Monday, October 04, 2010

I love this picture of Farley with the cookie on his nose. It was a tough one to get. He’s know the trick for forever – hold the cookie on his nose until I release him, and then he flips it into the air and catches it. He’s been doing it for years. Well, I had the bright idea of taking a picture of one of the tester cookies on his nose. I tried at least 8 times on Friday night, but he kept flipping the cookie as soon as I let go (while holding the camera in front of my face, which is no easy thing to do!). He’s way too smart for me – I mean really, why wait for my command? I’m obviously not dropping the camera, so I couldn’t correct him. I finally got one shot (I’m sure the neighbors thought I was crazier than usual, as I’m threatening Farley with his life if he doesn’t hold that cookie while I focus and take the picture). It wasn’t a great shot, so I wanted to try again on Saturday. Hah! We went through the entire thing again . . . although fewer times, thank goodness.

Gracie is a doll as usual . . . so easy to live with. She did, however, get out of the yard the week before last? I had left work early to take Jack to the vet (his gums were all red and inflamed) and was working in the computer room at the back of the house. It was a beautiful day, so I had the door open, allowing the dogs to hang out outside if they wanted to. I was working away when the doorbell rang – it was a friend from down the street. He said to me “one of your dogs is running around the neighbourhood. Immediately I thought of Grace, as the boys are WAY too clingy to go anywhere without me. Sure enough, I go down the street and call her, and she comes running. She was totally happy and relaxed – she saw nothing wrong with exploring. Thank GOD it was mid-afternoon with very low traffic. It took me two days to find the gap in the fence. The Friday after that (Wednesday was the initial exploration) I was trimming dogs in the backyard, as it was gorgeous weather and my grooming area is not available for use right now. As I’m doing clipper work on Jack, I realize that Grace is nowhere to be seen. So I call her, and she sticks her head back in through the gap in the fence. I used my obedience jump board to block the gap.

The funny thing is, if I take her for a walk (just her, without the boys) she heels beautifully, even off-leash. Weird that she’d run away when in the yard, but that she wouldn’t seize the opportunity when off-leash.

Dogs are funny!

Thursday, September 02, 2010


I thought I'd write a quick blog post updating folks on the various things going on in my life.

1. I'm coping very well with the death of my father (not to be confused with my stepdad, whom I refer to as my dad). I had a few rough days early on, but my emotional roller coaster seems to have come to a complete stop, and I feel like I'm on much more of an even keel these days.

2. Farley continues to do okay. He has good days and bad days, but regardless of his mental state he's always happy. He's taking SAMe to support his liver, Omega 3s to support his brain and kidneys, and Anipryl to help prevent confusion. I'm not seeing much change (if any) with the Anipryl, but it's early days yet.

3. Grace has recovered beautifully from her spay operation. Within a couple of days she was totally back to normal, as if she had not just had major surgery. It boggles my mind that she bounced back so quickly when women spend weeks recovering from a hysterectomy. I guess if I ever get spayed I should have my vet do it LOL

4. Fall is most definitely in the air. Overnight our temps are pretty close to the freezing mark, although we haven't had frost yet. August has been a write-off with more rainy days than not. It's been so wet that I haven't been able to cut the grass in the backyard, and it now looks like a jungle. They're forecasting a couple of days of sunshine, so I hope I can get that grass mowed before my dogs disappear in there one day.

5. I'm tired. Really, really tired. Which means I'm not exercising enough. When I get up and move, I sleep better and feel better. Hopefully with the cooler (but DRY) weather, I can get out with the dogs more, and get back into a good fitness routine. July was scorching hot and August was soaking wet. Maybe September will be just right?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sad News

Please pray for my brother and I, as well as our father's other family.

On Saturday night I got a phone call that my biological father passed away unexpectedly, from a massive heart attack. He was 64 years old. We have not had a relationship over the past 10-12 years - my parents divorced when I was about 6 years old, and he was in and out of our lives while we were growing up. I did visit him while I was in university, but then we lost touch. My feelings are all over the map right now, and I'm just trying to think it all through. I think that right now, my mourning is for the relationship that we never had. Now we never can. I always thought that losing him would be effortless, since we had no relationship or closeness. I'm surprised at the intensity of my emotions right now - sometimes I'm completely fine, and sometimes I have the lump in my throat and just want to cry.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

At the Hop!

One of my very favourite blogs is the FIDO Friendly blog. FIDO Friendly is a very cool dog magazine, and the blog is updated daily with product reviews, hot news and all sorts of other topics. I have guest blogged there twice (talk about proud!), and am looking forward to writing for them again in the future.

FIDO Friendly is taking part in a blog hop. A blog hop is a linky list that is SHARED ON MULTIPLE BLOGS. When several blogs put the same linky list code on their blog, the exact same list appears on each blog. Basically you'll see a long list of pet-related blogs (primarily dogs, but there are some funky kitty ones too), and you can add your blog too!

Friday, June 18, 2010

My Niece

Today's entry is not diet-related at all. It's a post of memories.

Today my niece graduates from kindergarten. Now, when I went through school (and it wasn't that long ago!) we didn't graduate from kindergarten. We had a Grade 8 graduation, because after that we were in high school, and then we had a Grade 12 graduation. Kids these days have all kinds of graduation ceremonies to celebrate their passage into the next stage of their education.

