Tuesday, February 28, 2012

From Mayhem To Order

Aside from yesterday's trip into town to have lunch with Carm's mom I have been busily disassembling and reassembling our home (repeat several times, could be an infinite loop). Yes, I am still at it. Normally this sort of organizing frenzy indicates that I have entered the manic zone, however, this time it's not the case.

One of the blogs I read (I'm an organizing junkie) has had a "29 day challenge" for getting organized. This has gotten me motivated and since tomorrow is the day to "link up" the results I've been especially busy. I can't really believe I'm going to do this, but I'll have two posts tomorrow, one for each room that I've done. They will show the before (gulp) and after (hurray) pictures as well as general babble about the process. Online. Out there in cyberspace where anyone can look and see how messy I was. But there are PRIZES!


We did get outside for our walk this morning, but it was a hard slog as our path had blown in with snow again. I count that as double the exercise! I wish I had my camera ready as there was one point where the three dogs were running out into virgin snow. It was so pretty with the fresh snow in front of them and fluffs of snow flying in the air as they ran - okay, okay, I know it isn't pictures of summer flowers, but hey, I've gotta make do!


Big disappointment this morning :-(  We got up early to try and book our favourite campsite for our "summer vacation" but someone beat us to it!! Waaaa. We'll try again tomorrow morning for another spot (that isn't our favourite).  Maybe we will end up there in the fall for my birthday instead of hot summer days. That wouldn't be so bad.

I know some of you are laughing – like “aren’t you always on vacation now that you are retired”. Well, no. We still need vacation from our retirement!

Oh! My blog went over 10,000 reads yesterday – I find that amazing and curious. Why would anyone really want to read my psychobabble anyway?  ggskj1-small

Sunday, February 26, 2012

We Can Become Known

Whew! I am pooped... this morning as soon as Carm was out the door I had the house torn back apart. To get the job done required dozens of trips up and down the stairs - my legs are like rubber. Especially since our path around the field was all blown in with snow - it was boot top high this morning.

I'm not going to say much about what I did as I plan to link up to the 1 month organization challenge over at this web site. I found the challenge motivating - it got me up off my ... At the end of the month I will have a post where I just talk about what was done with shameful before pictures followed by amazing after pictures. There's nothing quite like thinking photos of all your stuff will be on the internet to get it cleaned up!

Rookno17_vintage_cooking_food_clipart_retroWe spent the evening at a friends house last night. Trudie made the most amazing meal. First, along with drinks, she had made a Garlicky Beet Spread  served with a variety of crackers, some dried figs & apricots and some cheese. Then we sat down at the dinner table to the most beautiful stewed tomatoes you have ever seen or tasted. I can't remember the variety, but it was a golden heirloom tomato - the colour was amazing. Of course they were from Trudie's garden, and canned by Trudie herself. Then we had a mixed green salad with homemade lox and homemade cheese (you see where I am going with this!). Then we had salmon with a maple/pinenut crust, butternut squash cooked with chicken broth, rosemary and thyme. Along side of that were homemade gnocchi in some kind of tasty wine sauce. We brought the dessert - store bought chocolate mousse cake (how lame). Then there were cheeses and chocolates to nibble on (as if we were hungry) while we had some sort of national Chilean liqueur (i.e. firewater). Aside from the wonderful meal the conversation was interesting and fun. How will I ever match her hospitality? There was a time in my life that I would go all out making dinner for guests. Those days are long gone! Now if I can get something on the table that everyone likes then I'm happy.


I read a blog post yesterday (read it here) that really made me think. I'd like to share it with you to see what you think about her views. Carm's opinion was that the author is very unhappy and trying to make the reader unhappy too. However it didn't make me unhappy... it made me think and it lead to an interesting discussion. And somehow, to me anyway, it validated my recent openness. Maybe that is why I liked it.

One big hurrah for the newest firmware update to my Asus Transformer! Spell check! In blogger and email. Oh yay cause I am a terrible speller!

I received this from a friend the other day – I thought it was so poetic.

Keep concentrating on the simple pleasures and may the only dogs accompanying you be the dogs you own and love, not the black dog of depression.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

In the Meadow We Can Build a Snowman

In fact, we built two! The storm had a lull for a bit last night so we took the dogs out for a little fun. The wind had died down long enough for the snow to collect on the branches. There was that hush that only happens when the snow is just right. It was also the perfect stickiness to build snowmen. We didn't embellish them (it was late), but one did get a hat. Aren't they cute! When they first came outside the dogs ran and jumped in the snow - they seem to love the fresh snow as much as we do. Of course Kabira got cold and wanted inside, but Spike and Bella stayed outside. Bella was so happy helping us build the snowmen, it was dark though so Mr. Chicken McChicken-a-lot stayed on the front porch.  This morning he wouldn't go down the laneway - there were monsters there!

