Test post – First run of 2013

Yay! It worked. Spryte and I have fun on our very first run back in 2013. Teams Jumping. She’s very keen, I’m very keen it was great to be back! 🙂


Hormones, Hammies and Holidays

It’s been a busy couple of weeks since my last post. I’m trying to make sure my body stays in that bed at 10 and up at 6 circadian rhythm so that I’m as prepped as possible for the shock to the system that will occur next week when I go back to full time teaching after 14 months off. There’s a full colour wheel of feelings regarding that but I’m content to say that the predominant one is raring to go and get back into teaching kids and coming up with plans and great ideas for my classrooms. Club instruction starts up then as well which is always fun.

Colt turned 5 months, excavated his way into much fun in the backyard, had his first trip to water and decided swimming was a piece of cake. He’s not quite fully house trained yet but he’s making progress and we are fervently hoping his occasional foray into the less than desirable cuisine of dog poop sampling ceases soon and we get past that phase 😉 A friend has already given us a tip of adding Thrive D to his dinner if that doesn’t happen. Good to know we have a back up plan.

When you go away for six months you tend to forget the surprisingly frequent, usually mundane, amount of errands, jobs and little chores involved with the running of a household. There are insurance claims to sort out, car batteries needing replacements, air con units needing servicing or fixing, tax returns to complete, reinstating the various services we use, cars needing servicing etc etc. I’ve been cramming in a few physio appointments for myself (just a niggling shoulder thing much improved now thanks to our friendly “claw” Jenny) and a few for Savvy, who in her somewhat over exuberant zeal with the idea of doing agility training again, has managed to “pull a hammy” as they say during one training session this week. She’s also in full heat right now just to make it interesting. She doesn’t think there’s anything quite wrong now, but she’s resting up from full agility training and making the most of her on leash walks and her swimming. It certainly hasn’t stopped her from romping round the backyard with her son Colt with the very misguided notion that he might “be her man”. Poor Colt, he’s very happy she likes him so much but I must admit his expression looks a little baffled from time to time.

Cypher has been in a dilemma all week – switching from the one track, nothing will divert me, mindlessness of an entire male living with a female who is hot to trot (and somehow his frantic behaviour grows as if he knows the clock is ticking on that window) to WAIT DID YOU SAY FRISBEE AND AGILITY TRAINING? I’ll give him this – he may only have two types of operational modes right now but boy each mode gets 110% whatever one he happens to be in. He loved his agility training this week, it’s been a long time since he’s been doing longer sequences and courses but he certainly has not lost a speck of enthusiasm for it. He and Colt are still good buddies despite spending some time apart right now since Colt, thankfully, is a little too young to know what Cypher keeps trying to tell him about 😉

Spryte went for a check up this week and she is fighting fit and doing some nice work for me at training. I am wallowing in the training right now, soaking it all up while I can trying to make up for the time we’ve missed. Tuesday and Wednesday nights have been most productive and at the end of the night we’ve all gone home with tired legs but very contented and satisfied hearts. Colt comes out, still on lead mostly, around the exciting dogs he watches and we’ve done some flatwork up the back and much socialising with both people and dogs. I’ve “liked” the Ann Croft Agility Coach page on Facebook and am enjoying getting stuck into the Happy Hurdle sequences she’s posting there. I do like stuff that gives you lots of options to do and you have to find the one that you think works best for you. And then working on making all the other options just as good 🙂

Here’s a sample one:

19 more days till Daisy Peel comes out to Perth! I’m putting on a very brief, 3 hour Basics of the LM style handling the week before on the Wednesday evening for those who have signed up to work with Daisy and for anyone who wants a refresher. It’s a good idea to go back to basics every so often I think, it seems to always reinject me with more clarity about what needs work. There’s always something (or somethingS) that need work 😉 If anyone else is interested – drop me an email HERE.

We have our first trial of the year tomorrow night – more like a Fun teams event, with an agility round and a jumping round. Plus the game of Snooker is on offer. That and ADAA the first weekend in Feb is probably the only trialling I will get in before our Western Classic early March. I’m looking forward to it. I love going to trials (more than watching Supernatural even, which by the way was absolutely FANTASTIC this week, even a non Supernatural watcher would have loved it – that’s a rare episode!).

Our next big…life change… I guess you could call it, is starting what will no doubt be a very long and hopefully fruitful process of research into our next property. We’ve got some very specific needs that probably are not all that common when you think about the combination of them.

