Sunday, January 22, 2012

Moo goes to class

Well, today Moo and I had our first 'obedience' class. We have already worked on sits, down, stay, attention, touch, and heel at home, and have been proofing in all sorts of situations like dark wet parking lots, busy streets, stores, and the such. The one problem we have been avoiding has been other dogs, so I thought it was time to bite the bullet and take a class.

The trainer I found that was reasonably priced and close is one of those "positive only" teachers. Well, they say positive only but what they mean is no harsh physical corrections. In the behavioral world the word 'positive' does not mean 'nice' or 'rewarding', it means 'adding to the environment.'  In fact you can have positive punishment, and negative rewards. Sounds odd but that is just the lingo.    (So when I squirted Moo with water it was truly positive....I added something to his environment....but more on that in a sec) 

She tried to fit Moo to a nose loop, or halti, or whatever it was called. These contraptions work by pushing down the dog's nose when they pull forward. Bull terriers noses are already down all the time, so a halti just slides off the end of their nose. Which it did. Three times. I let her come back and fix it each time. After a while she just took it off.  That poor woman, she had no clue what she was getting herself into!

The other student there when I came in was a very excited, barky 7 mo old lab puppy.  I was trying to work with cookies but with Moo, as with most dogs, cookies only mean something when there isn't something else more rewarding to do. Obviously teaching this unruly lab a lesson was more important to Moo than a mere cookie, so off he went into barky rage mode. I had the squirt bottle hooked in my belt and just like out of an old western I drew and fired before the positive trainer could even react. Bam, right in the eye. And no, not the trainers eye I should add. Moo instantly shrank back and hustled away from the other dog, tail tucked.  I needed him to know that it was not ok for him to lunge and growl at everyone.

After I got a frantic lecture from the trainer (during which I was clicking and treating my dog for now paying attention)  I had a very good, very attentive bull terrier.  So good, in fact, he was the star of the class!  Aside from the lab puppy there was a coon hound (who was very handsome). OK, so out of three isn't so impressive but I was very proud. While the other two yowled, barked and carried on Moo was quiet and attentive, and he sat, did hand touches, stays and heel position all while the trainer lectured and the other two dogs continued to be silly. He would look at them sometimes when they got really barking and eyeballing him, but I smooched at him and he turned right away and looked at me every time!  He is such a good boy!

The one good thing the trainer did do was introduce me to a new treat system. It is a lickety stick, and it basically looks like a deoderant container with a roller on top...with gravy inside! So the dog just licks it and gets a little taste of cool is that!  Kitty Amazing loves it too, and she has been sitting at the door yowling at me to get more.

Speaking of Kitty Amazing, she has a new friend over for a while. She picked him up in the garage and invited him in to share her bounty. Once he came in the studio I shut the door on him so he is stuck with us for a while. We named him Sleepy Joe:

 Joe isn't real friendly, in fact he pretty much runs away if you get too close to him. He always looks in need of a nap, and is scruffy and skinny. He will let me sit near him now, and I can walk right next to him as long as I don't look at him. Don't tell him but my plan is to tame him up and take him in for a neuter and shots. Shhhh.   I don't really need another cat, but he was living in the garage and in my opinion if you are housing an animal it is your responsibility to take care of it.

My friend Madaline Murphy said on her blog that her husband was wise....and a wise a$$. I guess that goes for me too. Poor Dave asked me why Joe was in the studio and without missing a beat I replied  "Because you said you didn't want him in the garage!"  He replied "Ask a stupid question....." My husband, he really should get a medal for putting up with me.

Anyways, I have been doing production work lately.  I like making bracelets, and want to do more in ivory, metallic black, silver and turquoise. Part of that is making all the small spacer beads which make up the finished pieces. So this is what I have done so far....

You know those look pretty good there heaped in a pile!   I have not cleaned or annealed them yet, so you can still see some clay bead release in some of them. These actually are pretty fun to make as you can pop out a lot in a small amount of time. I will post more of the larger beads as I make them. I am hoping to start selling at the Glass Market at the Corning Museum of Glass, so I will need lots of stock.

So before I go, another lesson from Moo:

A tired dog is a good dog.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Embracing true nature

The last few weeks I have been getting a serious life lesson by life's karmic will, or energy, or just plain coincidence. Whatever the case, in several areas of my life I have been noticing the need or benefit of embracing the true nature of things.

In the case of my beads, I decided to sit down to make some more of those turquiose vessels. Once I started looking at the glass however I noticed the EDP (otherwise known as Evil Denitrifying Purple-I will explain in a minute) sort of jumping around it's jar yelling "Me! Me!". Ok, not actually jumping...I gave that stuff up long ago....but maybe more like mentally sending out signals sort of like the old Aquaman comics. I picked up a rod out of the jar and noticed right next to it the Thai Orchid doing the same thing. So out it came as well. Now the reason EDP is called Evil Denitrifying Purple and not Elegant Darling Purple is it's habit of denitrifying. This means that right after you have just created the most marvalous, beautiful bead ever known to mankind and right before you start to cool said bead it starts to get little sparks on the surface which creates a whitish, pitted, matte finish. Hence it being evil.

Here is an example:

EDP behaving itself....