I really, honestly can't believe my niece is even old enough to be graduating from kindergarten! I still remember when her mom was pregnant with her, and seeing that first ultrasound picture. I remember having no real idea of what I was looking at, but feeling something swell up inside of me nonetheless. I remember the day she was born - holding this brand new life, that somehow already looked like her grandma, my mom. I remember the first time I babysat her, and being totally freaked out about looking after such a young child. I remember the time I was looking after her and she rolled off the couch - I almost had a heart attach right then and there.

So many memories, it's amazing that my heart and mind can hold them all. She used to love the word "soup!" - it would always make her smile. She has loved dogs since before she could talk, and they have loved her back equally as much. Her Poppa (my dad) is the light of her life. She thinks and feels everything passionately - there's no holding back for her. She's smart, funny and she loves to sing. She lacks pretension or falseness, because it just isn't a part of her life.

I guess that this post is about time passing more quickly than I'd like. But mostly I'm writing it to dedicate some time thinking about and loving my niece. I wish I could be there for her graduation today, but I have to work. Today will be her day to be the center of my thoughts, though

Friday, June 11, 2010

Dog Show Weekend Report

This is a dog show weekend report, in layman's terms (hopefully). The weekend consisted of four all-breed dog shows (Friday through Monday) and two Specialties. A Specialty is a limited breed dog show - usually limited to a single breed. In our case, we had the American Cocker Spaniel Club of Canada National specialty (the premiere show for our breed in Canada for 2010) and the Midwest Cocker Spaniel Club specialty.

I had hired a handler to show Jack for me, so that I could concentrate on showing Grace in obedience and rally obedience. My handler ended up not showing Jack in the end (it was a mutual agreement), so on Friday I showed him in conformation (beauty pageant) and showed Grace in two Rally trials. I was running around like crazy! In between the trips into the ring, I had to groom Jack and get other stuff done too.

Saturday I showed Grace in Rally and obedience, then showed Jack in the Specialty show. Jackie showed him in the regular show, and I helped show some other dogs. Saturday night I was totally wiped. Saturday was the National specialty, which took most of the day. My 5 year old niece came and showed my old dog Farley in Junior Handling (a special class for kids, non-competitive). Everybody enjoyed that - they made a very cute team.

Sunday I groomed Jack and showed him in the Specialty. I showed Grace in two obedience trials, but skipped the regular show. I was just too tired.

Monday I skipped the show altogether and drove home. Smartest move I ever made, since it rained at the dog show, and I got home a day early.

Jack Jack won his class every time he was shown, but got no points. Those darned teeth aren’t helping things at all L He showed well and had fun, even though he wasn’t feeling well. I noticed that his mouth smelled bad, but never thought to check it. Turns out his lower lip folds are infected (especially on one side). I feel so bad for not noticing sooner, poor guy. I went to wipe his mouth on Tuesday night and he cried. I’ve been cleaning it and it seems to be improving a bit, but I’m taking him to the vet today in case he needs antibiotics. Poor little dude.

Grace was a superstar. She passed two out of three rally trials. She would have passed the third one (and earned a new title), but her stupid handler (me!) missed a station, so we failed. In obedience, she passed all three trials with awesome scores (equal to around 90% if you look at it that way) and won two High in Trials. That means that out of all of the Cockers that competed, she had the best scores. I was so proud of her – you have NO idea! I never expected that we’d have such an awesome result. She got some really large ribbons and some lovely prizes, so that was nice.

Overall it was a good weekend, but very exhausting. Lots of grooming and tons of prep work for the cookies and goody bags for each exhibitor and stuff. I am still pretty tired, but a few more nights of good sleep will help with that.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Backyard Photos

I got my new lens on Friday - an 18-200mm lens. I wanted it as a more versatile lens for doing both close up and zoom photography. So far (in very limited use) I'm very happy with it! I won't bore you with more dog pictures - here are some backyard photos.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thankful Thursday

It's been a long, long time since I did a Thankful Thursday post. I know I've said this before, but I felt like they were becoming trite and contrived (no, I didn't read the thesaurus before writing this post!), and so they weren't fun to write anymore. But today I feel inspired again.

Today I'm thankful for Gracie-Lou-Who, my little girl dog. Grace is the quiet, mellow one in the bunch. She is content to be loved, and even if she's not getting your full attention, she's content to be noticed. She's a very gentle, loving soul.

When I first started training her in obedience, she was a marshmallow. If I applied any pressure at all (not physical corrections ever, but even just a verbal reminder), she'd shut right down. It wasn't very easy for either of us, but I couldn't let it go. Eventually I started clicker training her, and it was the answer for both of us. She started to enjoy training, and I started to enjoy training her.

She has since earned a rally novice title, as well as a pre-novice obedience title. For all of the trials we competed in, her head was up, her tail was wagging, and her eyes were sparkling. She wasn't perfect (handicapped by her handler), but she was happy. And a happy dog is always fun to watch. Now we are gearing up to compete for her novice obedience title and a rally advanced title. Every day when I reach for the training bag, she races to the front door, with a doggy smile. She runs out the door with zeal, and is eager to work with me.

I am so thankful that this girl is always forgiving me. She has forgiven me for not teaching her things right the first time, and she has forgiven me when I've given my attention to somebody or something else. Instead of pouting, she simply forgives and forgets, and loves with her entire soul.

