Friday, February 26, 2010

What Bugs You?

I recently read a survey rating things that bug Americans. I am listing a few of the results from the most to least annoying.

Hidden Fees

Not getting a human on the phone


Waiting for repair people


Very slow drivers

Noisy neighbours

Poor Airline service

Checkout lines

Speeding drivers

Passwords and PINs

Inaccurate weather forecasts

I found it very interesting that what annoys me is almost the opposite.  I always read the small print so I have never been surprised by hidden fees.  I drive a big truck so if you want to tailgate go right ahead.  Your headlights won't bother me and if I brake suddenly, you'll get the worst of it.  Speeders upset me way more than slow drivers.  However, inaccurate weather forecasts upset me.  I guess that is because I work outside 3/4 of the year and need to be prepared for the elements.  I hate driving in snow so I would like accuracy in the winter too.  So what bugs you?  Do you think the results would be different if this survey had been done in Canada?  

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Who Owns the Podium?

Every time I turn on the radio or TV I hear about "Team Canada".  Despite the fact Canada has many Olympic teams in various relays, curling and hockey, "Team Canada" is used exclusively for the men's hockey team.  The media broadcasts all of our men's hockey practices and games, sometimes ignoring other events to do so.   I also hear all about "own the podium".   Something else I have noticed and I have not heard any media coverage about at all is that our women are outstanding.  Women have won 11 of our current 15 medals!  Has anybody else noticed this?  Our female athletes are incredible!  They are so strong - physically and emotionally.  I am thinking of Joannie Rochette who skated 2 days after her mother's death.  Maybe we should change our focus for the next Olympics.  Find out what our women are doing right and pass it on to the men.

And I want to salute Petra Majdic too.  This amazing Slovenian woman skiied with 4 broken ribs and a collapsed lung and earned a bronze medal.  I think that she should have been given an honorary gold.  Every breath and movement would have been agony.  I dislocated one rib two years ago and I couldn't shovel the driveway, walk the dogs or even use a dustpan.

disclaimer - I am not extremely knowledgeable about sports and I apologize for any generalizations or ignorance.  This is not meant in any way to belittle the performances of our male medal winners.  Neither am I a feminist - these are just my casual observances.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Observations about dogs

If you have been a regular reader, you know we currently have 2 dogs.  I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about canines.  Although we have had dogs, dogsat dogs and fostered puppies for our local humane society we have never had 2 dogs longterm.  Shasta was 6 months old when we got Darcy so they have grown up together.  My sister Lynda has 2 dogs as well.  Macy is a goldendoodle they got as a puppy and Biscuit is a much smaller rescue they got several years later.  My sister Leanne has 2 dogs.  Roger and Julia are Eskipoos and they are littermates.  We have made some interesting observation about 2 dog households.

Each pair has a dog that is louder, more obnoxious, annoying.

Each pair has a dog that loves food and a dog that doesn't (they actually hand feed Roger).

Each pair has a dog that is playful and one that isn't.

These dogs are all sizes, all temperments and have been raised differently, in different households, sometimes at different times yet there is a very noticeable pattern.  So I am asking you my faithful readers what is your experience in multi-dog households?  Have you noticed any strange patterns?  I have noticed that my dogs even sleep the same.  They either both curl up or both stretch out.  Their heads almost always face in the same direction.  Every time I pick up a camera to document this they get up so I have no proof.  You just have to take my word for it.

Another interesting observation by Caitlin. She recently read a book by Shaun Ellis who has spent years living with wolves (in England - pretty sure he'd freeze to death if he tried it here).  We always assumed Shasta was the alpha dog - she is bossier and more aggressive.  But Shaun suggests that Darcy is the alpha.  Shasta's job is to protect her so that would explain why Darcy doesn't like to go anywhere alone.  Anyone have insight on the pack mentality in their dogs?

Darcy loves being outside in the yard - her own safe world.  She would be happy (and quiet) outside by herself all day, in all weather, despite having zero fat as insulation.  Shasta only goes outside to do her business and is back in a flash.  This is Shasta's idea of being out.

She just stands at the door and gets louder and louder until I let her in.   

