Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ahh, the pressure is off

The pressure was off for the brindles and I the past two days.  Yesterday I spent some time with Janet watching sweeps and took the brindles for a long walk. 

Ziggy was happy - no need to stay clean anymore, so he could roll....  check out the Cardi smile on his face.

Ooh, stink... I'm going in...

Oh yah, this is a good smell...

I love this...

Maggie enjoyed the chance to run

Who says "veterans" can't move?

Ziggy showing that can pose just like those "show dogs"

Today was spent on the road.  ~10.5 hrs to South Bend, IN.  The Comfort Suites here is really nice, has a good rate, and they take pets should you ever be traveling this way.

I let the brindles loose in the room, and Ziggy zoomed around.  I was playing tug with him and Maggie was barking like a mad woman. I threw a toy for them to chase.  Here's how things ended up...

Guess who killed the little horse?  Ziggy?

Or the sweet veteran laying on the sofa?

The evidence is incriminating....
Has Z been caught in the act?  Or has he been framed?

The latter.  Here's the real culprit:

She has the sweetest smiling face ever, and I love her dearly.
But the girl can eviscerate a stuffed toy in less than 2 minutes.

We're all happy to be back home tomorrow.  Z wants to frap in the yard.  Maggie & want to see our family!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

National Specialty 2010: Performance Day Two

The brindles with their awards.
Missing are Z's Rally ribbons from today. 
Apparently someone stole all the ribbons (!) We'll be expecting them by mail.

Today was another great day for the brindles.  Placings were an echo of yesterday:
  • Ziggy Advanced A = 2nd place - better score than yesterday, we were tied for points with the first place team, but they were one second faster.  Maybe if we hadn't sniffed the halt-step right-halt sign we would have won (hint, hint, Ziggy.  Wait, Ziggy says he doesn't care...)
  • Maggie Veteran's Obedience - 2nd place - we would have won, and ended with a score of 197.5 (wow!), except I had 5 point handler error.  On the figure 8, I stopped midway through - before the judge said stop.  The judge had to tell me "you can keep going now."  Then she soundly reprimanded me for my stupidity, and told Maggie I owed her 5 points.  The judge then mentioned it again during the award ceremony.  She said something like "in second place, with a 192.5 that should have been a 197.5 without the handler error is team...." You get the picture.  I'm writing it off as a blonde moment.  I might have to have my hairdresser ditch the highlights next time around....
  • In Brace we took first place again.  Our run wasn't as nice as yesterday, but it's brace, what can you do?
We had more fun in brace again, the team who fought yesterday pulled their entry today.  The "mounting" team tried again - god bless them.  They made it to the setup on the recall, but it happened again.  The judge was less than amused, and the handler wasn't so happy either.

The three of us who were left had a good time.  The other two teams were goading me - claiming that I didn't really have Cardis, but golden retrievers in costume.  There was less wrestling today from the 3rd place team.  When the judge was giving ribbons, she said in brace the more amusing the team, the lower the placement.  If the audience voted, it would be the other way around!

Here's what the brindles are doing now:
Yes, I got the chair first!

That's ok, I'll curl up under mom's chair

Now it's time to take the brindles out for a long walk, then I'm off to watch the Megan!

National Specialty 2010: Performance Day One

We had a great time yesterday - both in the ring and out.

In the ring:
  • Ziggy took 2nd place with a respectable score in Advanced A Rally - earning his RA title!
  • Maggie took 2nd in a tough Veteran's class.  She had a few moments of distraction in the heeling, but it was a very nice run.
  • Maggie & Ziggy took FIRST in brace class!  As they had never done brace together, I had no idea what to expect - they both took it in stride and acted as if they were on a walk. 
I did learn something new yesterday - one can NQ in brace.  2 teams were excused from the ring.  With one team - one dog was mounting the other (gasp!).  With the other team, one dog started to strongly reprimand the other.  So mounting & fighting will get you excused.

