Wednesday, May 22, 2013

bits and pieces, crafts and puppies

Today's post is a lot of photos, because I've done a lot of stuff recently and it's always more fun to post and write about photos than it is to just put together large blocks of text.  Plus, I've done that way too much at work recently and I'm sick of it!  So here we go, in themed order...


My irises in the front yard are incredible this year - there are TWENTY flower stalks up, all with multiple buds/blooms on them, and they are just phenomenal.  They're the only thing in my yard that really is amazing, and I am enjoying the heck out of them right now.  Jadzia wasn't quite so sure, however, but she gamely hopped into the flower bed for me to take a photo.  I think this is the year I need to split the irises, so that will be a new adventure later this summer or sometime into the fall.

Martok hasn't learned how to play fetch in the rotation with the girls, so I've been taking some walks with him to get both of us some exercise.  I have also been taking Ezri with me, much to her dismay, as Martok is preferring to walk thisclose to her, as the photo shows.  Ezri is also not a fan of being walked on leash, so she's been pulling a lot, so we got her a harness last weekend to help minimize the effects of her pulls on her own body.  We'll see if that helps!

Craft Projects!

Back in April, I finally got around to getting an ink pad and nice paper to do pawprints of the dogs, and after I was done I used one set of them to put together this frame.  The prints came out really well (and the dogs were surprisingly good about it), although it amuses me that their feet-fur shows up so much in the prints!  The frame is an inexpensive floating-glass frame, so I can easily add one of Martok later, remove them to put together into a bigger frame, or just make a whole new one in the future.  I really like having it up on the wall, it's across from the door to my office so I see it every day.

And of course, I've picked up more spindles, as they're just a big an addiction as fabric for quilting.  These two are Bosworth spindles, both special order.  The smaller dark one has a whorl made from live oak (and a shaft made from bocote) that was harvested in the 1700s and then kept in ponds for use in repairing the US Navy ships at the time.  These ponds were eventually forgotten about and reclaimed by the forest, until they were recently found and the wood reclaimed and used by various craftsmen.  The larger red one has a whorl made from flame box elder and a shaft made from cocobolo, and is stunningly beautiful.  I've coveted something made out of flame box elder for a while, and I am thrilled with this particular spindle.  Both spindles are great to use and have small Phat Fiber sample projects on them right now.

Just this past weekend I cleaned up my sewing room and pulled out the materials to work on Aidan's quilt again.  I have just one panel done so far, though all the pieces are cut out already, and I designed another panel this weekend and it's ready to piece together.  This quilt will be the sibling to Averie's quilt, done very similarly, and hopefully completed in time for his birthday in September.

I finished knitting two pieces in February and March and they're shown here after a wash and during blocking.  The cowl is made from a single skein of fancy variegated yarn I bought from a store going out of business, and I love how the colors pooled to form large blocks in a slanted pattern.  The scarf is made from a skein of Manos merino singles, knitted up on size 9 needles in a simple garter/stockinette pattern I came up with on the fly.  It goes well with our new flyball club colors, and I have a second (nearly identical) one almost done to give to one of my friends on the team.

My first sock has made it to the "turn the heel" phase, and there it languishes.  I'll need to pick up stitches as I continue on, and my pattern isn't very detailed about that so I need to pick up a book or tutorial to figure out how best to make that work.  It's pretty cool, though, and I love the needles I'm using (Signature DPNs), so I plan to pull this one out and figure it out soon.

Still spinning as well, and I set aside my interminable fine spinning of the brilliant red Targhee wool I bought at OFFF last year to ply these two batts together.  The yarn came out very well, one batt is dark purples and one was cream with purple and blue, and I think the overall effect is very nice.  These batts taught me that I'm not so much fond of spinning chunky things, especially uncontrolled chunky things like mohair locks, although I do think the plied yarn came out well.  I still need to wash it, however, as I plied it back when we were still deep into the rainy season.

The last craft for this post is one I did not do myself, but one which I will benefit greatly from - my friend Kristie made me a set of "Unpaper Towels" using the best cheesy Star Trek fabric you've ever seen.  The towels are made from terry backed with quilting fabric, serged into squares, and set with snaps so you can roll them up onto a paper towel roll, then use them instead of paper towels.  I have used them for a few days and I like them a lot!


