Sunday, August 24, 2014

Puppy Post - BAHA! Nym's Name & Where it Came From

So I was checking out this website about naming your dogs and came across this:

The Self-Appointed Nobility: You will find that announcing your dog to anyone with a title, usually of royal distinction ,will get you a look followed shortly thereafter by a non-committal noise. Anyone who’s worked with dogs will tell you a dog with a self-styled title is a dog and owner combo you don’t want to deal with. Prince Foxy, Lady Dingles, Princess Mary Molly, Sir Charles and so on. Aside from the fact that you’re naming a dog, not the heir of the Luxembourgish throne, these people are typically incredibly high maintenance. They make the dog snobs look like slobs and while that’s not all that hard to do, it’s an impressive feat in micromanagement.

Well you know what dog snobs.... Our dog is the heir to the throne of STFU and was picked as one of The Daily Puppy's Daily Puppy!!!, so I'll name her how I ever loving please. Our precious little Dowager Countess Nymeria MacBattleby Logiealmond MacGold of the Easter Geddes, the Maid of Nairnshire, Baroness of Drumornie, the First of Her Name is an absolute gem... and she has a story to go with it...

Pretty freaking adorably, noble-looking... right?! 

Here's where she got her name... As JR and I drove through the Scottish countryside on our honeymoon, we were at a loss for what to call a boy puppy, if that's what the breeder had available - so we started picking up potential names as we went.

Scottish Honeysuckle - I LURVE honeysuckle. It's probably my favorite flower. 
All those names made their way into a note on his phone and as he was reading off the potentials, I thought HA those aren't names - it's a friggin' title. Which then turned into - what if we gave our dog a preposterous title for a name and attempted to enforce people to call her by the full name? What hilarity would ensue?

JR in front of Kilravock signage in Nairnshire

So we picked up Nairnshire (which happens to be where my ancestors are from) and MacBattleby Logiealmond off of road signs. We picked out Drumornie, because it was still a funny word, but a lot easier to pronounce than Drumnadrochit. I picked out the Easter Geddes, because that was a part of my family's lands back in the times of landed gentry.

My family's Castle Sign in the Nairnshire, a part of the Easter Geddes
But the reasons for the specific titles... now that's where lil Nymeria's story gets interesting. ;-)

Little Nymeria MacBattleby Logiealmond MacGold is the only daughter of the fake Laird MacBattleby Logiealmond MacGold of Nairnshire, a widower, which means all his estates will become hers upon his death... this makes her according to Scottish titles a Maid of his lands.

Her fake, late, lady mother (also an only child) died in childbirth, which bestowed her title to little Nymeria - Baroness of Drumornie.

And even before little Nymeria took her first steps, she was promised and married by proxy to the Count of the Easter Geddes... who died at the Battle of Bannockburn, in 1314... supporting the good Robert the Bruce (clearly she's very, very old for such a young puppy). That makes her the Dowager Countess of the Easter Geddes.

Hence her perfectly logical name... for all her fake lineage - The Dowager Countess Nymeria MacBattleby Logiealmond MacGold of the Easter Geddes, the Maid of Nairnshire, Baroness of Drumornie, the First of Her Name.

If you'd like to be kept abreast of all of little Nymeria's comings and goings - follow her on Twitter: @NymeriaMacGold!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Scotland Tips - Rental Car

You always get the extra insurance...

We arrived on a Monday in Glasgow and picked up our rental car and the insurance with all the bells and whistles and headed immediately north on the A87 to Fort William. Our travel agent had us staying at the Inverlochy Castle Hotel, a 2 1/2 hour drive from the airport. We had decided to forgo Glasgow for our honeymoon to see more of the countryside - and boy was this the right decision.

Black Mount Estate en route to Fort William

It was JR and my first trip to Scotland, and my first trip across the Atlantic. I thought flying to Puerto Rico took a while.... but clearly I had no idea. Our honeymoon started as all should near Loch Lomond... I'd never seen such a beautiful place - the rolling green hills, the still water caressing the banks, and a sky so blue it was of sapphires.

But it didn't take long for me to realize that while the loch was gorgeous - the drive was a nightmare.

I think the Scottish definition of highway needs to be rethought, because A87 is no highway. It was a cowpath with two lanes of traffic going in opposite direction at 60 mph with only a spotty white line betwixt ya and a solid brick wall on your left and a sheer drop into the loch on your right. I've always been a nervous passenger in cars, but this was a lesson in horror. The road winds back and forth and up and down akin to a drunken camel stumbling in the dunes of the Sahara. But where that's pure open sky, this was a wooded journey into blind faith that the person in the other lane around the corner was actually staying in their lane.

You know - they normally weren't.

And maybe Scotsmen are made of sterner stuff, but as a Scotsman myself - I screamed and shrieked like a little girl. I'm pretty sure JR was going to kill me. "AH the wall! AH the car! Ah the fuck - was that a fucking 18-wheeler?" Let's just say the first fight in our marriage was about the 5 inches between us and the brick wall to the left of our car as we sat waiting for a construction stop light in the middle of a Scottish highway.

It was probably fortuitous that I was the one complaining about those 5 inches...

Our honeymoon was basically the great-Scottish roadtrip, complete with castles, beautiful purple moors, and sheep... in the actual road - like a frickin movie.

Between JR's inability to cope with the copious amounts of complaining I spurted on our first day of driving and his general distaste for learning to drive on the wrong side of the road... I did the majority of the driving for the rest of the trip... and I loved it.