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This morning the wind was howling again and the snow was still falling. A perfect day to snuggle down into the house.

I read a post today written by a woman in her 50s that is newly divorced. Her husband just lost his job so she is about to lose all of her support. She had a doctors appointment the other day, but had to cancel it when she found out that the co-pay was $200. She has no money and is about to lose the last bit of medical insurance that she has. She suffers from debilitating panic attacks so can't get a job but she has no money to go to the doctor for treatment. What a catch 22...
Many of the people who commented were in a similar boat with their insurance - too poor to afford any. One person said that mental health issues are only covered 50% by some companies.
We are so lucky here in Canada with our health care system. We don't always have access to the highest tech solutions, but everyone has equal access to treatment. I have had wonderful medical care. Starting in 2004, every week for a few years I saw my psychiatrist. Even now I see one every 4 to 6 weeks. And not once have I had to worry about paying for it. Or being refused by the insurance company. That is peace of mind.

And finally Winter, with its bitin', whinin' wind, and all the land will be mantled with snow.
Roy Bean

Friday, February 24, 2012

Porcelain Unicorn

I hope you have already seen this, but just in case you haven’t I had to share.

“Legendary British film director Sir Ridley Scott launched a global film making contest for aspiring directors titled "Tell It Your Way". The film could be no longer than three minutes, contain only 6 lines of narrative & be a compelling story.There were over 600 entries. The winner was "Porcelain Unicorn" from American director Keegan Wilcox. The story is of the lifetimes of two people who are totally opposite, yet, very much the same - all told in less than 3 minutes. You can see why it won - enjoy!”


And This is Now

Rose-Tag-3-(SHOLT)It seems that some people have read into my last few posts that I am going through all this major depression now. I'm not. It was back in 2004 that this whole thing started.  While it is true that bipolar does not go away - I will have it for life - it is also true that there can be periods of "remission" where, with the help of medications, I will be symptom free. I did have a little blip last week where depression descended for four days, but now I am back to being right as rain.

In fact, for the last 14 months I have been better, with fewer bouts of depression or mania, than I have had for all of my adult life. I have had only one mentionable bit of depression (last week) and no mania. Life is good! (although just a tiny bit of hypo-mania might be handy once in a while cause I get TONS of stuff done!).


teapot ironstone vintage image graphicsfairy7Yesterday, just as Carm was heading out the door to visit his mom, the internet went down! YIKES! Withdrawal started right away! What was I going to do? Well, I got busy. First I gathered all the stationary from around the house - it was stashed everywhere. I sorted and arranged it and decided where to put it. The only problem... the cupboard where I wanted to put it had a bunch of stuff in it... so... I started organizing that cupboard, which meant that I had to organize the whole wall unit... you  know how that goes, the ripple effect. Now the house was in a giant mess. It was about then that the phone rang. It was Christina wondering about coming over for tea. Of course I wanted to see her - no turning back from the mess now, I had about 45 minutes to finish the job. I got it done right in the nick of time but didn't have time to wet down my hair and get it into some semblance of normal - it was sticking out all over like Einstein.


After Christina left, and with no internet back yet, I tackled the wrapping paper situation. Again, it was everywhere. Again there was a huge (even bigger) ripple effect. In fact I had to give up in the middle because my  back was hurting and I had what I thought was another hour of chaos to corral. This morning I got started... hours later I got it done and I'm happy with the result. At one point I looked up and there was stuff all down the hall, all over the spare bedroom bed and floor, on our bed and on the floor of our closet. OMG! It was like a bomb had gone off throwing all my stuff helter skelter! It is at that point that it would have been so easy to become overwhelmed and give up, but no, I kept my head down (so I didn't see most of it) and kept going. I finally got everything put back together, but I also see that there are more little hideaways that need to be addressed. Still it felt good. But it does seem that all I have done is move scads of stuff from one place to another, but haven't gotten rid of much (but I did get rid of some things - honestly!). I've also added to the mess of the basement. I keep thinking that with just the right storage solution my woes would be over. Ha.

And did the internet ever come back? Obviously yes as I have posted this, however it did require Carm calling Bell. It seems they inadvertently cancelled us in anticipation of our new service. What the $%^! They so rarely get things right.


When I checked the mail box this afternoon I was pleased to find a parcel notification. Sure enough, it was my blog book for the second part of 2011. It is a great memory book that I’ll be able to enjoy years from now. My age shows here – I need a hard-copy!

We are getting some snow here - it is almost like a blizzard with the gusting winds. This afternoon I took the dogs out for a few minutes, but had to drag Kabira by the collar to get her out of the house. Her teeth were chattering like crazy before I even got her out the door. She KNEW it was cold outside, silly girl.