When I look into her deep, brown eyes, I see only love, trust and devotion. No matter how late I am from work, or how long I make her wait for supper, she always shows those same feelings. And for that, I am thankful.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Heart

Man, I LOVE this dog!
Ch Silverwood's Northern Light Am Can CD, RN, CGC
I took the third picture last night with an aperture around f4.0, no flash. Lots and lots of crappy pictures, and that one good one. He's a handsome dog!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Kids Say The Funniest Things

I want to start out by wishing all of the moms out there a happy Mothers' Day. Whether your kids are human or furry, I hope you had some special time with them yesterday. My dogs were very sweet - they got me a card and gave me some money to buy myself (or possibly them!) a treat. Such thoughtful dogs. I didn't even know they got an allowance! I'm cutting off their treat and toy supply until they pony up some money.

But really, today I wanted to write about a couple of very funny things my 5 year old niece has said over the last little while. She really does have a wicked sense of humour. A few weeks ago she was up visiting us for my company's Family Fun Day (around the time of the "And Police" post). She was walking around with my mom, sticking her belly out as much as possible. For those of you that haven't seen my mom, she's a bit overweight. Whatever, no big deal. Anyhow, when my mom asked my niece what she was doing, she replied that she was walking like Baba. OMG, I almost wet my pants when I heard that! And of course, you can't laugh, because you don't want her saying that kind of thing to just anybody. Anyhow, my mom just kind of laughed it off, and we forgot about it.

This past weekend my mom and I went to visit my brother, his girlfriend and my niece (and the dogs, let's not forget the dogs!). My niece ended up staying overnight in the hotel room with my mom and I, as a special treat. She shared the bed with my mom (let's face it - I've been single a LONG time, and I just can not share my bed with anybody other than a Cocker Spaniel). She was sprawled on the bed as my mom got ready, and my mom told her to move over. She looked at my mom (I was in another room - the hotel room was a suite) and said "Is that because you're kind of big, Baba?" Again, I'm crying with laughter, but trying to be quiet. My mom just said "Yes, it's because I'm kind of big."

We want to discourage her from saying stuff like that, since the general population doesn't appreciate comments about their weight or the size of their belly (although being a cute 5 year old takes a bit of the sting out). However, she's not saying it meanly, just matter of factly, so how do we explain the nuances of social acceptability? It's not easy.

Anyhow, my abs are still a bit sore from laughing (does that count as exercise?) so I wanted to share with my faithful readers. Enjoy!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Okay, Sometimes It's The Small Stuff

I've always thought that I was a little bit OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Ever since I was a little girl, I've liked order, straight lines and geometric shapes. A picture hanging slightly crooked will drive me nuts - I have this need to straighten it. Similarly, I like things to be neat and tidy (those of you that have seen my room need not comment OR laugh out loud). My desk at work is tidied at the end of every day, and my most commonly used areas (other than the bedroom *sigh*) are tidied and neatened up regularly. That's just how I work.

At my place of work, I think I'm going slightly crazy. We have a ladies' bathroom on the first floor with four stalls and three sinks. There is always toilet paper on the floor - every time I go in there. I have yet to figure out why people can't just pick it up? People throw their paper towel towards the garbage can and miss, but just leave it on the floor. Why? I seriously doubt that they'd leave the same mess at home.

In our little kitchen area, there are always dirty dishes in the sink. Now, if people want to wait to wash their dishes until the end of the day, I can deal with that. However, some of those mugs and bowls sit there for days, with cold, gross water in them. Ewwww! Again, I can't imagine that these people would leave such a mess at home (although I could be wrong). I've been known to leave dishes overnight, but I rarely leave them more than that.

It's gotten to the point that I now utter a small sigh of disgust when I enter the kitchen (which is also the printer/copier room) or the bathroom. Why oh why are people so messy at their place of work? These "small things" are driving me nuts!

Okay, rant over . . . enjoy your weekend folks :)

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Manual Photos

No Auto for this girl anymore! I shot these entirely in manual . . . using the shutter speed to adjust to the aperture (f-stop) I selected. They were all shot with my external flash as well.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

It's Official

I'm a nerd. Now, those of you that have known me a long time will not be surprised by this comment. For those of you that are surprised, let me just say that it's only because we haven't known each other that long. I try hard to be cool (who doesn't??), but my nerdiness does shine through on a regular basis.

Last night was Week 2 of my Certificate in Digital Photography course. On the way to class, I wasn't as excited as I'd hoped. I'm really, really busy, and I was feeling tired and wanting to go to bed. Boy, am I glad I didn't skip the class! Last night we focused on Exposure - lighting, shutter speed, aperture (the size of the hole that the camera takes the picture through) and sensitivity (ISO - film speed). You wouldn't think that talking about that stuff could take 3 hours, but it did. In fact, we went over the allotted course time AND didn't get through everything.

