Friday, March 28, 2014

Nearing The End of a Wintery Sleep

To keep to the theme of mammals in the 70s, there are two notable songs about horses. “A Horse with no Name”, and of course “Wildfire”. I know all the lyrics to both of them, do you? Before we left on our trip I downloaded (legally of course) a bunch of songs from the 70s – I’ve been having trips down memory lane ever since.

I've been through the desert on a horse with no name,
It felt good to be out of the rain.
In the desert you can remember your name,
'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain.
La, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la
La, la, la la la la, la la la, la, la

~”A horse with no Name” Songwriters: BUNNELL, DEWEY

She comes down from Yellow Mountain
On a dark, flat land she rides
On a pony she named Wildfire
With a whirlwind by her side
On a cold Nebraska night
Oh, they say she died one winter
When there came a killing frost
And the pony she named Wildfire
Busted down it's stall
In a blizzard he was lost

She ran calling Wildfire …



It is a grey day that started with flurries, which changed to then rain as the day progressed. Forecast high? 9C! Yippee, finally some temps above freezing. But the damp is seeping into my bones – it feels cold out without the sun.

Last night we celebrated Carm’s birthday with a quiet dinner of takeout and bubbles. We were all celebrated out!

Signed up for our next Ballroom dancing class – no beginner class this time around so we’re going to try Rumba classes for 4 weeks. Should be fun!

“The trees were gathered closely in the copse, as if to gain strength from one another against the bitter winds. A white mantle of snow still lay at their feet, a testament to a long winter’s grip. Forgotten long ago, a bird’s nest was crushed in the snow at their feet. Waiting. All of them waiting for the warm sunshine to free them from their wintery sleep. Counting not the minutes or hours, but the length of the days.” ~me

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Another 70s Mammal

I got back on the treadmill today! A one week “break” and I could feel the difference – it was harder again. While I was power walking to the sounds of music, the 70s classic “Fox on the Run” started playing. Ummmm… okay… sure. Catchy tune though!

I don't wanna know your name
'Cause you don't look the same
The way you did before

Okay, you think you got a pretty face
But the rest of you is out of place
You looked all right before

Fox on the run
You scream and everybody comes a running
Take a run and hide yourself away
Foxy on the run, f-foxy
Fox on the run and hide away… ~

"Fox On The Run" was written by Scott, Andrew / Priest, Stephen / Connolly, Brian / Tucker, Michael.


Myna asked me on Facebook this morning how my “clean” eating was going. Well, up until the party, it was going well. I would say that 80% of eating was low gluten, vegan whole foods. Except for take out once a week or so… Was I losing weight? No. But since I have been strength training and exercising I have been putting on muscle, and I think losing fat (at least that’s what I’m telling myself!). I have visible muscle in some places now and catch myself flexing them in the mirror – what a goof! I feel good! (not today after a week of junk food tho).

Spring isn’t here yet. It is a bright winter day, with temps well below freezing, but thankfully a strong sun. Looking outside it could be the middle of winter. Bleck.



Here’s a new word for you:  Collywobbles: pain in the abdomen and especially in the stomach; a bellyache.

I was awake for a few hours last night with collywobbles, probably due to the chips I ate before going to before bed.


Mind is everything. Muscle - pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind. ~Paavo Nurmi

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I Finally Found It

This morning I remembered that I had been using the blue treat bowl in the kitchen as I had been training Spike there. So… I figured that it had to be in one of the cupboards, and sure enough, there it was, in the cupboard with the placemats and napkins. Logical spot? I have a dim memory of putting it there, thinking at the time that it would be easy to find, and that if I did forget I’d surely run across it eventually… ha.

The sun was shining strongly this morning, but with the temps of –10C;  this afternoon the snow started falling again… so of course the snow on the ground still remains. I wonder where those robins are today? The weather forecast for the weekend forecasts warming up to above zero, so maybe spring will come.

With all the busyness of getting ready for the party, my exercise routine had been put aside… and still is… I’m having trouble finding the energy and motivation to get back at it. Perhaps I need another rest day, and will get back at it tomorrow.

I couldn’t decide on a quote today so included two.

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Monday, March 24, 2014

A life spent making mistakes

Old movies were about all I managed yesterday (aside from heaps of clean-up). Three and a half light-hearted flics to be exact. I couldn't have ordered up a better way to spend my Sunday afternoon.

