I did pretty well at Christmas this year, getting some gift cards to good stores (Nordstrom and a card that's good at Fred Meyer, QFC, Frye's and a bunch of other places). Of course, I've already spent the Nordstrom card - I went shopping the weekend after Christmas and took advantage of some great Nordy-sales... I got a swanky black coat, black boots, brown dress pants, a tourcoise sweater and a fitted black dress shirt that looks totally hot but is still work appropriate. I also hit my favorite make-up store, Barney's New York. I can't afford much in the way of clothes at Barneys since the stuff I'm attracted to there is usually $700+, BUT their make-up is great and the make-up people that help you are so nice and they actually show you how to use the stuff intead of trying to make a fast sale. Barney's is my little make-up secret apparently because I've never had to wait to get a chair and get a "lesson" from one of their staff.
Jerill got me an Obermeyer white ski jacket/parka that makes me look really good on the slopes - that is, I look really good until I actually start to ski. My mantra: "Ski Pretty." I'm learning gosh-darnit!!
New Year's Eve I worked in the morning and then went to herd with Scott at Diane's farm in order to prepare for our trial on Saturday. We really needed that practice time and it paid off - the trial was a success for us: we scored 3rd in Pro/Novice class and 1st place in Ranch class. I'm happy with that. Scott is working really well for me and he's really fitting into the family well. Then, we went to Andy and Amy's house for a New Year's Eve party they were hosting at their place in Snoqualmie. We played Trivial Pursuit for about 3 hours - I think I went to bed around 3:45 a.m. that day.
This pic below is us at the trial on 1/3- Scott is "turning the post" and beginning to drive the sheep to the first panel/obstacle. Really, the goal in a trial is to have the dog "push" the sheep so that they do all of the required the obstacles/tasks laid out in this big field, and they have to walk in a straight line the whole time. In the perfect trial, you have easy sheep, a seasoned handler and a very good dog. In trials though, all I have is the very good dog!! (and sometimes he can even have an 'off' moment.) The sheep in trials are totally squirrely and I still have a lot to learn about the whole timing/positioning thing. Scott is very forgiving of me and tries his best - I can't ask for anything more from him right now. And, I do have to point out that even with a seasoned handler, perfect sheep and a fully trained dog, you may still have serious problems in your trial run. That's what makes it fun though...
In this pic below, Scott is fetching sheep to me and "covering the draw," meaning the sheep really, really want to go back to the other sheep in the pen that's on the other side of the field but Scott isn't going to let that happen. Now, the handler (me) is also partially responsible here for making sure the sheep don't take off - I have to pace Scott properly and place him properly too... sheesh, it's not ALL the dog's doing ;)
So, I took Jerill to The Attic restaurant in the Salish Lodge. It's pretty nice - the atmosphere is really lodgy and comfortable (complete with a real wood fire that crackles). My parents came along too. Jerill and I ended up ordering the same entree - Elk Bolognese. Any chance we get to eat elk we take it. I'm sure the one we ate last night wasn't one of the ones that eat my birdseed and stress out the neighborhood dogs though - we just pretend it was. The best elk I've had has been in a restaurant in Red Lodge, Montana. We love Red Lodge - my dad grew up there, my Grandma lived near there and so I have spent some time there. Jerill skied there and I enjoyed small-town charm.
So, upcoming events: another herding trial this coming Saturday up in Sedro Woolley, WA (wherever that is). I think Sunday I'll either try to go skiing (if the pass is open) or take Mattie to a real herding lesson since we're having some issues at the moment with her changing directions. Maybe I'll also cook something new for dinner... last Sunday I did fried chicken with Spaghetti. It was delicious (I love that combination).
Tip: I just cooked about 5lbs of sweet potatotes, of which about 3-4lbs of that will become dog food (I mix potatoes/yams/squash with dog kibble all the time and the dogs love it, plus it's good for them). I don't do the raw-food diet with my dogs (I tried it and Mattie and Lucky got the diarrhea and so I just didn't want to deal with that, plus it's kind of gross having that much raw meat sitting around). I have really found success feeding the dogs Canidae kibble and mixing in fresh veggies, or cooked starch-veggies or adding in leftover meats, etc, or if that stuff isn't available, mixing in a canned dog food. They always scarf it up and they do appear very healthy. I try to feed the dogs (and cats) healthy foods - that is, stuff from the USA (not China or Canada), and stuff that has real meat it in - I'm not a big fan of having by-products of anything, or gruel or even rendered road kill in my home. What they put in some really cheap pet foods is just disgusting. Plus, I try to steer clear of pet food companies that test foods on animals/dogs. I will spare you the details but the companies do way more to their test dogs than just seeing if they eat the food put in front of them.
Okay, George and GiGI are down here in the living room, meowing.... I wonder what they want.