In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
Albert Camus

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

And So it Began

You might wonder how a person goes from a seemingly normal life to one suddenly beset by mental illness. For some people it happens more or less suddenly as might be the case with depression.  For me though there was a gradual transition. From the time I was a teen I struggled with periods of depression, not the kind that stops you in your tracks, but the kind that makes life difficult. My energy would be low, sometimes even walking seemed an effort. I wouldn't be able to muster up any enthusiasm, life would seem bleak. Unless you knew me very well you might not even know there was something wrong - depressed people are usually pretty good at putting on a party face.

Contrasting the down periods there were times when I had lots of energy and enthusiasm. In those times new projects would be started - lets look for land and have a house built, no blueprints for what we want then lets design our own house. Build a barn? No problem. How about adding a few more horses to the herd? Should we get another pair of parrots? Maybe we should redo all the fencing and put up some more. Looking back now I can't believe the things we got done in those hypo-manic times!

Thankfully the majority of time I was just regular old me.

Then one year the depression didn't end... it stayed and stayed... and got worse and worse... I tried an antidepressant and it worked for a while, but that summer I was really hypo-manic - among other things I bought three more horses, and bred four mares - what was I thinking? After my return to work from summer vacation things went south again. I couldn't think, everything was a muddle. I felt awful, I didn't really want to live. A trip to my GP brought another round of anti-depressants. They weren't helping so he helped me to find a psychiatrist. As soon as Dr. Beck saw me he diagnosed me as bipolar II and got me started on new medications.

I was dumbfounded - what would it mean to be bipolar? Depression was one thing, I always imagined that once it was cured it would be gone, probably forever, but bipolar... that was for life. I couldn't get my mind around it, I was freaked out. How would this change my life? Would I be changed? Would "me" be gone? Going on the internet was not much help. Everything I read seemed to suggest that my life would be miserable from now on. I found some online support groups and they were even worse. There seemed to be only people in dire straits - would I be one of them? They all seemed to be in such an awful state, some losing their homes, their spouses, their jobs. It was scary.

As the first year wore on and with lots of help from my doctor I started recovering from the depression. It was slow and there were many times that I cried in my room at the futility. One thing they don't tell you about depression is how much it can affect your brain, your thinking, your cognition. Some of the problem may be side effects from the medications. But thinking was hard. Simple tasks were difficult, finding words was often impossible. I think this was one of the things I had the most trouble with - I was used to being (a bit) cerebral! Now I was dull. I wondered if I'd ever be "me" again. I railed against the unfairness. It took a long time, but I did eventually get back my brain. If someone you know is struggling with this let them know that recovery will come!

With the depression gone I now found myself dealing with more intense hypo-mania. Sometimes I would sleep only an hour or two a night. My mind and thoughts would race through my head. Sometimes I'd get a lot done, but other times I'd just be a bit too much out of control and just spin my wheels rushing from one thing to the next. Concentration on one task was difficult and sometimes impossible. It was time for another medication adjustment. With that and some lifestyle changes (I'll talk about that in another post) I was pretty good, but had "break through" symptoms. However, when we retired and the stress of work was gone things got even better. (I didn’t quit work because of my illness though)

If you have been reading my blog for a while you know that I did get better and that with medications and a good doctor am living a normal/good life. I didn't lose my home, my spouse or my job. If anything I feel better than I ever have (with the exception of the odd little blip here and there).

There is always hope.



Since we were in town this afternoon we treated ourselves to some Pho. It was delicious!

And when we got home we found some insects crawling around on the snow. Spring really is coming!




Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it's always
your choice.

Wayne Dyer

Sometimes it is just harder to get that motivation than others – Laura

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I ran across this YouTube this morning. It made me laugh - the 40s and 50s ideas of woman and technology are just so far out there. Way back when I was in junior high taking Home Ec, we had a textbook that was straight out of that era. My friend Jackie and I used to sit in my bedroom laughing and laughing till we were almost crying at the out-dated ideas. Obviously I'm no Suzie homemaker. But I do have an apron that I sometimes wear. We've come a long way baby!

Today Carm was on the phone for hours (almost 3 hours) with Bell, trying to figure out what we are going to do for our internet service. They are cancelling the service that we currently use for internet, and are offering us a metered service that is going to cost somewhat more. To make matters worse they have a plan on their web site that no one at Bell seems to know about. One guy typed in the URL and still the information was missing. He was ping ponged to about 8 different people, and each time he had to give the whole story, including the bit where a few weeks ago some guy called Pascal told him he could get that plan (with a reference number). I'm glad it was Carm doing this cause honestly I would have hung up pretty quickly. And done what I'm not sure. In the end his perseverance paid off and he got the plan that we wanted. Whew...