One of the movies, Summer Place, was an interesting peek into 1959 American society. It dealt with the subject of love affairs and teen pregnancy with a bit of alcoholism thrown in for interest. Another, Marty, was about an Italian butcher looking for a wife. There was a ton of stereotype character sketches - interesting. I wasn't sure if it was racist. Finally, "How to Marry a Millionaire", with Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall, and Marilyn Monroe, was a nice way to end my afternoon. I've seen it more than once, but it still entertains. What beauties they all were, and the clothes!

I did venture outside for a few minutes - there was a blazing sun, but it was still well below freezing. When is spring going to come? Which reminds me - we watched a flock of ROBINS hop around the yard, which is 2 foot deep in snow. Poor things - what will they eat? The spring is very late this year, we often have grass showing by this date.


Today was another blazing sun day – the snow is slowly melting, but not because it is so warm out (it isn’t), it is due entirely from the strong sun.

When I was getting ready for the party, I tidied up a bit and stashed the extra “stuff” in out-of-the-way places… you can probably guess where this is going… I’ve been searching and searching for the little blue bowl that holds the dog treats. Where could I have put it? What safe place did I stash it in? I’m sure it will turn up in some unlikely hiding place one of these days :-o  Just like that package of velcro a few months ago that hid out for at least 6 months.


A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing. ~George Bernard Shaw

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Remind Me Next Time

I’m not sure which to have you remind me – that parties are too much work, or in the end it is all worth it?

Don't get me wrong - it was a great party and I was happy to see everyone. But! I would so much rather meet in small groups where I can actually have a real conversation. I did a quick calculation as the guests were starting to arrive - if I were to spend 5 minutes with each person, it would take me to 10;30 pm. Not counting any extra time spent doing the regular hosting such as serving the cake.


But back to Friday night first – the local weather on the news was forecasting for 10-15 cm of snow with white-out conditions due to high wind. Oh oh. When we got up Saturday morning we could see that they weren’t joking… now our only hope was that it be a fast moving storm. Carm kept his eye on the radar as we went about our tasks. Sure enough, by mid afternoon the snow had stopped and the wind had died down. Up and down the driveway Carm went with his snowblower, with our fingers crossed that it really was finished (it was, except for flurries in the evening which sent some guests back to their homes early – but I digress).

Knowing how hectic hosting can be, I hired my friend Christina's daughter to manage the food, washing glasses, and all that stuff. She was a godsend. I think I only spent a few minutes in the kitchen before she left at 11pm. Thanks for the help Lisa!


We spent an active 2 days preparing the house and food - there always seem to be a million little things to be done. By Saturday afternoon I was tired, and starting to spin. I'd start on one task, remember about something else to be done and start on that, remember what I was working on before, and so on! There were a few times I caught myself taking a step or two one way, then spinning around to take a step or two the other direction!

Thank goodness for technology! I wouldn't be able to cope without Google Tasks and other documents. If I had a smart phone I'd be even better off and possibly able to avoid the spinning thing.







But back to the party. There were so many people that I rarely see - even 5 or 10 minutes of conversation was worth it! And of course Carm had a great time - maybe turning 60 isn't so bad after all!


The last guests left at 1:30am, after which Carm and I did a good 45 minutes of clean-up. A few minutes with our feet up, and then into bed by 2:30am. More clean-up this morning and we are almost back to normal! Not my feet though. I will admit to spending the day on the sofa with my feet up, and old movies on the tv... and a few chips & dip.

Carm was first up this morning; with Spike standing on him, he had no choice but to take the dogs outside. An hour later I got up, and found Carm and the dogs sound asleep on the futon.


I don't think I've mentioned the food yet... I usually plan for way more food than is required, and this party was no exception. We have scads of leftovers - much of which is high fat, non vegan fare, but luckily some is also frozen. I foresee having people over for hors d'oeuvres meals with a salad on the side! And an increase of my waistline :-(


One does not leave a convivial party before closing time. ~Winston Churchill

Saturday, March 15, 2014


I’ve been working on Spike’s new trick with him (opening a cupboard door by pulling on a fabric rope), but the last step is going slowly.

When your dog knows the clicker training “game” it is pretty neat to watch them learn. Teaching with the clicker requires the trainer to break the behaviour down into small steps, reinforcing with treats as you go; the click becomes the signal that yes, that is what I want you to do. I usually “free shape” a behaviour, which means no touching or physical guiding.

The first step was for him to come close to the rope, (click/treat), then touch it with his nose (click/treat), and so on as the behaviour is built. Some steps have to be repeated several times before they are truly understood. On the first click his head snapped around to look at me (and get the treat). The game was on!

