Sunday, December 30, 2012

Wrapping Up

2012.....the end is near.  The quiet breath, slowing; lengthening between in and out.  Time to finish the final paragraphs. 

I'm looking at my 2012 vision board, reflecting and finding much to be grateful for.

*Qualify Nell for the 2012 finals*

Indeed, I did

*Clutter free home*

Hahahaha......well, the Mission did come and get the garage full of goodies recently...I'll leave that on the vision board for another year.

*Run a dog in the prelims at the 2012 finals*

Sigh, that brings back fond memories. It was almost Heaven.....the long walk to the post. I wanted to baby-step it, make it last just a tad longer, feel the incredible feelings all mixed, pride, anticipation, with a hint of nervousness just to keep it real. 

*Secure three fields for hauling out to train*

Now this one is a little more complicated.  2012 saw me actually doing some work for a Sheep Boss here in the valley;  there were so many fields that I went to and worked my dogs.  I think this is my most favorite of memories of 2012.  The days of gathering and counting sheep for the Sheep Boss and the Shepherd.

Dog days of summer in hot August, lambs needing gathered from a mile of secret garden and pushed down to the river to drink.  The steep bank descent keeping the inexperienced lambs from seeking water on their own.  Each day a different dog was "dog of the day",  even Miss Gyp got a few goes for the job.  Counting allowed for some international shedding, disciplining myself to count in groups of 10.....when I could.  Watching my three girls gain confidence and understanding right along side of me: priceless.

Oh yes, Hide-and-Seek mountain!  The days I spent with the Sheep Boss looking for ewes that had summered on this steep, tree laden mountain that locals call a Butte.  Butte sounds like a summer picnic to me...this was no Butte.  This was a mountain that the sheep knew every escape route, every trail, every hiding spot...and I took two days to help gather half the flock.  The other half was gathered when the Shepherd got back, he and his faithful Huntaway rounding out the team of seekers with better success. 

One of my life mentors has sent me a few questions to answer in the coming two days:

*identify three lessons of 2012?
*what did you discover about yourself in 2012?
*what are you most grateful for in 2012?

Certainly good questions to ask and just as certain, questions to answer with great thought and consideration. So I'll spend some time pondering my year, not just dogs and sheep.  Making my vision board 2013. I'm baby-stepping it to the first day of the new year.....I want to feel the incredible feelings all mixed, pride, anticipation, with a hint of nervousness just to keep it real.

Seize the Day!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Calm....

All the Christmas to-dos have happened and now its the calm after the unwrapping storm.  Not quiet what it used to be....the storm of unwrapping....the kids have grown and we share them with other families now.  Change: the one constant in life.  And yet, change is keeps us grounded in the now.  Not lingering, lost in the past, nor worrying about what the future is today and it is good.  So as the night settles in, the mice begin to stir, and the day-after looms closer each passing moment.....Merry Christmas. 

Seize the Day!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Favorite Day

One of my most favorite days of the year is December 21st...The Winter Solstice!  This means that each day, from here on out. has a little bit more light shining on it...not that we notice here in the Valley of Eden.   Most days the sky displays its original shade of grey artwork, better than the magic of photoshop; layering clouds and embellishing with chemical property variations of rain drop actions.  Spring is imminent once the Winter Solstice has been celebrated; although its physcial arrival date is determined by Master Groundhog, who always sees he shadow.  Try as he might to keep hitting the winter snooze, he can not stop the lengthening of the days.

Me, I'm taking a winter break from sheepdoggin.  True confessions:  this is hard!  I keep telling myself that even the best of Olympic athletes take breaks, goes to reason my girls all deserve one.  Trials every weekend whisper to me at night....send in your entry form!  send in your entry form! With Christmas just two days away....its been easy to give the girls a break from training.  I rotate through them for the chores of the day and listen to the grumbles of those left in their box. I think they are a bit disguised with me, and rightfully so.  We'll get back to training Wednesday, I promise them. In the mean time, I am dealing with my withdrawals in a functional fashion......reading, watching, preparing, talking and exercising my brain with all things sheep and dogs that don't require the actual physical being of sheepdoggin.  I'm also looking forward to the new online course with Scott Glen that starts Dec. 31st called The Started Dog  Though the dogs are taking a quick break....I've got work to do!

