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Reflections on January 2015

Blah! Home with the flu. Well, maybe I need a day to veg and replenish my inner stores. I’ve been feeling drained mentally lately and now my body matches my mindset. You don’t suppose one followed the other’s lead? I wonder if I could have changed the outcome by changing my attitude before my body became ill? We’re in the last few days of January and though it started out blistering cold, Very Cold Day 2015

it quickly turned into a ridiculously warm month with several days above zero. Very strange indeed! Not Cold at All

I thought I’d look back on some of the fun from the month.

SOCCER

I got back to playing soccer in town where I scored a second goal. I find it awesome that I have scored two goals in soccer at age 42 but I never even got near the net with a ball between the ages of eight and 18 when I played full seasons. I’m quite pleased with my increased confidence and skills on the field. My parents, in true fashion, simply responded teasingly with, “What took you so long?” One can always count on family to keep it real …

GIRL’S NIGHT

We had the once a year girl’s night ski and dinner out. We seem only able to co-ordinate ourselves to do it once a year in winter for some reason. It’s good fun and nice to treat ourselves to a good meal. In the year since we last got together, four have had babies (two couldn’t make the evening because one had just delivered and the other’s baby was sick) and all of our lives have changed quite a bit so lot’s to catch up on.

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING

I’ve been cross-country skiing on different trails each time I go out. I went out quite late one day after I’d seen a wolf through my living room window. I’m not afraid of wolves. They don’t stick around when humans show up but for some reason I freaked my freak that evening. I was skiing by myself. The conditions were perfect – no wind, crisp air, snow-coated trees and the sun was setting making the light that soft lovely palette of blues and mauves and aqua – and then I started imagining a wolf pack chasing me down in the snow to eat for dinner. I ended up sprinting the route and finishing the 6 Km in 32 minutes. I know it’s ridiculous but once the image of those wolves chasing me was in my head I was done for. In the end the ski still felt great. It felt great to work hard and use every muscle in my body and feel the cool rush of wind on my face.

Ice Ridge  (Ice ridge)

REMEMBERING NAOMI

A truly satisfying ski that I did last week was completing the 20-kilometre trail I went on with some friends.

My good friend Naomi died in an avalanche in 2003, and every year I like to celebrate her adventurous spirit and love of the outdoors by doing something fun outside. I took the day off work and invited some friends that are on maternity leave and another pal who was on a day off to go along.

It was a blue-sky and no wind day. Again, the temperature was strangely warm and we set off to ski to Crean Lake. Two of us had never skied that far before and wanted to try the route so going with the other two was perfect because they ski it often. The baby slept the entire way and the wintry view of Crean Lake from the old warden cabin was worth the effort. A light snow the day before left everything pristine and I couldn’t even spot animal tracks on the lake.

I knew Naomi would have loved the outing. I had taken along a Fruit and Nut chocolate bar, her favourite, to share with the others. I usually like to smoke a wine-tipped cigar at the same time to complete the ritual but this year I needed every ounce of lung capacity to complete that ski so I’d left the cigars at home.

RIDICULOUS DOGS AND WILDLIFE

In January, I took the dogs on many long walks and we explored the park too. I saw four moose, one lynx, a fox, a wolf up close and personal through my living room window, and there are plenty of ravens, magpies, gray jays, wee black-capped chickadees, squirrels, elk and deer about. I didn’t see any otters but their trademark gallopping footprints between belly slides are all over the place.

Wolf Poop by Size 8.5 Boot 2015-01-11 (wolf scat)

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I think the scariest yet funniest dog walk was when I had Charlie on the retractable leash, Piper and True each on one side of me attached to a waist belt and we were on the edge of town out near where people go down to the ice fishing shack on the lake. All three dogs came to a sudden stop and were sniffing the air and staring hard ahead. I tried to figure out what had them spooked. A car was parked at the roadside, probably for ice fishers, and I thought maybe it had a dog inside that they could smell but I couldn’t hear any movement. I was about to say something comforting and stepped forward to coax them onward when Charlie let out a low, rumbling, warning chuff, turned tail and started sprinting for his life.

CHARLIE turned tail and ran for his life!!! Charlie is the dog I rely on to be steadfast and calm under all circumstances and he turned tail and RAN FOR HIS LIFE!!!!!

Well, that was it. The girls followed suit letting loose with warning barks and sprinted off like a starter pistol had sounded. Roles reversed. It was now I attached to them by extendable leash and waist belt so with no choice, I turned and hauled off after them. Charlie with his short little legs has to run with all four paws turned outward. It’s really cute to watch when you’re not terrified about what’s behind you. Piper with her runway model’s legs and True with youth to her advantage, it was all I could do to keep up to them. Every once in a while we all dared to glance back over a shoulder to see if we were being pursued.

When I realized we were not being hotly pursued by an apex predator (wolf, cougar or chainsaw wielding mass murderer) I started laughing. Sometimes I wish I could see myself from another perspective when things like that happen. I’m sure it looked hilarious.