I think the most exciting thing for me last night was taking a picture with my camera set on Manual. Now, for most photographers (at least semi-serious) this isn't anything to get excited about. But for me, who's always used idiot-proof cameras, it gave me a real feeling of empowerment and excitement. Not only did I shoot in Manual, but I understood how and why!
The other simple pleasure for me was the critique of the photo that I submitted for the Week 1 assignment. We were told to take a picture of an ordinary object in an unusual way. I had a lot of trouble with this assignment - I just couldn't get inspired. On Sunday, while photographing Jack Jack in the backyard, I started taking pictures of an orange tennis ball among the grass and dead leaves. I did a recomposition shot (focussed on the ball, kept the shutter button pressed halfway down, and then re-framed the picture so the ball was in the lower left quadrant of the frame). It turned out well, but I kind of thought it lacked inspiration. Well, the teacher said he thought it was quite good, so I felt good about that.

Next week we'll be talking about creative composition of photos, and I can't wait to see what I learn from that!

Monday, April 26, 2010

An ordinary object

Photographed to be made unusual . . . Not sure if I achieved anything breathtaking, but it was fun shooting tennis balls!

Friday, April 23, 2010

The And Police

Yesterday my mom, Old Dog and I made the road trip to go pick up my niece from my brother's place (four hours away, one way). This weekend is the company-sponsored Family Fun Day, with all kinds of games and activities for kids, a petting zoo, entertainers, lunch and awesome prizes. Every year for the past four or five years, my mom and I have taken the kids, and this year is no exception.

The road trip was pretty uneventful. Farley chewed on a bully stick for most of it (say, 6 hours) and stayed away from my seatbelts (last time I made this road trip with him, he chewed the back seatbelt for four hours, in the old car). He was a pretty good dog, and he enjoyed the ride. Mom and I listened to satellite radio and talked about all kinds of stuff.

The trip home was a bit more entertaining, since Tashie asked every 20 minutes if we were there yet. I used to laugh when TV sitcoms would show kids asking that every five minutes. Now I know better. It's not funny! But some of the conversation was funny. Like my niece informing me that the year is "two thousand ten," NOT "two thousand and ten." She told me that if I say it the wrong way, the And Police would come and arrest me. The And Police? Wow, I guess her teacher is zealous about how the kids say the year . . . mom and I laughed so hard we cried (which isn't completely safe while driving at highway speed). Something about the solemnity of how she said it made it hilarious. It probably loses a lot in the re-telling . . . so I guess you had to be there.

Friday, April 16, 2010

My Furkids

The Old Dog, looking pensive
That's not 'tude, that's just how he rolls . . .

The grace & elegance of a princess

Haughtiness defined.
All shots taken with my Canon Rebel XTi, with a 28-80mm lens (f2.8:4.0). I used a lens hood due to the brightness of the sun, and shot on TV with a shutter speed of 1/160. I have already learned from my photography class, and am having fun experimenting!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Great Class!

So, besides dogs and reading, one of my passions is photography. I'm a novice photographer with a good camera - which can be a dangerous thing! I've had my Canon Rebel XTi for 2 years now, and have had a ton of fun with it. I now have four lenses for it, as well as an external flash and a cordless remote. I've shot everything from pets to people to plants to buildings. Even though I've gotten lucky and had some good shots, I've been wanting to take a class for ages.
Well, I finally did it! I finally took an "Introduction To SLR Photography" class the other night. It was a 3 hour session, and not at all expensive. It was taught by the owner of the local photography shop and studio, and he was excellent. I've read many websites and books about aperture, shutter speed, ISO and more, and never really understood any of it well. The way that this fellow taught the class put it all into perspective for me, and I can finally try out some of the other settings on my camera, instead of letting it do everything for me.

He had a great handout for us, which I supplemented with my own notes too. He had several examples of how changing one setting can totally change a picture, which was very helpful.
I got home on Tuesday night totally pumped about taking pictures. Last night I took a few quick snaps of my dogs (well, the two youngest) and am pleased with what I got from just playing around. If you're interested, check out my photography website at The latest pictures are in "My Dogs 2010."

Next week I start a 6 week class all about digital photography. It'll go into lighting, composition and more. I can't wait!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Walking The Dogs

Last night I took Farley for a walk, and convinced my mom to come too. She has type 2 diabetes and is very overweight, so she's trying to make changes to her life. We did a short, slow walk, because that's what she could handle (and the old dog is too stiff for much more). Then I took Grace & Jack Jack for a more brisk, challenging walk, so that they could get some fresh air too. I'd had one of "those" days, and I needed the air to blow out my bad attitude.

Anyhow, Jack Jack is in long coat because he's going to be shown in June by a handler. He decided to find the muddiest spot, with the most dead leaves and twigs, and roll around like a buffoon in it. He is now filthy and full of stuff. But he was one HAPPY dog! I washed up Grace & Jack Jack up as much as possible, and the water was just disgusting when I was done. It was seriously almost the consistency of mud! Full baths coming on Friday (or maybe tonight).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Movie Report

I saw four movies while I was on holidays (three on the plane and one in the theatre).

The Blind Side - an extremely good movie, definitely worth watching. I thought it would be just another sports movie, but it's not. Sandra Bullock definitely deserved her Oscar. I highly, highly recommend this one!

Alice In Wonderland (3D) - This movie was one I'd been looking forward to for ages. I think I expected something similar to Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, or the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies. It had Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, but really, it was different than those other movies. Far less light-hearted and more serious. It wasn't bad at all, but different than I expected. If you like movies directed by Tim Burton, check it out.

Up In The Air - This was a movie I wasn't sure about seeing, since it got mixed reviews with people I know. It wasn't horrible . . . but it wasn't fabulous either. Really, it was just okay.