There was a very good humor team in brace - at every on-lead heeling stop, the dogs started to wrestle each other to the ground.  They were on a coupler, otherwise I expect things would have been a bit more wild!  The hanlder had very good humor about the whole thing.  So did the judge who, after regaining her composure from being doubled over with laughter commmented, "how do I score this?"

It was also great to spend some time with Cardi (human) friends new and old.

Well, I guess it's time for me to get ready for another day of showing.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

National Specialty 2010: We made it to PA

The Brindles in Gettysburg

We made it safely to Pennsylvania.  Maggie is curled up in an armchair (I put a towel on it first) and Ziggy is laying under me - sometimes "protecting" our hotel room by barking at the door.  Lots of folks are arriving, which means lots of barking.  Ziggy just can't resist joining in. 

Obedience starts at 8:30 tomorrow morning. 

We are entered in:
Advanced A Rally = Ziggy
Veteran's Obedience = Maggie
 Brace Obedience = Maggie + Ziggy 

We haven't practiced brace all year (I was intending to practice last week...)  It should be fun - and I'll try to get some video!

Fingers crossed that "attentive Ziggy" shows up.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

National Specialty 2010: What was I thinking?

I got up at 6:00 this morning, and spent 4 hours packing, cleaning the house, and getting things ready to go to the National Specialty. 

Then I got in the car and drove 10.5 hours to my first stop - in Eastern Ohio.  I am now sitting in a hotel room in Red Roof Inn that's seen much better days, wondering what in the world I was thinking.  I'm exhausted and covered in dog hair.

When did it seem like a good idea to drive ~16 hours each way to go to a dog show?

And better yet, to go to a dog show when I haven't practiced for 2 weeks? 

Maybe I'll feel better about my decision when I'm checking into the hotel tomorrow?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Not Stranded Anymore!

Here's a picture from this afternoon

Yes, I made it HOME!

I arrived home early this afternoon - The Husband and The Child picked me up from the airport.  It was sooo good to see them.  We grabbed a coffee on the way home, then sat out in the yard with the dogs, enjoying the afternoon.

Tomorrow I need to go into work in the morning to pick up expense receipts from previous trips (my expense report is overdue) and to drop off my passport so I can have a visa processed for my next trip overseas.  A little bit depressing to think about traveling overseas again so soon, but it should be the last work trip for a while....  The rest of the day will be spent running errands, cleaning dogs, and packing for the Specialty.  I plan to leave Saturday morning.  LOTS to do before then!


I wanted to add one P.S. for Penni - your note about the pick pockets in Madrid proved all too true.  One of the folks I was traveling with took his hand off his luggage for a few moments while he went stepped out to the curb to look for the bus that was to pick us up.  While he was at the street, someone asked him about a cab.  When he went back to his luggage his laptop bag was gone.  And 2 other people in our party were standing right near his bags.  Their attention was diverted for just a second.  Yikes!  Thankfully he had his passport and wallet on him, so it didn't hinder his trip home.  The thieves did get his laptop and about $500 in various currency.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Stranded Day Six: Madrid!!!

We set off from Mannheim last night at 8pm.   My colleagues and I were the first to arrive for the bus - no way we were going to miss it!

My luggage and snacks - waiting patiently

The bus arrives!

We hit the road and drove all night (3 drivers for the bus took turns).

I was lucky enough to have an entire row to myself, so I was able to sleep for 7 hours.  I slept for all but about 1/2 hour of France...

Here's where I slept
- my hips were a bit sore in the morning
after sleeping w/ my legs across the aisle

I got to see lots of Spain!  A beautiful country.  Maybe I should move here for a while...

Representative scenery from the northeast

The first sign for Madrid!! How exciting!
Oh, you mean there's still 200+ km to go?

And finally, at 6pm we arrive at the hotel.  Took a little longer than the expected 17 hours.  Our 22 hour total included stops for breakfast and lunch, plus some road construction along the way.

