The News from Mouseland

Good morning, my adoring fans, Mouse here.

There’s something rather strange going on around here this morning. The parents have spent very little time on my customary early morning dog-worship session on the bed, and I’m feeling a distinct lack of strokies and tummy tickles. Instead, they are putting things into bags I have not inspected, and are piling them up beside the front door. Dad had sausages for breakfast instead of toast and I was not allowed to do a quality-check. Mum wanted to play with her laptop instead of fussing with my ears so I showed her who was boss by drooling on it. Lapdogs before laptops, I say, although I’m definitely not a lap-sitting dog. Mum says I’m the Chris Hemsworth of the dog world. Tall, elegant, athletic (all good so far), and not annoyingly brainy-looking (I’m paraphrasing here, what she actually said was “not over-endowed with brains”).

I digress. I’m good at that… They have Miz Lizzie drawn up beside the front door, and while I have not inspected the inside, I could smell that my bed was ready and waiting. We’re off on another trip! I hope we’re going somewhere good, with either a nice dog park or a beach I can run on and smell things and paddle just a little bit (I don’t really like wet paws). Mum’s put together a big bag of my stuff, and I made sure there were treats in there too (“Get your nose out of there, Mouse”). Normally I don’t like it when things change, but if I’m going in the car with Mum and Dad, and Miz Lizzie has my bed, we’ll all be together and I know what to expect.

I wonder where we’re going. (“Watch this space, Mouse. All will be revealed”)

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Miz Lizzie Adventures: Boyne River and Miriam Vale

This is going to work.

By which I mean bringing doggo along on Adventures in Miz Lizzie. Friday was a day of high stress for all of us, but Saturday went like a dream. He’s getting used to living in the caravan and back of the car, and we’re getting used to the need for one of us to be with him at all times. It takes a bit more planning, but it’s not hard.

Anyway, back to the story. We’re staying at the Boyne River Tourist Park. I’m not giving it a recommendation, because to be honest it’s a bit tired and run-down. However, it’s cheap, and perfectly placed for today’s meet up. Plus, and this is a big plus, the view is brilliant. Our site was at the top of a steep grassed bank which led down to the river bank. The Boyne is tidal, so the water level changed at different times of day. It was quiet, the scene was tranquil and apart from distant traffic sounds all you could hear was the lap of water and birdsong.

Into the car at a civilised hour on Saturday morning after a few domestic chores, and his lordship promptly went to sleep in his back seat hammock. Down the road an hour, Miriam Vale is a pretty little town which on this particular day was full of people on motorbikes, either out in the sunshine for a ride, or recent participants in the Far Ride which terminated nearby. It turns out that our friends Peter and Marion actually lived and met here many moons ago, so it had fond memories for them. In any case, it was a fun get-together in the courtyard of the Miriam Vale Café, where dogs are cherished customers and there’s a stack of water bowls waiting for them. Mouse was wearing the bespoke OzSTOC club bandanna I’d made for him, and you can see how well colour co-ordinated he is! Unfortunately, Peter was wearing his famous ‘hair’ hat, perhaps to compensate for the solar panel he wears underneath!

When we’d waved goodbye to the two of them, we were thrilled to see another familiar face (or perhaps that should be familiar motorbike – he was wearing his crash helmet) at the side of the road. Bill (aka Biggles) had been participating in the Far Ride and had just pulled over to let his missus know all was well.

Back at base, Mouse insisted on a nice long walk along the riverbank before settling down to some serious snoozing. I must admit, I wasn’t averse to a tiny toes-up either, I’d had a rather poor night due to a painful back, despite the comfiness of the bed. Still, it was steak for dinner and an early night so we could leave in good order in the morning and be home mid afternoon.

It’s been a good learning experience for all three of us. Lesson 1) do not tie Mouse up to anything. If he gets spooked, he’s very strong and will break out of harness, lead and collar and disappear into the distance, causing heart attacks all round. Leave him in the car if you can’t hang onto him. Lesson 2) Take no nonsense from him about the caravan steps or height of the car seat being too high for him. If he does it, give him lots of praise and a treat. If he won’t and has to be manhandled, no praise and no treat. Lesson 3) The caravan door is not opened unless he’s wearing harness and lead and/or someone has hold of him. Lesson 4) The caravan steps are the perfect height for his food dishes. Lesson 5) Make sure he drinks throughout the day, not just when he gets home, or you’ll be up and down all night taking him out for a pee. Lesson 6) Do NOT allow him on your bunk. It’s the thin end of the wedge, he will take over, you’ll have nowhere to sleep, and he has a perfectly good one of his own. Lesson 7) All edibles locked away.