Between the nicer weather appearing through the last few weeks and my attempts to increase my step count, I've been taking walks along the waterfront at work during my lunch break.  Most days I also take a spindle with me and spin as I walk, garnering several odd looks but no comments as of yet.  Such beautiful views are just a small part of why I love to live here.

And then there was this - I had the bottom couple of inches of my hair dyed a rich vibrant purple.  I LOVE the effect, it's fantastic, and sadly it has already faded away to a pale lavendar after just four weeks.  I'm having it redone this weekend, and will see if there's anything else the stylist can do to help it last longer - I'm already not washing the ends and rinsing them in the shower with as cool water as I can stand.  If not, I will probably keep it up until I am ready to cut my hair again, then just trim it all off and go on with my regular golden blonde.


Today marks sixteen days since we said goodbye to Curzon.  Last Friday we picked up his ashes (or cremains, as they are called in the industry) from the vet, which was a very difficult thing for me to do.  I held him in my lap the whole way home, making Chris drive us, and wished so hard that I was hugging Curzon for real instead.  I know that won't happen, but the thought of that keeps hitting me anew every so often and it's like a punch to the gut every time it does.  For now the nice cherry box that his remains are in sits on top of one of the dressers in our bedroom, along with the blanket I made him when he recovered from his surgery and his collar.  Perhaps it is strange to admit, but I do talk to him even as I hate that he's in that box, and I have hugged the box more than once.  It helps, a very tiny bit, and that's all I can do now.

I've also been thinking more and more about the time we had between when we brought Martok home and when Curzon passed, that too-short span of just eleven days.  Curzon was so amazing with the puppy for the first few days, and we had such a good time with our photo session on that Saturday.  He had a great time at practice on Sunday, even as we realized he'd lost the sight in his right eye.  Monday was very difficult, but with more pain meds he seemed back to his old self and we had a good time all week.  Saturday was a beautiful day, and the rest I've already talked about.  I don't like to append too many human emotions or decisions to animals, but I also do think they are wiser and more perceptive than most people believe.  I'm coming to the conclusion that Curzon had been in pain for a while, and when we brought Martok home that was the signal he was waiting for to release himself from that pain.  Curzon had that wonderful Saturday where he played, saw lots of people he loved, and had steak for dinner, and I think that was his way of saying goodbye to us all.

It was too soon for me and Chris, and maybe it was even too soon for Curzon.  But I could never countenance his bright spirit suffering without hope of respite, and I would not want to hold him here in pain - that's why we had the vet come on that sad day.  I can only hope that his spirit will visit me upon occasion, and continue to inspire me in the future.

Friday, May 17, 2013

three weeks of a new puppy

Three weeks ago yesterday, Chris and I took a day trip to Chicago to pick up Martok (Ignited's Order of Kahless) as well as his brother Sirius (Ignited's Expecto Patronum!) to bring them home to Seattle.  We arranged for a friend to come get the adult border collies for the day, as we'd be gone from 4am until almost midnight, set up a meeting place with our friend who was eagerly awaiting Sirius' arrival, and we were off.  The flight out was uneventful, and while it took some time to get our rental car, we were on our way and on time to get to the breeder's house south of the city.

Three of the six puppies were picked up the day before we arrived, with just our two boys and the girl the breeder kept still there.  Little Martok was a bit suspicious, but soon played with us and his siblings with great enthusiasm.  I even got to watch Chris' reaction to a house of ten adult border collies racing around...after that, four seems pretty calm!

Martok took to us pretty well, as evidenced by this photo of a man and his puppy.  :)  We put collars on the boys for the first time, and their sister thought this was great as she could grab the collars to drag them around without them being able to do much about it!  After a few hours of playtime and chatter, we packed up the two boys into their carriers to begin the journey back to Seattle.  Neither one of them were very thrilled about this state of events, and there was a lot of shrieking in the van on our way back to the airport. Luckily for us, this abated once we got to the airport (I think they tired themselves out), and they were well behaved going through security, and both slept through our dinner in the terminal.