Monday, February 22, 2010

Meet Darcy

Darcy came to live with us in May 2006.  Kevin went canoeing for the weekend and when he returned Caitlin gave us Darcy as an anniversary gift.  Darcy's father was a rottweiler and her mother was a golden retriever.  We met the father, but not the mother.  I know that is a little backwards.  We named her Darcy because it means Dark One.  Alec has always called her Fluffy.  I have no idea why.  She is the least fluffy dog imaginable and she is so scrawny she isn't even fun to pet.  You wouldn't know she had rottwieler blood.  She and Shasta are the same length and height and Shasta weighs at least 15 pounds more.  

Darcy is a good dog.  She is quiet.  She does not get on the furniture. She pulls on walks and is always on the lookout for squirrels but she is a breeze compared to Shasta.  She doesn't have issues with her halti, sewers or passing vehicles.  She can be a little food aggressive so we have to watch them when given a treat or toy.   This is strange because she doesn't actually like eating.  That is why she is scrawny.  When she was younger I tried every premium dog food trying to beef her up and nothing worked.  At least she finishes her food now.  If I throw her a treat, say a piece of broccoli, you can tell she is eating it just so Shasta won't get it.  She has a look of disgust on her face with every bite.  She is timid on her own and uncomfortable in new situations unless Shasta is with her.  She went to puppy kindergarden and agility as well but didn't really enjoy the sessions due to the other loud dogs, scary people and unfamiliar equipment.  She gets carsick due to anxiety so we have to be prepared when travelling with her.  She is good in the canoe - she just cowers under my seat.  We took Shasta canoeing once and that was enough.  She is good camping, again she stays at my feet because there are scary things in the dark.  As long as she is feeling secure, she loves being outside.  She bounds around like a deer.

This is Darcy's favourite window to look out.  She watches the birds at the feeder for hours and if she is really lucky, a squirrel will come too.   

Darcy does not enjoy swimming or fetch.  Apparently she didn't inherit much from her mother either.   However, she is the one who initiates all the doggy play sessions.  Darcy is attention starved.  If you sit down she expects to be patted.  If you don't pat her enough and your legs are crossed, she will rub herself back and forth against your upper foot.  If you are swinging your foot and "kicking" her that is terrific.  One day I passed Caitlin's room and she was lying on her bed on her stomach with her feet hanging over.  Darcy was petting herself by rubbing back and forth against her feet.  I hope you have enjoyed learning about Darcy.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ski day

We only live 3 blocks from a nordic ski centre.  The first winter we were here we walked over a few times.  It was only $2.  The next year the prices more than tripled as they decided to include parking fees which had been seperate before.  Every year I ski with the kids classes because it is free as a volunteer.  The last few years we have added the free moonlight ski as well.  The last few years I have said I will get a pass but then I wonder if I will get my money's worth.  A few years we haven't had enough snow.  Will I have the energy to ski and walk the dogs?  Can I keep it up for a whole winter alone?  I do know someone who skis almost every day and I could go with her but she skis the same 4 km loop every time.  Boring.  There is more than 30 km of trails to explore.  I can see doing the same loop if you are timing yourself or in a hurry but every time!  I need more variety.

My summer fitness routine is my job, supplemented by dog walking and a little biking and canoeing.  On rainy days and in the winter I rebound 4 or 5 times a week and walk the dogs.  I am getting bored of the rebounding routines (and I lent a DVD to a friend so I only have half to chose from) so today I did it.  I forked over $9 and went skiing.  I did 7 km in an hour and ten minutes and I am home for a lunch break.  I am going to go out again after lunch and do another 4 km or more.  I don't want to overdo it or I won't be able to walk up the stairs tomorrow.  I will try to find a pocket to stuff my camera in.  There was a pileated woodpecker right on the trail this morning.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Learn from me

As you likely remember, I have been having problems with smoke detectors for at least 3 weeks.  One of the CO detectors started acting up on the weekend too.  I have done lots of shopping, research and installed 3 new units and thought I would pass on my vast knowledge to you all.  Detectors have changed a lot in the last few years.  

Smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years.   We have lived here 9 years and  the units that need replacing mostly came with the house so it makes sense that all our detectors (except 2) are due to be replaced.  One of the ones I removed had the manufacture date printed on the base - on the side that was screwed against the ceiling.  Made it a little difficult to read.  Then you have to add 10.  The new ones have the expiry dates printed on the side - very visible and no math involved. 