So now we can look forward to October’s much longer trip with a degree of optimism. Mouse is a gentle, (mostly) calm and pretty accommodating dog. Given enough food, water and comfy places to sleep he’ll do fine. Just no nasty noisy surprises, please.

Oh, and keep those treats coming…

After-note: Mouse would like to tell the Husband “Happy Father’s Day, dad”…

 

Miz Lizzie Adventures: before we go

We’re off!

Just a short trip, but it’ll tell us whether Mouse enjoys the road trip/caravan experience. We’re hoping, of course, that he’ll love it as much as we do, and make lots of new doggy friends along the way.

One thing Miz Lizzie wasn’t equipped with was a large dog bed. Mouse is not a small person, and when he sleeps, it’s usually with all four legs sprawled out. We weren’t about to make him sleep outside so sleeping accommodation had to be arranged. Between us, the Husband and I have come up with a Cunning Plan. The banquette seat opposite the Husband’s bunk is used once a day, tops, and often not at all. We’ve removed the fixed table, which was large, cumbersome and heavy, and have replaced it with a folding table which goes down flat most of the time.

So we’ve run a board across from under the cushions of the banquette to a ledge the Husband installed along the side of his bunk platform. It has stops to prevent it sliding about. On top, we have the option of using the seat cushions as a doggy mattress, or better still, a section of the old bunk mattresses we’ve replaced, with the backrest cushions at either end.

We lured Mouse into Miz Lizzie (less difficult than the first time), made sure we were both occupying the bunks to remove that option, and then encouraged him to jump onto this new doggy bed, now made comfy and familiar with his floor quilt and fleece blankie.  Once up, he did his usual spin in place, lay down and proceeded to snooze. Job done. Of course, being right beside him, it now falls to the Husband to provide the constant petting that will be demanded. If he neglects his strokies duty, he’ll get poked by a cold, wet, pointy nose. My bunk, on the other hand, is too far away for Nose Attack. Mwahahaha!

The trip ought to be a well-worn routine by now, but I can’t help feeling it’s going to be a totally new experience, thanks to our shiny black friend in the back seat.

Wish us luck!

BougieNights #6: One more to go

I haven’t made quite the progress I hoped for.

Other things demanded attention, including my foray into Mousewear and various domestic issues. But I’ve managed to reach the point where I have only the final long seam to go.

On our morning walk today, Mouse and I passed this bougainvillea on a wire fence, and the colour reminded me why this quilt is called Bougainville Nights. It doesn’t communicate properly just how brilliantly orange and pink the flowers are, but you get some idea. All it needs is a brilliant north Queensland sunset and a deepening dark blue sky to bring my original colour inspiration to mind.

Speaking of Mouse, he’ll be joining us for his first caravan trip this coming weekend. We’re catching up with some friends from OzSTOC, our motorbike touring club, down in Miriam Vale, 500km south of here. We’ve found a dog-friendly caravan park on the banks of the Boyne River in Benaraby where we’ll spend two nights, and we’ll be packing Mouse’s club colours bandanna as well as our own club shirts 🙂 For the purpose of this trip, he’s our official OzDog.  I don’t think we’ll be able to train him to hold one end of the flag, but you never know.

It’ll be interesting to see how he takes to this style of travel and accommodation. One thing’s for certain: we’ll have to watch our step in the caravan at night given his lordship’s ‘legs everywhere’ space-hogging style of sleeping.

I think there’s probably one more BougieNights post to go: the completed, bound quilt, and a view of the ‘alternate quilt’ on the back. Meanwhile, I have to go and make up the caravan bunks, turn on the fridge and check the supplies.

I’ll let you know how it goes…

Mousewear

It’s almost finished.

This is cosy. Can we go out again?

Close enough for him to model for you, but I still need to work some sort of buttonhole between his shoulder blades for where the loop on his harness sits. It’s where the lead is clipped on, so I need access to that. Although he wears a martingale collar, I prefer not to clip his lead to that; greyhound necks are delicate and I don’t want to hurt him or cause damage if he pulls hard for some reason.

How do I look?

