Monday, April 23, 2012

True Colours - Polka-dots

This week's True Colours Challenge was to find one item with polka-dots of each of the colours.

I thought it would be very hard but I guess given the time of year and because I made it my goal to watch for things every time I was out shopping; it wasn't all that hard.

First is red and white polka-dots. The red mixing bowl, I happened upon in Home Sense and the blouse that is part of my own wardrobe. If you can't tell what the other item is, they are cupcake papers; this photo was taken in Micheal's a craft store. Micheal's proved to be a treasure-trove of polka-dot items.


Next, up is light blue, here I was lucky as Easter items were still to be found in many stores.

Craft Ribbon
Both of these pictures were taken in Micheal's and you can see also my purple polka-dot Easter basket in behind the blue one.

My green polka-dot items were also found in Micheal's, again craft ribbon and lined baskets.

Black polka-dot items, I thought might be harder to find. After all, who would want a black polka-dot Easter basket but I did find some items. Black polka-dots look kind of blurry, but this photo of a ladies blouse taken with my SmartPhone. This photo was taken at a discount department store called Giant Tiger, sometimes people call it the GT Boutique.

I also found black polka-dot flowers at Micheal's

For yellow polka-dots, I was back to Easter baskets.

Then I got a a little snap happy, as I said Micheal's craft store was a wealth of polka dots so here are some of the any other coloured dots I found.



Last but not least, I nearly had a hole-in-one at Micheal's when I found a shelves full of ceramic flower pots. But you be the judge, they very nearly match the True Colors swatch, just no black and orange instead of yellow.


Who knew there would be so many polka-dots out there. I certainly didn't!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Mr Smith... oops I mean... Ms Stewart goes to Washington

I go to Washington DC for meetings on a regular basis, or really I should say I go to the DC area as the meetings are held in Alexandria,Virginia. I've been going to the meetings about 2 or 3 times a year for the past three years and until this trip had never made it into DC.

This time the meeting ended at noon and our flights out were not until 8 pm so my colleague and I decided we would head into DC and take a walk on the National Mall.  It was a bit of planning involved in figuring out how long we would actually have knowing what time we had to be at the airport, the hotel shuttle timings and the time needed for the DC Metro as we wanted to make sure it was actually worthwhile. After we figured all this into the equation, we ended up with a little over two hours to spend in DC.

We took the DC Metro to L'Enfant Plaza station where we had about a one block walk to get to the Mall. It was hard to tell when we arrived as there was a bunch of construction on the Mall going toward the Capitol Building. They were putting in all new drainage and sprinkler systems and were going to be putting in new turf.

We decided to head towards the Washington Monument which was plainly visible. It's currently closed right now because of damage that was suffered when an earthquake hit the area a year or so ago. In any case, we wouldn't have had the time to go in.

Can't match the photos up here but you get the idea. It would be really neat to see the view from the top.

Next up, after finally finding a map of the National Mall, we decided to continue on to the Lincoln Memorial. I hadn't realized that the National Mall was so huge. They always seem to show the monuments in collages so I had the impression they would be closer together.  It was quite a hike to the Lincoln Memorial. I took this photo of an old tree near the Washington Memorial, some of the branches were being held to the center with cable.

Still on our way to the Lincoln Memorial, we stopped at the World War II memorial for Naval actions in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters.

There is a pillar for each vessel that took part in naval operations during the war.

After quick break, we began walking again toward the Lincoln Memorial which was still a distance away. But now having reached the point just past the World War II memorial, I could see that the reflecting pond was also drained and closed for major repair and that was the view to the Lincoln Memorial I had hoped to get. Chain link fence blocked off the reflecting pool and marred the view of the memorial.

Now we were getting close, but boy were my legs getting tired and we still had the stairs to go and the walk back.

Gettysburg Address

I wish I had more time at the Lincoln Memorial. It is very impressive even in it's simplicity; I guess that's the sheer size of the statue and the memorial; it made me feel humble.

View of the Washington Monument and Capitol Building 

Now we began the long trip back. On the way to the Lincoln Memorial, we had seen what we thought was the Vietnam Memorial, so we decided to take a quick side trip. It turned out to be the Korean War Memorial, a wall with faces etched into it, a low fence with all the Nations that fought alongside the US Forces and statues of an infantry patrol. I was told the all the pictures on the wall are from photos of veterans of the Korean War.

Was I disappointed that so much of the Mall was under renovation, not in the least; it is very interesting place and I'm sure I'll be back to spend more time on a future occasion. Now I know I will need a few days a least to explore the area and it's places of interest.

We got back to the hotel just after 4:30pm and were able to catch the next shuttle at 5pm arriving at the airport just before 6pm which gave us time to eat and relax before boarding our flight home. Next time, I need to see the Capitol Building and the White House amongst other things

If you are tentatively planning a trip to Washington this year, I think I would wait a year. All of the rejuvenation of the Mall is supposed to be completed this year. If your trip is already booked you won't be disappointed; there is still so much to see and do but your perfect shot might have some construction equipment in it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Masters Jumpers Dog of Canada

Beckett was the man this weekend. We only got one Q but we got the one that counted: Masters Jumpers. That was his fourth Masters Jumpers Q which gives him the title Masters Jumpers Dog of Canada (MJDC).