In the hustle and bussle of life, amidst all the activities of the holiday season....I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and the best days of preparation for the new year!  May you find time to spend with those important folks in your life....two and four person, in words, or in spirit.

Seize the Day!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Look for the Helpers

2012 crested the peak and now begins the inevitable descent into, what will be, the adventures of 2013.  As always, this time of year finds me preparing for the climb.  I've been taking a few on-line courses throughout the year, honing skills, learning, and pretty much loving every minute.  The dog agility and behavior courses have made me step back and look at my dogs and training; giving, perhaps, better peripheral vision.  Then there are those computer program courses that make my head whirl and I dose those out less frequent.  I stumbled upon an on-line fitness course and well, I am feeling a little motivation coming my way...just a little but it is a start.  Come what January 7th, I sure hope this program has some tweaks in it for those who are not young and fit like the instructor....or I just might have a few tweaks in my back!  Anyway, one of the pre-course challenges it to make a gratitude list and an enthusiasm list.

My year end tradition has been looking over the past year with a discerning eye; not quiet critical but certainly not just looking at all that was rosy and sweet smelling. I look at my vision board from the year before and see what, if any, of those dreams have come to real life for me.   Then I make goals and a vision board for the next year.  I like adding the new list of gratitude to the ending of the year. I also think the enthusiasm list is a great way to kick-off the launch of the new one.

The coming week, post Christmas, I will being that journey of 2012 review...although I have already sampled some of my closure.  I've been working on my gratitude list....which will be very long and detailed as I have a lot to be grateful for.  "What we think about, we become".....

Recently, I accidentally ran the wrong dog in place of the right dog at a trial.  The story is old, and pretty ridiculous,  but what I am grateful for is friends....friends who have shared their "wrong dog running" stories with me.  Friends who have lifted me up with humor......I just received a copy of a book: Super Brain...I will look forward to "unleashing the explosive power of my mind" in 2013!!! Friends...who have given pep talks and butt kickings....keeping me grounded and real....I think friends top my gratitude list for this year. 

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Fred Rogers

Such is life, when things become seems there are always helpers.  May I always remember to look for, find, and be grateful for them.

Seize the Day!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Slay vs. Tame

Though some dragons should be slain...I've heard there are those that are better tamed.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the dragons I must slay,
The courage to tame the dragons I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference

Seize the Day!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Take Flight......

Eastern Washington Eagles Football..... the team my son plays making a run for a Natty.  I've just learned that a "Natty" is a National Championship a Natty it is!  Coming into the playoffs ranked 2nd keeps the games local, well at least for the team, so every weekend, I 'm off to Cheney.  Winter weather makes for iffy passage through the Gorge, where intense winds, freezing rain, and snow can make travel hazardous, and the 7 hour drive unpredictable in time spent on the road.  So instead of visiting friends and working dogs on my journeys to and from football games....I am now flying. Its fun to look down and see the vast land that has become so familiar to me at its level, looking slightly different from above, though it has not changed.  I love it when I am given a tickling reminder that sometimes changing perspective is what is really needed: take flight.

the windmills of Washington
Making it to the quarter finals.....the whole fam-damily came to root, hoping to keep the momentum rolling.

son #1 and gf of son #2 made the trip way more fun!
I can never get over how RED the field is.  And my mama heart goes pity patter when I see my boy, dressed down in football gear, out on that college football field. 

Eastern has THE BEST mascot.  Who ever is inside that eagle costume....dude, you rock!  All the other mascots tremble in fear of the dance offs!!  The first flip Swoop the Eastern Washington Eagle lands.....its all over!

Swoop is in the house.....
I am indeed one of "those" fans...the kind that yells and cheers......frustrated that there is nothing I can do to help besides not let the opponent's fans create more excited noise momentum.  So I yell some more, ring my cow bell and practice my finger whistles- the loud finger whistles! 

Eastern Washington is on to the semi-finals this Saturday playing Sam Houston.....I'm thinking a Texas team.  I'm busy washing all my lucky clothes and sipping honey, lemon water so my voice is ready......they need me!

