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Archive for August, 2010

Well, this morning dawned chilly and blustery, so it was a good day for staying inside and setting up school. After we tucked away the new books and art supplies and talked over expectations and what we wanted our year to be, we went over some basics for our homeschooling blog, “Free Range Homeschoolers,” and then we all logged in to the SelfDesign “village” for the first time.

Flame Painter - Peter Blaskovic

Wow!

I am impressed.

There are some pretty cool things going on there and we also discovered some really interesting links.

This is what I’m going to have to tear the girls away from in order to get any mathematics done this afternoon…”painting” with flames.

Wish me luck, because I know I’m going to need it!

If you’d like to draw pictures with flames…click here.

If you’d like to draw pictures with fluids…click here.

Have fun!

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After my lengthy running spiel about taking it easy, going slow, avoiding injury, blah, blah, blah, blah…didn’t I overdo it and get carried away again and go too far, too fast, too soon?

Yes, I did.Β  sigh

I’m guilty, no doubt, but luckily I tuned in quickly and stopped things before they got out of hand.

Shinsplints were my ailment. Nasty things those. They occur as the muscles along your shinbone (the ones that lift your toes) become overstretched and can eventually lead to stress fractures if left unchecked.

My shin splints were very mild, but imagine if you will a lightning bolt streaking along the top of your foot and along your shin. Difficult not to notice and I cannot imagine that someone would keep on to the point where their leg was broken. Apparently it happens, though.

They occur for a number of reasons, but to avoid them in the future, I’m now shortening my stride, stretching out that muscle very well after my runs and am working on strengthening it, as well.

And now, after two weeks of rest (no running at all, just walking), I’m back on track. However, I’ve dialed things waaaaay back and am focusing exclusively on just putting down minutes on a walk/run program. Walk/run gets me to run/run, so this is me remaining FOCUSED.

Focus.

Focus.

Focus.

In the meantime, I scored myself a stellar deal on a Garmin Forerunner 305. Think GPS, heart rate monitor wrist unit with mucho bells and whistles. Verrah nice, although I actually find the bells and whistles a bit confusing still.

I don’t have it calibrated just right yet and when BD and I were out yesterday for a run, it kept beeping at us to go faster. As we were already going what felt like “mach chicken,” we ignored it. I’ll get it set up proper for tomorrow’s run.

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These mornings when I wake up, the dew is just a little heavier, the air a bit chillier and the sun is lingering just a little longer at the horizon.

Fall is on its way!

While I love that autumn is coming…I adore the colors, the freshness and just the change of the season…I will miss my beautiful backyard which has become my “go to” spot for just about everything this summer.

Whether reading, studying, hanging out with BH and/or the girls, the backyard is the place to be. The pond fish are relaxing to watch, the birds that visit are fascinating and since we live here–on the West Coast–did I mention, NO BUGS?

My writing CP (critique partner) once pointed out a flaw in one of my manuscripts where the setting was the West Coast and I’d mentioned a screen window.

“No screens,” she wrote in the margins.

“What about the mosquitoes?” I asked.

“They’re aren’t any.”

“Really?”

“Not enough for people to need screens.”

Well, I never!

Having lived in Alberta and Ontario and the Northwest Territories, it never occurred to me that Canada had areas that were without mosquitoes.

Quelle surprise!

And really, it’s amazing how the presence of insects in your environment changes your lifestyle.

Without bugs to worry about, we hardly ever shut the door behind us, the windows (without screens) stay open with little consequence (the odd fly wanders in, but they always seem to get out again), we sit outside in blissful peace (no swatting or consequential itching), we no longer take bug juice (Deet) with us everywhere we go and we no longer need to coat ourselves in it.

PLUS, I no longer need to worry about Running For My Life.

Bliss!

Which makes it so much easier to enjoy this beautiful backyard. πŸ™‚

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Guinea Pig Madness

You may well remember (or not) the excitement that occurred when Max and Phoebe came into our lives. I do, but I certainly didn’t give very regular updates of our life with guinea pigs after that, did I?

Well, sit down. Make yourself comfortable. This is a long one!

