Monday, December 31, 2007

Flying and the first day home

Two entries in one day - a miracle! I didn't think I'd have time to do this today so wanted to get at least something up earlier!

On Sunday morning we packed up to head back to Exmouth after our Christmas holiday in Perth. We had a good time while we were there: spent Christmas Day with family, caught up with some friends, ate at some good restaurants, saw The Golden Compass & National Treasure II: Book of Secrets. All in all a pretty relaxing time.

There was some not great stuff, too. Ricky, our youngest son, had to be admitted to hospital on Christmas night due to an infection under his skin on his coccyx! It's called P-something sinus, for those who know about those things. I can't remember that name of it. He went to the ER that night and was transferred to another hospital on Boxing Day. Dave and I headed down to see him and it took ages for a doctor to come to do the consult. Finally they conceded that there was no way a surgeon would see him that day so they transferred him to hospital #3. Finally some action as he had surgery that night. This is with the top health cover, too...imagine relying on public health care!! Two days in hospital for recovery and then Dave drove him home. Not a fun way to spend the holidays! He's recovering, but it's a fairly painful road - we'll keep you posted.

We were happy we had decided to pick the puppy up a day early as it gave her time to run around in the morning and wear herself out a bit. MatildaLily didn't mind her crate too much and proved to be a pretty relaxed flier. Before the flight we let her get used to the crate on her own terms and she was perfectly happy to wander in and out of it.

She was happy to be out of the box when we picked her up in Exmouth, but she wasn't crying or carrying on at all - just gave me a bit of a look when I opened the door ;)

Introducing a new member to our household is always interesting with our Dora-girl and three boy cats. The cats headed for high ground and sent scything glares her way every time she bounded past them. Dora also gave her a wide berth at first since Til seems to have two speeds - full throttle, no sense and conked out! It hasn't even been 24 hours yet, but already Dora is warming up to her...most of the time. And sometimes they are very good together.

Dora is also learning how to explain the order of things around the house to MatildaLily. At first she'd just growl at her but that had no effect and Tilly would just keep walking. Now she allows Til to come up to her and even play with her tail. When they play and Tilly gets too rough, Dora noses her over onto her back and treats her much the same way Cassie (Tilly's fur mom) did. Dora isn't rough and is really getting the hang of things.

Ali, one of our friends who had been minding the house and critters while we were away, came over right after we got back to the house and Boof came up on the couch to get a cuddle from her. Tilly immediately had to join in to see what was what - Boof briefly gave her a stern talking to, but didn't run away and wasn't too aggressive about it. Tilly had no clue and kept pushing until Boof gave her a little bat in the head and we distracted her with the toy chicken.

Tilly has no fear and is an exploring maniac - all at 100 miles per hour, too! She is also a true Ridgeback - she knows exactly what a fridge is, where it's located and what it's for - it takes two of us to get anything out of there...she can hear the seal crack from anywhere!

The weather here is horrendously hot and humid with a giant swell running. We had to cancel our tour today so all of the crew were at the dive shop demanding that we bring the new baby down so they could meet her. She was, again, a huge hit - spreading her love around but in typical snooty Ridgie fashion, never really fawning over anyone but just allowing them to play, pat and entertain her. She scampered all over the shop exploring all the cool things at puppy height while five new people tried to get and keep her attention! Finally she used up enough energy to let them take turns getting a proper cuddle.

Tilly found Junko's hair particularly enticing!

Back home there were a couple more discussions on sharing the big dog bed, but eventually Tilly understood the right way to go about it and joined Dora for a little snooze...Dora, as you can see, isn't thrilled, but she'll be OK. Too bad she has such a short memory - I seem to remember the shoe being on her foot not too long ago!

Day one with MatildaLily

We picked Little Miss Lalapanzi RC (Roca) MatildaLily up on the 29th. Before we took her, Kate, the breeder, offered to clip her nails one last time. As many of you know, our Dora HATES to have this done so we jumped at the chance to have someone else deal with it one last time. MatildaLily was not overly cooperative but between the three of us, Kate managed to get them done!

Cassie, MatildaLily's fur mom, made sure that her babe was all set to venture into the new world by giving her some last minute discipline and a bit of a tidy-up, as well.

Tilly (short when she's being good!) thought riding in the car was pretty cool. She looked out the window, chewed on the hand brake lever, snuffled around and chewed on Octopus. Suddenly the whole thing caught up with her and she snuggled into me, with Octopus right with her, and zonked out.

It didn't last very long! As soon as we drove through at the bottle shop on our way to see Ryan's new house, she was up and checking everything out again. She appears to be another mouthy dog - has to chew on everything she's come across so far!

She loved running around inside Ry & Kel's construction site (well supervised, of course!) - so many things to check out and so many ways to get into trouble! After burning off a good chunk of energy there, it was back into the car and off to see some other friends and then to the new boat to see Rick. This was her first time in the backpack as we'd simply been carrying her earlier. I put her in the backpack during the drive to get her used to it, and she promptly fell asleep. Once at the marina, she perked up and thought she was pretty cool getting carried around like some little princess! The smells & sights of the ocean were enticing and her nose was twitching and her eyes were trying to look everywhere at once. She was very good and didn't struggle to get out of the bag at all - just took it as her due and cruised around in style.

