+8C and hot – Can You Relate?

Every Canadian loves to talk weather. We are all experts about the weather we know2014 - 2 040Rszd.  West Coasters know about rain, Westerners from the Prairies know about Chinooks and floods, Northern areas know about short/long nights, long/short days and plenty of snow and bugs and the Maritimers know about it all in a way too painful way.  Its winters like this past one that has me wondering about my choices.  Of course some Canadians are still being bombarded with snow, wind and ice.  But I live in Toronto – not as warm as Vancouver but mostly the envy of other Canadians, weather wise.  It is a trade-off for the lack of beauty and fresh air.   Today I had my 1st lovely walks of the year with my Chihuahua.  Not since early December have we been out for more than 15 minutes.  Each occasion I had us both so wrapped up it was hardly worth the effort.  Most of the winter my dog would head for her bed when the coat and boots came out.

Usually I find myself commiserating with immigrants about our weather.  Toronto is full of immigrants and my area is so thick with them I often feel why bother to travel.  I’m serious – my son’s grade school offered 70 language translations and support.  I didn’t even know there were 70 languages spoken.  I grew up in Canada when our winters were often this harsh and since the ’80’s I have felt like I was telling fairy tales to the new immigrants.  We had less in common than our accents and clothes sense  indicated.

This winter I can’t connect to their looks of astonishment about all the Arctic Freezes or Polar Vortexes.  You get kind of racist about it – you look at certain people and you immediately judge how they are relating to the weather.  Being a white Anglo-Canadian I am programed to be sensitive;   to be respectful to other cultures who foolishly venture into our country.  2014 - 1 Dali in sockand Boots 001RszdI honestly have begun to judge all people from Indian, Africa, the Caribbean and the Philippians to be ill prepared or just don’t relate.  It pains me to see them walking around in the cold.  Today I was talking to another small dog owner and we both were on the same page.  She was a Russian immigrant.  If we have anything in common – it is the weather.  We both chose small dogs – we both didn’t brave the cold to take them for walks either.

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That Smell Reminds Me of … Comfort

Last night I was hugging my dog.  2012-5-4-DaliatPlay (11)RszdClr_Painting3She’s a delightful little bundle.  I keep her clean but  she smells like a dog.  Last night I was breathing in her boggy odour and Christmas came to mind.  That thought has been plaguing me and today I grabbed her and took another deep breath.  Today I got deep comfort.  So the childhood memories that are attached to that fragrance are all wrapped up in the dog smell.  Dogs have been at my side [cats too] all my life and have given me lots of comfort.

I have a very keen sense of smell – a family gift.  When I travel or am somewhere special I always test the air and enjoy it like a fine wine, even if it is Paris fumes.  These smells enrich images of places.  Apparently smell brings back memories and I have to say it does for me.  Memories come with smell attached.  I can’t  think of the horse I had as a young person and not remember hugging her neck and breathing in her lovely scent.  I remember hay rides, the grass and ocean smells of the West Coast, damp dark starry nights, snow in the air, the earthiness of spring and the acrid smell of fall leaves.   Of course I try to remember the odours that are good ones.  I try not to think on smells that I am repulsed by – like hyacinths.

Dog Days of Summer

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Dali makes a friend

My Chihuahua is enjoying the summer, now that it isn’t the heat wave we had in July, and all the rain and flooding.

Flooded creek in my area - seen form my balcony

Flooded creek in my area – seen from my balcony

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Dali under her blanket

Dali has been making friends.  As you can see she isn’t the most energetic of dogs.  I find that to get her to run, I must run as well.  She enjoyed meeting this cute dog. The other dog that was there was too hyper for Dali’s taste.   Someone said that my dog is very serious. It is difficult  to capture her silly side in a photo though.

Today my son took this photo of her – lounging on the reading chair, under her blanket.  It was a present from one of my students and Dali will follow it anywhere.  Right now she is under it snoring.  Chihuahua’s love to burrow.

Presently we’re off to the weekly farmer’s market together.  It is nice to shop with your dog.  I enjoy the walk there and back.  I am looking forward to the fresh local peaches.  The last batch was so sweet and juicy.