There is something exuberating in doing something wrong. And driving on the wrong side of the road at 60 mph (okay.... 80 mph) on the narrow roads round curves and bends was like a shot of adrenaline to my soul. I've always loved driving, but driving in Scotland was like driving in heaven. They say heaven has streets of gold... well I hypothesize those streets are crooked and tiny, cutting through grass covered mountains with an ambiguous speed limit.

Loch Ness from the A87
As you can imagine from my blossoming enthusiasm... it was only a matter of time before my desire for the open roads was curbed by slow moving cars and 18-wheelers (which the Scots so cheerily call lorries). In Scotland though this shouldn't have been a problem, because they have posted signs every 10 miles that say, please pull over in the laybys and allow for passing.

Most cars abided by the rules, but those frickin lorries and their ignorance of the stacking traffic behind them never pulled over. It was a miracle if one even pulled over on the A9 (one of the few roads with more than one lane going in either direction) in the slow lane of traffic.

Urquhart Castle
I've never been the patient sort - so on day three, en route to Urquhart Castle on the banks of the Loch Ness, we'd been stacked in backed of traffic for every construction crew, slow cyclist, and janky draw-bridge for nearly an hour and a half, and I was up to my eyeballs in screw this.

As we jolted up to speed after a particularly grueling wait for a road-crew re-affixing metal mesh to the side of a particularly jagged cliff face, I couldn't stand it any more. The lorrie in front with his slow moving ways (seriously 40mph in a 60?!) was driving me wild. Loch Ness was so close and a bathroom was my promised reward. I could just see the oddly flushing Scottish toilet in my mind's eye and racks of kitschy Scottish souvenirs in my future. If only this truck would... just... go... a... little... bit...  aw screw it.

I looked around him, and seeing no one I pressed the gas hard on the 2014 E-Class Mercedes with only 200 miles on it. I could feel the engine rev and the whoosh of air from the window. The wind whipped my still shower-damp hair, and the peaceful sound of the countryside begged for me to join it. Oh the Scottish roads! Ah Loch Ness! You sweet highland air fragrant with the sweet tinge of <CRACK>


And with that... the side mirror detached.

I'd like to say I held some sort of dignified air as I pulled into Urquhart Castle - side mirror dangling from two of the thinnest, dinkiest wires on the side of the brand new Merc.

And aside from a few mental WTFs... I did...

It was the German tourists that appeared nary a second after I pulled into a parking spot that cracked me. Their cheerful demeanor as they said, "Oh Wow, yah! That was a doozy. We saw it from behind!"
Loch Ness from Urquhart Castle

Yeah... you lost the last two World Wars - my one broken side mirror is nothing! Screw you!

So my recommendation for you my good readers? When you visit the UK and drive on the wrong side of the road... You always get the extra insurance.

That extra 10 pounds a day was nothing to the repair bill - let me tell you. Those extra pounds were well worth it to know we didn't have to pay for a new side mirror.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Puppy Post - Week One with Nymeria

1hr into puppy ownership

My First Dress, JR is not impressed.
Wow - it's hard to believe that Nymeria has only been at home with us for a week. Seems like she's been here forever. We picked her up from Blue Ridge Shibas last Saturday and started the lengthy drive home. At first she wasn't too sure of the car, but then as we took some time at the first rest stop, she really started to get not excited, but happy. She seemed, happy.

The first two nights were rough. She very clearly missed her siblings, and we'd spend hours petting her to help her go to sleep, but as soon as you stopped, she started up again. I wound up spending the second half of the first night on the couch, sleeping with her on my stomach.

So far we've learned a couple of things. The Kong Halter, was a huge bust. While it fit properly, it kept rotating around her body and confused her. And the underbody mesh piece kept attacking her face. I don't know about you, but I personally do not approve of things attacking faces... So while it looked good, it wasn't very usable. I don't recommend it at all.

So we moved over to a mesh style halter - just your standard Petco/Petsmart mesh halter in her signature, teal/turquoise color. For the first few days this was perfect. She was still uncertain of other people and dogs so she'd stay pretty close, but over the last two days it's become very apparent that she's gonna be a puller.

We decided after a couple days of watching her freak out when the stretch lease stopped and after more than a few, 'oh, I am so not walking that way, I want to walk this way' experiences that we needed to move towards a halter (at least while training) that is front guided. So after our petco halter proved the wrong size, I did a bit of research and bought a SENSE-ation, and it should be here on Wednesday. I forsee tug-of-wars in our future.

She's definitely starting to come out of her shell more, and she's quite the awesome pup. Aside from her new-found dislike of her puppy kibble: she loves people, she loves other dogs, she's everything a puppy should be, including certifiably adorable - The Daily Puppy said so, and she's definitely a great fit for JR and my lifestyle.

Off-Leash Play at Woofs with Atlas the Puppy
Overall she's settling in nicely. We've met some toddlers and babies and lots of people, but by far her favorite thing she did this week was the puppy party over at WOOFS! She got to have some off-leash fun with other puppies in her age/size group and made some great friends. She was completely not having us put her in the car to go there originally, but after it was over - she didn't want to leave. We're gonna enroll her in puppy kindergarden so that she gets more off-leash play time and some basic obedience training. She's gonna love it. We think. We hope...

Playtime with another neighborhood Puppy, Harvey!