Rick, Dave and I headed back to Rick's for a cold beer and fresh fish snacks. Tilly thought the fish divine, I can see she's going to fit right in with the rest of our clan. Indy, Rick & Sue's Grand-daughter, thought the puppy was pretty fun, if a little scary, and Tilly thought chasing after her was a great game.

Puppies are great hits with everyone - we stopped to get takeout and all the people sitting outside were cooing and asking questions and generally going a bit ga-ga over her...I don't blame them, she really knows how to turn on the charm!

We thought all this would tire her out, but back where we were staying she pelted up and down the room like a mad thing. Pouncing on suitcases, tugging at shoelaces, chasing her new toys - Octopus has already become a favourite and she finally took him off under a chair to wind down.

Tilly was surprisingly good all night. She peed in the right place, at the right time and she slept most of the night with only a couple of rambunctious bouts of playing and nipping. I didn't get a whole lot of sleep worrying about if she was going to sneak out of bed and do something naughty, but that proved to be unfounded - Dave and I were both pleasantly surprised and hope it keeps up!

We're back in Exmouth now and I'll post the day of the flight and arrival home soon!

Friday, December 28, 2007

We made the final decision

We have been in Perth for the past few days to celebrate Christmas with the Hall Family. Chrismas Day was lovely - great food, good drinks, happy people and more good food! Boxing Day was stinking hot - I think Perth set a new record for the day at 44.6C! Yuck! Thankfully it hasn't been that hot again.

Boxing Day took us to the breeder's to make our final selection. We eventually got it narrowed down to two girls - a dark one and my original first choice. I wasn't sure we were ever going to be able to choose between them! We even seriously talked about taking them both...but then reality set back in and we knew that two more puppies in our lives would probably just be a little too much (though secretly I think we both still want both of them and would be more than happy to make any sacrifices!)

After a lot of soul searching and tossing back and forth, we decided to stay with my original pick. This little light coloured girl was always friendly and curious, but with a short attention span - she really loved to explore and play and bounce! She was extremely naughty and into everything while we were there, but her personality is just so cute and we do really like that confidence - especially for our household!

So, here's Matilda Lily - we pick her up tomorrow and we can't wait!

Monday, December 24, 2007

My first dives in over five weeks!

My friends Ross & Mary and I finally got out for some dives over the weekend. I only made Sunday's two dives and it was glorious to be back in the water. We headed into Exmouth Gulf for one exploration dive on a site we just selected randomly and one at an old favourite. The conditions were nearly perfect - flat water, pretty good viz and tons of marine life. The water isn't quite as warm as we like it, but it's getting there!

On the new site there were all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures - most of them extremely tiny! Of course there were nudibranchs and flat worms of all descriptions and these always capture a lot of my time underwater! We found several species that we don't think we've seen before along with a nice range of more common slugs.

I also found a small anemone at the base of a bommie that was just covered with shrimps and also had a pair of porcelain crabs, one big, one little. Both crabs were happily feeding - using their "catcher's mitts" to snag tasty tidbits from the water.

The second site is one we all love and it never disappoints. Mary found me a Halgerda tessellata right away. Finally one that wasn't 1/4 the size of my little nail AND wasn't deep in a hole - I was very happy!

Later in the dive she showed me another Halgerda - this one was a giant. It was showing off by rolling its mantle and giving us excellent views of its usually hidden bits. It also had its mouth out, clearly sensing or searching for something.

I returned the favour by taking Mary to see my buddy the jawfish. He's been there for two years now and he's still scary! As soon as he saw Mary approach, he did the spooky hover swivel he's very disconcerting and she wasn't game to get too close, I don't think!

While Mary was taking photos of this guy, I wandered to the next small bommie a few meters down. I never seem to get this far on my dives and, boy, was I glad I did! I found another specimen small white, as yet unidentified Chromodorid sp. This is the first time I've seen one of these in well over a year and it's only the second time ever. He was tiny and fast, only allowing one frame showing all of him instead of just him bum...

Dave and I are off to Perth later today to spend Christmas with the family and to pick up the new puppy. We are going to have a great time and my next entry will be all about it.

Have a very Merry Christmas and I hope the Santa-man is good to you all!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

We're adding a new baby...

In September or so we decided it was time for a new little bundle of energy to join our family and so we began searching for a breeder. In November one of the breeders let me know that she had a litter of ten happy, healthy Ridgebacks and so I stopped on my way through Perth back to the US to see them and to meet with her. She was extremely kind, even picking me up from the airport so I didn't have to hire a car for the few hours I was there, and her dogs were beautiful.

The mom, Cassie, is a lover and a leaner. She took to me straight away and I've spent quite a bit of time giving her butt scratches, which all Ridgies seem to adore. If the puppies are anything like her temperament we're going to be very pleased!