Corn on the Cob & a Chihuahua’s Attitude

2013 - 6 Dali-cob 017RszdWe had to listen to some crying at the dining room table today.  1st corn of the year – US product.  Very sweet and juicy.  She must use a place-mat or she can’t have it.  That goes for any food that can’t be cut and placed in her bowl.

We will be working on the crying part asap.

This is the look we get when she really wants us to do something – just before she goes into her bullying mode.

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You Can’t Go Home Again

The CBC Radio did a very poignant radio show on Sat May 25th on DNTO about how going home to recapture the old is not going to happen.  I was on my way back to my home in Toronto.  I had just left my parent’s home in Guelph and had been visiting our old home just the week before.  Here are some of the photos.

Old Farm - laneway

Old Farmhouse - C1860
Old Farmhouse – C1860

My parents left this place in 2002.  The city has kept it empty.  Vandals broke windows – original windows from when it was built in 1860.  They put a new roof on it last year.  Last year they decided to sell it – no one has bought it.  Inside it has 10″ wide cedar floors and tall windows and large open spaces.  It would have needed lots of work and now with the veranda falling down I’m not sure anyone wants the headache. I remember sweeping the veranda every day – full of brown bats by the way.  The bats kept the bugs down – being right next to a spring.

The original Orchards are gone and the fruit tress my parents planted in 1967 are in bad shape.  The Lilac trees which reached up to my bedroom, now cover the windows.

Old Orchard

Old Orchard

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I spent many summer days swimming in the pond – taking my horse for swims as well.  It is still there and the trees and shrubs are almost hiding the house now.

Old Farmhouse - pond

Old Farmhouse – pond

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You can see the worn out roadway at the old farm and the well-kept one at the new farm.  It may seem strange to you who don’t know this land – as all the farms are the same age and my family has worked them since the early 1800’s.   Here are the dogs off on their adventure to the old farm.  The New farm is just south of the Old Farm – the land flows downwards so the new place looks down to the old and the city of Guelph.

New Farm - laneway

New Farm – lane-way

Lamb Bone = Dog Bliss

Usually I won’t even think to give my dog a cooked bone.  We had a nice Lamb roast during the holidays and as usual I had a garbage thief.  The same thing happened when Dali discovered corn on the cob.  We see a very determined chihuahua racing for a hiding spot, with a large object clenched in her jaws.   I monitored the lamb bone.  After each sitting I put it into a sandwich bag and over the next 5 days she has had a wonderful time wearing it down and getting the marrow out.  I also gave her strips of dried sweet potato [purchased that way] and this seems to have kept her digestion just fine.  Unfortunately kibble isn’t the favourite for this diva these days.  We play dog bowl curling between the two of us – she kicks it to me and I kick it back, only to take it away for another time.

Lamb Bone

Lamb Bone

Lamb Bone Started

Lamb Bone Started

Note the place-mat – as the bone was greasy and odouriferous  I made her use it even when she wanted to chew while on the sofa.  After each one hour chew fest, I had to wash her face and paws, as she smelled strongly of roast lamb.

Holiday Visits

I was up at the farm on Christmas Eve to celebrate with my mother and brother, along with my husband and son.  My other brother and his family [4 of his kids and their families = a lot of people] were visiting the next day – and due to multiple flu victims, they didn’t drop by to say hello to us.  So it was a quiet and fun evening , just the 5 of us.  Then you have to consider the pets.  Adam, my mother’s collie was very happy to see us and get started on the duck dinner.  My chihuahua, Dali, was in great form as well.  I had her traveling case beside me to discourage her from climbing the furniture.  Adam kept her company, under my mother’s wheel chair.  He has used this space since he was a pup.

Adam in his special spot

Adam in his special spot

Hoar Frost

I was up at the farm last weekend and the Hoar Frost was amazing.  I was so happy I had the camera with me.  Initially it seemed a waste because it was such a grey day.  It got greyer as I drove up the escarpment.  There is often a 3 to 10 degree difference from the city to the country, where the farm is. When I get to the farm there could be black ice and snow.