First off we need a bigger house and property that house sits on.We’re looking for really nothing more than 1 acre at the MOST, that’s not too far from where we are now and not a ridiculous distance to the nearest railway station as Tim uses the train for work everyday. I have been spoilt living five minutes from my workplace for the last ten years but if my work commute has to increase so be it. We are looking to build. But this is probably going to be it in terms of moves so this will be a one off type of house design that’s for sure, any already set down display home like plans will need significant altering for us. So many things we want in the house, many of which will be influenced by the dogs and the significant fish tank set up Tim has. And as for the outside, a pool and an undercover area big enough for a normal sized agility ring is going to be important, as is a pretty massive garage. We each need our own office, we have a pool table and so on….the list will be pretty exhaustive by the time we’re finished I imagine. For now we’re keeping an eye on subdivisions and other future land developments in the region as well as having a good look around at housing plans already out there. It’s a big step and one we are never going to rush into. So feel free to send me any links to any housing plan sites you think might suit 😉

Here’s a brief THREE WEEK pictorial update of Colt’s life in the past fortnight.

There was the hope that he would not fart right at this moment:
Because his mother would not be impressed.

She was impressed with his swimming:

He was getting good at learning to bend this week:

Turns out his right turn is naturally much better than his left. We shall endeavour to balance it!


Then we learnt about uprights and how Mum would really like it if he got really close as possible to them.



We’ve started to learn the sit up – consolidating some of our core work on the Bosu ball.

There’s a lot of failing 😉 Or as I like to call it ‘trying out all the ways’

But he’s on his way 🙂

He’s getting pretty swish with the fist bump though.


And when all that play work is done it’s time for a nap with your mother in Cypher’s basket.

Occupy Cypher’s Basket is a movement that is enjoying some success.





A week, a Colt and a climate adjustment

We’ve been back a week and it has been a highly productive week I think. Especially when you consider how endemic our ‘holiday mode’ has been. For the first time ever in returning from overseas I have thwarted the insidious jetlag insomnia I always have. In bed at 10pm up at 6am everyday without fail and no ‘nana naps’ appears to have convinced our body clocks that we did not actually jump forward into the future and skip a whole day.
I love my family to pieces but I have to say the new addition to the family has been the most exciting part of being home.

Meet Colt aka Winpara Weapon of Choice (his fancy pedigree name)
4.5 months old and settled into the Tim and Simone home like he’s always been here. Robyn snapped a couple of pics before he left all freshly bathed and everything..

colt4mthsoff050113He’s got a nice set of legs on him that seem to work very well in the vertical leap department. He comes with his own complete lack of self preservation when it comes to launching himself up and over things. It’s entertaining and mildly terrifying at the same time. A healthy mix of adrenaline and whatever chemical is released during laughter.
We’ve introduced the clicker and he’s catching on fast.
coltpawHe shakes “hands”.

Is working on his sit.

Figuring out his “core balance” 😉

Nearly there… coltlearningtobalance2

Is getting the idea of “down”.

Loves his Nana Spryte.
Spryte has a pretty constant expression of resignation at this point.


Was quick to decide that the mat was his place to enjoy his first Sheep’s ear.coltsfirstsheepsear

It was a big day for him, first day home.

He’s gone to training and met several other Borders and a Toller and a Labrador and on our walks has introduced himself to Dennis the JRT and also met a snuffly geriatric spaniel with whom he was nothing but respectful with. Cypher is being worn down with an inexorable relentlessness by his charmingly amusing yet still very respectful ways. The girls are all “whatever” and if they could roll their eyes I think they would. I caught Savvy romping with him for five seconds before she saw me looking and tried to pretend she would never be caught playing with such a baby.

I’ve gone back to the gym this week which was a mixed bag of depressed tangible evidence of how much fitness and strength is lacking and the usual endorphin feeling of wellness once you’ve worked hard till muscles feel like jelly and there is literal dripping of sweat. I wanted to take up a Yoga class once a week but will have to look elsewhere as my gym is discontinuing Yoga classes. The dogs have all been ecstatic to go back to training – I thought for a second there Savvy might actually burst out of her skin she was that keen, and I am very eager to start working through my List of Skills I need to acquire (both on their part and my part). Daisy is here in about 4 weeks and I feel quite confident she will definitely be pinpointing all the weak spots (much like my trainer making me do BURPEES my first day back) and getting a response.

Club memberships have been renewed and entries have been written out and a start has been made on the whole decluttering and culling of office and clothes no longer worn. I love my tee shirts but there really needs to be a limit. This link here has a less than virtuous name but the principle is the same. I like it.

Priority one over the next week – air con maintenance. 100F degrees and humidity makes for one hot house.


Six Flags, MAGIC MOUNTAIN! The last hurrah of our mammoth sojourn!

January 1st we spent a day doing the kind of things you do when you’re travelling. We caught the shuttle from Circus Circus at about 12 noon.

Our shuttle driver was a tall, sun weathered lady with long dark steel grey hair who had no compunction about calling out the rude, inconsiderate people on the road, yakking on her phone (hands free of course) to her buddies and showing us her picture of her very gorgeous blue eyed, roan coloured American Pitbull on her phone. She had this sign up:

We gave her a generous one. Hope she can fix her sign with it.