CO detectors should be replaced every 5 years.  It took a lot of research to find that out.  Thank you CMHC.

The new units are different sizes so your new one will not fit the old base. The holes from the old detectors may not match either so be prepared to drill, install anchors and patch the old holes.

Our old detectors were from 3 manufacturers.  Now, Kidde pretty much has the market covered (at least in Canada).

Always remember to change your batteries when you change your clock in the spring and fall.  This will cost a lot in batteries but the uninterrupted sleep is worth it.  And vacuum it regularly (at least once a month).

All of our old detectors twisted off a base and you had to remove them to silence an alarm or remove the battery.  Some of the new units have easy access hatches and one even had a 10 year battery but that made me a little leery.  They all have hush buttons now.  You also have to decide between ionization and photoelectric detection systems because they detect different kinds of fires.  It is recommended you have both kinds but nowhere could I find if that meant you should have 2 right beside each other or just have at least one of each kind on each floor.

This is what I ended up with.  Connor's room got a new photoelectric unit - not shown.  The one below is in the hall outside his room.  It uses ionization.  When the alarm sounds, the light flashes.  His room is in the basement and I thought the light would help him find his way in the dark.  It takes two 9 volt batteries.

This one is in the upstairs hallway, which also needed a new CO detector.  This unit was expensive ($60) but it detects both smoke and CO so I only bought one new unit instead of two and I can get rid of the wall mounted one that is in the way when I plug in the vacuum and occasionally gets knocked off.  The downside is that the whole unit has to be replaced every 5 years.  And - are you ready for this? - it talks!  So in the middle of the night I will wake to "fire!fire!fire!" or "Carbon Monoxide " or "Low Battery".  Makes it so easy!  Yes, I know I need to get out more if a new smoke detector is not only the highlight of my week, but my new best friend.  It uses 3 AA batteries and is also ionization.

When Kevin returns he gets to install the remaining units.  2 of them are hardwired and it doesn't appear that the old system mates with the new one so I am not tackling them.  The other 2 are on suspended ceilings and they no longer come with brackets to attach them.  It looks like the new ones will have to go on the walls. 

I hope you found this useful.

Our Weekend

This weekend was Snowman Mania.  My parents came up.  We checked in on the  ice sculpture a few times.  

The highlight for us was the Lumberjack show.  The Canadian team was all dressed in red union suits.  The Americans wore plaid.   You wouldn't get me trying this.  I like my feet where they are - attached. 


Here the Canadians are blowing on a fire.  They have to get a can full of water to boil before the Americans reach 150 points on the target behind.  There is a video of another event but it wouldn't load here so I'll try to add it separately.


There were many other events - chili tasting, hot air balloon rides, skating, tobogganing, but most of it was oriented to young families.  I got a nice picture of my parents.


We went to a Valentine's dinner and movie at our church Saturday night and spend a lot of time working on another puzzle.  I thought this one would be fairly easy because of the birch frames but it wasn't  There were loons in 3 frames, wolves and eagles and deer in two.  


Monday, February 15, 2010

Great Glove Giveaway

And the winner is (drumroll please) - Dalton!  Sorry Mushing Mum.  I hope to do another giveaway soon so stay tuned.  Fiddling Granny - you didn't actually qualify because you didn't say what you liked about winter.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


We are roughly halfway through Kevin's "deployment" to Vancouver.  The exact date of his return has not been confirmed.  He celebrated this milestone by having an emergency root canal today.

The biggest problem we have had at home is with smoke detectors.  The batteries were not changed in the fall when they should have been so that was part of the problem.  I have replaced most of them now and vacuumed them.  Several times the detectors have had full alarms.  This usually occurs in the wee hours of the morning prompting me to walk around the whole house and make sure nothing is really on fire.   One night two separate detectors went within 15 minutes of each other - but there was no fire.  A few of the detectors with new batteries are still chirping occasionally so the whole unit will be replaced when he returns.  Usually it is our carbon monoxide detectors, not our smoke detectors that have problems.  It is scarier with CO because you can't see it.  Anyway I am not complaining.  We haven't had a flood, breakdown, illness or any other crisis.  I have only had to shovel snow 3 or 4 times and it has only been a few inches, not feet as often happens here. 

