Monday, March 28, 2011

Behold - a sign of the end of days...

I. Went. Jogging.

Yep. I'll give you all a moment to pause and catch your breath from that hysterical laughter.

After not having jogged in *mumbletymumble* ages I started off on our walk and that oh-so-intelligent part of my brain piped up "hey, wouldn't it be nice to get back to jogging?" So I figured what they heck and started. First little while was an adrenaline rush. Whoo hoo... I fell into it like I'd never stopped! That little voice in my head was positively smug - ha! Not so out of shape after all! Yeah. Well... pride and the fall and all that...

I made it not quite a kilometer before the stitch in my side made a persuasive enough argument that we walked most of the rest of our normal nightly-walkies route. So yeah... maybe that whole jogging idea is one of those things I need to do slightly more often. And um, maybe some of that core focused stuff going by the general 'oh hey, remember me, I'm the muscle you forgot you had - surprise!' feeling in that area.

The dogs thought this new revelation was BRILLIANT. They'd figured all my speeds faster than plod had been broken! Who knew???

Now our usual route is along a quiet dirt road and we almost never see anyone along the way aside from the cows, sheep or occasional tethered goat. Today however I also had a few years scared off my life when my mob of dogs saw SOMETHING in the dark and stopped dead in their tracks. Sierra, being the oldest, vaguely recalled hearing "guardian instinct" somewhere in the Australian Shepherd job description quietly growled a low warning. Which is more intimidating if you've never met her and don't know this is the dog who jumps when she's startled by her own farts. Her lieutenants - Hope, Rin and Shadow took a moment to look mutually confused (nope, we haven't done anything to make her peevish at us - huh, must be something else!) before deciding it was their job as lieutenants to back her up even if they had no clue what they were backing her up on. Still they get points for sounding intimidating, even if all three heads were constantly swiveling in randomly opposite directions that seemed to be everywhere other than where the deadly serial killer was apparently laying in wait. The serial killer, who, by the way happened to be one of our neighbors who do know my mob are harmless and their completely stone deaf fat Methuselah of a beagle who paid them utterly NO notice. ~_~ How embarrassment!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Yesterday we had our Pakenham comp with Hopie (which I *still* managed to be late to... gods I miss traveling with just me and the dogs some days!) yesterday and was quite pleased with it. She did pretty well but even more exciting she was fine with us sitting next to the dog which she'd been previously rather worried about which was awesome!

In the meantime the next day we went to training as per usual but I only took Sierra and Rin as Hope had what we thought was a bug bite but might have been the start of a hotspot. (It's looking like a bug bite after all though!) After Si had a few runs for fun, Rin and I sat down together waiting for our turn and playing in the sunshine. As we goofed around practicing down/sits, please, LAT, eye contact, targeting, on/off switch and leave it I had to admire how clever she is. I had a thought that it was really serendipity that we were sitting here enjoying this today. If I'd not have happened to read the message about her when I did, hadn't responded to ask about her or had they not called VHA in the first place to see if anyone would take her as a last resort before putting her down she might have been PTS and I wouldn't have half the fun in my life I did at that moment. I am so, so, so glad things worked out as they did!

She is a mad hatter, feral-head, wild child, crazy nutterbutter Borderbrat but since I think those traits make for a lot of fun, you can read that as "she's such a deeply cool dog!" Mind you she's not the dog for everyone so I can understand how she'd be trouble elsewhere. She is a professional cardboard box and plastic bottle demolisher. (Incidentally the people at Bunnings must think I'm a mad box hoarder given how often I come in for more boxes...) She needs if a dead minimum of a morning romp with the tennis-ball launcher around the paddocks, an hour or two of merry chaos wrestling around with her sisters at full throttle, a good long walk and training games throughout the day to take the edge off her need to do something. Why? Because if you don't that energy and busy little brain are liable to be found with their mouth on a couch or chair or WALL getting ready to to chew chunks to test which is the highest in palatablity. She is busy and curious and dastardly inventive and wonderfully bloody mindedly creative to work with. She has no sense of gravity and is more liable to sleep on the top of the fridge or woodshed roof than an actual dog bed. (Yes I could change that btw, as I have with perching/sleeping on countertops and stovetops but there is something about her snoozing on the fridge top that makes me laugh every single time, so I choose to keep it.) She comes with two speeds: fast and may-redefine-lightspeed-as-a-standard-measurement. She's Sam I Am in Green Eggs And Ham who must run through every variable when told you don't want green eggs and ham. Yeah you might THINK you don't but what about here or there, in a house, with a mouse, in a box,with a fox, in a car, in a tree, in a train, in the dark, in the rain, with a goat or on a boat? In short she is a nut but she's my kinda nut and I luffs her!