I think we must have booked a Delta flight because it was the only one available at a reasonable price or at a particular time. Either way it doesn’t matter because as our 2nd experience flying Delta it’s definitely our last. I will move hell and high water to avoid travelling US domestic via Delta in future. Baggage drop was painful and super expensive, yes we know our 4 pieces are over the limit but you really want to charge us $90 bucks a piece to cover a few pounds over? Even though you KNOW we’re travelling internationally?? $360 it was gonna be. We spent $100 on a cheap large luggage piece and paid the $125 for an additional piece and spent $225 instead of $360. Assholes. The plane was way too cosy for my liking too and no free drinks. I’m talking WATER people. In comparison to our Virgin Atlantic experience it was like chalk and cheese. I’m going Virgin in future if I can and Southwest too. So there we are in the airport opening up four pieces of luggage (now five!) and redistributing and weighing bags. Then there’s TSA. Which was slow and laborious all the way through. And to top it off we must have set off some alerts because by the time we opened up our luggage when we got to the hotel every single piece of luggage had been rifled through and treated NONE too gently. When you see a hard back coffee table book with a nice sleeve cover on it WRAPPED very carefully in polar fleece jackets do you not think that maybe the person who owns said coffee table book is trying to make sure it arrives without ANY damage? So perhaps DON’T just throw the book back in the case where the sleeve gets all mushed and creased? Pillocks the lot of them. Rant over. Oy my first world problems.

Anyway by the time we landed, got our five pieces of luggage from baggage collection, hopped a Thrifty shuttle to Thrifty car hire, jumped in our Ford Crown Victoria Royal (Tim refers to it as like driving his TV room armchair) and drove out to Hilton Garden Inn Valencia opposite Six Flags, Magic Mountain it was about 6pm. After some dinner and some necessary computer related errands we headed to bed as we were up for the 9.30 shuttle to Six Flags this morning.

Started at the Park at 10.30am out by about 3.30pm and managed to do the majority of Coasters there.

Started off with the Viper (specialty in corkscrew turns) then went to Tatsu, then did the Riddler’s Revenge, the Batman ride, the Green Lantern, the Goliath and Scream. Seven rides in all, Superman ride was closed for the day and X2 didn’t open till the afternoon, I’d had enough by then! They were all great fun apart from Green Lantern which I wouldn’t recommend to ANYONE. We both ended up with a bit of a headache after that one. Certainly put excess blood pressure in the head! Tatsu was awesome because it actually hoisted you into the flying position you would be in if you could literally fly!

Tomorrow we head back to LAX, drop the hire care off and then hop on a 15 hour plane trip to home (well plus the 5 hour one from Sydney to Perth). I’m very much looking forward to going home – we have had the most amazing, once in a lifetime experience and I am always going to love that we were able to do this but being away from the dogs and friends and family for this long has been hard. I don’t think I would ever do it again (even if we were millionaires!) as it is just too long to be away from the furkids. I miss agility almost like missing a limb! I cannot wait to get back into it. And most of all I am looking forward to meeting our newest family member, a rambunctious fellow by the name of Colt!

There’s going to be heaps to do when we get home – not the least is possibly putting together our own coffee table book of our adventures over here in US and Canada. In fact I will probably include the whole year – Rome, Florence, Pompei, UK, Belgium, Sydney, Melbourne, Canada, USA. 2012 has indeed been a magical year for us, but I’ve decided 2013 is going to be just as much fun. And yes I am actually looking forward to going back to teaching. A year off has certainly shown me that I do indeed love my job, teaching in all it’s aspects – whether it be new little 8th graders, taking on the challenge of 11th grade seniors or taking a class at my Agility club on Tuesday nights.

2013 is here and I’m feeling fine.

Out with the old in with the MOST wonderful New Year’s Eve Celebration in SIN CITY!

Back in Las Vegas! December 27th we said goodbye to the Yotel (Japan inspired modern rethinking of how to do affordable stays in high density cities) in Midtown NYC and hopped a very easy and no fuss flight via Virgin Atlantic from JFK to Las Vegas airport. We caught a cab to our hotel – Circus Circus turned out to be the cheapest and still in walking distance to the Strip down town.

It’s been around for decades and was once a very ritzy place and was featured in the 1971 Bond film Diamonds Are Forever. But that was a while ago now 😉 Built in 1968 it initially only contained a casino and was plagued with financial problems from the outset. It is the world’s largest permanently built big top circus though so it does have a few claims to fame. We were in the tacked on out buildings (optimistically called The Manor Buildings) and it was quite a walk from there to the front entrance.

The room we stayed in was clean and spacious but had the definite odor of previously being a smoking room. Every time we came back and opened the door it stunk quite strongly. Luckily we weren’t there for the decor or the luxury sleeping arrangements.

