Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chariots of Fire

Click below for the music.  I've always loved that music.

And actually, if we'd wanted we could have taken our shoes off and run through the water and sand too.  We might not have been able to feel our feet by the time we were done, but that's just a minor problem.

Meredith and I were in White Rock today for a couple of other reasons.  Since it was also one of the days that we do a training run, we figured we'd change things up a bit and run along the promenade at White Rock beach.  We were lucky, the day that had started out sunny, then turned to rain and wet snow, had conveniently cleared up again by the end of the day.  It was lovely.  

We started out by having a laugh over the parking sign.  I suggested that we not pay for a ticket at all, since Feb 29th was not actually included on the sign. Then I thought that they might be able to get us with the 'Every Day' line.  Then down at the bottom where it says the hourly rate, since we were still in February, we just paid the $1.00 an hour and not the $3 an hour it goes to on March 1.

The view was wonderful.  The light was brighter than is suggested by the photos, but they were taken with Meredith's phone.  There weren't a lot of people walking, and we only saw three other runners.   After we got going a little bit, we looked at everyone else as seeming very overdressed, as we quickly shed our jackets and were down to a t-shirt.  It didn't take long for us to get our jackets back on once we were finished though, as the sun was down by then, and the temperature was dropping quickly.

This bear statue was called Grizzlee, and was donated to the city by a father in remembrance of his son, Lee.  That was the start and finish of our run.  We did a few stretches, here's me looking a little odd doing an illiotibial band stretch at the end.

Overall, the run training is going great.  We started with intervals of one minute running, and two minutes walking in the first week.  We are now in our seventh week, and have moved up to ten minutes running, one minute walking, repeated four times.  That was what we did on Monday night.  Monday is always the hardest run of the week, Wednesday is quite a bit easier, and Saturday's run in somewhere in between.  I was a little worried about this week, as we had moved up from doing 5 minute runs the week before, but it went amazingly well.  Maybe it was because I finally seem to have got rid of the cold that I got three weeks ago.  There were a couple of nights at least that I probably shouldn't have been running, but I did it anyway.  I felt wonderful after Monday's run, just so proud of myself, who I always considered as being a non-runner, to have come through that training session feeling so good.

Last night we went to a free assessment night.  A whole whack of physiotherapists assessed our flexibility, muscle strength, muscle tightness etc.  We came out of there with some good exercises to help us, and had our feet and movement assessed and bought ourselves new runners.  We both needed them.  A funny coincidence though, we were assessed separately, and not by the same people.  We each tried on multiple pairs, and when we met at the checkout, we were buying the exact same pair of runners, only a half size between them.  Six more weeks to go, to the Sun Run on April 15th!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mud Dog

Why is it that the camera never seems to show how muddy a dog truly is?
Yesterday morning started cold and crisp.  We had a good freeze overnight.  The morning soccer game was a clean one.  But clear and cold overnight usually means sun during the day, and it got above freezing. The top layer of ground thawed, and the afternoon soccer became a mud bowl.
I did end up putting her in the bathtub and hosing her undersides off with warm water.  Although she still cowers to the floor and tries to make herself small when she even thinks that someone might be considering washing her off, she did slither into the bathroom and even into the bathtub under her own steam.  Good (clean) dog Luna!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chicken Dinner?

The chickens were doing a lot of cackling this afternoon, and when I went out to look, this eagle was sat in a tree at the bottom of the north chicken field.  It was being harassed by a few crows.

There weren't any chickens to be seen out in the open.  Three hens were huddled under the cotoneaster in the corner of the field.  The rest were either in the coop, the sheep barn or under the cedars further along the fence line.  

I was able to get within about 30 ft of the tree before the eagle flew off with it's crow entourage squawking along behind.

At that point the hens figured it was safe enough to come out from their hiding spots and get back to their regular programming.  
We purposely leave low overhanging branches on the trees in and around that field, so the hens have somewhere close by to dash to safety if they are being threatened from overhead.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mud Coat

We were heading out for our bush walk yesterday, in the pouring rain, and sloppy mud, and nice clean Luna was going to be filthy in no time.  We have a couple of dog coats, but they don't do anything for keeping the mud off a dog's underside.  Keep in mind that Luna does nothing at half measures, and is on the go all the time out there.  Calli plods along, and Jake is more low key than Luna, quite happy to trot or walk at times, but Luna charges through everything at full speed. Her lower legs can be cleaned by asking her to go in the dog pool. The water on top of her is no problem, a towel quickly dries off the worst of it, but the mud splattered underneath is something else.

So yesterday I pulled an old t-shirt out of the rag pile in the garage, and since it was rather big, tied it round her waist with a piece of elastic to stop it sagging down so far.  It worked well for a while, until it got all wet and muddy, and then the last part was sagging enough that she was catching her back legs in it.  Nothing else to do but to knot it at the waist, and bare her midriff.  Hmm, there's a lot of other young females I can think of that go for that look!

So the end result was somewhat of a success.  Her chest was clean, but the mostly bare skin on her belly was black, as were the insides of her thighs and her tail.

