Crowz Nest

Because it's time... as it was once before.

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Location: Port Murray, NJ

I'm a bit old to be starting out in life again, but that's where I am. Sadly. Or gladly. It's where I am. Come along. Watch the fun. Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving in Vermont

Thanksgiving was lovely again this year. I spent it with Deb and Ed and Hannah up in Vermont again. It's so beautiful up there. It was cold and snowy, but the area is just gorgeous, and I think, somehow, it's supposed to snow in Vermont. This was the view outside the dining room on Thanksgiving day. We had a visit from a young buck, barely visible through the constant, gentle snowfall.

Deb and Ed have a beautiful home there. It's cozy and warm. When we were home, I spent most of the time sitting in front of the fire, knitting the shawl I was making for my sister for Christmas, and chatting with Hannah.

Hannah carves. She's an amazingly talented wood carver. She made me two incredible little bird carvings. I didn't see Kaitlynn this year because she was out in Montana, training for cross country skiing. Both of my god daughters are amazing people, with so much talent and drive they humble me.

Here's the indigo bunting Hannah made for me, which I've put in a knothole in my maple tree. Nobody passes it without jumping, and thinking it's real.

The other carving Hannah did was a Pine Grossbeak. It's mounted on a piece of driftwood, and it now sits on the mantle in my bedroom.

Friday morning, Deb told me about a friend of hers, who is a barn manager, and who is dedicated to the preservation of the Colonial Spanish pony. She asked me if I would like to go visit. Well, of course I wanted to go meet Stephanie and her horses! One of the horses there was Oscar.Oscar was one of several horses who played Hidalgo in the movie, Hidalgo.I loved this horse. What a wonderful character!

It was cold, and I didn't realize that Hannah had put on a jacket that was far too light for the weather, nor that neither she nor Deb are particularly interested in or comfortable with horses. I, on the other hand, was in heaven. It was cold and there were constant snow showers, but bless them, they indulged my happiness and stayed there as long as I wanted to. Stephanie took me around and introduced me to all of the horses. They were magnificent. You can read about Stephanie and her work at the Red Road Farm website, and more about Stephanie and her work with the Colonial Spanish horse preservation project.

I loved the horses, and I really enjoyed talking with Stephanie about her work. People with a passion for something are always interesting to me. When their passion is animals, of course, I'm genuinely fascinated. And speaking of passion: this was the best kiss I've had in a very, very long time.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Fun in Central New York - yeah, really!

I co-own a young male German Shepherd Dog with his breeder, who happens to be the woman who handled my dogs in conformation dog shows many years ago. Sue and I became good friends over the years, and back in the mid-80's through the early 90's, I spent a lot of time traveling to dog shows with her, helping her with the work of showing dogs, and having the time of my life. I always thought I should get back to that, and in 2005, she offered me this co-ownership, and I thought, "why not?"

A.C., our dog, had not been out since last year for the Central New York K.C. and the Susque-Nango K.C. shows. He did pretty well last year, with a Reserve the first day, and going Winner's Dog for one point on the second. He'd earned a point in his first show as a 6 month old puppy, and it was nice to know that he was growing up well. We weren't ready to really get him out and start campaigning him yet, so it was a really nice surprise.
This year, I decided to take a vacation, and go up with Sue and her husband to the shows. On Saturday, at the Central NY K.C., A.C. backed away from the judge, and refused to go up to him. He was excused from the ring. I spent the rest of the day walking him around, getting him used to being out in the big world. I let people meet him, and greet him, and made sure there was plenty of liver to reward him for accepting people. He really is a nice boy, but he hadn't been out of the kennel for a year, and he had just been a bit overwhelmed with all of the sights and sounds. The longer we were out and about, the more relaxed he became. I also brought him back to the motel with me Saturday night, and let him sleep on my bed with me.

Sunday, A.C. stayed out with me until ring time. He won the Bred By Class (only entry,) and I kept him outside the ring with me until Winner's class. The major had held, and I really didn't expect A.C. to do anything. Our goal for the day was for A.C. to get some experience and to learn to enjoy dog shows. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Look what he did!I really do like dog shows. We had 11 dogs with us. While I was helping Sue exercise them, standing by the stinky X-pens, scooping the poop from a dog that wasn't even mine, wearing saw dust halfway up my calves, and busting my hump running dogs to and from crates, I realized that I'm rarely more relaxed, more within the moment, or more completely myself than I am when I'm at a dog show. Oh, yeah. Winning's nice, too, but I learned this weekend that winning unexpectedly - going for the sake of going, doing my best for the dogs, really just enjoying myself, and then coming away with a win on top of it all - is really more fun than going with winning as the goal. It's really nice to be back.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The new man in our lives

Back on Labor Day, when his dad came over to fix my lawn mower, we finally met the little boy across the street. When we first moved in, I wasn't so sure about him. He would bark at the dogs, unless he was outside by himself, in which case, he would normally go inside when he saw the dogs. I wasn't sure we weren't going to have problems.

His dad came across the street to help me when my other neighbor told him that I was having trouble with my mulching mower. Turns out, Alan used to work for the local tractor shop and is a crackerjack mechanic. When he came across the street, I let him and his son into the yard. I was introduced to Noah, and introduced him to the dogs. As his dad and I discussed the mower, Noah and Hudson took off across the yard together as if they had been playing together all their lives.
Since then, Noah's become a fixture over here. He's over all the time. He and Hudson, after a little incident in their first couple of days together (geez, 7 year old boys are FAST! I saw it coming, but there was no way to stop Noah from impaling his leg on Hudson's teeth as he timed his drop kick of the soccer ball very badly) have become the very best of friends.
I get up at 5:00 a.m. I drive an hour to get to work. I work a 7 hour day. Then I drive an hour and more to get home. And Noah's bus pulls up at approximately the very minute when I'm pulling into the driveway. There are days when I'd really like an hour or so to decompress before I had to deal with the energy of a 7 year old boy. But,Hudson adores him. And Crow clearly likes him, too. I can't very well break up a set, now, can I?

Even though I learned early on that I couldn't leave them alone together unsupervised (which makes the visits tiring and limits what I can get done,) we find ways to work together. Noah's an ace with a rake. In fact, he begs to be allowed to do this. Honest.

On the days when Noah doesn't come over, and Hudson sits forlornly at the fence staring at Noah's house across the street, I have to confess that I, too, miss our little buddy. We're going to miss him a lot when he's gone. Noah and his family are due to move as soon as they can find a place. Who'd have thought someone else's kid could take up such permanent residence in our hearts?