He had an excellent run in Steeplechase but his Mum blew it for him. I had planned to rear cross or front cross the weaves as there was just one last obstacle, a jump after the weaves but on the other side. As I walked the course, I didn't think I could get the front cross in so I decided to rear cross since weaves are judged at Starters level and we would only lose time if he popped out. Well, what did I do but stayed on the off side of the weaves and tried to get Beckett to turn out away from me for the jump. He went by the plane of the jump and back-jumped before taking it. He's fast but not fast enough to make up 10 faults.

Standards were the same old story, one elimination and one five fault Standard. Oh well, we are bound to get there sometime. Gambles, well, we had good openings and he did do the first obstacle of each Gamble but he just won't send out, something to practice on now that our equipment is outside.

In his Jumpers run, I couldn't believe he was moving so fast that he nearly took the decoy jump back in the corner. I had to call him off hard, someone said it was good call-off and I recalled Susan Garrett saying, there's no such thing as a good call-off. It means you didn't handle it properly. Then we very nearly had a bobble between obstacle 13 and 14 but I got him back on track before he faulted. I wasn't even sure of that until I was told that the judge had not called any faults. The Standard course time for mini dogs was 44 seconds and Beckett ran it in a time of 35.88 seconds, 4.43 yards per second. Not as fast as last weekend at AARF, but if you consider the extra yardage he did maybe it was about the same.

Beckett just got his last Advanced Jumpers in Nov 2011 and has only been in five trials at the Masters level, so I'm really proud of him for getting the Masters title.

Master Jumpers was Ceilidh's first Masters title too, maybe he did it for her. I'd like to think so.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

True Colours - Gingham

This week's True Colours Challenge was to find articles that not only were gingham check but also blue or yellow. I have to say it was a really tough challenge so some, maybe most, of my items are gingham-esque.

My first item is a blouse that I have. It has floral embroidery over the blue gingham check, but maybe it's actually a plaid. Does anyone really know the difference between plaid and gingham?

My next choices were all taken at the grocery store with my Smart Phone.  I thought perhaps because we are all thinking about summer that some of the picnic items might be gingham but it seems that floral patterns and spring green are the in-thing for this year.  I did find these napkins, although the pattern on them is really a basket weave.

I did find one item that had a gingham pattern but it wasn't really the colours I wanted as the green seems to be the predominant colour although there is blue and yellow in the pattern. And if you can't tell what it is; it's an ironing board cover, it was hard to get a good photo with the loose plastic packaging.

The other items I found have the colours I wanted but not the pattern so as I said they are gingham-esque.

Ladies summer flats

I hope you all had better luck than me finding gingham in blue and yellow. We had fun looking though.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Yesterday, we were at a trial at Hawkridge Farms. It was the first time we had been to that venue. Morning Star had to move their indoor trials when the land the soccer dome was on was sold. A new home for the soccer dome has yet to be found. Hawkridge is an unheated facility so we didn't go to the winter trials.

For the third trial in a row Beckett got a Q in both Jumpers and Steeplechase.  He now only needs one more Q for his Master Jumpers title. The Steeplechase title is still a ways off, Beckett still needs 6 more for that title.

We are still struggling with distance for Gambles and off courses in our Standards saw us eliminated in those. But Beckett was running well and there are always good moments and firsts. Beckett stayed out under the dog walk to take the chute in our first Standard. That was a first, he has always come back to me under the dog walk.

It was an awesome day overall. Even Tucker had fun walking in the pastures and sharing Beckett's hot dogs.

 Steeplechase was our first run of the day. It went beautifully except for the one bar but Beckett was fast enough that he still qualified.  If I had it to do over I would rear cross on the descending side of 16. I saw one person do it this way, the dog turns a bit wide but there's nothing for them to take so it really wasn't a risk.

Masters Standard 1 was our third run of the day. I knew the weave entry was going to be tough as was the tunnel entrance at the far corner. I was happy with Beckett's contacts and especially that he stayed out to do the chute under the dog walk. The other times we've seen layering like that, the obstacle after the tunnel was a jump and Beckett wouldn't stay out to do it.

Master Standard

Our last run of the day was Jumpers, the tire jump combination right at the end gave a lot of dogs problems. We nearly missed the jump but Beckett is quick to turn and he saved the day; Mum was probably late with her commands again. Beckett was really moving. I think it was one of his fastest Jumpers runs, he was doing 5.19 yards per second.

Masters Jumpers

Beckett has turned out to be a wonderful agility dog and sure is a special little guy.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

True Colours - Red and White Stripes

Well this week's colour is red and white stripes. I hope the stripes don't exactly have to be straight lines.

We had to dig into our Christmas decorations. Our first selection is candy cane ornaments we have for our tree. They are plastic and are good to hang down low as little inquisitive dogs can't break them.

Candy Canes
Our next selection is some of Beckett's qualifying score ribbons that he got last weekend. In the Agility Association of Canada, a Qualifying score ribbon has to be red and white.

Beckett's ribbons
The next selection I chose is of my favourite soft drink.

Things go better with Coke!
And lastly, how could I not show our Canadian pride?

But Beckett was just a bit upset when he heard last week was black and white stripe day.

You know as a bi-black Shetland Sheepdog, he likes black and white just a little bit so he wanted me to show you his favourite black and white toys. The tiger that he inherited from Ceilidh and the zebra that was his "gotcha" day toy, for his first day at home with Ceilidh, Tucker and me.

Beckett's toys