As we boarded the plane, we let them stick their heads out of their carriers, which got lots of "awww" remarks from our fellow travelers.  We were lucky enough to have a row of three seats to ourselves, so even with the puppies in their carriers we still had room.  Poor Sirius was very hot, with his double coat inside that carrier, so once we were airborne we picked up his carrier and put it on the seat between us, where he quickly passed out and slept through the whole flight.  Martok snoozed through the whole flight as well, including takeoff and landing - a welcome change from the shrieking his aunt Ezri treated me to on her flight home!


We did have a few days with both boys in the house, and one night that week while they were both sleepy I was able to get the above picture.  Curzon did play with Martok a good bit in the few days they were together, enough that I have video of it, and the photo shoot we did with Artis produced some incredible shots as well.

Much to our surprise, Martok managed to convince his sister/aunt Ezri to snuggle with him on the ground level of her princess castle - most of the time she hangs out on the upper level, which he's too little to reach just yet.  I had to sneak around in the garage to get this photo, but it was worth it!

Ezri has had to play auntie quite a bit recently, such as last Saturday when we took both of the puppies to swim for the very first time.  There's a place in Woodinville called Mega-Dogs, which has a small indoor pool that is available for therapy swimming at very nice rates.  That's where I took Curzon for his rehab swimming last year, and it's the best choice I could think of for a warm pool where we could swim with the puppies to teach them how.  It didn't go quite as well as we hoped, neither of them immediately took to the water, but they did well and had no problems swimming, so now we just need to convince them it's fun.

The boys definitely have fun playing together, even something as simple as playing chase-and-bite while racing around the pool.  This is a great picture, especially with the expressions - Martok is definitely up to no good, while Sirius looks a little too innocent...

This week has seen a lot more puppy discipline in our house, as shown by Ezri's Mad Teeth in the photos above.  Much more growling, removal of toys, and general loss of patience has been shown by both Ezri and Jadzia - nothing out of the ordinary or dangerous, of course, but amusing to us humans all the same.  Ezri is still willing to play with Martok a little bit, but she does not want him chewing on her toys.  She's actually rather devilish, and if he has something she wants, then she'll go play with something else to get his attention, let him take the second thing, then go get the original item (or spot!) that she wanted.  Smart girl.

And of course, we've been taking Martok to puppy classes once a week at Ahimsa in Ballard - the same school I where took Ezri through puppy kindergarten.  Part of this week's lesson was body handling and grooming, including putting clothes on the puppies - Martok did really well with that, even if he does look sad in this photo.  He actually ran around with the clothes on without a care in the world until he ran right out of the socks!


It's been eleven days since we lost Curzon, and while I'm not over it (and may never be), it is just starting to get easier.  I can breathe better, and thinking of him doesn't automatically mean tears every time, just some of the time.  This afternoon we will go and pick up his ashes from the vet on our way home from work, and bring him home where he belongs.  I know that one day we will scatter his ashes, probably in the ocean where he so loved to swim, but I don't think I'm going to be ready to do that on our vacation this year.  For now, having his physical remains home with us will be a comfort, as odd as that sounds, and hopefully it will help us continue to heal.

Monday, May 13, 2013

endings and beginnings

Last Monday's loss of our beloved Curzon overshadowed the other major event of the week, which was Jadzia's flyball retirement on Sunday, May 5th.  Originally she was scheduled to retire in April, at her anniversary tournament hosted by the Kings where she debuted in 2004, but the kennel cough outbreak in the region caused that tournament to be cancelled.  Instead, Jadzia ran with her Jet City Jumpers teammates on the lovely "Farewell Flight" team and had a great time on both Saturday and Sunday.

All photos in this post courtesy of Liz Werner.

Beautiful shot of Jadzia waiting for me to play with her in the runback after a heat - we gave up on tugging for anything but a recall long ago, instead I toss the ball and have her spin and beg and play once she completes a run for her reward.

Flying over the jumps, beautifully flat - not bad for an eleven year old girl!  :)

And racing down the jumps in her final race, where she was put in start position for one last time.  Jadzia had great starts all the way until the last heat, when the other dog false started first, then Jadzia false started with a -0.005, then we had a clean race on the third try.  She ran in the high 5's and low 6's all weekend, clearly feeling great and enjoying herself, which is a great way to retire.

