What I learned about running with dogs ~ Part 1


{{{ NOTE:  this is a long post about dogs...if you prefer cats, it's okay to leave early.}}}

First things first... if you have some magic agility socks, be sure to pack them in your gear bag.
A pair of these, a positive attitude and your favorite furry companion in the whole world...
who knows how far you might go?


This past weekend I attended my first dog agility trial ~ not as a participant, but as an observer.
I've been curious for some time... how do these events work?  Who are these people
who compete in this totally fun sport with their dogs?

Nothing compares to seeing the real thing, so off I toodled to a NADAC event
held at Mega-Dogs, in Woodinville, WA.
As it turned out, what an awesome venue for a first timer...not too big, with a homey atmosphere & lots
of friendly dog people wandering about...
 the perfect place to gauge what I might be up against.
Up against?  Well yes, I needed to see if it's as intimidating as I'd built it up to be.
Isla and I have been taking agility training classes for awhile now, but competing
...that's a whole 'nuther ballgame altogether.

I tend to make assumptions without checking the facts first (don't we all?).
Boy oh boy, did I get an education.

The first time I ever saw this done in one of the advanced classes, I thought it looked incredibly silly.
These folks are not walking around giving high fives or saying,
"Howdy Joe, long time no see," or "Hey there, Sally, how ya do'in..."
nope, this is serious practice time for the humans before they bring out their four-legged partners
and run that course...in numerical order.  They are counting, memorizing their moves.
First lesson: here was a professional, nationally accredited trial
 and what I saw was people of all sizes and shapes participating...

...just like the dogs.
So poof, there went my first intimidation...my fear of not being athletically fit enough.
ANYONE can compete in this sport.  So much for that excuse.

It was a joy to watch some of the amazing teamwork...

...some dogs had solid sit-stays at the start line

... others had perfect timing & excellent paw work

or handlers with really good body language.

But most of the time, there were none of these things and that is the next important thing that I learned...
it's not about perfection ~ it's about having fun with your dog.

I hope I can meet this man someday...I'd like to shake his hand and thank him
for his extreme care & kindness towards his dog.  I'd been watching him in a couple of runs
with his beautiful Belgian shepherd
and had taken notice because he had a very sweet way with her...gentle and easy.
Around midday, his dog had a meltdown.
She wouldn't take any of the jumps, stopped being attentive, then just stopped.

Here he is ending the run without finishing.  He didn't push her, or yell, or show his frustration in any way.
He led her off the course as if nothing at all was amiss.  She had stopped having fun
and her wonderful owner said, no problem.

They came back out later in the day to have a very successful run.

The proof was in the wags...

Wagging and smiling, it's what it's all about.
Here's the core of our group from Paws on the Rock...that's Michelle on the left,
owner & ace dog trainer extraordinaire...and her partner, Audrey, helper with most everything.
Clearly, she picks some of the high reward tasks...

Can you say, blissed out...calm...dog???

Do not be fooled by this apparent grooming goodwill...losing five pounds of fur
CAN make your dog run faster  ;>]]

I think Benjamin and Sam might have been the start of the whole dog story for these gals...
the boys are about nine and ten years old now, both adopted from rescues
and here they are at trial, going (maybe not quite as) strong, yet still competing,
still having fun.

And that was my next lesson...

...as long as you feel good,  GO FOR IT.

: : :

Stay tuned for my next installment and see who wins a First Place Blue Ribbon...
this is a photo-heavy post, so Part 2 will follow along shortly.
Thanks for being here!

Part 2 is now posted...CLICK HERE.


Little list of lovelies...


The garden is receiving a fine soaking today.  This, of course, provides
the perfect guilt-free excuse for indoor pursuits.  
I've donned my prettiest  frock  sweat pants for you and settled myself into the comfy chair.
Shall I share a little list?...let the birdie out of the cage?

Portrait of  Elizabeth de la Vallee de la Roche
~ by Michel-Pierre Hubert Descours, 1771 ~
courtesy of  The Bowes Museum, England

Each of us has our own treasured supplies that we can't live without, those ingredients
so necessary to our craft or pursuits.  Oftentimes, we bestow on them the
very unglamorous name of "stash"
but it IS stash of the greatest importance.
And on that note, here are a few things that I currently can't live without and would
love to share with you... 