Things I have observed during his absence:

I run out of socks before I need to do laundry (not that he is dirty, just that 2 of us don't produce enough to fill a front loader).

I am doing very little grocery shopping.  Again, not that he eats a lot, just it is so much easier to feed two - especially when one of them is at work half of the nights.  And I have very few dishes to wash.

It is very boring eating alone so often.

There is nothing worth watching on tv most nights.

Toilet paper lasts way longer.

We are saving a lot of money on gas and vehicle insurance (I took his SUV off the road while he is gone).

I enjoy sleeping on a bed where the mattress is level (remember we had the memory foam folded in half so there was a cliff in the centre of our bed).

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

More about Shasta

Because I know you are anxiously awaiting more information.  I can tell that you are by the overwhelming number of responses I received to my previous post about Shasta.

I finally got a picture of her playing fetch today.  This "stick" was originally twice this long.  She chews at them like a beaver.  This is still a little stick in her little mind.

 I thought I should list her good qualities so you don't think I totally hate her.  She has cute perky ears and when you talk to her she cocks her head to one side and that is cute too.  She knows lots of words - breakfast, lunch, dinner, cookies, treats, popcorn, squirrel and even a few not food related - bus, kids, who's there, all of our names and bye - and of course all the usual commands.  She has a cute little tail - see?

Her cute little tail led to a big discussion here at Christmas.  Some members of my family thought it extraordinarily cruel to dock her tail.  Some Aussies are born with little tails, the rest are docked to prevent mange.  I think hers was docked but don't hold me to it.  Once you have a dog with no tail, you realize what an inconvenience a tail is in a house.  But I think that could be a whole post in itself. I bet you can't wait.

And she has very nice feet.  See those nice white nails?  They are so easy to trim because you can see the quick.  That's about it for her good qualities.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Coming soon:  a post about Darcy.

Don't forget to check back a few posts for your chance to win a pair of new suede gloves! 

Monday, February 8, 2010

Meet Shasta

Shasta is an Australian Shepherd.  She is a red merle - most of you are probably more familiar with the more common blue merle.  We named her Shasta because it means three in a Native American dialect and she is three shades of reddish brown with white socks.  (She is also three times the trouble as most dogs but that isn't why we named her that)  Shasta has much shorter fur than most Aussies.  We hoped that would mean less fur to clean up but no such luck.  She was born on a farm near us near the end of October 2005 so she is almost 4 1/2.  I remember a saying about dogs - "3 years a young dog, 3 years a good dog, 3 years an old dog"  We are still waiting for the good.    

This is one of her favourite spots to sit.  That is the corner I do a lot of the food prep and she is hoping food will fall down for her.  Usually I am in the corner too and she is on my feet waiting. She eats EVERYTHING!  She loves every vegetable we have given her, even turnip - lettuce is one of her favourites.  She eagerly waits when Kevin is peeling an orange because he will give her one piece.  And popcorn is one of her favourite words.  The only food she has turned down to date are lemons and grapefruits.

We knew that Australian Shepherds were an active breed - right up there with Border Collies -  but we are an active family so we thought she would be a good fit.  In an attempt to keep her busy Shasta completed puppy kindergarden (where she achieved 191/200), several sessions of agility, which she loved and her pre-novice obedience.  We got Darcy (shown with her below) so she had a playmate.  They love running at the beach and in the forest but there are problems with that.  Firstly, Shasta barks non-stop in the car.  See Vet Visit (August 2009) for details (hyperlink won't work).  Secondly, Shasta is extremely fast and obnoxious with other dogs and her barking scares the dogs and their owners so I rarely let her off leash any more.  We do have a 20 foot horse lead so she can still get a good run.  

Walking the two dogs is one of my biggest daily pleasures.  Darcy pulls like most dogs do.  Shasta doesn't pull as long as she has her halti on - she has many other tricks to keep me on my guard.  She does not like wearing a halti and alternates between trying to rub it off in the snow or grass beside the road and trying to rub it off on the back of my left knee.  Fun.  She is terrified of sewers - some of the time.  Some times she will pass them without a second glance, other times she will freak out and bolt so we have to watch out for sewers all the time just in case.  This is especially fun when we are biking.  She likes to chase cars, snowmobiles and bikes so I have to watch for them too.  As soon as I hear a vehicle I have to start saying "leave it, leave it! LEAVE IT".  Then praise her for doing so.  Yes, I love my daily walk.