First night there we saw Seinfeld.

Jerry is 58 years old now and clearly does not do this for the money. I’m not sure why he’s doing this show, but he has taken it all over. The guy on before him, his warm up act was actually as entertaining as Jerry himself – Mario Joyner. He was on for about a half hour I guess and then Jerry came out straight afterwards. Seinfeld only went for an hour and the show certainly wasn’t sold out interestingly enough.
He’s still definitely got it when it comes to standup comedy. He just doesn’t have as much as he used to. He spoke on many topics starting with thanking us all for being here and then telling us to look around, look at all the people who cannot handle being with their family during the holidays – they are here in Vegas instead. It only went for an hour but he certainly did manage to cover quite a wide range of topics:

Starting with the drama of actually going to the effort of getting yourself to Vegas and how all we’re really spending our time on is deciding where to eat, where to go, where to sleep, what to eat, what to wear and isn’t it all so draining. We spend our moments just wondering where we are going to sit down next. The human body is designed this way – it’s why the knees bend and our butt comes with it’s own cushion. In fact he said, the moment you all walk out of this show you’ll all be planning where to go to next so you can sit down.

He talked of how food is no longer fun for him. The whole process of deciding where to go and what to eat is just a chore. And there’s always people telling him Oh Jerry you’ve gotta go to this restaurant, it’s the greatest, you’ll love it, it’s sooo GREAT. And really when you get there and you order and you eat, you usually end up going – well it was all right. It might have been great. Was it great? I don’t know, the bill says it should have been great so maybe it was great and I’m just not seeing it? He’s in a constant war with Cookies. He has a huge problem with wanting them late at night when he shouldn’t and he can’t handle buying cookies in a bag cos those things just look like they’re trying to climb all over each other to get out and into his mouth. Nope he likes those cookies you buy in rows. Their like a tiny marching army and he says that way at least when he gets to an end of a row in such packaging he’s got a fighting chance of at least stopping momentarily, a pause that lets him take stock of what he’s doing with his life. So food is not a prospect of pleasure for him anymore. This whole blog post could just be about his show but I’ll summarise for now with just a list of his topics.
Marriage (he’s married now with three kids)
Single versus Married
Other Peoples’ Kids
Public Toilets
Two rankings in life – it’s either Great or it Sucks
White Water Rafting being much like Marriage
If you have a girlfriend you’re just playing Wiffleball
Choices of drinks these days
Coffee shops
Kids Birthday Party Experiences
Twitter and Facebook

He took some questions at the end and one was asking if he would do any TV shows in the future and in his own words he said “Let me answer you with this. I’m old and I’m rich and I’m tired.” So basically no.

Seinfeld was our first night there. For the next couple days we did a few other things, just a little day trip out to THE GRAND CANYON and Hoover Dam and Route 66.

So that was a huge day…then there was a visit to American Shooters. A gun range not far from the hotel where I had a go at shooting my first handgun and Tim shot some big loud things off too.

I shot a Glock 19 with 9mm bullets, Tim had a go at trying out a few guns. I discovered that being short is a distinct disadvantage in terms of natural accuracy at the target. I wouldn’t mind some proper training in the use of a handgun but I’m not actively going to seek it out. Although if I lived in the US I certainly would.

We tried out the famous Bacchanal Buffet at the Caesar’s Palace hotel.

There was lots of good food there and a much better range than any buffet back in Perth and yet only 45$. Think the Burswood and Hyatt are charging at least nearly $60 these days. Tim has lots of great photos of the food here.

New Year’s Eve we headed down the Strip early evening as it was spoken of how packed and crowded it gets later on and that the strip is closed to traffic at about 6.30pm.

Tim got himself one of the slushy gigantic test tube drinks pretty quick and then we went on to get a table at Serendipity 3 –

the same company as the one in New York that had the three hour wait. We knew we had a long wait till the fireworks so we took our time here and I finally got to try the infamous Frozen Hot Chocolate out.

It was good. Just like a chocolate smoothie really – a blend of an ice chocolate and a smoothie. And yet again the Americans and their compulsion to put whipped cream on just about everything.
Eventually we had to move as they were setting up for the ticketed event party they were hosting there. So I ambled off and found my own slightly smaller test tube drink of Pina Colada and Mango High Octane or something….either way it was sweet and slushy and very yummy. And it certainly assisted with the warming me up part.

And then we whiled away the time, sipping our ridiculous drinks, people watching (and discreetly people commenting as you do)  and waiting for the fireworks. A combination of where we were, combined with the celebratory atmosphere, Fox TV was live filming right near us, and the deliciously buzzing drinks and it was a great night and the fireworks were pretty damn good for a NYE effort.

And we made it home, unscathed, perfectly safe and sound if a little tipsy and a lot tired. It was a great way to see in the NY and Vegas certainly is one of the fun places to be on such a night.