In the end, I’ll always trust in and believe Charlie. He has a good instinct about the world around him. He didn’t survive six years chained up in a front yard up north at the mercy of every wild critter and stray dog pack that happened by for no reason. Maybe that lone wolf we keep seeing around town was in the trees beyond the car and I just couldn’t see it.

An "Usie"

Loads of other good stuff has happened during this first month of 2015 – dinner with neighbours, evening with a newer friend, phone calls with long-time friends and opportunities beginning to surface at work. I should probably reflect once a month like this throughout the entire year. I bet it would be a great way to remind myself of all that I am grateful for and how full my life is with people and experiences that enrich my days. And perhaps if I do that, I won’t get run down and sick as often either.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2015 in PonderQs

 

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Typhoon Nuri is Brrrrrrr-y

The wind has been howling for days. Typhoon Nuri hit Alaska and sent some crazy weather system careening across the continent that dropped the temperature into the minus 20s Celsius and is apparently going to sit on us for more than a week. I heard the fancy name for this stuck weather pattern is “Omega Block.” I might just call it OMG BRRRR!

Trees have come down around town and I fully admit that I haven’t walked the dogs much because the temperature dropped so severely with the wind chills that I cringe at going outside. It isn’t really all that cold but there was no transition from cool to cold to colder so my body is struggling to adapt.

That, and the winter coat I ordered from MEC hasn’t arrived yet. My previous down jacket had a bad run in with my washing machine when I went to clean it before storing it for the summer. Looked like a goose drowned and the zipper melted. A sad, sad scene that I’m feeling like a cold death in my bones these days.

Today I took each dog out on their own for an hour-long walk. While I had Charlie with me, because he is so calm and trustworthy, I headed down to the beach to get photos of the ice forming on the lake. Plus if he did fall in, he actually LIKES soaking in ice water. Something about that golden retriever coat … Piper the Great Dane would turn into an instant pupcicle if she fell in.

The photos don’t capture the steam rising off the lake’s surface, which I could see out in the deep water, but the photos of the ice being hurled on shore and the thick coating of it on tree trunks and rocks was beautiful. Add a bit of moody lighting and it made for some interesting photography. I’ll start with the snowstorm pics from November 3 and today is the 10th. Don’t forget you can click on the images to view them larger.

Enjoy!

IMG_20141103_075253  IMG_20141103_075334 IMG_20141103_075424

IMG_20141110_121323  IMG_20141110_120442 IMG_20141110_120437

IMG_20141110_120356  IMG_20141110_120507 IMG_20141110_120205  IMG_20141110_120236

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2014 in PonderQs

 

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SNOW WAY!!!

It totally snowed after I wrote my last post. I love it! It didn’t snow much. Not like last year when we got walloped and sunk for the next 6 months under feet of it, but a nice covering of it that has lasted in most areas through today with more on the way this weekend.

My glum-bum attitude is gone!

It smells crisper, sweeter, fresher and more lively.

The trees are accented and stand out texturized in spite of their inky green darkness.

Wildlife is more active and observable too. Elk bulls have been hanging out together as the rut finishes up and though they still spar, it’s half-hearted. They’re more concerned with eating and regaining their strength for winter. Wolves are being seen along roadways and paths. Today an entire pack crossed the road in front of me. So thrilling!

Even my dogs are spunkier. They get right goofy in the snow and my old guy actually does better in cool weather than he does in the heat of summer so he’s been tearing it up in the yard playing too.

I did nearly break my neck stepping out onto the walkway yesterday morning in the blue light of dawn. In my excitement to get outside with the dogs – still in PJs with rubber boots and toque to finish out my fashion statement – I hadn’t considered that it had rained before it snowed and the concrete was covered in black ice. WOOO HOOOO!

I’ve scraped snow and ice off my windshield twice now but it hasn’t gotten old yet. That sound of ice being chipped and scraped off the glass makes a sound that is to my ears like comfort food is to my belly. In a weird way, it’s almost soothing.

The waiting is over. Welcome Winter.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2014 in PonderQs

 

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Glum Gray Days

We’ve hit that time of year when I find the seasonal transition a bit tough. The sun is mostly gone by 6 pm and the trees are devoid of leaves, the air is biting cold and there’s hardly anyone around town.

Glum. I feel like a glum-bum.

On Friday I had to go to town and I came home via highway 263, which I usually really like. I often see wildlife and it’s quite pretty because the trees are tighter together and lanes narrower. But holy smokes. I was getting glummer by the mile as I drove. I didn’t see a single critter and the drive felt so gray and lonely. The wind was howling and every time I passed a lake the waves were crashing angry on shore and the water is freezing cold. Nothing pleasant or inviting about the park the last couple of days.

But today, I found my better attitude and got a good start. I took all three dogs for a walk on their own. It’s chilly outside for sure but the sun made an appearance and the fresh air and silence felt like a blanket of solitude rather than that terrible feeling you get when you’ve had an argument with a good friend and you haven’t made amends yet.

I took each dog a different direction and onto trails and the beaches. All three went in the water to varying degrees and played and ran about and had fun.Seeing them have fun and knowing I’m fulfilling their little doggie desires makes me happy. It occurred to me that this could be the last day they swim. Snow is imminent. I can feel it in the air.