The view from my hotel room window.  Madrid is a pretty city!

Tomorrow, if all goes well, I'm on a plane that departs at 11am.  Such a nice feeling to know that I'm headed home....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

stranded day five: on the move!

Right now I'm on a bus to Madrid! The company chartered a bus to get approx 20 of us to Madrid and pick up 20 or so more for the trip back to Germany.

Only 19 hours to go until Madrid. I'll post some pics tomorrow night.

I'm VERY happy to be on the move. Woo hoo!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Stranded Day Four: Should I stay or Should go?

Here's how today went: 

Worked out (no naked people wandering by - whew!)

Packed, checked out of hotel, and drug my luggage 1/2 mile down the road to the new hotel and checked in.

Here's a view out my window (my view improved dramatically in this hotel, but the room size and bed size shrunk significantly).
Looking into the water tower park - in the center of town

I'm also next to the museum.
There's a crazy person who's been balancing on this pole all day!

Next it was back to the office.  I guess I should get some work done at least.  Prove the point about working remotely and all.  I got quite a lot of work done, but the day was fraught with back & forth about travel.

The dilemma?  Our Tuesday morning flights were cancelled.  So our choice:  wait it out in Germany and hope that things are flying on Saturday morning?  Or make our way down to Madrid and fly out of there?    The day was back & forth - which is very wrenching. 

Where I ended up:  it looks like a group of us will have a bus or van and head to Madrid on Wednesday in the early morning.  I have a flight held out of Madrid Thursday evening, which would put me back home around midnight Thursday night.

So it looks like a 17 hour bus trip through Germany, France, and a bit of Spain!  It seems like flights are expected to go from Germany & other countries tomorrow, so it's not an easy decision.  I should know finally from corporate travel and security tomorrow.  What a day.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Stranded Day Three: Just milling around

I stayed in Mannheim today, and basically milled around trying to figure out what to do next.  We tried to find a way to Madrid to fly out.  Madrid is far enough south that it's been open and flights have been going.    We found a flight for Friday, but could not find a train from Germany to Madrid that departs in time to get there.  So frustrating!

In today's post I'll cover:  A couple of fun pictures, the story of a cultural moment, and an update on my travel status.

To start, here's one of the fun pictures.  I met this hedgehog in Heidelberg.  He wanted to come home with me, but was too big for my suitcase.  I took a picture instead. 

Hello again, Hedgie!

Cultural moment:

I've been trying to get to the gym while I'm here, to counteract all of the beer and cheesy, high calorie food.  There is a sign outside the door of the pool/sauna/workout area that says, "Dear Guest!  Swimsuits must be worn in all areas of the pool/sauna/patio area."

I was going to work out, and was wearing exercise pants and a t-shirt, not a swimsuit.  When I arrived at the workout room, there was another guest exercising on the treadmill in their swimsuit.  Odd, perhaps they meant that workout clothes should be one's swimsuit?  This happened the next day as well - a woman was working out on the elliptical trainer in her swimsuit.  I was feeling like quite a rule-breaker, wearing my workout clothes to workout. 

The next day I read the sign again - just to make sure I read it right.  Sure enough, wear your swimsuit.  During the workout I had my cultural moment.  I was on the treadmill, and noticed a woman carrying her towel, wearing a black swimsuit, and milling around outside the workout room.  Then I saw her a minute later.  She was wearing a towel and carrying her swimsuit.  Gasp!  Did I read that sign wrong!  It's not that one must wear a swimsuit instead of workout clothes.  It's that one must wear something

Sure enough, when working out today, this was confirmed.  Let's just say that I got to see WAY more of a few elderly Germans than I ever care to see of most people.  After a couple of awful glimpses, I started to look in the opposite direction as soon as I glimpsed anyone walk by.  Ewww....

Travel update:

As I mentioned before, my flight was cancelled for tomorrow.  I've been re-booked for a flight leaving on Saturday.  It's really not clear that flights will be going on Saturday.  So far, the news seems to be that flights will go a couple of days early in the week, but be shut down later in the week.