New Moon - The second movie in the Twilight series, I mostly watched it because I've read all of the books. It was okay. Definitely geared towards teenage girls. If you want a light-hearted movie (fluff), it's good. If you're looking for in-depth plot development, you may want to look elsewhere.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

From Vancouver

So we're not perfect!
We never claimed to be perfect
That means we’ve learned to be humble
We say excuse me and I'm sorry as well as please and thanks.
Even when its not our fault we apologize.

Sure one arm of the torch didn't rise,
But when the earthquake struck Haiti,
Canadians raised their hands to say we’ll help.

And yah, there is a fence around the flaming torches,
But you can walk right up and shake hands with our prime minister and most famous Canadians.
We put Gretzky in the back of a pick up, in the rain, not surrounded by police and he was okay.
By the way... the great one is Canadian and HE wasn’t complaining!

We do have security at the games, of course, but most people don't even have a gun they have to leave at home.
The medals ARE under lock and key but our doors and our hearts are open to the world. I

t has been pointed out that some buses broke down last week, but let’s not overlook the fact that our banking system didn’t.
We didn't get the "green ice maker" right this time. but we will, eventually
Just like we did when we invented the zamboni.

Citius altius fortius
If you don't reach higher how do you get faster and stronger ?

Was the first quad jump perfect? S

hould we not have given snowboarding to the world "in case" it didn’t take off?

So, big deal one out of four torch arms didn't rise.
Good thing we had 3 more!
It’s called contingency planning!

But remember the Canadarm works every time in outer space, and insulin turned out to be okay.
We couldn't change the weather but maybe we can help to stop global warming.
We don't have the tax base of the US or the power of the Chinese but, per capita, we ponied up for some pretty kick-ass venues in the worst global recession ever

Sure, some folks couldn't afford tickets but our health care is universal.
We have shown the world that we can raise our voices in celebration and song but moments later stand in silence to respect a tragic event...together spontaneously and unrehearsed.
What's more, we don't need permission from anyone to have a slam poet, fiddlers with piercings and a lesbian singer tell our story to the world while our multilingual female Haitian- born, black, head of state shares a box with her first nations equals

We’ve shown the world that it doesn’t always rain in Vancouver, that you can strive for excellence but not get hung up on perfection
And we’ve learned what it feels like to be picked on by some no namenewspaper guy and we don’t have to take it lying down!

So the point is not the snow, or the hydraulics or a couple guys being 5 minutes late to a ceremony
We know we’re lucky that these are the biggest problems we had to deal with in the last couple weeks.
So take your cheap shots.

Guardian newspaper and cynics of the world
We're bigger and better than that.
What's more we're finally starting to believe it!

Do you believe?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Creature Comforts - Cocker Rescue Raffle

Baby it's cold outside, so come on in.

We are running a raffle for our current dogs and the ones we expect to be bringing in. The puppy mills in Amish country are starting to dump their dogs again. Usually they require lots of vetting and time to adjust to a new way of living. We have one of them now and she's just so darn grateful for anything you give her.

Another small (do it all yourself) rescue is joining in on this raffle. It's Oklahoma Cocker Spaniel Rescue, run by Robin.

As always, we appreciate it when you forward this to your friends, family and co-workers. It really helps to spread the word.

There are some really nice items up so, please take a look and purchase a ticket or two. I must ask though, that you don't use the words Raffle, Tickets or Chances in any part of your paypal payment. Just the name of the item. We got into a little bit of a pickle one time, so we hope that doesn't happen again.

If you have any questions on the items, please feel free to send me an email.

Thanks again for your support.

Here is the link for the raffle:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy

Well, as you all know, I was away for 10 days, gallivanting around Houston and Louisiana. While I had a most wonderful time, I came home to a stack of work so tall I couldn't see over it! The project that I work on is approaching a major milestone, which means lots of work to have presentations ready for approval, nail down the schedule and have an accurate and detailed estimate. Fortunately for me, my Project Manager is a really good guy that's easy to work with. The team that I work with is pretty good overall - there are always going to be a few personality conflicts, but so far it's been managed really well. Anyhow, the gist of this is that I'm flat out at work . . . moreso than usual.

Zumba classes finished last Monday night (February 8th), so I have a couple of Mondays to myself. Classes start again on March 1st, and I'm really looking forward to them. It's surprising how easily I picked up the basic steps - although I wouldn't call myself coordinated, by any stretch - and how much I enjoyed the first session.

My big time-suckers are my volunteer activities, especially the Board of Directors that I sit on, for the local SPCA. When I joined the Board in October (as Secretary, cause there's nothing like jumping in with both feet!), I had no idea what kind of time demands would be placed on me (and the rest of the Board). For a few years, it looks like things haven't been managed very well. Records are sloppy, budgets aren't done, and there are no endorsed policies to be found. The Board has been working like mad to get policies in place, to protect the Board, SPCA employees, volunteers and the community as a whole. While we've made progress, there remains a lot to be done. I've been attending at least two multi-hour meetings a month, and done outside work on stuff as well. I don't begrudge the Board my time . . . I committed and I'm passionate about ensuring that the SPCA is run well as a business, and that the staff and animals are provided for. I have found the time commitment slightly overwhelming, though.