What have the pleasures been lately? Well, for a few days there were none, but yesterday it was nice to see the snow melting back to show some grass. The parts of our path that have south facing tall grasses beside it are melting away. The suns rays are strong enough to warm up the darker vegetation to create local temperature zones. The warmth and sun has been nice the last few days, and although it is cloudy today it is still warm. Unseasonably so. Sleeping dogs are always a pleasure. They are so spoiled to have the whole futon to sleep on. I like bringing my tablet and joining them there. Spike usually sleeps with his head on a pillow - he looks so sweet and peaceful, even when his tongue sticks out a bit. I got an email attachment with beautiful photos of Norway - that was a pleasure to look at. Strangely the music was "Chiquita" - how odd to pair Mexican music with Norwegian pictures! Grace loved it though - she whistled and sang along.

See, even in the most average of days there are things to find pleasure in. The trick is to remember to do so...  One of the suggestions in "Spontaneous Happiness" is to write a daily grateful journal where you list a few things that you are grateful for - studies have shown that this actually works to increase happiness.

Land is the secure ground of home, the sea is like life, the outside, the unknown.
Stephen Gardiner

Monday, February 20, 2012


I dragged myself out of bed late again this morning. My nights have been spent wide awake, but of course at the crack of dawn I'm sound asleep - dooh! But today I was determined to make a good day of it. One foot forward as they say.

With a coffee in hand I plopped myself in front of my computer with plans to get a proper off-site backup done. Most of our files were already on dvd/cd, I just had to add a years worth of photos and some other miscellaneous files. With Carm's help (he has the faster dvd drive), we finally have a complete set of files - including all the photos!

Now to get them offsite. When we worked, it was easy to keep a copy at our desks in town, but since quitting work last December, we have been remiss... Bad us - you would think that as IT professionals it would have been top priority. After some thought, and a little trip, the disks are safely tucked away from the house. Do you keep copies of your photos and data somewhere else?


This afternoon for a fun little game for Spike I took one of his toys down to the barn and hid it just inside the door. Once I was back at the house I let him out and told him to "find it". Once I got him on the right trail (I had just been outside going the other direction a few minutes before) he had his nose to the ground sniffing the way. Sure enough, with just one little detour past the barn to our walking trail, he made his way back and found his toy. He loves this game and seems so proud of himself when he makes the find. I looked into taking a tracking class with him, but it starts sometime in April and will conflict with camping times.  Hummm... maybe I'll find out the exact dates and see if I could fit it in. It would be good for both of us.

We had another day today that hovered around the freezing point. That's a week of temperatures that are more expected at the end of March, not mid February. The melting has worn away some of our path in the lower paddock which makes for tricky walking. But the good thing is it is more of a work out!


Happy Tails Trails

Sunday, February 19, 2012


I've been thinking...

The last few days have been a little rough for me... I thought about writing about it but am unsure.

I write this blog for a variety of reasons, the main one being to capture a little slice of my life so that years from now I can look back on this turning point.

I also write it to keep reminding myself of the wonder and pleasures that can be had in everyday living.

But there is one aspect of my life that I have avoided writing about and that is mental illness. I suppose that I am afraid of the stigma that comes with having a mental illness, people that read my blog might judge, but I remind myself that I didn't let stigma affect me when I had Spike by my side as a Service Dog. In fact I made it a point to talk to people - strangers - about mental illness and bring it out in the open. To consciously fight the stigma. I wonder now if doing the same thing in my blog might help others.


In talking about how mental illness affects me people might see that one can still live a full and (mostly) happy life. By talking about my feelings maybe someone who is reading this will understand their friend or family member's illness better. Maybe they'll understand that when a depressed person pushes them away, they are really saying "help me". Or that when a manic person snaps at them it is really their illness talking and not them.

So… with a bit of trepidation… I have decided to include thoughts about living with bipolar in my blog entries. Usually I am well with just occasional bouts of hypo-mania or depression, so I don't expect I'll usually have anything say (I don't want the blog to become all about my illness), but there are times when depression returns, often only for a few days, and I may talk about what that is like. Or I’ll mention days when my head is swirling with thoughts and ideas that make it impossible to settle on just one. I am lucky though – those thoughts and feelings rarely visit (especially now that I’m retired!).

People with bipolar disorder often say "I am bipolar" while I say "I have bipolar disorder". It does not define who I am, but merely colours how I sometimes view the world around me.

I have been lucky in many ways during my journey of getting well. While in the midst of my first major depression (I'd had many, many smaller ones throughout my life) I was able to quickly get in to see a psychiatrist, and he quickly diagnosed me as bipolar. We were able to get a working cocktail of medications within a year or two. They have been tweaked over the years but have mostly kept me well enough. I was lucky that my boss and co-workers were supportive of me as I went through the recovery from the depression - my brain had been greatly affected, I could barely follow a recipe let alone manage a technical environment. I was lucky that I had a supportive spouse. He did so much to create a healing environment. I was lucky to have supportive friends, ones that didn't abandon me to my illness. And of course I was lucky to have a family that cared.