Seize the Day!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I'm entering the bitter sweetness of twilight with a few of my dogs......Spark and Snook.

photo by third age

I hadn't really noticed that Spark was getting older.  Well, not really.  He does go out into the back yard and barks; out of the blue, no reason in sight....maybe visions in his head.  He also forgets what he is doing at the water bowl; sometimes he stands there, sometimes he drinks unending, much like that misplaced cup of what was I going on about?  Sunday, my good friend pointed out that he is getting older and it hit me.  Indeed he is.  When I look at Spark, I see my memories of him made a bit fuzzy by the gray in his beard, the haze in his eyes, the stiffness that has crept into his bones....but still I see that young boy dog that Jake and I had to sweet talk into our pack....forever changing my destiny.

If it weren't for Spark...there would not be Snook, and that I do know.
Snook has not aged as effortlessly as the sun slipping down the slope of the sky...unaware of the ensuing twilight.  She is a big boned dog, runs hard, high drive, and has fallen off the dog walk enough times to draw the lucky card of sheep.  She's been broken a long time and, though just beginning to spy 11, her pain control most certainly stays at the back of my brain every day now. 

The big drug companies have done away with Deremax....darn it anyway.  Drug of choice for Snook, most recently mixed into a cocktail with was working just dandy.  Now I'm working a new plan, there are good days and days where I am having to begin to face the future with maturity and hoping I can let my selfish nature go.  "Beginning"...big toe dipped into the cold water of reality.....preparing for the day I have to jump in.  I know how cold that water is.....being a thinker, I prepare.

Twilight.....beautiful and, and everyday, its good to hug my dogs and celebrate them!
Seize the Day!

Friday, December 7, 2012


After the course of the past few weeks, I have decided to simplify around here.  I've come to the conclusion that every creature that needs a name will be named Nell.  And not Nell (a), Nell (b), or Nell (1), Nell (2); just Nell.

The day before Thanksgiving, my llama Grace passed away.  I now know more about llamas than I did before Grace got sick.  I feel bad for Miss Grace, I think I could have saved her had I known then what I know now.  But she was too far into the disease to be helped and thankfully she died as comfortable as I could make her.  Now digging a hole big enough for a llama in flooding conditions is a story for another day.....but today is about new beginnings and simplifying.  After putting Grace to rest...I did give thought to not having a llama for a while.  The days taught me that the ranch without a llama is like a barn without a cat.  Some don't mind being cat-less, my ranch felt very lonely and my sheep very vulnerable let me introduce to you: Nell

Okay, her name is not Nell......due to the fact that I will never walk to the post with her.....I settled for Penelope.....Pe-NELL-ope!  So she kind of is a Nell but just the stay-at-home llama version of the name.

Sigh, I really like her.  She came from Rain Dance Llamas and she meets all the conditions that I had as I looked at another llama.  First and foremost, I needed to be able to catch my llama: she is friendly.  I also wanted something "younger" versus "older": Miss Penelope is just 4. I did not want white, white makes me want to bath things: her body is a dark cinnamon.  She is settling in very nicely to believing the sheep are her new, if not strange, family.  And curiosity makes for intimidation when meeting the dogs, who will eventually need to be able steal the sheep from Penelope. 

Nell meets Penelope
I'm taking it slow, introducing the dogs to Penny through the fence so maybe they can become comfortable with each other.  But I do want to give Penelope some time to unpack her bags and begin to make RDR her home.  She will learn that I really only want to work the sheep, not her, and that she would be better off eating her llama pellets. She will also learn that when I am there; dogs don't matter so much. When I am not there; kick some dog bootie!  Llamas are smart that way.

So all creatures great and small are settling into the rhythm of winter at Rocking Dog Ranch.  Short days and hard rains make me glad my flock is manageable in numbers, with shelter and feed.  Time spent away from the ranch is made easier knowing I have a llama on patrol.  Now if the barn cat could just step up and take her job a little more serious.....chickens have invited mice to move in!

Me, I'm taking doses of vitamin D, ginkgo and neuro boost.  I'm also very thankful for friends who can share a funny story or two to ease the pain of  mistakes; both the llama kind and the memory kind. 

Eastern Washington Eagles Football team continues their run at the playoffs. Christmas is just around the corner.  The new year is starting to drop into position to be born and the braxton hicks contractions are making me start my journey of assessing 2012 and dreaming 2013. Amidst the gray...I love this time of year.  I must remember, I appreciate spring ever so much more because it follows winter.

Seize the Day!