In different news I finished my March challenge painting of the boat - it's a miniature, just under 8x8cm (3x3"). The white isn't reading quite right on the camera and a lot of the more subtle blue, lavender and green undertones in the white don't show.

I also started on Rambo, a 14 year old Sheltie, who also belongs to the team-mate I painted Leo for. He's quite grey in the face so it'll be interesting to paint that much white and try to make it look not rubbish. Here's the rough-in:

I've also done a bit more on the black tri dog and on my cows but part of what I did was some veerrryyy thin glazes which require extra time to set fully so you don't pick up the layer again when you keep going so nothing too thrilling on them atm.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I hadn't said anything to most people just after, not really feeling up to talking about it but I think I've put off talking about it as long as I can.

At the last update Dexter had been prescribed antibiotics long term and supplemental soft-food. He appeared to be going well, not eating much chaff but eating pellets and softer veg/fruit plus the critcare. The mites/ear funk he'd had when I got him had cleared. I'd thought if he had to have these issues at least he's dealing well with all the fussing, wasn't distressed by his injections (smeared a banana bit on the counter and did it while he was licking every molecule up) and he took to the crit care routine nudging the tip for more.

Then I'd been gone with Hopie at flyball on the Sat, leaving early in the morning and getting back lateish and and when I saw him in his little bed I knew we were in big trouble. I was grabbing his carrier and saying get back in the car, ring the vets to say get everything ready when he sort of sighed and passed. The best guess is maybe the antibiotics and/or not getting enough fibre with only pellets/critical care vs hay or stress from the abscess caused GI stasis and I wasn't there to stop it in time. Probably the fact that he'd had the problem for so long before I got him contributed, maybe if he'd seen the vet with the old people it'd have never developed the abscess. I can't undo having not been there when he went into stasis and I hate the thought he'd have felt ill and wanting me all day while I was gone. But I wish even more it were better known by people to have their vets keep a close eye on their bunnies teeth so things can be caught before they're problems. Please have routine health checks bunny mums and dads, they might save a life.

Rest in peace Dexie, until we all meet up at the Rainbow Bridge again one day.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

A brief update on my tri colour Aussie boy - he's gone to the salon and gotten his first layer of highlights! Don't worry, they will be knocked back shortly and his eye shape (gah - too ROUND!) will be fixed so I can move onto his nose and lips etc.

Part of the inspiration for wanting to paint again comes from the a love of the works by my MIL's godmother Mania Mavro along with a few other artists that were friends of my MIL's father and taught him to paint. Ms. Mavro was an absolutely amazing painter - beautiful sense of colour, very bold and energetic. Here's a few examples of their works:

the above are Ms Mavro's, painted in the interwar period while the below are by a friend who taught Nic's grandfather to paint somewhat earlier:

After having not touched a paintbrush since I was very young, I decided to start trying to teach myself to paint instead of waiting to attend a proper course in a few years time because I loved looking at them. (Obviously I'm NO WHERE near the talent and skill here... yet!) So in November and I spent most of Nov/Dec doing 'sketch a day' challenges. I didn't touch anything in January but picked the brush up in February. I finished a few quick challenges along with a small Collie portrait. While I'm most drawn to a semi (vs photo/hyperrealistic) realistic style and animals, I also would LOVE to be able to paint like these artists. The trouble being that while it LOOKS simple it's deceptive to do so in a way that doesn't just create so much messy murky muck slopped on a canvas. And I, um... fall woefully short on those skills, along with lacking the familiarity and understanding of the subjects I have a bit of a headstart in with dogs. So in short, it's really frigging hard - as my first attempt proves!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Leo, finished painting #4

So here is Leo in his finished state... he's the third painting I've attempted and the fourth finished. I've been pleased with my progress and how a few tips I'd recieved off the critique of my first two attempts worked out on this one. Here's the full shot:

Not the greatest photo, the second close-up gives a better idea of colouring - for example the white of the ruff in the first actually isn't a flat white blob there but has lots of subtle shades of grey and lavender. I think the difficulty in photographing is to do with some colours being more glossy and hence reflective of the cameras light than others. He's 5x7 on canvas, paints are Derivan Matisse Structure in carbon black, titanium white, cad med red, cad med yellow and ultramarine blue. (Pthalo didn't work for it.)

I'm also super excited about my new March acrylics challenge. When I first saw the reference photo I thought there was no way I could do it - rows on rows of boats in dock, not my favorite subject to start with and this monster had no less than 36 boats along with many buildings in the background! It'd be a nightmare even for someone very experienced let alone me. I think I've found a crop I like though - not 100% sure the composition is good buuuutttt excited to get started all the same! Here's a sneak peak of my crop intended for a mini canvas:

In the meantime I'm working slowly on the black tri Aussie, the cows and the floral one atm.