[UPDATE 2015: Karen from Stitching Life wandered off to achieve her PhD
& her blog / store are no more ... we wish her all the best!]

Would a mountain of them be enough?...in all honesty, I have added a large cupboard to my corner
upstairs to hold the masses that are accumulating.  Now tell me,
have you gleaned some of the lovelies on offer from Karen, at the Stitching Life Big Cartel?
She has the most delicate sensibility when it comes to fabric,
choosing dye colors & textures with great care.  This is a collection of
cotton & linen on offer at the moment...
perfect for my weather, called 'storm'...

photos courtesy of Stitching Life

I have a great number of Karen's silks...they are so beautiful.  Recently, she has started to offer
"scraps packs" containing 25 to 30 different types of 100% silk, both commercially dyed and hand dyed, your choice...bits and pieces from new silk, but also (my favorite) from recycled silk clothing.
These have proved invaluable for boro work and free piecing.

I can't depart the Stitching Life shop without mentioning the threads....but you must be quick
as these are flying fast.  A little birdie told me that Karen is barely able to keep up 
with the stock requests for these and her dye pots will receive no rest...
go peek...you'll see why.

Carry on with the pleasure and pay a visit to Karen's blog where she describes all these goings-on
with her newly updated shop and also, shares her own stitched-to-perfection creations...

#2.  BEADS
My addiction has been well documented
so there's no need to delve into the *whys* of THAT subject.
But to find a reliable, generously stocked supplier with an unbeatable penchant for
topnotch customer service, now that is a topic I haven't mentioned before.
So who is my Number One go-to for all my beady needs?
Cubes, triangles, rounds, Delicas, hexes and cuts, bugles, drops and magatamas,
tilas, peanuts & pearls, shells, wood, gemstones and mixes.
And that's just for starters... 

Seldom do I make it down to Seattle to shop in person but instead, have enjoyed
great shopping experiences through their online store...very easy to navigate, the colors represented
in their photos are true (it is rare to receive what I didn't expect) and the shipping is free.  
As one of their loyal customers for about seven years, I can respectfully submit there's no end in sight...

Do be careful if you explore their  Inspiration Projects  page...
you'll find free downloadable instructions for all kinds of
 fanciful pretties to clamor for your attention.

#3.  BOOKS
I must share my most favorite book stash!
This past weekend I joined a small, merry band of textile lovers for a get together over dye pots.  We've been practicing shibori stitching techniques & this was the next step.
A couple of homemade brews of natural color sloshed around in the back of my jeep and with India Flint's two (very important) tomes tucked into my carrying basket,
off I went to share what little I knew about eco-printing with anyone who was interested.

I don't know the last time I have been so smitten with "how-to" books...oh,
but they are so much more than that.

Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles
Second Skin: Choosing and Caring for Textiles and Clothing

Full of the flavor and fine humor of their maker, these books can
easily become bibles for any of us wishing to make our own special marks on cloth
in a safe and sustainable way.  The passion in India's life work is infectious
and the lure of her botanical alchemy is strong....

the tools are simple...

the results, stunning.

Reviewers have spoken about these books far better than I...visit here, India's website, to read more.
Should you wish to fill your mind and eyes with even more "ruminations, murmurings and scribblings" from the alchemist herself, her online journal, Prophet of Bloom is one click away...


Homage to my mower


She's loud,
she's raucous,
and she's got a wicked edge on her.
She can cough like a smoker and guzzle with the best of them,
but when those wheelies hit the sod,
it's all lawn poetry to me.

: : :

Forgive me,  for I have sinned and broken my promise ("not another garden tool!")...
the silliness of it all was too hard to resist....


Texture Tuesday...that kind of faith


These beauties were not growing naturally on my land although at one time, there were multitudes
 found growing on these islands.  No, I planted these bulbs a couple of years ago
when I held high hopes for cultivating a native wildflower meadow.
These camassia were as far as I got.
So it goes.  Not unlike so many things.

Still, they make me SO happy.  The clumps are thriving, the bees love them, they add stature
to the garden when it's still a bit early for anything else
and they require zero maintenance or attention....
the perfect recipe for garden plants, if you ask me.