The dogs take up a lot of time too, but I don't consider them time-suckers. It's everything else that's taking my time from the dogs. I LOVE spending time with my dogs, working on training and whatnot, and I feel like I haven't had the time to do that properly lately. With the cold weather, we've been limited in our activities too. With the sun out longer and the days getting warmer, I'm hoping to be more on track with training and just enjoying my dogs.

You may see limited blog posts from me while life adjusts . . . but I promise I haven't disappeared and don't mean to be neglecting my faithful readers either. Bear with me, and I'll be back on track soon, I promise!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Where I've Been & What I've Done

To my faithful blog readers, I'm sorry that I've been absent for so long without any word of where I've been or what I've been doing. Work got busy, and then before I knew it, I had a trip to Houston to take for work, and then a mini-vacation in Louisiana.

Houston was great . . . the temps were very mild, in the 15-20 degree Celsius range. Yes, on the positive side! I really needed that warmth, although there were a few times that I was chilled (embarrassed to admit it, though). My co-worker and I took the opportunity of a trip to eat out at some nice restaurants. The first night we ate at PF Chang's, which is an asian-fusion restaurant. I ate at a PF Chang's in Indianapolis 5 years ago, and remember the food as being absolutely wonderful. I was so looking forward to our meal in Houston, but I am sad to report that it was lacklustre at best. Our waitress was outstanding - great personality, very attentive, and funny as heck. But the food wasn't anything special, and that was disappointing for me. The second night we went to The Cheesecake Factory (not to be confused with the Cheesecake Cafe here in Alberta) and the food was great. Service, eh, just okay. But our meals were really good.

The Wednesday night was a small group meal, with some folks that we work with in Houston. We went to a small pub/restaurant called The Goose's Acre, and the food was wonderful. I had macaroni & cheese, but it wasn't the standard meal that your mom makes. Gourmet cheese & noodles, and soooo yummy. But the most wonderful thing about The Goose's Acre was my new favourite drink - the Jager Barrel. Jagermeister & root beer. OMG, what a fabulous drink that doesn't taste boozy at all! I sucked two down without even noticing it - but then I stopped, for fear of being sloshed in front of co-workers. Thursday night was a whole group meal at a Brazilian restaurant called Americas. The food was absolutely wonderful - I had a piece of steak done churasco style (my spelling is probably wrong) and it was delicious. For dessert I had these warm beignets with coconut ice cream that was pure heaven. I would recommend that restaurant to anybody.

Friday the workshop ended, and I flew to central Louisiana to visit with some long-time friends of mine. We met online through a Cocker forum, and have met once before. They are fabulous people, and their hospitality was unmatched. I was made to feel like a member of the family, not just like a guest. We ate many excellent meals, most of them homemade. Crock pot roast beef with potatoes, fried catfish and pistolettes, chicken & sausage gumbo and more. I'm sure I gained weight from all of the wonderful food, but it was worth every mouth full! And my friend's mom (a TRUE Southern belle!!!!) made me a red velvet cake from scratch. It was actually melt-in-your-mouth good. Wow - I didn't know cake could taste so good.

On Saturday my friend and I went to the annual dog show in her city (talk about good timing for my visit!) and we had a really nice day. We watched the Cockers, I met some local Cocker people, and we spent most of our time watching obedience. I saw my very first corded Standard Poodle in the flesh, which was cool! Saturday night we went to Tunk's Cypress Grill (I think) and had a succulent meal. Crawfish linguine - yummy!

Sunday was incredible. In the morning we took a 3 mile walk with the dogs, soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the morning. I know it was cold for most southern folks, but I loved every second of it. The scenery was beautiful (photos on Facebook and my Zenfolio site), and we just chatted and enjoyed each other's company. The best part of Sunday was the hot air balloon flight, though. My friends crew for Bob Pulaski and his balloon Ski Lift, so they convinced him to do a flight so that I could go up. We watched the weather fervently, hoping for clear skies and low winds. Mother Nature definitely cooperated, and I had the experience of a lifetime. The flight was unbelievable. For those of you that say you're afraid of heights - you have nothing on me. I am possibly the only person that was terrified of the "Soarin' Over California" ride at Disneyland, and I hated the CN tower with the glass floor. It scared the crap out of me. Somehow, being up in the balloon wasn't scary at all. The basket is extremely stable - no swaying or moving around - and it's so pretty and peaceful up there. I was even able to look over the edge of the basket without feeling sick, dizzy or afraid.

Our flight was just over an hour long, with a few fun moments. We did run into some trees (technically called "dragging") in an attempt to slow the balloon down a bit in anticipation of landing. We chose three landing sites that then became unavailable to us because the winds changed our direction. Our landing had a bump and a bounce before we ended up on the ground with the basket on its side (and us on our hands and knees LOL). We were followed by spectators almost the whole way, and by the time we landed, about 7 or 8 vehicles were following the chase car to watch us land. It really was an awesome adventure, and I highly recommend it to anybody.

Monday and Tuesday were quieter days. We took things easy, spent time with my friend's parents and co-workers, and just enjoyed the dogs, cat, chickens, ducks and each other. It was a great visit - not rushed or busy or strenuous. Relaxing and just what I needed.