I was able to spend a few hours between flights with the puppies and Kate, the breeder, and pretty much I simply cuddled a puppy and chatted away with Kate. She also had three other dogs at the house and all three were gorgeous, personable and happy. I also got to meet one of Kate's friends who has one of Kate's puppies from a different litter/line. Meeting her and listening to them talk about serious showing and breeding stuff was quite interesting. I got a very good vibe from the entire visit. I decided that we would take a pup from this litter.

At only six days old, they don't do much! But when they do finally wake up and go searching for food, it's fabulously cute to watch - their little eyes are still closed and they have no sense of propriety...they simply squirm under, over, around and through whatever obstacle in in their way!

I didn't choose a puppy from that initial visit as it was impossible to tell what each personality was at that age so we arranged for me to visit again when I flew back to Perth from the US in December. Oh what a difference a few weeks makes! The puppies were wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, as they say!

We took the six little girls out of the puppy confinement area (they have since learned to do this for themselves!) and let them wander about, play, sniff and generally explore. I spent about two hours with them so I got quite a good feel for the inidivdual traits of each puppy. All were loving, inquisitive, playful and negative personality traits to help narrow down our selection! I tried to take photos of each pup individually, though I now see that I didn't do that great of a job of getting good ID photos lol

One little girl kept returning to me over and over, so I kept my eye on her a little more closely than some of the others. She seemed to be all of those things we wanted in a pup: curious, playful, clever, cuddly, bouncy and not overly destructive. She's become our top choice, followed closely by two others whose mode of transport isn't simply walking or scampering - they bounce. Like Tigger from Pooh! It is too adorable! These are two of our top three picks - the first photo is the "first" choice from this visit.

This is our first choice playing with her bigger, almost identical sister...the darker puppy behind is also in our top three. It's hard to rank these cuties because each one of them had such a lovely personality and each one is so adorable in her own way - we will be very happy to have any of these girls!

I haven't been around puppies this young before for any significant length of time so these two hours were wonderful. I got to see them go from sleep, to play, to sleep again - they were so cute. They seemed to be on pretty much the same time table for getting tired after a romp. No matter where they were in the two rooms they had access to, they'd all scamper back to the blanket in front of where Kate and I were sitting and form a puppy pile for a nap! They'd snooze for five or ten minutes and then off they'd go again! I think they did this at least three times while I was there.

We are due to make our final choice on the 27th while we are in Perth to spend the holidays with the family. We'll pick her up to take with us back to Exmouth on the 29th. We are super excited and in the process of puppy-proofing the house!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Back from the US

I'm finally catching up on work and getting settled back in after being in the US for a few weeks in November & December. I came back a bit later than I intended so I could make my Cousin Jake's wedding reception on the 24th in Minneapolis. Jake and Heather looked so insanely happy (and gorgeous, btw) and everyone at the reception had a great time, I think! I know I did. Congratulations again to the happy couple (of whom I have no photos, how sad is that?)

Cat, Mom and I all went up to the Cities on Friday to do some shopping and just hang out. Mike joined us on Saturday afternoon and Sunday took all of us to the museums for two special exhibits: Georgia O'Keeffe and Frida Kahlo. I enjoyed both exhibits a lot and am glad I was there with these guys because it's not something I would normally do with many other people.

Mike and Cat had to head home on Sunday so they could get back to work on Monday, but Mom and I hung out and did some more shopping and caught up with Ann and Ali for lunch. It was really nice to be able to catch up with Ann this trip as it isn't often we seem to be in the same place at the same time!

I spent most of the time in Iowa catching up with Dad and my Grandmother. Dad and I got to drive Patt's dad's Hudson from the body shop back to Dad's shop on one of the colder mornings - at least it was colder for him...I was toasty in the truck with the heater on full blast!
Despite shopping for camera gear until I thought my credit card would melt, I didn't take many photos this trip. My friends - Amber, Chuck and Michelle - hit the Denver Zoo in November when I stopped to spend two days there and I was able to play with my new Canon 40D and Canon 70-200IS 2.8 lens...very sweet and very heavy!

The lake house was getting the royal treatment for Christmas decorations - Patt was adding things every day and some nights it took three of us to get things just right. The house looks fabulous and she makes it look so easy...but now that I've seen behind-the-scenes I'm pretty sure my house will never be as decked out!

The weather while I was back was actually pretty good for the most part. Most days were sunny and "warm-ish" but a couple were wet, windy and cold. One day we had the wonderful freezing rain, sleet and ice that only the mid-west can offer. I'm happy to be back in summertime Australia and my feet have finally thawed out!

Flying out of Denver was interesting as it had been snowing all night and as my flight came closer it turned to that heavy, wet and freezing stuff. We only got backed up about 15 minutes and it was very cool to watch the de-icer trucks out and about. The flight was smooth and virtually empty - just the way I like 'em!

The rest of my journey back to Oz took forever and a day, it seemed, with terrible long layovers in LA and in Perth where I had to overnight. But I made it and it's only taken me a few days to recover from it all!