And being honest, I’m looking forward to the white stuff now because these glum gray days are a drag. I’d rather jump into winter now with its spectacular beauty that makes each morning exciting to wake up and look out the window at.

December 15 089

  December 15 085

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2014 in PonderQs

 

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Sweet Sunny Days

It continues to be colder than Hell frozen over. My cheeks burn like someone’s holding dry ice to them most days. Why does cold burn?

Anyway, in spite of the wind chills that continue to plague us here, the days are getting longer and the sunshine sure does wonders for my soul. I wake naturally around 6 am now as there’s jusssssssssst enough daylight to stir me and at 7 in the evening the sky is still aquamarine; the trees in inky black outline making the whole scene appear like a fine water colour painting.

Yesterday I wanted out! Outside! I knew my old guy and the Dane could only handle the biting wind for a short jaunt about town but oh, that little husky. She doesn’t just take the wind and cold in stride. She seems energized by it.

True-lou on Waskesiu Lake

I suited up in full-on thermal layers and then snowpants, big boots, scarf, toque, hooded up in my down jacket and then clipped her on a 20-foot line and grabbed my snowshoes and off we headed. She was really zippy, not listening and getting under foot tripping me and winding around tree trunks. I had a decent holler at her finally.

I may have dropped a couple of F-bombs. I might have threatened to skin her alive.

And then I thought my way through the problem and took us out onto the frozen lake where there was nothing to impede our process and dropped the line. True will be 3 in April. It’s more than time to test out her stick-to-me skills. And she had energy to burn, that much was obvious!

She was FANTASTIC! Little buddy! She so needed to rip around and that’s exactly what she did. She never went more than about 30 feet away and then arced back to me or would run out ahead, stop suddenly, turn and then gleefully charge me and leap through the air to play. We had so much fun!

True gets “winter nose.” The black pigmentation of her nose turns pink in the cold months. I forget now why some dogs noses do that but it’s an adaptation of sorts. Here she is taking a break from all  her running; back to the howling wind and soaking up the sweet sun.

Chincicles

It was so much fun that in spite of the bitter cold again today, we headed out for an even longer snowshoe and this time we took our friend Eric who threw snow for her and played chase. At the end of our walk when I needed her to come back to me so I could gather up the long line and hold her close to be safe from traffic, she beelined it to him first. 

HARUMPH! Just like a kid. They always let you know who the favourite one is.  🙂

Happy dog

And what’s the best thing to do at the end of a long walk outside?

Buddies

 

Cuddle with your fair-weather sister.

To see some videos of our day out on the lake, click HERE

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2014 in PonderQs

 

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Lunch Post Challenge: Snowshoeing

I was snowshoeing

Snowshoeing at Kingsmere 040

And it was spectacular, a mild -28C with no wind. I could hear my heart beating, a few song birds singing, the river running

Snowshoeing at Kingsmere 036

and then a few too many twigs and small branches breaking close by.

My imagination got the better of me. I tried to be calm and face down my fears, so alone in the woods and far from any assistance. I tried to stop imagining sighting a cougar camouflaged in the trees and how it would feel to be ripped to pieces by one; my blood turning the pristine snow drifts red.

Snowshoeing at Kingsmere 038

I really need to stop watching Planet Earth right before bed.

DPchallenge

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2014 in PonderQs

 

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My New Year’s Day Arctic Mojo

“-30 C feels like -34 C” was what the Weather Network read on my phone app around noon. Warm weather! What a delight! I geared up, leashed True to a 20-foot-line anchored to my waist and headed out with her and my new snowshoes to Waskesiu Lake.

We walked along the shore about 15 feet out onto the lake for about an hour and though I was completely encrusted in ice around my hood/toque/scarf and eyelashes, it was gorgeous sunny and I was plenty warm enough.True was givin ‘er and having fun too. We both really needed that long walk.

Came home, threw some of my clothes in the dryer and got Charlie and Piper ready to go on a shorter dual leash system. I took them for a loop around the town site but we weren’t working quite hard enough for it to be as fun so we ended up jogging half of it and then we were all happy and warm again.

This is Canada. We are an arctic nation. It’s been an unusually rough start to winter this year beginning with the giant snowfall in early November that set winter in but, I think I’m finally adapting to these continuously frigid temperatures. I end up feeling some strange form of pride when I get outside and am able to really enjoy myself despite the cold. I no longer want to move to B.C. I declared that during a rock bottom moment of weakness earlier this week. I’ve got my winter mojo back and nothing’s stopping me.

Yesterday, I spontaneously figured out how to slide head first on my back down the @6-foot-high mountain of snow I built for the dogs to play on. At one point, I’d thrown a disc across the yard for the girls to fetch and as they came sprinting back towards me on the hill, I suddenly found that I’d hurled myself, with little thought, backwards down the mountain. They came flying up over the edge then leaped and we all landed in a heap at the bottom. It was hilarious. So I did it a few more times. I was wearing a slippery jacket which made all the difference.

Viva l’hiver!!!!!

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2014 in PonderQs

 

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