Now what about the last few days? Well, I've been feeling depressed. I'm feeling a bit better now which is why I can write this. What does depression feel like? It is a little like feeling blue, but there is more to it than that. I feel that life is too hard and overwhelming – it would be easier to be dead. I'm so uncomfortable in my skin, almost like I'm being torn apart inside. I can totally relate to those who turn to drugs and alcohol to escape the feelings (I don't though), they are almost unbearable. I feel cranky and snap at Carm - he takes the brunt of it. I don't really care what he does or what he says - how can I? I don't even care about myself. Everything is like a grey fog or shroud is covering it. The lustre is out of life. I can't read a book, my attention span is too short. (Blogs are good though - they are short, with photos.) There is not much that I feel like doing. The thing that is though, although I want to be left alone - I really don't. It is scary to be left alone with such awful thoughts and with solitude they get worse and worse. But it is impossible to ask for help.

Then one morning I wake up (usually after a really long sleep) and I'm back to normal. The sky is a beautiful blue and the snow sparkles like diamonds.


I just got in from our afternoon walk and the sky was a pretty rosy pink. That's a good thing.

Rose Tag 1-(SHOLT)-onj-side

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fjord Horse Article–Starting a Foal

This is the article that I wrote for the Norwegian Fjord Horse Registry (NFHR). I imagine it will be edited some before it gets published.

File0002There is much that you can do during the first hours and days of your foal’s arrival to start them on the right hoof. Lessons learnt at this very important time, positive or negative, will shape the foal's behaviour for the rest of its life.

How then does one go about laying a good foundation? This was the question I set out to answer in the months leading up to the birth of our first foal. My first horse had been dangerously reactive and I knew I didn't want to repeat that scenario. Somewhere in all my reading I came across an article by Dr. Miller about his imprinting process (http://www.robertmmiller.com/imprint-training.html) - this seemed to be exactly what I was looking for! I quickly ordered his book and video, both of which I would recommend to anyone wanting to give their foal a good start. The knowledge learned there, combined with what I had learned from previous study of clicker training and operant conditioning gave me something to get started with. Over the years I added new techniques, including some from Parelli.


One April evening in 2000 our first foal, Uvaer, arrived. It was time to get started. While his mother, Dora, lay resting I started with imprinting - first towelling his body, then moving on to tapping his feet, rubbing his ears inside and out, slipping on a baby sized halter, rubbing with a plastic bag, introducing clippers, etc. All this was done in a calm and loving manner. I was careful not to frighten him or cause him undue stress. As we went through each step it was important to not stop until he was totally relaxed and accepting. Otherwise the opposite would happen - he would become sensitized to the stimulus, not at all what I was aiming for. After Dora was up I let Uvaer find his feet and have his first drink. While he was standing I went through the same steps, again making sure he remained calm. With my husband by his side to help his balance I gently lifted each foot, not putting it down until he was relaxed. With baby horse calm and accepting of us - step one was completed.

As a side note, I kept my own safety in mind while doing this. Some mares can get aggressive with anyone interfering with their new baby. I was always sure to either keep a barrier where the mare could still reach her foal, or had a helper manage the mare on a lead rope until their reactions could be gauged. I was fortunate that all our mares accepted our presence.


The following morning, I started Uvaer's next lessons. First we reviewed what was done in the initial imprinting. Any steps where there was resistance were repeated until a calm acceptance was achieved. Next on the agenda, the movement exercises. Uvaer had already learned from Dora to move from a nudge so we just built on this. In all of these exercises we started with a light pressure (or pull) and increased to an insistent (but not hard) pressure depending on the reaction we got. The aim was to have him move with just the lightest of touches.


Starting with the lead rope attached to the halter I applied a light (rope held between 2 fingers) pressure sideways, holding it until Uvaer moved his head to release the pressure. At that point I rewarded him by scratching his back. The release of pressure is also a reward but I wanted to additionally reinforce him. I repeated the exercise until he gave to the pressure right away at the lightest intensity. The exercise was repeated from the other side, and then from the front. Next I wanted to get a step in each direction. I just had to hold the pressure a little bit longer and he was stepping the right direction. More steps were added as he got more comfortable. Leading can also be done without ropes by using the pressure of your fingers.

The next skill to learn was stepping backwards and sideways. In other words, I wanted him to learn to move backwards with just a light pressure from my hand on his chest. I started by using one finger in the middle of his chest to ask him to move. The pressure was increased from the lightest of touches to a more firm touch, releasing at the first sign of backwards motion. This was repeated, waiting till he gave just little more each time. It was only a minute or two before he was stepping backward. Then the same set of steps was repeated for moving his hind quarters over.

