Saturday, March 31, 2012

Things I've Learned....

......while my husband is away.
Larry is away for a few days.  He's helping his brother and sister-in-law move to Alberta.  They left Thursday morning, in a convoy consisting of a monstrous U-Haul truck pulling a car trailer, a car, and Larry driving a van pulling a utility trailer.  The weather was good the first day out, but the second day they ran into snow through the Rockies and all had to stop and chain-up.  Apparently they were going so slow that a highway traffic patrol car drove along behind them with his flashers on.  When the road conditions got better, he pulled out in front of them and made them stop and take their chains off, so that they would get going a bit faster.  Despite the truck and van being overloaded, they made it in one piece.
After dropping my sister at the airport very early Wednesday morning, I had joined them in the loading of the U-Haul.  It was a long, sometimes cold day with a bitter wind blowing off the ocean.  Thank goodness we only got a few drops of rain.  I had thought the truck was much bigger than they needed, but I was wrong.

So while Larry's been gone, I've learned a few things....

I learned that a set of car keys, that has been missing for months and months, possibly since last Summer, were in the pocket of a pair of capris hanging in the closet.

I learned that the marks I see on the ceiling when I'm laid in bed in the morning, are not from someone tossing a dog toy or ball rather erratically and bouncing it off the ceiling.  I've seen one for a long time that I assumed was from a dirty tennis ball.  The other one, which I've lain in bed many a morning wondering about, seemed more obvious this morning.  I finally remembered to have a better look at the marks when I got up and could stand right underneath them. They are wet spots from leaks in the roof.  It's raining again, so I suppose I'd better drag the stepladder in and haul myself up into the attic with a flash light and a bucket or two. (Yep, definitely a leak up there.  The buckets are in position. Thank goodness it's stopped raining)

I learned that even though I've got the whole bed to thrash around on, I still toss and turn and wake up with hot flashes.  Can't wait 'til I'm done with this.  A good night's sleep, I've forgotten what it's like.

I did learn that it's possible for one person to hose down a cat, holding it's tail and scruff in one hand, and the shower head on a hose thingy in the other.  Poor Nelson, with all that long hair.  Hope I don't gross anyone out, but Nelson had a big blob of poop stuck under his tail.  I didn't think I could wait for help.  His anus was blocked, and he wasn't happy.   I got the water running in the shower, got some disposable gloves on, and carried poor Nelson into the bath tub.  It actually went better than I thought.  I'm sure if it had been Smudge I would have been bleeding.  As it was I was just wet, because every time I let go of the shower head, it didn't quite reach the bottom of the bath, and insisted in turning in such a way that it was pointing out over the side of the tub and spraying all over my legs.  I towelled Nelson off, he went and used the litter box, had something to eat, and then worked on smoothing his ruffled wet hair back into place.  I did manage to trim a bit of hair off as I was drying him, but I'll have another go a bit later.  I can't wait until that smell is out of my nose:(

If looks could kill.....

Larry's back Sunday.  I had planned on doing some cleaning while he was gone.  Some of the things I've had to clean weren't quite what I had expected.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Into the Great Black Abyss

I was walking away from the computer this morning, heading back to the stairs.  All of a sudden my reading glasses self destructed.  The frame around the lens suddenly broke and the lens shot into the great black abyss under the stairs. I wasn't even on the stairs yet, I was just next to them.  As you can see, they are unfinished stairs.  Just a couple of old 2x6's making up the treads, with no riser.  We did plan on making a storage area under the stairs, so there is a rectangular opening along the side.  It's a decent space, there are six stairs before stepping onto a landing.  It's a place I've piled some of the better kids toys.  The Lego and the Playmobil.  The toys I'm keeping for the future, if and when we have grandchildren.  No pressure, kids:)  It's kind of one of those cubby holes that gets forgotten about.  I daren't show you a closeup at what it looks like under there, but just take my word for it that the dust was thick enough to support it's own life forms.  I hate to think how long it's been since that space was emptied and cleaned.  You really don't want to know how long those stairs have been unfinished.  Luna goes up and down them a lot, and Luna packs a lot of dirt with her at times.  All that mud she races through dries on her undercarriage, and then sheds itself everywhere.

So I got a flash light and took a peek under the steps, but no lens to be seen.  There were a few cardboard boxes under there that had open tops.  I had no other option but to start hauling things out.  As I brought things out, I vacuumed them off and then wiped them down with a damp cloth.  It wasn't until I brought out the last box that I found the lens inside it, thank goodness.  I thought I might have  sucked it up with the vacuum somehow. 
I did vacuum up what was left of an egg.  How did an egg get in there I have to wonder.  Why didn't it stink as it was drying up.  Did someone know it was  there and just ignore it, because it was at the very back?  Was I that someone?     

