Wednesday, October 31, 2012

keep your doggies safe

I saw this image today, courtesy of the wonderful folks at It's a terrific reminder that not all pets are happy about troops of kids banging on the front door, in costumes, after dark, all evening.

Every year on Halloween, Mark takes our pups downstairs and the three of them camp out in the basement while I stay up and shell out to the various zombies, princesses and Harry Potters who visit our house. Sam and Grace don't like it much but it's better for them than getting stressed out by trick-or-treaters.

Halloween can be a very stressful time for your pets so please don't leave them alone and definitely don't let them outside unsupervised. / of my public service announcement (without guitar) - have a happy Halloween!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Introducing Gracie

Introducing Gracie
Originally uploaded by Julep67
Four years ago today, we welcomed a sweet, frightened, timid Sheltie girl named "Gracie Mae" into our home.

She's changed so much since that first day when she shook like a leaf in my arms as we drove home with her. As frightened as she was, she ran toward Sam as soon as she spotted him in our backyard. They were fast friends from the second they laid eyes on each other.

In the four years since she adopted us, we dropped the Mae and have watched her evolve into a more confident dog. She herds all of us, Sam included and now accepts tummy rubs and ear scratched (on her own terms) and is always happy to meet new people. Gracie is one of the kissy-est dogs I've ever met and I can't imagine our lives without her in them.

Happy Barkaversary Sweet Gracie and thank you for making our world a better place!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

tie a yellow ribbon

A few months after Sam came to live with us, a pilot off-leash dog park program started in our town.  We took Sam to the park for exercise and socialization.  He was still technically a puppy, about 10 months old.  The first time we went, he and I both were cornered by a large, poorly controlled German Shepherd.  The German Shepherd was beautiful but it's owners were drunk and thought this was funny.  Since that time, Sam is very cautious around big dogs when we are visiting a dog park.  Also, he really hates it when he is on his leash and an unleashed dog approaches him.

Recently, I heard about The Yellow Dog Project and I've been helping to spread the news about them when I can.  TYDP is trying to get the message out about anxious dogs, dogs who are in training, possibly recovering from an illness or surgery and who may need a little space while they are out in public.  To help others recognize one of these dogs, TYPD is encouraging folks to tie a yellow ribbon or piece of fabric/wool to a dog's leash to indicate that they may need a bit of space.  I think it's a terrific idea.  I get tired of having to put myself between Sam and a dog owner who is letting their pup run around, unleashed, in a public space.  I get all kinds of dirty looks if Sam snarls at their dog (he's fine if they keep their distance from him) when really, they should have control of their animal if they aren't in the off-leash area.  Sam requires slow introductions, on neutral territory, and he's fine.

I love simple solutions to problems.  Hopefully it'll catch on and will encourage folks to respect a nervous dog's personal space.  As Sam's guardian, it's my responsibility to keep him safe and that means limiting the changes of him getting into a tussle with another puppy.  If you have a nervous dog, or know someone who does, feel free to share this link and infographic with them. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

the name of my arm

Last year while I was at Blissdom Canada, Mark got a tattoo. It was his first one and he'd had 59 years to think about what he wanted. Our friend Pete is a super talented artist and he also does tattoos. He did Mark's tattoo, it was the self-portrait of John Lennon which I'm sure you've all seen.

Mark so enjoyed the experience and the result that he's pretty much been planning what to do for the second tattoo since we headed home from getting the first one.

Over the past couple of months, many conversations about what he should chose happened in our house. He seemed unable to make a decision and I figured that he had it narrowed down to a few things: Vargas style hula girl, Vargas style Champagne girl, Bender (in chef hat and apron) with "Kill All Humans" on it somewhere or, a picture of our sweet sheltie girl, Gracie.

I called him on Saturday afternoon while I was on a break and could hear that familiar buzzing in the background. I didn't ask what he had decided upon, he didn't offer to tell me and I just figured I'd see it later one. We went to dinner with Pete and his lovely wife Kat. The subject of Mark's new tattoo didn't really come up except when Mark mentioned that Kat hadn't seen it either and when he reminded me that his arm was tender. Later on, when we got back to the hotel, he showed it to me. It wasn't any of the things we had talked about but it is classic, a la Vargas. I think it's very sweet and for pretty obvious reasons, it reminds me of a song my brother wrote called, "The Name of my Arm."

Monday, October 22, 2012

back from the Bliss

Once again this year, I was fortunate enough to attend the Blissdom Canada conference in Toronto.  Last year was my first time attending and I think I had already planned to sign up for 2012 before I'd left Blissdom Canada 2011.