Shasta's eyes are an unusual colour.  They remind me of a jackal or a hyena.  Can you tell I am so fond of her? 

Shasta loves playing ball.  Squeaky balls are the best because then she can amuse herself if no one is willing to play.  And squeaky balls come in a larger size that doesn't roll under the furniture so that works for me too.  She also loves to chase logs.  Yes, I meant to say logs, or maybe trees or branches. The bigger the better.  She refuses to chase normal sticks.   They have to be so big she can barely fit them in her mouth.  The best branches are found in the forest.  They are 6 to 8 feet long.  We have to watch for her all the time because she will run up behind with a long branch and she is the perfect height that the branch hits the back of your knees and knocks you down.  She would not cooperate with my attempts to get a picture this week so you will have to believe me.  

Here is Shasta watching the world go by.  She often watches for the kid's busses - she seems to sense the right time.  Unfortunately, she still watches for Tori's bus and still hasn't figured out she isn't on it any more.


We have never allowed our dogs on the furniture.  I know many people think that is mean but dogs are very dirty and ruin upholstery and bedspreads.  Ourdogs  are too big to be lapdogs.  I don't want to be covered in their fur and dirt when I sit on my loveseat.  They have their own cushy beds.  And dogs are pack animals and need to know people are the leaders - we get the throne.  On occasion some of the children have had a problem enforcing this rule.  They don't live here any more.  But now we are having a battle with Shasta.  She quietly sneaks from the room and finds a couch or bed and makes herself at home.  For most of the year we have kept empty boxes or green bins on the upstairs loveseats  when we are not in the room.  I got really fed up with this awhile ago and got a mat that shocks her when she gets up on the loveseat.  She learned very quickly not to get up on furniture that has plastic on it.  So now all our furniture has vapor barrier strips..  A slight improvement over the bins. She still prowls for open bedroom doors and furniture we forgot to recover when we got up.  What a brat.  I have a message for Shasta.  We have outlasted 4 strong willed children and many other dogs.  Give up now.  Stay off the furniture.  We will win (or die trying).

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Connor's New Coat - For Real This Time

There was an outerwear liquidation sale in town today so I took Connor over.  He walked in and went straight for this coat.  I have no idea why he thinks coats need to be modelled on unicycles but he does so here it is.  (Maybe we could revolutionize the fashion world.  Anyone for skinny, bustless women riding down runways at fashion shows?) 


He loves the all the pockets and says it is much warmer than his other coat.  The colour is called spinach.  I guess spinach in China is a totally different colour than Canadian spinach.


You may remember he was looking for orange snowpants.  They didn't have any.  We are going cross country skiing tonight.  Do you think he should borrow my hot pink snowpants?

The liner is quite stunning.  Maybe he should wear the coat inside out. 

We got a free pair of suede gloves with the coat.  There was a limited selection of  colours and sizes.  These are size large and fit me so they will be too small for everyone else in the house.  So I think it is time for my first ever giveaway.  Tell me in the comments section what you love best about winter.  I will make a random draw next Sunday afternoon and mail the lucky winner the gloves.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Room with a View?

As most people know my husband is in Vancouver for 6 weeks assisting with security for the Olympics.  Whenever we go away (which isn't very often) I get excited because we can stay in a hotel.  He doesn't share my excitement because he gets to fly and stay in hotels lots.  This time he isn't staying in a hotel.  Can you guess where he is sleeping?

 Because there is a shortage of accommodations some of the personnel are being put up in 3 cruise ships. I thought this time he'd be more excited as we have never been on a cruise.  He wasn't.  Transportation is a hassle and very time consuming.  The hours are long and access to internet and phones difficult.  The rooms are smaller than a hotel room and these guys travel with lots and lots of gear.  You can push the beds together to make a queen but that gives you even less floor space so some of the guys just use one bed for sleeping and one for storage.  But look at the view!  Doesn't that make up for the other problems?

That lovely wall was his view for the first two weeks.  Yesterday they took a little trip to a new berth.  Now he gets to see this: 

Now he's excited.  Right, honey?