: : :

It's another Texture Tuesday over at Kim's place.  Do pop in over there and check out the creativity
from the texture-loving crowd...better yet, join in with us.  So much inspiration!
For today's photo I used two of Kim's textures...'grunged up 2' and 'yesteryear.'

: : :

Besides TT, the other really cool thing that happens on this day each week is 
Maya Stein's 10-line Tuesday.
I've been following her for awhile now...she is, oh, so good...
each week, a new poem in my mailbox...more inspiration.
And somehow she always gets me thinking past whatever is holding me up.
Here's what arrived today:

the juggler

At some point, of course, your own stamina will fail, and the rhythm
you began with will splinter, then collapse.  But that first belief that thrust
your hands in motion - I want to say something about that.  This was not some whim
or fantasy of epic talent.  It was your cells talking, trust
threading your very bones, your hopes held high as clouds.  That kind of faith
is untouchable, regardless of all those balls tumbling earthward.  Remember
where you started, those inklings that led you to practice your lofty art
on a busy sidewalk, color pinwheeling around.  That's the necessary ember,
the tiny fire churning,
your naked courage daring you to sing.

: : :

Till next time, my friends.


Full of beans


No reason to not use your best china for everyday events.
This bowl may not look like your typical "fine china" but believe me,
that's what it is around my digs.  

I needed to soak the Borlotti seeds overnight, you see....
since they're hard-shelled and all that...and since one of the raised beds has a new trellis
destined to be filled with beans.

Constructed the  sucker  trellis all by myself.
Sometimes you just have to build something when you don't think you can.

This one is heftier than the first ~ these bamboo poles are a whopping 1.5 inches thick.  Thankfully,
 not the bear I was expecting when it came to assembling...amazingly light, albeit a tad unwieldy...
all eight feet of them.

Borlotti beans are commonly called cranberry beans in the states.  Considered heirlooms,
they came over with the colonists from England around 1825.  The seeds
are red-speckled just like their pods.
Can't wait to see those pods!

Kaite, although you're heading into winter where you are, my growing season is starting
with this bean inspiration from your blog.  Thanks again.

I purchased organic seeds from these great folks
and found a whole bunch of interesting information and yummy sounding recipes over here.

I'm not sure any potter could have created better glazes to show off this bean gathering...

Here's a show off.  She is ALWAYS *full of beans*...'specially if you bring out her friz.
S'cuse the brief digression.  She has that effect on me...pretty much all the time.

Now, I have a question for all you bean-growing peeps who come a'wandering here...
got a minute?

I still have room on the other side of this trellis to sow another variety.  Thought it might be fun to
grow a 2nd, somewhat different type of bean....oooh, but there are so many choices...which one to choose???
I'd be so pleased to have you tell me one of your favorites...send me in a direction, puh-leeez...
shall I go with a yellow wax, some kind of gourmet Frenchie variety, perhaps something with Cherokee ancestry?

There's even a pole bean called 'Lazy Housewife.'
That one seems appropriate.

I've got six and 1/2 feet of space looking for a purpose.

Thank you.

: : :

All photos from my iPhone, processed with ScratchCam


Rags to become riches


This finally came off the box loom.
You can see the creases on the sides where the fabric held onto its frame for such a long time.

Before removing the weaving, I knew I needed to secure the outer perimeter.
This ~ I thought ~ was going to take quite a bit of needle maneuvering
so I expected the invisible basting to take a lot longer than it did.  But as I sat on the stair landing,
happily stitching under the bright light from the skylight, 
my needle seemed to fly through these soft cloths.
The gratitude I felt!
For some backstory, please click on this post...
it will explain everything about why I am so grateful to no longer be "stuck."

This might be one of my favorite cloth techniques of all time.  Jude, from Spirit Cloth, taught this 
in her 'Contemporary Woven Boro' workshop...I was instantly smitten and
have so looked forward to getting back to it.

So today, when I finally picked it up to release it from its framework,
I became ELATED....

I felt a lot like this

~ New Wings ~

A new landscape for beadwork ... let's see where this goes now, shall we?