As we progressed through the steps, he would offer part of the behaviour, then pause and wait for the click. If the click didn’t come he would go to the next step, and again pause. Sometimes I would be too slow, or expect too much and he would get frustrated and offer a bow, spin, down, or even a play dead. (trainer, take heed!)


It took less than 10 minutes before he was pulling on the rope consistently. And that’s where we stalled. He would pick up the rope and put tension on it, but we couldn’t advance to him pulling hard enough to open the door. How could I get him to pull harder? I pondered this over the next day, and realized that we don’t even have tug games with his toys – those sorts of games are discouraged. Since that revelation I’ve tried playing tug with him and clicking for a harder pull, but we are still not getting it.

The next thing I’m going to try is to use higher value treats. I might be too stingy with the treats for this more difficult step. But other than that, I’m not sure how we are going to get past this – any suggestions are welcomed!


My little dog - a heartbeat at my feet.  ~Edith Wharton

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Muskrat Love

Have you ever hummed along to a song, liking its tune, perhaps for years, without ever listening to the lyrics? I’ve done that with many songs, the most recent of which is Muskrat Love. Yesterday I really listened to the lyrics, and had to laugh at how silly they are!

Muskrat, muskrat candlelight
Doin' the town and doin' it right
In the evenin'
It's pretty pleasin'
Muskrat Susie, Muskrat Sam
Do the jitterbug out in muskrat land
And they shimmy
And Sammy's so skinny
And they whirled and they twirled and they tangoed
Singin' and jingin' the jango
Floatin' like the heavens above
It looks like muskrat love
Nibbling on bacon, chewin' on cheese
Sammy says to Susie "Honey, would you please be my missus?"
And she say yes
With her kisses
And now he's ticklin' her fancy
Rubbin' her toes
Muzzle to muzzle, now anything goes
As they wriggle, and Sue starts to giggle
And they whirled and they twirled and they tangoed
Singin' and jingin' the jango
Floatin' like the heavens above
It looks like muskrat love
La da da da da ...
   ~Songwriters: WILLIS ALLAN RAMSEY

Seriously! “Nibbling on bacon, chewin’ on cheese”!! And what exactly does it mean by “ticklin’ her fancy”? I’ll still hum and sing along, but now with a laugh in my head.

The other day I asked Spike to go get my socks. He went down the main hall, saw that the bedroom door was closed, so went around and tried another door, through another room. I thought that was pretty smart!

I started teaching Spike a new trick using clicker training yesterday – it is fun watching him learn and try new things to get the click. He is very deliberate in the behaviours he offers, pausing to see if that’s what I’m looking for, and trying something else if it doesn’t earn him the click. The clicker is a powerful training communication tool, and with all the treats, it is fun for him too!

The time change has me all discombobulated – how about you? But the good news is that it is finally warm enough for the little “snow bugs” are crawling about (another really good reason not to eat snow, in case you were so inclined!). I think they are snow scorpionflys, but not 100% sure.

Merikay commented yesterday about the difficulty in keeping with a healthy lifestyle when under a lot of stress. She isn’t kidding! It is so easy to reach for that unhealthy food, or pull the covers up over your head to avoid the stressors. We all know that doesn’t work though, and is a downward spiral.

I’m no expert, but what I’ve figured out is that making just one small change – a healthy breakfast, or 10 minutes on the treadmill, or getting outside with my camera for a few minutes – helps me to keep on track (usually). I can’t think about the whole picture – it overwhelms – but I find I can do one small thing. “I can do this” is what I say to myself over and over.

So, Merikay, get outside with your camera and take a few photos of your surroundings and post them on your blog.


And they whirled and they twirled and they tangoed ~Muskrat Love

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Habitual Nourishment - Addiction

There have been a few times the last few weeks where I have given into my cravings for fatty, salty or sweet food. Each time I am left feeling sick and disgusted with myself. The food hangover lasts much of a day. Yet the scenario repeats itself on a fairly regular basis. I attribute it to food addiction. I don’t seem to remember from time to time how badly I feel after the transgression.

I liken it to smoking (which I quit almost 20 years ago) – while I was actually smoking the cigarette it tasted and felt good… but as soon as I “butt out”, the sick feeling overtook me. Yet as the next craving arrived, I lit up again.

Quitting smoking is hard – I had to use the patch to succeed; quitting food may be even harder. It’s not like you can stop cold turkey, we still need to eat, and still sometimes experience triggers. Or perhaps I say to myself, “I’ll have just one”, which like cigarettes, just isn’t possible.