I kept thinking of those stretchy looking one piece suit things I've seen some of the Italian Greyhounds or the hairless breeds wear.  So to Google I went, and eventually I came across this:)

Just think, put that suit on Luna, and you'd hardly notice it. Black on black.  She wouldn't look anywhere as ridiculous as this dog does.  
Somehow though, a border collie running full bore through the bush wearing this might be a disaster in the making.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Weedy Wednesday....and Thursday

After a long day of rain on Tuesday, we got a pretty nice break on Wednesday and Thursday.  Not brilliantly clear and sunny, but sort of half way between that and the rain.  Since we are nearing the end of February, and Spring will be really sprung before we know it, I thought I should get a bit of a start on the weeding.
This is creeping buttercup, the bane of my existence. It is easily 50% of my weed problems. The stuff is impossible to get rid of.  It can drown out just about anything. It spreads by seed and with runners like a strawberry plant.  If you read the link, it says the seeds can be viable in the soil for up to 80 years.  Depending on which site you read, any roots left in the soil can generate new plants.  I actually didn't think they did, and the link I've listed says not, but then another site said yes.  It also says it likes compacted soils of low fertility, and shade.  That may be so, but it also likes organic fertile soils in full sun.  I think it's probably our climate.  Generally mild and wet. The buttercups seem to get right into the center of a clump of perennials.  I can usually prise the buttercup out, but I wonder about those left over roots that may or may not regenerate.

Enemy number two is couch grass.  Looks pretty innocent to start.  Just a few blades of grass coming up here and there.  When you start digging, it's like an iceberg, with most of the plant being underground.  Let a clump get well established, and it becomes a solid mat of roots.  The longest root I pulled out on Thursday was about 3' long, and that was because it broke at that point.  You can see all the shoots coming off at the root nodes.   The roots are extremely persistent, and easily work their way into a clump of perennials.  The only way to get rid of them is to dig the perennial out, blast the root clump with a hose, and painstakingly pull all the couch grass roots out.  Even then you probably can't get them all, as those roots will grow right through things.  Yesterday I dug up gladioli bulbs with couch grass roots growing right through them.  I've had them grow right through potatoes.  They were so entrenched in a clump of rhubarb, and slowing killing it off, that I had to dig the clump up, split it apart to get all the roots out, and I replanted it somewhere else.  If they are just growing in open soil, and it's just the odd shoot growing here and there, it's kind of fun to loosen the soil, and see how long a piece of root you can ease out without breaking it. Kind of like digging up that big dandelion plant, and seeing if you can get the whole long root out without it snapping off. Us gardeners have to find our fun where we can:)

And here's my favorite tools.  A $2 kneeling pad from the dollar store.  I like this one, it has a handle.  Makes is easier to carry when you have an armload of other stuff like I quite often have.  It's easy to hang up instead of just throwing it in on the greenhouse floor.  I'ts quite firm and nearly twice the size of many other kneeling pads.
The garden fork was an end of the season deal at a major supermarket chain.  It's small, has a t-handle.  It's made of stainless steel and the handle is some sort of  composite stuff.  Great for me as I'm not the best at putting tools away, so you can leave it out and it doesn't rust and the handle doesn't rot. Made in China I'm sure, but I love that thing. I've had it for years.
That other thing is called a Nejiri scraper, which I found at the thrift store. It is what I use for weeding. Ideal for easing that buttercup rosette out from the middle of a clump of flowers.

Won't be doing any weeding today, there's wet snow coming done.  Looking forward to this, next month.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

On Track

Jake that is. Or to be more specific, Jake's pelvis.  Our visit to the chiropractor on Tuesday was good.  Dr. Lana said his pelvis was pretty well where it should be.  Any limping we still saw was probably caused by soft tissue damage.  I am to keep applying the heat, and am gradually increasing his exercise and we'll just see how it goes.  The reason I was heating/massaging the opposite side to where we were seeing the limp was because the muscles on that other side were compensating and were showing some injury.  Well something like that, it all made sense when she explained it to me, but these days it seems to go in one ear and 50% seems to leak out the other, and I have to make up that 50% to try and make the story somewhat feasible.  Anyway, you get the idea.

So on the way back we stopped at the dyke and I took him for a bit of a walk to the north towards the train tracks and where the creek hits the Fraser River.  We usually never walk there, as it is not very long, but yesterday just at sundown it was nice and quiet and a good place for the two of us to have a little stroll.
And yes, he got dog treats from the doctor,  and I got a lovely chocolate.  I was offered another when I went back in to pay.  This thing called willpower that I usually can never find when I need it, said no.
I amaze myself sometimes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


You can find it all around you if you look for it.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Minimal Misty Monday

The fog rolled out, and the variegated willow thingy looked like it was covered in strings of mini Christmas lights

And then the fog rolled back in

And there's that tongue again.  I think it's a border collie thing.

And a dog on restricted exercise is always hopeful, or maybe that's desperate?