Phoebe, our matriarch guinea pig out for a cruise

Phoebe, bless her little heart, is probably the most timid GP I have ever met (and I’ve met a few now!). I think know that in her previous home she has been traumatized as she is immensely fearful of everything. Even food. And that is most definitely NOT a guinea pig trait. Rather, guinea pigs adore food and will “wheek” and “popcorn” when they know it’s coming. But not Phoebe. 😦

As Phoebe was *so* afraid at that time, we decided not to get her a companion for awhile. Instead we allowed her to settle in and get accustomed to us and her new surroundings.

Our completely lovable guinea pig, Max

Max, though? He was the opposite of Pheebs. Max was the definitive Mr. Personality! He was a very demonstrative pig and it soon became obvious he was a showboat and drama queen rolled into one. For example, our GP nail clippers have a slight squeak to them, so he quickly learned to associate that sound with having his nails trimmed. I kid you not, he would scream and nearly faint if he heard it — and that was before we’d even picked him up!

Since Max was so happy go lucky, we did think that he’d like a buddy and so we purchased (I know, I know!) Pippin. Pippin resembled a very adorable, very woolly, little lamb. He was about the size of a pickle and was ever so sweet looking.

Pip, our "Diablo" woolly guinea pig

 

Max and Pip seemed to tolerate one another once they sorted out the pecking order. Pip certainly wanted to “hang” with Max, but Max always remained aloof and if Pip “hung” too long, Max would nip at him.

Unfortunately, Max was not without his own trauma. When we got him, his feet had great yellow scabs, remnants of bumblefoot from being left in a wet cage (we surmise) and the scabs never did completely clear up. He also caught colds frequently, which required antibiotics to clear his lungs.

At one point (just before we left Yellowknife), he was even in for x-rays to try and determine what the underlying cause may be (I was thinking enlarged heart after extensive research done on a Cavy Forum), but the x-rays showed nothing definitive. At any rate, we pretty much had a standing order for antibiotics at the veterinarian’s (not good – for Piggy or the wallet).

When we arrived in Comox, it was decided that Phoebe could probably handle a friend now and so the search for a female companion began in earnest. Due to the mild weather on the West Coast, there were lots of rescue pigs to be had, as people will buy them, find out they are too much work (they’re not!) and then let them free. One day, we set off to the Nanaimo SPCA to look at a little girl pig. It turned out that she may be pregnant, so we didn’t bring her home.

When we did arrive home though, we found Max terribly ill. As soon as I saw him, I knew that he was going to die, and very sadly, he did. We were all around to send him off and it was so sad. He was indeed a beautiful guinea pig spirit.

Sam and Toby, our the adorable long haired guinea pigs, aka "the little boys"

After that sad occasion, we were once again left with two single pigs…Pip and Phoebe.

Pip then took precedence in the companion search as he was lonely without Max. It turned out that the Filberg Lodge had two guinea pigs in need of care and so we brought home two little guys (Sam and Toby) with beautiful markings and personalities to match.

It’s lucky that they had one another, because after a couple of months with Pip, he turned on them. Where they once all got along, Pip turned into a demon and he was anything but adorable anymore. We eventually separated them, blocking off the tunnel that they could use to travel to the next level in their cage. Pip got upstairs, the little boys stayed downstairs.

I think Pip’s change was facilitated by the little boys reaching maturity, but even after we separated them, Pip remained…well, a pip. We now (affectionately) call him “Diablo” or “Devil Pig.” He still isn’t much of a cuddler, but he will allow brief lap sessions (if you bring food — and lots of it) and we also risk a good bite if we try to pick him up without a towel. Needless to say, he has drawn blood on more than one occasion. We do realize, however, that not every pig can be “sugar and spice,” and we love him for who is is. He is certainly a colorful character!

After the little boys’ arrival, we then again focused on a companion for Phoebe.

Enter Ellie. πŸ™‚

Ellie came from a small animal rescue society and we picked her up (literally) on a street corner in East Vancouver. It went down kind of like a drug deal…

“You got the money?”

“It’s here. Where’s the pig?”

Despite her shady beginnings, Ellie turned out to be an adorable little lady with the loudest wheek EVER and when we first introduced her to Phoebe, Phoebe popcorned!

It was amazing and we all cried again because we’d never seen Phoebe show any sign of spontaneous happiness.