It’s a simple enough design, and I didn’t have to do a lot of tweaking to the pattern once I had it cut out. I sandwiched the three layers together and quilted it in a diamond pattern – easy enough, given that I could just follow the spot pattern. Once that was done, I overlocked/ serged the darts over his tail to make it fit the slope of his back and keep the draughts out.

Then I had to bind it. I didn’t have much of the red fabric with white snowflakes I wanted to use for the binding, so I used this calculator to work out whether I had enough. Isn’t it a brilliant tool? I knew it would have to be a bias strip because of all the curves, and I ended up using this method to make it. There are a couple of spots where you get two seams in close proximity, which is the only downside of this process, but they don’t make much difference to the ease of attaching and stitching it down.

I debated Velcro® versus snaps for closing the coat and belly band, but in the end I went with snaps. He stands still well to be dressed and harnessed, and snaps don’t catch on things or get full of fluff, dust and dog hair. I was worried about getting them through all those layers of fabric, particularly on the belly band, but I needn’t have worried.

It’s a good thing we’re having cool nights and mornings just now, or he wouldn’t get any use out of this till next winter. I’d better crack on with that buttonhole.

After all, a fashionable Mouse must have a decent wardrobe…

UPDATE

I discovered my buttonhole foot couldn’t cope with the size I needed, so I’ve had to improvise – and it’s done. The harness goes on first, then the coat. I flip the ring through the buttonhole, do up the coat, clip on the lead, and away we go. The Mouse and I have done a test run, and he seems pretty content. I’m fairly sure he’ll be rather more enthusiastic tomorrow morning when it’s cool!

What the well-dressed Mouse is wearing…

… on those cooler days

Poor lad, he’s very slender, ripped in fact, and not an ounce of body fat or thick fur to keep him warm. I had a struggle to find suitable polar fleece for the lining; we’re coming to the end of winter, and in any case, most of them are printed with either Frozen or My Little Pony motifs, or soccer balls or camouflage. Plain red took some work. I already had in my stash this lovely canvas spot fabric, intended for either a bag or an apron for myself, but I’m very happy to turn it over to Mouse’s wardrobe. The canvas is actually dark blue rather than black, as it appears in the photo, but that’s OK – I like dark blue!

And that left the batting. I’ll spare you the antics of getting a piece large enough assembled and taped together from my scrap batting stash, or the interesting hoops we had to jump through to get him to a) stand UP and b) stand STILL long enough for me to drape, cut and pin it to size and shape. Suffice it to say that there was extensive praising and rewarding.

So, the batting is effectively the pattern for this greyhound coat. You’ll see that the ‘arms’ at the front are uneven lengths. This is to allow them to wrap round under his neck and overlap on his chest, closing with snap fasteners. There are darts at the back, over the tail, to shape it so it curves down over his bottom instead of gaping. He’ll have a belly strap to hold it on, and I’ll have to work a sort of buttonhole on his back to allow us to clip the lead onto his harness underneath. I need to create a paper pattern from the batting to allow me to make another and adapt the pattern as required once usage has shown us any issues.

It’ll be sandwiched, quilted, bound and ‘snapped’, the belly strap stitched on and the buttonhole/slit worked. And then, it’ll be time to make a matching belt bag for treats, poo bags, garage door zapper and my phone. I’ll be basing it on Jill’s lovely belt bag, as shown in her ScrapHappy post the other day. I need more pockets than hers, but she’s kindly sent me the pattern and assembly instructions.

A stylish outfit, wouldn’t you say?

Scinteallate #15: the inspector approves

The Quilt Inspector has been hard at work today.

With thanks to the Husband of Chiconia for holding-up services, and to the Quilt Inspector for encouragement and company

Thanks to his constant attention and encouragement, Scinteallate is all together, despite one decidedly hairy moment in the middle when I realised I’d sewn two medium-sized pieces together wrong way up. Much cursing and reverse stitching of three seams later the problem was rectified. The Inspector suggested a cup of tea and a bickie to calm things down, and he was right. He got a nice liver treat for his helpful idea. Good boy, Mouse.

In spite of, or maybe even because of, the increasingly silly deadline for this quilt, it has come together with remarkably little fuss.

I still have to cut and assemble the binding pieces and machine stitch them down tomorrow morning after my tai chi class.

After that, I have to make the label, and then hand stitch down the binding and attach the label. And then it’s done, and I can deliver it.

Just a couple more days to go, and I’ll make the deadline with the quilt complete 🙂