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Member of the Gimpy Dog Club

After reading this blog post, I'm thinking of requesting a membership for Jake. The visits to the chiropractor are continuing.  What I was hoping would be a quick fix is dragging on. His pelvis doesn't want to stay in position.  It's better than when we started, but the ligaments have been stretched and the pelvis doesn't want to quite stay where it should.  So we are back to the restricted exercise, and now we have added heat and massage.  Our latest visit was yesterday.  Dr. Lana was complaining that his pelvis just didn't want to hold in place.  She figures the ligaments have been stretched and muscles are trying to compensate.
Last night I was all set to put the heat pad on him.  I made another cover for it, as Larry is using it a lot on his shoulders.  Quite often he has to get out of bed, throw it in the microwave, and slap it on his shoulder for some relief.  So the blue cover is for Larry, and Jake gets the yellow one with the cute pigs on it.  The bag is filled with buckwheat, and there is a pleasant porridgey sort of smell when it is heated up.  Anyway, I naturally assumed that since Jake is stiff/limps on his right rear when he gets up, that it would be that side I'd apply the heat to.  And then I suddenly thought that Dr. Lana had shown me the correct spot to treat, on Jake's left side.  Was my memory playing tricks?  Did she just show me on the left side because that was the side I was closest to?  The more I thought about it, the more confused I got.  But the right side seemed more logical, so that is what I did.  I phoned to the office this morning, but the Dr. wasn't in until late this afternoon.  So I heated and treated the right side again.  She left a message while I was out tonight.  Treat the left side.  Oops.  Thankfully Jake is a pretty cooperative patient.  We have another appointment at 5 on Tuesday.  Me and my 'heart' dog have a Valentine's Day date with the chiropractor.  Jake will get dog treats, I'm hoping for chocolate.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I took advantage of the good weather we've had and got a bit of garden clean-up done.  The broccoli was toast, so I loaded the wheelbarrow up with the old stems and took them out to the big compost pile.  And it is just that, a pile next to the pacific willow tree in the north field.  A spot where the big amounts of organic material get dumped, and they can stay there as long as it takes for them to rot down.

There are a few things in the garden that are still edible though.  The cabbages don't look particularly pretty, but once you pull off those gross rotted outside leaves, the inside is  still pretty good.

The other day I picked some cabbage, kohlrabi, beets, carrots and celeriac.
Kind of a sad looking mess.  The sheep have been grabbing bites of the kohlrabi as they go by on the way to the hayfield, so I think they've eaten more of it than we have.  The carrots were a bit of a disaster last year.  They didn't like the spot I put them in, and were also riddled with carrot fly.  The beets were next to them and did a bit better.  The celeriac didn't amount to much, and by the time I'd trimmed the roots off, as well as the peel, there wasn't much more than a bite or two left.  The same could be said for the carrots.  

The best thing was the little cabbages.  They were what grew around the edge of the stem, where I had cut the first big head off, last summer.
Kind of like giant brussel sprouts.

Slice it and chop it and grate it, and add a little onion, also saved from last summers garden, and it all made a pretty nice coleslaw.

And back out in the garden, the broccoli stems are all pulled up, and there's a nice bonfire going.  I had pruned the raspberries and burnt all the old canes, as well as other dead woody stems from some of the perennials.  Add to that fir branches that the wind had broken off, and we got a pretty hot fire going.
We should have pulled up some chairs, waited for some hot coals and roasted some marshmallows, and invited you all to join us!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Big Boys at the Birdfeeder

I was wondering why the bird feeder was being emptied in a day.
Look at the pile of seed in that Jay's beak.
Usually they just work at the suet block.
They only manage to hang on this feeder a second or two, and probably as much falls on the ground as they carry off. 
 Not much gets wasted though, the rooster and a hen or two find their way over there to do some cleanup.

The blackbirds were in on it too

And the little guys were being pushed out

Nelson gives them the hairy eyeball, but doesn't want to go out there.
He prefers to go out in the early evening, when it's dark.  While he isn't bothered about the dogs in the house, being outside with them is a whole 'nother ball game.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Gloriousness Continues

We headed for a different dyke today.  I like walking in those wide open spaces with the dogs, well specifically with Luna.  I like to see who is coming, and what dogs, and then I can be prepared.  Luna likes to range well ahead of us, and I don't like it when she's disappeared around a bend in a trail and is being snarky with some dog coming the other way.

Driving along the freeway out to Sumas Prairie.  Mt. Baker in Washington state really dominates the view

It was a really lovely day, next to no wind, and warm.  I took my jacket off after a while.

Someday I'm going to have to find out what these pilings were for.  A road maybe?
The flat farmland on the other side of the dyke used to be a lake, until it was dyked and drained. The pilings might be from the pre-dyke era.
See Jake?

 Luna was trying to get that little stick, but wasn't brave enough to take the plunge.  The rocks were slippery when wet, she was scrabbling a couple of times.  I was VERY careful making my way back over that one.  It would have been a long wet walk back to the car.
And what is it with border collies and sticking out a bit of their tongue?
Does it make for better concentration?