Wednesday I flew home, with a nice, long 6 hour layover at the Calgary airport. I ended spending a bunch of time working, since I really didn't have anything else to do. It was nice to get home, although I did enjoy my time down south. Since getting home I've been busy with the usual stuff - work, committees/Boards, etc. I finished up the first session of Zumba classes, but am already signed up for the next two sessions. So life continues on as usual, busier than all get out.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Walk Away The Pounds

After hearing raves about this program from several of my fitness friends, before Christmas, I ordered Leslie Sansone's Walk Away The Pounds DVD. This DVD has four levels of difficulty - one mile, two miles, three miles and four miles. Some of the programs use the weighted balls, and some use resistance bands. The DVD didn't arrive until the new year, and with my new fitness classes, I hadn't had a chance to try it.

I was feeling very tired all day today, and actually fell asleep on the bus ride home (not city transit - employer-provided transport). So when I got home, I decided to try the one mile walk, for a little pick-me-up. When it initially started I actually thought it might be too easy, but that 18 minutes is actually *quite* the cardio workout! Not like my BL Cardio Max DVD or the Wii BL game, but I was still sweating and had an increased heart rate.

What I really like is that the DVD is simple enough (no complicated steps) that my mom and I could do it together. She needs to ease into fitness, and this could potentially be a good way for us to motivate each other.

I have to say, I'm looking forward to trying the two mile walk sometime soon!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Zumba - Class #2

So last night was my second Zumba (latin dancing) class. I was half worried and half excited - the first week was fun, but it was crazy-fast, and I spent a lot of the time trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing with my feet, arms, hips and butt. It felt like everything was moving in opposite directions, but at the same time. The first session we had (last week) was with a stand-in instructor, because ours had gone on a surprise holiday trip. I was interested in seeing what our regular instructor would do with us.

She was GREAT. She took the time to show us each of the steps before starting the songs, which also gave us time to catch our breath in between dances. Believe me, it's a lot of cardio, so time to catch your breath is required. I still felt like I looked like a seizure patient while she looked sultry and fluid. But at least I wasn't spending most of my time hopping from foot to foot, trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing. I actually felt somewhat coordinated. AND . . . the biggest thing of all is that I didn't feel like dying at 8 minutes in. Yeah, I was red, sweaty and out of breath . . . but I felt okay.

I did get pretty hot near the end, but I had started the day feeling kind of crummy, so I think the two are related. I had fun, I felt semi-coordinated, and I had hope that by the end of two sets of classes, I might remember all of the steps, in order.

Unfortunately I'll be missing the next two classes as I'll be traveling for work (and sneaking in a small vacation at the same time), but I'll be back for the February 8th class, and I'm already signed up for the next set of classes too, starting in early March. Who knows, maybe I'll finally learn to enjoy group exercise classes!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Double Your Fun!

Today I am making two (yes 2) blog posts! One of the email lists I belong to has asked people to send in funny dog stories. The first one I sent in was a post I made last week about Quigley (A Trifle-ing Matter). This week the story comes from way back in my past, but it's a keeper for sure!

I have been racking my brain to come up with funny stories, and I found one that definitely fits the bill. After high school, I lived as an exchange student in Esbjerg, Denmark, through the Rotary Exchange program. My counsellor and his wife owned a beautiful Old English Sheepdog named Olga - I did training classes with her, bathed her, brushed her and spent tons and tons of time with her. I really loved that dog. One day I took Olga for a walk, and stopped by a friend's house to watch a movie. We were in the basement, watching the movie, and Olga was laying on the tile floor in the entry way, to cool off. We heard the front door open and close, and before we could even get to our feet to see who had come in, we heard a high-pitched scream of terror. Both of us raced up the stairs, taking two at a time. When we got upstairs, we saw our good friend, who was quite pale (which was a feat, since he was of South American origin, with the rich, tanned skin). He was laughing so hard he was crying, and we were trying to figure out what the heck was going on.

It turns out that when he came in the house, he saw Olga and assumed she was a rug (she was sleeping with her head down). When she picked up her head to see who had come in, Henrik screamed.

That story still makes me giggle . . . poor Olga had no idea what the commotion was about!

Zumba Report

Well, as you know from reading this blog, I survived my Zumba class last night. I will say, it was touch and go there for a while, but I managed to pull through. Although I've been walking a lot since June 2009 (at least 3 times a week, plus other activities), I don't have a lot of cardio endurance. That became painfully clear at about 10 minutes in to the 60 minute class. I was gasping, my chest was burning and my legs felt like jello. My footwork coordination was severely lacking, and when she encouraged us to keep up with the arm movements, I felt completely inadequate. I am just NOT that coordinated.

But despite all that, it was fun. I laughed a LOT - the instructor looked sensual and fluid, while I appeared to be having a seizure. She could move her hips in ways that I can only dream of. Her feet appeared to have a mind of their own - hey, so did mine! (they just didn't have the same mind as hers LOL). The two girls that I went with and I shared lots of disbelieving looks as the instructor danced. But we did our best, and really, I don't think we were any worse than most of the people in our class. There were no real "performers" in the class . . . nobody had hips or feet or fluid movement like the instructor.

I was exhausted last night, and I had the best sleep I've had since before Ange left. So that was good. And when my mom asked if I was going back for next week's class, I was shocked. Yeah, it was tough, but I'm not quitting! In fact, I signed up for the next session too! So I guess you could say it was a success . . . and if I learn a few latin dancing moves after 10 weeks of class, even better!