EDP being evil and denitrifying...


Please note this is the SAME bead, different sides.   So given that it is just going to denitrify, I decided to just go with it and let it do its thing.  I figured the EDP can get streaky and the Thai Orchid is a nice silvering purple, so hey, what the heck.

This was the result. Other than the bead I already showed, hardly anything actually denitrified. Nice, smooth, shiny beads. I stopped being so worried about the potential for a mistake and just did it. Weird.

Then I think Ann at Soul Shine or Kathy (I can't remember which) suggested I try it with Turquoise.  So this was the result: 

Quite pretty with stringer over EDP...

But look at what happened with EDP stringer over Turquoise! Denitrifying is quite lovely here I think, and the turquoise started to silver on the ends of the one on the left, which is another true nature issue involving gas mixtures.....

This has denitrified on half of the bead, and the denitrifying made the glass spread out over the base in a very nice way..

 So this  set I will probably take down to Soulshine Studios on Market Street cause I have no clue what to do with it....

Since this is so long I will just give one more example of accepting true natures.

This is Chewie:

The whole right (his left) side of his muzzle is swollen with a puncture wound on it. Guess who the culprit was...

Yes, little Mr Innocent, sleeping in his crate. They were sleeping together in one crate by choice with the door open last night. Unfortunately Moo gets night terrors sometimes. He wakes up snarling, growling and barking for no reason whatsoever, and you have to yell at him to get him to really wake up.  He then stands there blinking like "What? Why are you looking at me?"  This time though he had a snuggle buddy who ended up on the recieving end of his nightmare.

Guess it is never a good idea to sleep next to someone who goes into berzerker his sleep.

There is a life lesson here. Choose your friends wisely. Choose your sleeping partners even more wisely. Sometimes you shouldn't mix the two. You know you could learn a lot from my dogs.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

End of the year

So we are now officially in 2012, which I am not unhappy about. I have to say 2011 was a strange year. I think the worst was working through the death of my bull terrier, Tallulah.

This was Lou doing therapy at a local nursing home.

She died in Sept of 2010, but I don't think I really started processing it until 2011. Sometimes you find your heart in someone else, and this was the case with Lou. She was so full of P&V, so talented and driven and enthusiastic in everything she did, be it killing rats and opossums in the barn to competing in agility and flyball. We enjoyed each others company, and we both had problems sharing with others. Her favorite word was MINE! She ran the dog house with an iron fist, and as much as I fight against my predisposition to do the same I have the same tendancy...she was just more honest about it. I guess that is what I miss the most about her. Her complete honesty and unabashed ability to be herself, the good the bad and the ugly. She was not a nice dog, she was not a pretty dog, but she was one hell of a dog all the same.

Moo came to us in 2011, which I wrote about when I started this blog. He came to us as Sarge, which was not good for us;  we started out as Mortimer, which was shortened to Mo, which sounded too much like NO so it morphed to Moo.

This was the picture we got of him right before he came up from Kentucky. He is a failed foster...I honestly thought I was going to rehome him, until the home I found wasn't good enough. That was all it took, really. If the home I found hadn't had a baby and a toddler he would be living there today. He is just a joy to have, and while he will never be Lou he is in his own way just as upfront about himself. He IS a nice dog, and I think quite handsome in his wrinkly, wiggly way.

This year has been very good for my lampworking and felting, which is really why I am here in the first place. I showed with my friend Kathy at the Corning Glassfest, where I met Paul Stankard, Margeret Neher, Jim Byrnes, Joe Peters, Jessie Kohl, and some other fantastic glass artists. They all liked my work and encouraged me a great deal as well as inspired me to try new things. I also had the month long VESTA show at the Gmiener Cultural Center, which went very well and where I debuted my wall felts. Here are some of the pieces left over from the show. I am on the fence whether they are going to be sold or going straight into my jewelry box!

 This is my favorite! It is a three strand bracelet with hematite, silver and lampwork beads with a sterling silver clasp. Here are two close-ups:

 I adore this bead.

And this one. It is fine silver wrapped around an ivory bead and melted in a bit.

 This is a two strand with lampwork beads, metal accents and a sterling silver clasp.

I really like the metal beads here, with the lines on them.

 It is really hard to take a photo of your own wrist!     
This is another two strand bracelet of ivory with copper green, which ended up looking like torquoise.

These are raked dots, which I did not think until later that they look like hearts.

 This is a set of beads I made; I had no idea what to do with them, but I was following the glass. I was quite pleased with how they turned out with copper....

And brass....

This is a simple, focal bead bracelet with hematite and lampwork with a sterling silver clasp.
And this is the opposite, a silly thing I made with a vintage button and beads, some brass charms and lampwork beads. It is very girly.  

I have a box of earrings as well, but this is long enough as it is, so I think I will save those for next week.

 I seek to live this next year with purpose and imagination, and with any luck with less internet and more human contact. Spending time with my family, CMoG docent training, glass and dog classes, and maybe continuing education plus more visits to friends will hopefully make this possible. I hope you all have goals for the upcoming year, and I would love to hear about them and help you make them happen. For now just remember.....

 Cuddling with an old, skinny dog helps keep him warm. We should all be as good a friend as Moo.