December to remember

Good morning and Merry Christmas!

December has been a busy month for us, as it is for pretty much everyone. Because of commitments to dog shows and singing with the Albany Gay Men’s Chorus, I had to skip playing Santa for our Pet Pictures With Santa fundraiser for Italian Greyhound Rescue this year. This is the first time I’ve completely misssed this event since I started doing it about 17 years ago. Maybe more. I don’t remember if we were still living in Rensselaer when I started or if we were in the house that we are still living in today. There have been a couple of years that Santa duties were split with someone else, but I still had at least one full weekend of donning the suit. I’m bummed that I misssed it entirely this year, and I hope I will be ble to do at least one weekend next year.

The first weekend of the month had me traveling to the greater Philadelphia area to spend the weekend with Halo’s and Jade’s breeder and attending several days of dog shows at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center with Jade. These dog shows are sponsored by various local kennel clubs but they also included a series of special shows and events sponsored by the Pharaoh Hound Club of America (PHCA). The entire weekend was a lot of fun and while Jade didn’t get any points on her first time out being shown, we did win some cool prizes in the speicalty sponsored by the PHCA have started a collection of ribbons to chronicle her show career.

One of the best things about attending this weekend of shows was the very great advice on showing that we received from a lot of very experienced pharaoh hound owners, breeders, and handlers. Jade is still a puppy, and we have to remind ourselves that she was the feisty one of the litter and that was one of the things we loved and still love about her. While she did show reasonably well for her first time out, there is a lot of work and practice we need to do before she shows again.

Another huge benefit of attending these shows did not become apparent until we had returned home. Jade grew up a lot in just a few short days. Keep in mind that she’s lived here since she was nine weeks old and she is only 8 months old now. Our house, our yard, our routine, and our rules are all she’s known for the last four months. We have had many friends and their dogs come to visit and we have visited them as well, but this was a big trip, a long car ride, and staying at her breeder’s house which I’m fairly certain she doesn’t fully remember.

There was also the experience of the dogs shows, having to behave not just on a leash but on a show leash, and not just having to behave for me but for other people too. All of that combined caused a noticeable shift in Jade and upon returning home we immediately noticed that she is slightly less manic (slightly, but we’ll take what we can get) and much more bonded with Michael and me. She has always been good about going in her crate here at home, but after her experiences at the show site, Jade is much better about staying in her crate now. This was something we noticed with Halo too when she was just beginning to be shown.

Two weekends ago I sang in my second winter concert with the Albany Gay Men’s Chorus. It never ceases to amaze me how little I know about songs that I have been hearing for decades until I am taught how to sing them. We had some really fun versions of Sleigh Ride, Jingle Bells, White Christmas, and Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer that each had some challenging parts for each section to learn, and then learn to do together. This year’s performance also included two Latin pieces that I initially found incredibly intimidating but they quickly became my favorites. While both were still very challenging even when it came time to perform them for an audience, my comfort level and confidence with these two pieces was miles above where I started with them.

My comfort level and confidence with singing, and especially in front of an audience, is also miles above where I started with the chorus back in the beginning of 2018. My music reading skills continue to improve, I am having a lot of fun learning to perform the pieces we sing, and I really enjoy the company of the fine gentlemen I get to sing with.

Speaking of fine gentlemen, registration for the Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat opens at 10 AM eastern time on Saturday, January 4th. At that time on Saturday morning, the link to register for the retreat will become active. Guys who subscribe to our email list for retreat news will also receive an email at that time with a link to the registration page, and the link will also be posted to groups on Facebook and Ravelry. The spring retreat usually sells out very quickly, so if you want to get in you have to be quick.

That’s all for this morning. I’m on my second viewing of A Christmas Story and as many cups of coffee. There will be more of both as thenmorning goes on. I finished all my wrapping last night so there’s little to do but knit until the rest of the house wakes up, so I think i’ll Do that.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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