Of course, the bloom was soon off the rose as Phoebe did not like to share her space and was just a little cranky at times with dear little Ellie who just missed her mama and wanted someone to love her. Other times though, Phoebe would act motherly toward Ellie and it was very sweet. They are happy to share space now and on good days everything is fine and on bad days, they agree to tolerate one another’s presence.

So, now we had 5 pigs. And we also had some very nice, very large cages. And we also had much feeding, much laundry and a very much disgruntled father/husband who liked guinea pigs, but didn’t love them. Did I mention that he liked hay in the house even less?

After awhile, he wore us down with his infallible logic and we decided to give up the little boys (Sam and Toby) and surprisingly (or not!), it didn’t take long before we found a lovely family that was willing to take them. BDs were even able to meet the new family and see the new home and were very happy with the whole situation.

Although it was sad to say good-bye to them, we at least knew they were going to be loved and well cared for. I even hear from their new “mom” that they are getting lots of attention which even includes carriage rides!

And so now, we have three guinea pigs (Pip, Phoebe and Ellie) and our guinea pig madness is under control.

Forever.

I think.

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About a month ago, the various species of salmon began making their way back to their home waters to spawn. I’ve been hearing that the numbers of returning fish have been high record this year, so that is good. However, I’ve also heard that too many of one species crowds out the lesser amounts of another, so that is bad. It’s all about balance, which is pretty much the way of the earth, so let’s hope it all evens out.

At any rate, this last month BH and buddies have been traveling to Port Alberni on the weekends to catch Sockeye Salmon. This consists of leaving home mid-morning, putting in on the Alberni Inlet, fishing until nearly dark and then mooring. Sleeping in the boat then commences and since our boat *DOES NOT* have a cabin, nor is it overly large, this is an open air and very much cramped affair which does not lend itself particularly well to a restful sleep. Especially if the otters run up and down the dock all night, as they are apt to do.

After a rather short night which only feels like a million years long, the fishermen rise at Zero Dark Buffalo (4:00 a.m.) to be back out to the “hot areas” in good time. Fishing once again commences and continues until the day’s limit is met. They then return home with their bounty and nearly empty bellies (or at least mine does), because my dear fishermen only ever takes pepperoni sticks and/or a bag of chips.

A sound and balanced diet, to be sure.

Oddly enough, this is not my idea of fun (nor the BDs) and so we have not yet been out to see or catch the ocean salmon with our beloved fisherfather/husband. Besides the fact of the insane lengthy time commitment involved, I’m not overly keen on trolling with 60 other boats nearby. I have my mariner’s-whatever-it-is license, but I fear that if I were captain (which would inevitably happen as BH ditches the helm to reel in whatever monster was on the end of his line), I would just turn the whole experience into something akin to a bumper boat ride. That would be negative number on a scale of one to ten as I can already envision some mean Coast Guard yanking my mariner’s-whatever-it-is license out of my hand and chastising me. That would hurt my feelings to no end, I’m sure.

So, no ocean salmon for the girls in our house (except to eat, of course!). We have been catching river salmon, though and it’s been great fun.

BDs have even mastered the art of wading into the river to retrieve their snagged hooks, which isn’t always the most pleasant thing to do. Besides the obvious (getting wet), many, many fish are caught at the Campbell River each day and because people clean their fish riverside, they leave the entrails and heads for the bears/birds. If those haven’t yet been eaten, one is literally wading amongst fish body parts (at least in the shallow parts). It has a certain eeeew factor, to be sure.

BDs are brave and tough though, and so they don’t mind (too much). And did I mention that each of them can even clean their own catch?!

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Dinner with the Prime Minister

So, my Beloved Mother-In-Law calls the other night and says, “We just had dinner with Clint’s boss.”

I hesitated, trying to think why Clint’sΒ  Sergeant would be anywhere near where they live when I’d just seen him yesterday and he was clearly not on leave or getting ready to take any.

Perhaps it was the Warrant? Or the CO?

“What?” I asked, still confused and trying to imagine someone in combats sitting with Rick and Cindy at their dinner table.

“Stephen Harper. We just had dinner with him.”

“Oh. Stephen Harper. That guy!”

Turns out there was a retirement “to do” for someone in the Conservatives and Prime Minister Harper was there in support, as were my Beloved Parent in Laws.

That’s almost as cool as having tea with the Queen!

Above is a snap of the happy group.

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