Uvaer now had a basic foundation on which to build. We also had a foal that was comfortable around people and who could easily become a Fjord horse bull. To somewhat alleviate this we would ask for a step back, or a side step or to give his head whenever we wanted to pet him, or whenever he came up to us. Everyday we practiced something: leading – with and without a lead rope, picking up his feet and moving his body around - things that would come in handy when it was time to learn how to pull a cart or carry a rider. This gave him lots of practice doing what we asked and led to a more willing horse.


As foals were born over the next several years I added extra steps and more skills. For example, since they were comfortable with plastic bags fluttering around them we grabbed a tarp for them to practice with. They would walk over the tarp, under the tarp, they would play with the tarp and drag it around. We added tires to step in and around. A pole on the ground was added. They would drag a bag of cans, rattling and bumping their legs. A saddle blanket would whoosh over their heads and onto their backs. Mom's saddle would lightly be held on their backs (no real weight though!). We'd pick their feet up using a rope. Everything was introduced in a step by step fashion making sure not to create a phobia. We wanted things to be fun for them. Lots of scratches and rubs were given out.

The foals would gladly leave mom in the pasture to come and play with us, even from the time they were a week or two old. The mares felt confident in our ability to keep their babies safe and would relax away from them.


If you have a foal due and want to build a good foundation I would highly recommend reading the Dr. Miller materials. Learning about clicker training and the concepts of operant conditioning will teach you how to break things down into tiny, achievable steps. Many of the level 1 Parelli games can be played with a foal. All these techniques properly applied will create a horse that is a joy to be with; however, those same techniques improperly applied may create the opposite. Keep it fun and calm.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Is it Spring?

Rose-Tag-3-(SHOLT)The last 2 days have been well above zero, all the way up to 6C (42F)! The snow is melting and in some areas with a southern exposure the grass can even be seen. I know this is just a taste, but we could actually start getting spring in a month from now. The winter has zoomed by, with barely a peep. Sure we've had a few days of freezing rain (always when we have to go to the city), but we've only had to have the snowplow guy in once so far (touch wood).

With the warm weather the snow pack has been changing. Today the dogs seemed to like the feel of it under their feet - especially Spike as he raced around. Kabira though took a pretty spectacular face plant as she was racing back to me on a recall. She got up and dusted her self off then continued on her way. Whew - I worry about them hurting themselves when the snow gives way like that.


Speaking of recalls - I've been practicing a bit with the big dogs... Kabira is getting pretty good but boy oh boy she is going to send me flying one of these days. She comes running at TOP SPEED, right for me and then puts on the brakes right at the last second. She either stops right in front of me or goes flying by ‘cause she can't stop in time. I can only stand still, in fear, hoping that she misses me. All for a tiny piece of hotdog!

I signed up for Pintrest yesterday. I'll have to play around with it for a few days before I will be able to tell if it is useful to me or not. So far, one strike against it - it is really slow. I can't abide slow.

heart floral vintage Image GraphicsFairy010bDid y'all have a nice Valentines Day? Ours sort of sucked... I woke up in a funk and never really got over it. Take-out comfort food and mindless TV were the name of the game last night. We'll just pretend that tonight is the night. I am slightly jaded about the whole thing. Really - what's the big deal? I suppose if we had kids and needed a special night for the two of us, or maybe if we didn't spend every waking moment together it would make more sense. I can't see spending $5 on a card that gets looked at for a second then thrown in a drawer, but, we do talk about our love on a regular basis, so no one is feeling desperate for the validation. I guess I'm just a Valentines Day Scrooge! Or perhaps to me everyday is Valentines Day!

Last night we watched the first night of the Westminster Dog Show. The herding, toy, non-sporting and hound groups were judged. I love looking at dogs and really enjoy seeing all the different breeds. It is interesting to see how some breeds have "evolved" over the years - some to their ruination (to my mind anyway), while others have maintained a sound structure. The winning dogs, to my mind, were all breeds that have been ruined. The herding group was won by a German Shepard Dog - the poor dog could only move at one gait (the show gait), in all other movement it seemed almost crippled. I was sickened. There were any number of sound dogs to choose from. In the toy group the Pekinese won. Again, to my mind, a ruined breed. Hound group was won by a really long backed dachshund - I remember a day when their backs weren't so long and prone to debilitating injury. Thankfully in the non-sporting group they chose a nice Dalmatian that had lovely movement. But really they should have chosen one of the poodles! Many people think that Poodles are ridiculous, but it is only their hair cut that is funny - underneath that hair is an athletic dog.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Last Minute

I’ve been feeling especially lazy the last few days – I don’t know if it’s the weather (sunny) or just the time of year but I’m not doing much beyond laying in the sun reading. Saturday was no different, but by 2pm I was thinking that having friends over for supper would be nice. It was awfully last minute but what the heck I gave them a ring. Lucky for me they were home and had no plans.