Alongside the road, the woods and farms looked spooky in the fog.  By the time I turned off the highway the temperature had plummeted to create the hoar-frost.  Our car has a  temp read-out of the ground.  It was +2C in town,  0C on the highway and -5C on the side road.

Trees on Roadway - Frosted

Trees on Roadway – Frosted

Old Maples

Old Maples

Hay Field

Hay Field

Lane entrance

Lane entrance

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Hoar Frost

Hoar Frost

In the photos with the ‘fog’ – the frost is disappearing into the air – this was over so quickly – I am glad I wasn’t late for lunch. . Once at the farm I bundled up my Chihuahua and took her and my parent’s collie for a walk.  Dali always has a good time but damp cold and snow aren’t a Chihuahua’s favourite.  When we turned around to walk home she was charged and that excited Adam the collie – who in turn hoped they would play.  Dali was up for a race but not a wrestle!

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Play!

Play!

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Running – don’t stop

     Running is all about the experience.  Walking is more meditative.  When I walk I tend to think about things in a dream-like way.  Sometimes I forget about my posture which leads to some pain or twinge.  Walking allows me to reflect on my surroundings and all I see, hear and breath.  Running is very different for me – although the pauses and the blood pumping do heighten the visual.  When I’m running I am very focused on my form.  I have weak ankles and must stay focused so as to stay upright.  I also suck in my gut and hold my spine up to protect it from my not so elegant running.  I hate running like a girl.  I work on that too – trying to power up my stride and form.  The results are all good.  I am finally rediscovering my waist and a firm musculature to my legs and but.

I haven’t run in years – many years.  I remember running as a youth – just for the fun of it.  Surprisingly it wasn’t  very fun in gym class.  I can only say that gym made it a chore and I hate chores.   I would run down the gravel road or the dirt lane-ways with abandon. When I lived north of San Francisco I got into running – ran for 10 then 15 minutes at a time until I built up to a 1/2  hour.  I never got higher than that as it was a good amount to stick to.   My son was another motivator when he was quite young – we’d run a lot.  Two years ago I got  a dog to get me out of the house and to be a companion.  When I’m alone I tend to read or paint – neither exercises anything but my eyes and hands.  It is working.  Dali and I go out every day – multiple times.

I live in an urban area that can get boring after a year of walking in the same parks or streets.  I have used the baseball field for running as it is kept really smooth and has a stone-chip outer edge to the field, like a lane-way. After 2 years, even the dog is not too motivated some days.  Out of desperation one day I took to running in the soccer field.  For some reason it is more fun – perhaps because it is full of surprises [holes] and it is something new.

At first my running was pretty sad.  One trip from goal post to goal post just about killed me.    Now in the soccer field I feel elation. I can run up and down and across many times just trying to keep my legs pumping and staying upright.   A few days ago I thought I instantaneously sprained both feet when I was in a real sprint.  Humbled I limped along until I could try again.  There is a sort of stiffness that has settled in to my tendons as I have aged – probably due to a more sedentary lifestyle.

Naturally my dog loves the running.  I trick her when she’s sniffing at something and not paying attention – I sneak away as fast as I can.  Naturally she’s at my side in no time.  It is fun to look around and see her ‘flying’ across the field.  She loves the challenge of not losing me.  Running with her off leash is best for us both.  With the leash she seems to think she has to win the race so it may look pretty funny with me running behind a Chihuahua in full-out running mode.  It is even better to run around in the country.  My parent’s collie thinks so too.

I turned 60 recently.  It has really made me think about aging and taking your body for granted.  I love going to the soccer field and  running around like a nut while the local kids are playing nearby.  They don’t seem to take any notice of me but they love the dog.  As I look around I can see that I am the only adult having fun.  Perhaps I am a less mature individual – I’ve always been a bit different.   It shocks me that as we age we think we can’t be exuberant.  Is there a rule?

All the dog-walkers in my area stand or stroll – no power walks or running.  Their dogs must be very upset.  Their inactivity makes me want to scream. Any adults I’ve asked have declined the idea of running with their dogs – they say, ‘they can’t run any more’.   Of course you see runners in the park – if they have dogs they seem very happy.