 I threw out a bunch of stuff, and assigned a few things to a new place.  The toys were put back.
Waiting, waiting, waiting.......

I found an old vinyl table cloth, so I draped that over the pile of toys to keep them clean.  I got rid of the cardboard boxes.
Right now my glasses are held together with tape.  I'm wondering if I can crazy glue the frame to the lens.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Great Garage Sale

It's kind of hard to know where to start.  Lots went on the last week.  My sister Cathy came out from Ontario to help me do some sorting out of all the things at my mum's place.  My mum came over on the Friday and we went through some stuff with her, and she picked out what she wanted to keep.  Cathy and I  saved some momentoes.  Friday and Saturday we held a garage sale.  It was too late to list it in the local paper, so I posted it on Craigslist and put up lots of bright signs.  We even had a guy stop by on Friday who must have seen the CL ad.  Saturday morning we were up early getting stuff set up outside.  Most of the big furniture we left inside.  
The sale was advertised as starting at 9am, and the first dealer showed up at 7:40am.  At least by that point we had most of the stuff ready to go, and I was just heading out to put up more signs. 
Lets just say that the amount of people that showed up was just amazing.  There were only a couple of times between 7:40 and the 3pm when it was supposed to end, that we had no one there for 10 minutes or so. These photos were taken at the end of the day on Saturday.  You can see Jake on the driveway by the stairs.  He was the official greeter.  Saturday evening I went back home and reposted the ad as a new garage sale on Sunday, and added pictures of the big pieces of furniture that were left.  At 9am sharp a young couple rolled up wanting to buy one of the dressers.  It was a lot quieter on Sunday than Saturday, but attendance was decent.  By the end of the day all the big furniture was gone.  Even that chair on the left, which we had put on the free pile, was gone.  It was something that I had reupholstered in my teens, using an upholstery book from the library.  Most people looked at the faded, cat scratched fabric, and noted the loose woodwork, and said it was way too much work.  Finally the right person came along and threw in the back of her SUV.  It finally came out that she was an antique dealer.  Sure, stripped and restained, the framing tightened up, and redone with the right fabric, the chair would be a real gem.  It would be a lot of hours to get it there though.  We were told the signs were great and so were the prices.  We needed good signs, as we were hidden away in a obscure little area, in a cul-de-sac, that no-one would normally ever venture in, unless they were one of the few that lived there.  I did a lot of fast talking to convince people that they really needed that dresser/couch and chair/ sewing machine etc.  We have since taken boxes and bags of stuff to the thrift store, and there is more to go.  There are a few things that need to be done and then the For Sale sign will go up.  My sister is back in Ontario.  Oh, and did I mention the weather.  It was the most beautiful weekend of the year.  Sunny, but not hot, it could not have been more perfect.  And since then, well we are back to clouds, showers and rain.

We had the original clothes tree!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Missing in Action

My sister is out from Ontario, and we are spending five busy days trying to sort out stuff at my mum's place.  We are bringing her over there tomorrow, to have a last look at anything she might still want to keep, and then we have a garage sale scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.  I won't be around home much.  Larry's holding down the fort.  Doesn't it figure though, the perfect gardening weather is upon us, and I won't be here to take advantage of it. (For those who don't know, my mother had a stroke last May that resulted in her spending a lot of time in hospital, and she has now moved to a care home)  It is time to get her place cleaned out, and sold.

Monday, March 19, 2012

There's Hope!

Today's forecast is decent for us.  Well once we get past the 30% chance of snow flurries early this morning.  There's a skiff of ice on the dog pool.  But......the big thing is....IT ISN'T RAINING!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Running Loose

Yesterdays's run went well.  We were late getting started, as we both forgot to eat our breakfast early enough.  Turned out that the timing was good though, as although it was raining lightly on the ten minute drive to the dyke, it didn't rain noticeably while we were running, but started again right as we were finished and were doing our stretches. Couldn't have worked out better.  Started off with Luna off leash.  We are in a regional park, and yes, she's supposed to be on leash.  There wasn't a soul in sight, and once we got running she stayed on the top of the dyke with us.  Eventually we had to go down on a trail that was closer to the river, to pass by the sewage treatment plant.  The wind was blowing the wrong way:(  We stayed on the lower trail once we were past and into clearer air.  We spotted our first people, heading our way, with a dog.  Luna was still off leash, and so was that dog.  As they got closer they shouted that the dog, a small Sharpei, who was coming ahead to greet us, was friendly (don't they all say that?).  I just told them that Luna would tell him to get lost, which she did. I had planned on putting Luna on leash, but left it a bit too long.  Just after that a quad with two people on it appeared around a bend in the trail.  Busted!  I knew it was the parks guys, so quickly fumbled around and put Luna on the leash, and they just smiled at me as they passed.  Not sure what happened when they caught  up to the other couple.  Further along when we got to the parking lot near the Mission Bridge, we made a 'Pit' stop.  And then the Sharpei came running out of the trail we had been on.  He was running around like he was lost, I tried to call him to us but had no success.  We were at the halfway point, so just started running back down the dyke.  We did eventually come across the dog's owners, and the dog had run back down the trail and joined them just before we got there.  The guy said that the dog had just suddenly taken off, and even then, after he had come back, he wouldn't come close enough to be caught.  Leashes were meant for dogs like that.