Now the hard part – feeding them! I checked in the fridge – broccoli, turkey breast, mushrooms, roasted red pepper in the freezer… what to make? Stir fry! So I cut up the turkey into bite sized pieces and marinated them in chopped garlic, zest & juice of 1 lemon, some soy sauce and a dash of sesame oil. The rest of the ingredients got chopped up, and I added some fresh ginger as well. Voila, dinner in a jiffy. It turned out pretty good – now I just have to remember what I did for the next time (hence the detailed description above).

Jo Ellen and Don (and Lady) arrived just on time. With a fire flickering in the fireplace we enjoyed a leisurely dinner and visit. It is nice to have friends that you can just casually invite over and not worry too much about the state of the house or the fanciness of the meal.

I did want to bash Carm at one point though. He dragged everyone down to the basement. I gotta tell you – our basement is not for the faint of heart… it has piles and piles and shelves and shelves of stuff. How could we have so much stuff? It is a lot better arranged since we have spent some time down there lately, but really – it SHOULD NOT be on a house tour! Got that Carm!




after – still some work to do, but really, how can you make tools look really neat and tidy without putting them into containers of some sort

This evening we are having supper at my Mom & Dad’s. It’s Dad’s 70th birthday today – what a milestone! Last year I posted a few old photos of him and I think I’ll do the same again today. In both of these photos he is just 20 years old (20!). My mom is just 18 (yes 18!).



When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.
William Arthur Ward

Friday, February 10, 2012

As Big as it Gets

Eleven am found us driving into the parking garage of the new Ikea. Right away we were impressed - it is a giant blue box. Ground floor has the parking, second floor has the warehouse and store, with the display areas set up on the third floor. Of course we got on the escalator and took the trip to the top. We took a quick peek at the restaurant (seats 400!), and then started winding our way through all the displays. There were dozens of kitchen set ups, some little apartments decorated, and then a plethora of living rooms and bedrooms. As in the old Ikea, they guide you through the store with arrows on the floor. It was slightly disorienting as I never knew how to get out of the place, in fact I felt vaguely claustrphobic. But it is a good way to see everything.

On the second floor we picked up the sheets we had come to get ($29.99 for 100% cotton king sheet set!), some candles, and even two plates (I love plates and dishes). With our stuff in hand, and our lunch appointment looming we headed for the cashes. Of course we had to wind our way through all the displays... on our way we passed at least one irate husband, cranky at having to go through the whole place...

We finally made it to the cashes and availed ourselves of one of the self check outs and made our escape. Just in time to meet Carm's old work buddies for a pub lunch. The food was terrible but the company was fun, and to their credit it wasn't total work talk. I felt so gyped at the lousy hamburger that I treated my self to a Costco ice cream... which Carm ate half of (he disagrees and says it wasn't even close to half).

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Get some Meat on those Bones

Teapot Vintage Image GraphicsFairy4Christina came over for tea today… with a trunk full of meat and bones for our dogs. The treasure chest included heart, liver, kidneys, tail, rib bones, and some other stuff that I’m not really sure what it is but I am pretty sure the dogs will like it! Thanks Christina :-)

While I was having my visit with Christina, Carm spent his afternoon playing around with our network. We currently get our internet from Bell through WiMax, but, they are discontinuing it so we’ll have to have an HSPA hub (or some such thing). This of course means we will have new network equipment so Carm did step one in getting us configured. Something to do with LANs and WANs and renumbering our subnet to avoid a conflict with the new equipment.

skating vintage Image GraphicsFairy003

We had more melting today – I may have to start wearing my icers on our walk ‘cause it sure is getting icy out there. The laneway is one thing – we expect that, but the rest of the path is getting pretty slick too. And some of the sides have melted a bit so we are slipping and sliding right off the pathway. But you know what? I LOVE having this to complain about! I love being home and able to get outside during the day – it is wonderful.

Happy Tails Trails

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

10 Downing Street

Tuesday we took advantage of the reduced rate and went to see "Iron Lady". It was a great movie, and Meryl Streep was amazing (surely she'll get an Oscar for that). It is a much different experience watching a movie at the theatre - firstly there are no interruptions - the dog doesn't have to go out, or Grace doesn't ring her bell, or the phone doesn't ring... I love how when the feature presentation starts, it gets totally quiet, you could hear a pin drop. People stop chewing their popcorn and shuffling in their seats - the anticipation is palatable.