To cover ourselves, my colleague and I have booked another flight, with a strange routing, to get out of here on Tuesday.  If things don't go on Tuesday, I don't know what the next move will be.  Who knows when this volcano will stop...

Oh, and to add to the joy - the hotel we're in is full starting tomorrow.  And that full number doesn't include us.  We had to scramble to find a new hotel, and ended up paying 100 euros a night more than we're currently paying.  But at least we have a place to stay!

And to end this post, one more picture: 

Anyone want me to bring this doormat home for them?

Travel update: Stuck even longer

We just learned that Monday flights are cancelled.  My colleague is on hold with the travel agent (going on 2 hours now) to try and re-book.  It seems that Thursday might be the soonest.

Stranded Day Two: Speyer

On Saturday we took another day trip.  This one to the city of Speyer.  This city is a short train ride to the southwest of where we're staying.It was a glorious day for a day trip - crisp blue sky - warm in the sun, but cool in the shade.  I even got a bit of a sunburn through my spf 15.

Of particular interest in Speyer is the Cathedral.  It is quite the building - many German emporers, kings & queens are buried there. 

We walked through the cathedral, wandered down to the banks of the Rhein river, had lunch, and wandered back home.  The trip took us about six hours and 15,000 steps (according to my pedometer).  A nice day, with some good dog-watching.  The breeds I've seen the most so far:  standard schnauzers, german shepards, english cocker spaniels.

Here are some pictures from the day:

The old gate

A bit of the town

More of the town - cathedral at the end of the road

Sign for the catedral (in case I forgot where the pics were from....)

Front of the cathedral

From the side...

Detail from the outside wall

I like this doorhandle (but a bit incongruous on a cathedral?)

View from inside the cathedral. 
And these ceilings aren't even the tallest in the place.

One way to help people remember you:
Have someone decorate and frame one of your bones.

Now it's time for lunch.  With a local brew to accompany, of course.

A bit more of the town.

And more.  I like the colors and style of the buildings. 
And everything was so tidy and well kept.

And, finally, the cathedral and an old wall.

Speyer pics for The Boys and dogs

Some pictures for The (human) child. Some of his favorite things....

A man playing a xylophone (near the tree in the middle)


A playset built like a spider

Two pink trees

Another pink tree

Pink flowers!

Now for the dogs:

Even canines can drink at a beer garden.

A walking path along the Rhein River.
Good smells, things to roll in and water to bite at.

And for The Husband:

Poseidon has his own bar!

And he's raising a large mug to toast.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Stranded Day One: Heidelberg

To make the best of a less-than-ideal situation, my colleague and I decided to take a day trip on Friday to the nearby town of Heidelberg.  The town is about a 1/2 hour train ride away from where we're staying and is a lovely place to visit.  It is along the Neckar River and is surrounded by hills.  There's a lovely castle there, a famous bridge, and an old-town shopping district.

Both my colleague and I have been to Heidelberg before, and we've done the castle, etc.  So yesterday we wandered around the shopping district, browsed in interesting shops, and people (and dog!) watched.  We  had lunch (including a German beer of course) in the square in front of the courthouse.  We got to watch couples leave the courthouse after getting married, and be greeted by family and friends.  One couple had to balance on what looked like a bosu ball while kissing, another couple was made to hula-hoop.  I'm not kidding.

Here are some pictures from the day:

Lots of  bikes parked at the train station

One of many lovely fountains

Spargel stand

A closer look -- so many varieties of spargel.  Yum!

View down a side street

Typical building

View down another side street (I liked the side streets)

Cute old dog - wirehaired dacshund (?)

Lab in Starbucks. 
You knew I'd have to find a Starbucks, didn't you?

Shopkeeper's dog. 
She says he hates to be without her so she brings him to work.

Today we went to another nearby town.  I haven't loaded those pics yet - I'll post them tomorrow!
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