane Sandy.  (With good wishes and many MANY thanks, to each and every one of them....)     
B and E at a convention

B checks out a dragon sculpture
My youngest son just moved this winter's cord of wood from our driveway to the back, and stacked it in our shed.  He beat the rain, for which we were most grateful!  But he wasn't keen on having his photo taken.  Maybe next time....

A wealth of wood, moved to the shed.....

.....with a respectful nod to the trees overhead!  ♥

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