I got home yesterday afternoon, exhausted but very happy.  My brain and my heart are full from everything I experienced and absorbed during Blissdom.  It may take a few days to process it all.  I felt like an emotional mush ball for most of the day yesterday.  A weird but very good way to feel.

The format of the conference had changed significantly this year.  Last year, I think we had almost 2 full days of sessions, round tables, panels, speakers.  This year, we had "micro sessions" in the morning (which were like the roundtables from last year) and there were "TED Style" speakers in the afternoon.  It was a lot of information to absorb in one day.

If I had to chose, I would pick last year's format over this year for one reason.  The two-day format gave us a fair amount of time between sessions to process and reflect upon the information you received, at least that is how I saw it.  I know that this format changed to allow the conference participants to have an excursion/experience on Sunday morning.  From what I saw on twitter yesterday, the excursions were a wonderful success.  I opted out of those and spent the time with friends and family and headed home in the early afternoon.

Again, the "Bliss Chicks" outdid themselves with securing amazing sponsors who I felt treated us all like royalty.  As a person who has a lot of experience in event delivery, I know how much work goes into something like this and I felt that there is a lot of heart and soul involved as well.  I feel like the Bliss Chicks really care about everyone who participates in the conference, whether you are a speaker, sponsor, community leader or just a sponge, like me absorbing all of the awesomeness.  They are working to ensure that Blissdom is a rewarding experience for everyone.

During the Blissdom Canada conferences that I have attended, I have challenged myself to step outside my comfort zone and participate in things I normally wouldn't do. These small risks have big personal payoffs and I can't say enough about how much fun I had. On that note, I'd like to thank Annie and Dee for inviting me into their picture on Friday night.  Honestly, I feel a bit like I photobombed them but they were very sweet and lovely to include me.

Thanks to them and all of the other amazing ladies I had the great good luck to speak with over the weekend.  You're all beautiful and wonderful and so inspiring.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Oh, I Feel Fine

It's sunny outside, and it's Friday.  These are two wonderful facts.

Another wonderful fact is that the Polyphonic Spree are releasing a new album in 2013.  I think that they are amazing.  If you think that they are amazing too, or if you just think "hey, I like them, I'd like to hear their new album" why not check out their kickstarter project.

I don't normally do things like this but I backed their project because I know I'm going to buy their live CD when it comes AND I'll buy their forthcoming DVD and you KNOW I'll be buying their new album so, instead of waiting until spring, I have pledged to give them my money now and it'll help them finish up their projects and finance a tour. 

If you haven't seen them live, it's a sight to behold.  I would say that it is a unique musical experience which cannot really be described.  Having said that, if you watch the video (above) for "Oh, I Feel Fine" you'll witness Tim DeLaughter trying to explain it to Abby the Beagle.

Happy Friday.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


Originally uploaded by Julep67
I just had a four-day weekend. Ordinarily, I do try to book an extra day off when we have a holiday weekend but this past weekend was a bit different. See, this weekend, I had a cold. A nasty, yucky, head cold.

About 12 days ago, I started feeling sort of off. I had a headache for about three days and my eye was twitching. I just chalked these symptoms up to work stress (there is A LOT going on at the office right now) and sort of ignored it. I had to work last Saturday and when I got home, I started sneezing. Mark looked at me and said, “You’ve got a cold.” I protested though, insisting it was just my allergies playing up. The next morning when I woke up, I couldn’t breathe through my nose and realized he was right. All that day, my only day off, I felt like hammered crap. I took some ibuprofen, went to bed early that night and hoped for the best – I couldn’t be away from work last week. When I woke up the next morning, I felt much better. Still a little congested but totally functional. I went along about my business until Thursday when I started feeling like crap again, charming. My extra-day off was spent doing stuff around the house instead of being out and about, getting errands done.

Through the fogginess of the cold though, we got some stuff done around the house. While Mark was at work on Friday, I got some long overdue housework done, put up my Halloween decorations and caught up on some of my “guilty pleasure” tv (my DVR had a few episodes of the Real Housewives of New Jersey waiting for me). On Saturday morning, when I woke up, still stuffy and cold, it was a nice treat to sit in my clean living room, sipping coffee while it rained outside. I hate cleaning but I sure do love a clean room!

The rest of the weekend was spent doing work in the yard and more puttering around the house. We accomplished a lot. I saw “we” but most of the heavy lifting was done by Mark. There are still one or two small yard work things I need to do before we’re officially ready for winter but they should get done this weekend, weather and construction permitting. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll have proper water pressure and an actual driveway soon. This construction can be over any time now!