We were happy with the run.  Meredith had been having some knee pain.  After watching The Perfect Runner, she was trying to run less flat footed, and more on the balls of her feet.  She said her knees felt pretty good at the end.  7.4 kilometers in 40 minutes of running, and 14 minutes of walking.

This morning it wasn't raining, it was snowing.  Then it turned to rain, then there was snow mixed in.  Global warming, wherefore art thou?  Must be back east....26 C predicted for Winnipeg today, and 23 C for Ottawa.  That's above zero, not below.  That's summer weather.  My sister is coming out from Ontario next week, hopefully she'll bring a bit of warmth with her.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Rambling Randomly

I am fed up to here (holds hand at neck height) with rain.  It's been raining just about every morning for what seems like weeks.  I know it's not, but it seems like it.  Actually, I do remember seeing some blue sky one morning not too long ago when I got up, but by the time I got outside it had disappeared, and guess what, it was raining again.
Here's two pictures taken taken late Thursday afternoon, within a minute of each other.  To the west it has cleared up, and the sun actually shone for a bit, and to the east is the storm that has just passed over, with it's rain, hail and thunder.  Apparently Jake glued himself to Meredith's leg in the kitchen while the thunder rumbled.  I was off to the west, enjoying that sunshine, sort of, and looking at the black clouds to the east and wondering if they were dumping on our place.  

  The blue sky didn't last long, and a couple of hours later, as the sun was setting, we got this rainbow.  It disappeared into the clouds in the middle, and the right side was not as bright at the left, but it was the full thing.

Sure, Spring is coming, the grass is growing, the crocuses are blooming, and the daffodils are almost there.  But the temperatures are well below seasonal normal, we had snow on Wednesday, and we have had so much rain that the ground is sodden and still cold.   I started a some kale seedlings in the house.  They are in a south facing window, but are already getting leggy, so I want to move them out to the greenhouse.  Before getting the benches set up in the greenhouse, I wanted to power wash it, inside and out.  This afternoon I dragged the powerwasher out, filled it with gas, gave it a couple of pulls to make sure it was going to start.  Yay for Honda engines.  Then I hooked up the hoses, got the ladder in position, got my rain gear on, and started it up.  I couldn't get any water out, grrrr.  In the end I took the whole nozzle assembly apart, flushed it, and got the water moving through, but then there was no pressure.  It seemed like the pump wasn't working.  I'll have to see if I can get David to have a look at it.  I spent an hour and a half fiddling around with it, accomplishing nothing, so was feeling  just a leeetle pissed off. 

 Normally I would have potatoes planted by now.  The fruit trees aren't all pruned yet.  None of the garden has been rototilled.

I started writing this Friday night.  It's now Saturday morning.  Despite seeing stars out of the window as I was going to bed, guess what, it's raining again.

Hope it dries up by 10am.  That's when Meredith are going out for our training run.  We've done a few runs in the rain just lately. Light misty rain is fine, it's a natural coolant.  Heavy rain not so much.  Today we do our 5 minute warm up and cool down, and 40 minutes of running, split into 10 minute segments with one minute of walking in between.  On Monday we did 55 minutes of running, in 10, 15, 20 and 10 minute segments.  I survived.  My legs were dead at the end of the last 10 minutes, but after doing the 5 minute walk at the end, they felt 'normal' again.  I walk away from those Monday night runs feeling so proud of myself.
On Thursday night we watched an interesting program.  It was called The Perfect Runner.  How as a biped, man evolved into the perfect endurance runner.  How early man used to run his prey down, using endurance, not speed.  If you've got 45 minutes to watch it, it's really quite interesting.  It makes me want to run more, and I feel excited about this morning's run.  We are going to the dyke along the Fraser River, which is not the one where we usually walk the dogs.  It is flat of course, but the footing will be a bit uneven, which brings it's own challenges.  Quite often, for whatever reason, Meredith or I seem to struggle with the Saturday run.  We ran hills on Monday and Wednesday, so flat will be a nice change today.  The Sun Run is four weeks tomorrow.  I'm starting to feel excited.  The organization that is putting on the running clinic has rented a bus.  It costs us of course, but it's easier than trying to get into downtown Vancouver with 50,000 other people early Sunday morning.  I'm hoping that morning dawns cloudy with a nice cool breeze. It'll be here before I know it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Getting By With Help From Your Friends