Monday, January 11, 2010

It Starts Tonight

Tonight I'm trying something new. I'm taking my very first group fitness class. Okay, I did do water aerobics once, but it was drop-in, and mostly to keep my mom company, so I don't count it. Tonight my Zumba class starts. I'm going with a co-worker and two of her friends, so that'll make it more fun. I must admit, I'm excited and nervous at the same time. It's a 60 minute class - if I can hardly handle a 30 minute workout on the Wii or on a DVD, how on earth will I cope with 60 minutes? Granted, some will be warm-up and cool down (please God, let both of those be nice and long), but still . . . I hope I can keep up with the girls.

I did super well on fitness last week. Two walks, one workout on Wii Biggest Loser, and two days of shoveling the driveway and getting rid of the hard-packed snow and ice. I feel really proud of myself, as that's the first time I've done something active (above and beyond my daily activity) since October, when I had all the issues with my ankles. And honestly, it felt GOOD to be keeping busy. The dogs aren't complaining about the walks, either!

So wish me luck tonight . . . I know the key is staying within my range of ability, but let's just see how well I can do that without having a heart attack LOL

Friday, January 08, 2010

Biggest Loser on the Wii

So today was my first time trying out the Biggest Loser game for the Wii system. I got it for Christmas, but was really busy with company and family. Lame excuse, I know, but whatever. At least I tried it before June 20 Having read the reviews on this site, I thought it might not be challenging enough. The threads I've read have been pretty evenly split between people liking it and not liking it.

I put the game in the console and got ready to see what would come my way. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. It was QUITE the workout, and this was on the easiest level. The warm-up is 6 minutes, the main workout is 20 minutes and the cool down is 8 minutes. My heart was pumping and the sweat was pouring off me. Some of the exercises were hard to do in terms of the Wii Fit board "reading" my movements, but since I'm a trained physiotherapist, I know the correct body movements.

My overall impression is that it's definitely challenging (much more so than the Wii Fit or Wii Fit Plus) and much easier to do than Jillian Micheals' original boot camp game. If you have a Wii, it might be a good way to mix up your routine!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

A "Trifle"ing Matter

I have American Cocker Spaniels - anybody familiar with this breed (and most Sporting breeds) knows that they are ruled by their stomachs. My old dog Quigley (now passed on) was the most food driven dog that I have ever known. He was a very mellow, pedantic dog, even in his younger years, yet he could perform acrobatic feats to obtain food when he wanted to. Some of the stuff he ate was the stuff of legends - an entire box of Bran Buds cereal, a box of Fruit & Vegetable supplement bars, ant traps and more. But the story below is my favourite one.

It was a summer barbecue that my folks were hosting, because it was my best friend's first trip to the city I grew up in. All of our family and friends were invited to come and meet my friend, since they'd heard so much about her. My mom's best friend wanted to do something special for me, and since she's the most incredible cook/baker I know, she decided to make a fruit trifle. She used fresh fruit, full cream, and shaved Bernard Callebaut (high end) chocolate on top. It truly was a thing of beauty. We put it on the dining room table, along with the other food, and everybody went into the backyard to eat.

We were all eating, laughing and having a good time when we realized that Quigley was conspicuously absent. He was a champion beggar, so we knew something was up. My mom asked "Where's Quigley?" and as if on cue, he came running out of the house, very nonchalantly. What made it funny was his whipped cream feet and beard! Now, Quigley was black, so it's not like he could hide the evidence, but he acted like nothing was out of the ordinary - he always walked around like Santa Claus! Everybody was shocked into silence, and then my mom raced into the house to check on the trifle. It had two very distinct paw prints in it, and I swear to this day you could see the lick marks where he'd been self-indulging. My mom's best friend was devastated, because nobody except for me would try the trifle. I figured that I live with so much dog hair and spit that a bit more wouldn't hurt. I could see why he enjoyed it!

Quigley's been gone for more than 3 years now, and I miss him all the time. This is one of those stories that keeps his memory alive for us (my family, friends and I), and it's one that never fails to make us smile and laugh.

Thanks for letting me share!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Every year, shortly after midnight, my family shares with each other what their resolutions for the year are. Typically they're things like lose weight, eat better, spend less (or save more), etc. Lofty goals that often fall by the wayside in February, if not January. In the past, I've found the process of choosing what to resolve for the year somewhat stressful. I mean, when you think about it, these goals are supposed to carry you through 12 months. 365 days. However many hours that adds up to (yes, I'm too lazy to pull out my calculator). I've never wanted to be that person - you know, the one that deliberately chooses softer goals that are easier to attain.

This year I made one resolution, and for the first time in as long as I can remember, it didn't stress me out. I resolved NOT to have resolutions. Yes, I have goals and things that I want to accomplish, but none of it is a real change from what I've already been doing. I want to continue with the progress I've made with SparkPeople. I haven't lost tons of weight, but my lifestyle is different than it was 7 months ago. Exercise IS in my vocabulary now, and it's a part of my daily life. There are still days that I slack off, but I think about it all the time.

I have a long way to go - including learning to eat healthier and to be even more active. But at least I'm on the right road. That's something that I'm proud of, because this time last year it didn't even cross my mind that I could actually enjoy walking or doing DVDs or whatever.
So that's my non-resolution decision for 2010.