Jadzia retires with over 60,000 NAFA points and the titles FGDCh-60k and Iron Dog from NAFA, and with over 6,000 UFLI points and her TFE-II title.  She started her career as a 14" height dog, ran in a total of 95 tournaments,  and competed in two countries (USA and Canada) and five states/provinces (BC, WA, OR, CA, AZ).  Jadzia was our first flyball dog, and she's the reason we are border collie people now and is why we play flyball to this day and moving into the future.

We will still let Jadzia play a bit at practice with our new club to help train the newer dogs, as well as hopefully sending her in to play with her old friends in Veterans classes once or twice a year for fun.  Her active racing days are over, though, as her stamina and strength is slowly waning with her age even as her heart and attitude are still as bright as ever.  I look forward to many more years walking and playing with her and her happy smile.

In addition, I haven't posted much about our newest puppy, Ignited's Order of Kahless, call name Martok, who is out of Singed and Fetch.  Singed is Ezri's 3/4 sister (Race/Dazzle to Ezri's Race/Prancer), so Martok is essentially Ezri's nephew.  He was born on February 27, 2013, firstborn of six (four girls and two boys), and we brought him home on April 25th.  Here are a few photos taken at the tournament last weekend, showing his beautiful markings and his goofy puppy antics.

Flailing around and trying to bite/chase a leash on the rattled and he found this fascinating.

He's coming right for us!

And pouncing on the leash again - Martok is very much a play-motivated puppy, even more than his littermate Sirius (who also lives in Seattle), and it's pretty funny to watch him a lot of the time.  Look for many more posts about him in the future as he grows up and goes through flyball training in preparation for his flyball debut next spring!


This past week has been one of the hardest of my life, as we adjust to a life without our bright, beautiful boyo Curzon.  The hole in my heart is still raw, and I still look for him to come to me when he always did, like when paying bills as he hoped for me to run the shredder for him to bark at.  Both Chris and I are working on a memory photo book to keep his memory alive, and that is helping but it's not enough.  The girls and Martok are lights in the darkness, but they're not Curzon and they never will be.  It's a whole new reality for us, one where we must live without that handsome brave boyo, and navigating these waters will take time to learn.  We're concentrating on appreciating the other three for their own special personalities and abilities, as we know none of them can replace our boyo, but it is still hard.  Right now, I'm mostly thankful that Martok's eyes are nothing like Curzon's, as I don't think I could bear it if they were.

I miss him so much.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Hubbard's Curzon Dax CGC HIC FGDCh40k TFE-I
October 21, 2003 - May 6, 2013

In the end, the cancer got him.  We had hoped and fought for this not to be so, but it did.  Curzon lived long enough to meet his baby brother Martok and play with him for a few short days, and then I think he knew his job was done and he could go in peace.  He went to flyball practice on April 28 and had a great time doing recalls and tugging as hard as he could, despite having lost the sight in his right eye, and then the decline began late that night.  Curzon's last good day was Saturday May 4, our eleventh anniversary, where he spent the day snoozing in the trailer while we were at a tournament, coming out for walks and to play ball, including a walk around the flyball barn and lots of pets and greetings during lunch.  He had steak with his dinner that night, and sat with me out with friends amongst the trailers for an hour as we were social before bedtime.

Throughout Sunday Curzon was unable to eat and vomited several times, although he appeared to rally somewhat once we were home and he had some shredded rotisserie chicken.  When we got up on Monday morning, however, we could tell that rally was short-lived as he was no longer able to eat, he didn't want to play or interact with anyone or anything, and he continued to vomit.  Thankfully we were able to get a home-visit veterinarian to come to our home, where we said goodbye and let him go in our own backyard with his sisters and our friends with us.  Curzon died in my lap, surrounded by Chris and I and our friends loving him, petting him, and telling him that we loved him and it was okay to go.  It was quick and painless for him, and I dearly hope that his spirit is comfortable, pain-free, and racing around with a big goofy grin somewhere.

We miss him with every moment of the day.  Our lives are forever changed by our amazing boyo, Curzon, and nothing will be the same without him.