I was woken early, before daylight (or maybe I was already awake?) by Luna barking down by the family room door, a floor below and at the other end of the house.  Just a quick sharp bark, to tell whom ever's listening, that she needs to go out.  Seems that the only one ever listening is me.  The only reason I can figure that she goes to that door, which is not a door that we go out very often at all, is because it was the first door she was let out of when she came here.  Sometimes it only takes doing it once to teach something to a border collie:)
I dragged myself out of bed and called her up and let her out the back door onto the deck, with it's nine stairs that leads to the patio and the back lawn.  A few minutes later I opened the door to let her back in, and heard a sheep bawl.  A rather feeble, mournful bawl.  Sounded like The Fat Ewe.  It was rather weird. There was no need for them to bawl, they had access to the hayfield, they hadn't been getting any grain, so weren't expecting any.  I opened the door again, and another mournful bawl, and The Young Ewe bawled at me as well.  Time to take a look.  There were no shoes near the back door, and I didn't want to go downstairs which would cause a mad rush of border collies, because SOMETHING EXCITING MUST BE HAPPENING OUTSIDE.  I figured I'd just tiptoe across the gravel driveway in my bare feet and nightie, and see what I could see.  Thankfully there was a flashlight in the kitchen.  I did take note of a few frozen snowflakes on the deck.  When I get across the driveway, the two aforementioned ewes stared back at me through the gate, but I could hear some banging from in the barn.  The Old Ewe must be stuck in something.  So I figured I'd already come that far, what the heck.  On I went, through the gate, tromped through the mud and sheep muck to the barn, where The Old Ewe was flat on her side, legs flailing, unable to get up.  Heaved her over, and pulled her up, and tromped back through the muck to the driveway.  (Larry asked me later why I didn't go up the driveway and through the barn to the end where the sheep were, which would have avoided most of the muck, but isn't it already obvious I wasn't thinking very straight at that time in the morning?)  

The stuff I  slopped through last night with today's moisture added to it.    Not deep, just slimy.

 There was a hose hanging there, so I stood on the grass and turned it on and tried to spray my feet off.  Got my feet a bit cleaned off, but then the water stopped, as it was just cold enough outside to freeze part of the hose.  Continued to the patio and then stood on one foot and then the other, swishing the opposite one in the water in the dog pool.  Back inside, dragged something out of the clothes hamper to rub my hopefully relatively clean feet dry. No lights were turned on during this whole episode, well other than the flashlight.  Climbed back into bed and actually managed to fall back to sleep for a little bit.  The Old Ewe was not looking particularly thrilled about life this morning, although she did take a bit of grain I offered her, and then later drank quite a bit of warm water with molasses in it.  Time will tell.  But I have to wonder....were those other two ewes really trying to tell me something was wrong?

PS - By this afternoon, between rain and snow storms, (it's been a very weird day weather wise) all three ewes were back out grazing.  The Old Ewe's ears are still hanging a bit low, a sign that not everything is necessarily all right in her world.  April would have been 16 this year, so this ewe could easily be 14 years old.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Look What We Got!

 Luna and I went to an agility trial last night and today.  I think it's been six months since our last one.  Not really sure why we didn't enter in any, well in the Fall it was because we were still doing the farmers markets, but no real excuse for not entering in January and February.  Even this one, which I had planned on attending, well I didn't get my entry done in time.  They even have online entries.  But then it just happened that the lady running the trial had to phone me about something, and in the end she told me to just email her with my entry, so I did.  And we were in.  We had two classes last evening (the trial started at 6pm) and then 6 classes today, which started at 8am.  This meant I needed to be up at 6, but that just seemed too early (I haven't been doing early mornings much lately, well really not at all).  So I set the alarm for 6:15, and then hit the snooze button twice, and then turned the alarm off, and then had to leap out of bed at 6:45.  A bit of a rush, but we were on the road at 7:13, and it is a 25 minute drive.  Just enough time for Luna to do her morning business before she went into her crate which was still there from the night before. I walked two courses, and then we were the fifth team in.