I need to do some serious brain training to associate the fatty hamburgers, pizza, and other temptations with cigarettes, reminding myself that cold turkey is the only way, and how, like a cigarette it makes me feel so awful…


Every addiction arises from an unconscious refusal to face and move through your own pain. Every addiction starts with pain and ends with pain. Whatever the substance you are addicted to - alcohol, food, legal or illegal drugs, or a person - you are using something or somebody to cover up your pain. ~Eckhart Tolle

Monday, March 3, 2014


I can’t believe that it was so long ago, but it was October 2013 when the poodles last got a hair cut, aside from trimming up their faces. It was like shearing sheep! I usually do them every 5 or 6 weeks, but with the cold winter we had, it seemed kinder to let them puff up.

Bella’s bag of hair was over 11 ounces! I’m going to try felting again – I think I will have better luck as the hair is that much longer.

They were very cooperative so the job went quickly, relatively speaking anyway. Unfortunately it is still cold, so their wild play outside was abbreviated.







Sunday, March 2, 2014

You will get what your heart desires

It was the middle of the night and I was standing stunned by the fridge, wondering if I should have a snack (maybe that would help me sleep). Right in front of me was photo of the prairies, and stuck to the same magnet was a fortune from a cookie “Good luck bestows upon you. You will get what your heart desires.”. The photo had been on the fridge since the fall of 2012, the fortune stuck with it sometime after that. I had never purposely paired the two, but last night I was struck by the truth – I did get what my heart desired – a fantastic RV trip to Alberta (cue the music that will make me cry, and here’s another one I just discovered).


Maybe I need to stick another photo under that fortune for my next destination desire – or perhaps a photo of me sleeping… the elusive sleep.

Oh, I did have a snack (banana with peanut butter), and no, it did not help me get back to sleep. I seem destined/doomed to being awake for hours in the depths of the night. If only it were a more productive time of day, but I can hardly start doing noisy things at 2am. And I think getting on the treadmill for my workout would be REALLY counter-productive.

Yesterday was a fun and active day that started off with my normal exercise routine, which was followed by a visit from Christina to go snowshoeing. I was a bit apprehensive about her visit – she’s in pretty good shape and I hadn’t been on my snowshoes since sometime in December. Well, I surprised myself (in a good way). I was easily able to keep up with her, and even carry on a conversation. I will admit to having sore and stiff legs today though!

When we got back to the house, Carm’s friend Ken, and his wife Francine, were there so we had an interesting visit with them.

There was not much time after everyone left before we had to start getting ready for friends James & Maria’s farewell party. They are moving back to Scotland to start a B&B – all the best of luck to them. It was a fun gathering, a good meal, and even a bit of dancing.


Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale.

~Hans Christian Andersen

Saturday, March 1, 2014

We Made it Scot Free

Our annual trip to the spring RV show was Friday. I don’t know why we go, perhaps it is just a nice outing. There were lots and lots of 5th wheels, but only one that we even remotely liked, of course since we weren’t actually shopping it was fine. Several had interesting features, like a huge pantry, double fridges, and a sofa in the bedroom, but overall we still like ours best.

The show also featured many travel trailers, many more than previous years, and most of them large. Financial times must be changing for the better. I was disappointed to only see a few class b’s and c’s – I always like looking in them and imagining the freedom to just drive.

Since T&T is just around the corner we took our opportunity to stock up on garlic chilli sauce and siracha (they go in almost everything I cook!). Of course the dogs scored some pork neck bones – a big favourite. The produce section is also great – Sunday night we’ll have Asian style soup with snow peas, carrot, fresh basil, fresh lemon grass, some lime leaves, and the sweet potato noodles that we found. I forgot the little red peppers so will have to use pepper flakes. I love those flavours and could eat Asian, Thai, or Vietnamese food almost every day.

The trip to the show makes two times that I made it out of the house this week! Both days were sunny, but cold. Surely winter will break now that it is March. The bad thing with going out for the day is that I miss my time on the treadmill. I did manage to walk 18.5 miles this week though! I guess I put in some hard and long days.


I’ve been working on increasing my time at higher inclines, it is a little bit of HIIT. Today I was doing my little stretch at 6% (the tm only goes to 8%), and was thinking of the hill at Kirsten’s farm in NZ – if I recall, that hill was an average of 22% incline, so really, I have no hope of getting in good enough shape to just walk up it! There is a picture of me lying on the ground, all exhausted, as we made our way to the summit – it was just a joke, or that’s what I told them as they took the photo and I took the opportunity to catch my breath! Both my nieces were running around as we made the climb – oh to be so young and fit.




I had gained the summit of a commanding ridge, and, looking round with astonishing delight, beheld the ample plains, the beauteous tracts below. ~Daniel Boone