I found it interesting to see some of the news clips that they included in the movie. Some of them were from 1974 which is when we lived in England. I was just a 12 year old girl, and because we didn't have a television (imagine that!) there was never news on. I did know that there was an oil embargo and power restrictions. The local shops weren't allowed to use lights, so they were lit by candles and lamps, likewise, we were only allowed one light on in the house at a time. I remember being afraid of the dark - just before we had moved to England I had seen a horror movie, ironically called "Don't be Afraid of the Dark",  with little monsters that could only come out in the dark. There were no night lights to protect me... we were living in this older home that had fireplaces everywhere (that's there the little people came from)... oh my. A trip to the bathroom from the warmth and light of the lounge was fraught with danger! And going to bed… all by myself… way up the stairs… in the dark…

I wasn't aware though of the political unrest, not in a way that seemed real to me anyway. I think if I had seen the news clips of car bombs and riots I would have been more affected. As it was, the bomb scares and evacuations that we periodically had at school just seemed like a fun way to get out of class. It is sometimes good to be young and naive.

20120206_snow_011I've been out on my snowshoes the last few days but have had only limited luck packing down the new path. I think it will have to wait until all the snow is gone before the path is really boot ready. Today I was able to walk the entire route, but I did break through several times. It will be interesting to see what the melting and refreezing does for the ice layer. 



The sun is getting higher. I love how it cast our shadows this afternoon.


Happy Tails Trails

Monday, February 6, 2012


I don't usually comment much on current affairs, but Carm has CNN on. They are playing a story about Syria - so much suffering... children with legs blown off... parents dead. How can this be? They only want freedom. When they do prevail over corruption it will be a hard earned freedom. We should take a moment and reflect on our lives and remember how lucky we are.

What a world we live in.

On a happier note, the sky is turning a lovely pink as the sun recedes to the horizon. As I'm lying on the futon, if I turn my eyes to the right I see the tv, however if I look to the left I see the sunset. For the view to the left I am grateful and will count it as my pleasure for today.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Peter Piper Picked a … Pepper

First thing Saturday morning we were out on the trail. It was a perfect morning, not too cold, full sun and no wind. Even the "naked" poodles enjoyed themselves and were reluctant to come inside.

File0002After a cup of coffee and a few minutes of checking out other blogs I had my tablet in my lap and was typing out the first bits of the article I'm writing. It went really well and before I knew it I had 2 full pages (without the photos) of text for Carm to comment on. After getting all the changes of tense fixed up (gosh I had made a mess of that the first time through)  Carm gave it the go ahead. I sat on it overnight so that I could do a re-read in the morning at which point I changed a few more things. I'll give it another read Monday morning then off it will go. I hope Jane likes it.

Later in the afternoon I headed outside again, this time with my snowshoes. Stupidly I forgot my camera though - it was such a lovely afternoon there surely would have been some good pictures to be taken. My goal with this walk was to stamp down a new path in the lower pond paddock so that we had an additional loop - maybe we could get 30 minutes worth of trail. I snowshoed over the route a few times, but as soon as I tried to walk on it with just my boots I went straight through the deep snow. Oh well, so much for that. I'll keep my snowshoes handy and maybe if I go over the path everyday eventually I'll create a walkable path. There is just enough crust to support my weight with snowshoes, but not without. I had hoped the snowshoes would have broken through more.

secretariat-photoWe watched “Secretariat” Saturday night. Great movie but it required lots of Kleenex... lots. Not to give anything away, but one for the funeral, then one for his birth (after all I had the birth of our foals foremost in my mind after writing that article), then 1/2 of one for the first race, the rest of it for the next. Then some were needed for the Triple Crown races... I can't watch a horse race, either live or a movie, without crying! I almost sob with emotion – how lame is that!

At the end of the last race of the Triple Crown (Belmont Stakes) the camera cut to a view of the last corner, as Secretariat rounded the curve, with the sound of pounding hooves in the background, the music switched over to the hymn "Oh Happy Days" - it was perfect. It was emotional. He was amazing. No horse has beat his record in all the years since (1974).

Here is a YouTube clip of the original Belmont Stakes race. Amazing. The clip from the movie for the same race can be seen here: http://youtu.be/pNeajtcNwJ0

Okay, now for my beef (not the steak kind). I like to cook and to make things with different flavours. I spend a fair amount of time following recipes and carefully measuring herbs and spices to get Moroccan, Indian, Italian and other dishes. I serve out our dishes and what is the first thing that Carm does? He puts a thick layer of pepper over everything, obliterating my efforts. I've tasted the results and all I can taste is pepper. Why do I bother with getting the flavours right? Am I the only one with this bug or are others irritated by the pepper grinder?

Sometimes I start a post with nothing much to say, but then, somehow, as if I liked the sound of my own voice, I've gone on and on. Hopefully you know when to hit the delete key!

Happy Tails Trails