Between last night and today we had 8 runs.  Luna 'qualified' in 5 of those runs.  That means the run was clean with no faults, and was under the allowable time.  In one of the other runs, she didn't qualify, but still came in first place in her group.   To qualify is more important than a placement ribbon.  It is the qualifying runs that allow you to advance into the more difficult divisions.  The red and white rosettes are the qualifying ribbons.  The plain red one is her first place ribbon.  The turquoise ribbon is because she received enough qualifying runs of a certain type, to move her up to the next division. Clear as mud I know.

 But for the Lunatic, this was probably the best trial she has ever had.  Some of the runs were a bit wild and a lot 'not pretty', but what counts in the end was that she got around the course clear and under time.  I don't have any video, just these sad looking pictures.  Because I don't bother to keep the ribbons, I just 'borrowed' them to take this photo, which was on a relatively clean looking table under the grandstand next to where her crate was.  Then the ribbons were put back and we went home without them.

 I tried hard to make her look alert and intelligent, but no matter how many exciting things I talked about...

She found it all verrrrry  boring

And figured she'd just take a nap until I was done

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Making Dog Treats

I don't buy any dog treats.  The good ones are too expensive, and the cheap ones, well they're cheap for a reason, mostly because they are full of nothing much that's any good for a dog.
Yesterday I picked up a package of chicken gizzards and one of chicken hearts.  They were at their best before date, so they were 30% off.  That's the gizzards on the left, and the chicken hearts bottom right.  The two big chunks at the top are a piece of beef heart I already had thawed out, and underneath is the last bit of a piece of beef liver I had been feeding the dogs.

I put them in the oven at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Then I turned the oven off, left them in there to  cook a bit more, and then cool off,  and we went outside and did our morning chores and our bush walk.  When I got back to it about 45 minutes later, the chicken gizzards were done enough, so I just cut them into little pieces and bagged them up.
The chicken hearts I cut into four or six little pieces, depending on how big the heart was, and I sliced the beef liver and heart up small.  Each piece is about the size of a pea, or the end of your little finger, or about 1/4 inch square.  The trays went back into the oven.  I had it at 225 degrees this time, and I just left them in there until they were fairly dry and firm, but not hard, maybe an hour or so.  They can be cooked at a higher or lower temperature, but if the temperature is higher, you just have to keep a closer watch on them.  The lower temperature gives you more room for error, and since I tend to wander off and forget about them for a while, it saves them getting overcooked, which makes them really hard. They do harden more as they cool. 
This is some of the beef liver and heart after they are done.

The chicken hearts were quite fatty, and I probably could have left them in a bit longer, but I didn't.  I wrapped them up in some paper towel to absorb the fat and dry them off.

I mixed them all together, put them in a zip lock bag and keep them in the freezer.  So for about $5 of meat, I got 1 1/4 lbs of additive and preservative free dog treats.  They are the perfect size for training, and are soft enough that they can even be broken into smaller bits.  Nelson and Smudge like them too, right out of the freezer.  And I'll confess that I do like liver, so I've been known to eat some of them myself.
I can hear some of you saying 'oh...gross' from here:)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

In The Garden - Garlic

A year and a half ago, when we were on holiday in the Okanagan, I bought a pound of garlic for $8.  I planted some of it that Fall, and used the rest of it for our cooking.  Last summer when the cloves I'd planted were ready, I sold about 20 bulbs. Of the rest,  I planted 75 cloves last Fall, and saved the remainder for us to eat.  It was such nice garlic that I've been really generous adding it to our meals, and now it is gone.  I might have to consider that questionable, cheap stuff from China if I want to add fresh garlic to my cooking for the next few months.  Shouldn't have sold those 20 bulbs, damn!

The other day I was happy to see that all of those 75 cloves I'd planted last Fall had come up.  When I glanced over to where it was growing last summer, I realized that I'd missed digging up a few bulbs, as there were some clumps of garlic shoots very close together. Shoots growing out of the same bulb togetherness.

 It's not surprising, as I left them very late to dig up, and in some cases the tops were no longer attached.  That's why I missed a few.  I thought about digging these sprouting clumps up and just using them to eat, but since they were no longer dormant, but were actually growing, I knew they wouldn't keep well.


So in the end, I blasted them with the hose to get rid of the dirt, and gently eased them apart.  Then I trimmed the roots down to two or three inches.  I used a broken shovel handle to make more holes, and tried to get the clove and it's roots as straight in that hole as possible.  I know they wouldn't have formed bulbs as they were, so hopefully now they'll plump out and at least form a few more cloves.  There were 59 of them altogether, so all going well, at the end of this summer, along with the original 75, there will be enough garlic to plant this Fall, and to last us over the winter, and some leftover to sell.