Saturday, January 31, 2009

This will learn me to clean out my photo folders

Tagged twice in 2 days for silly internet games, how fun. Team Small Dog has commissioned me to post the 5th photo from my 5th folder of photos. Unfortunately this is what came up: If you click on the photo so it's bigger and squint really hard maybe you can see the hawk taking off from the tree. It's from one of the trails/roads near or around the Boulder Reservoir. I probably should have cheated and picked a more interesting photo, it's not like you're going to know. Rather than spend time and money on photography classes or say reading the camera's user manual to figure out how it works I go out there and start pushing buttons and messing around reasoning that at some point I'll figure it out. As a result I get a lot of folders full of experiments. Every once in a while I set about deleting them but what happens is I sit down at the computer and then I smell smoke coming from the kitchen and while I'm dousing the fire I notice it's awfully quiet which can only mean that someone fuzzy is getting into mischief then someone else fuzzy starts bark screaming at who knows what then I notice all the fuzz on the carpet and go looking for the vacuum cleaner which happens to be next to a pile of laundry I've been meaning to do for 3 days now and then the sun comes out and I have to go for a bike ride and next thing I know it's 8:30 p.m. and I'm sprawled on the couch alseep in a pile of drool. In the grand scheme of things this is not a problem until someone tags you for internet games and the shame of your poor computer housekeeping is brought to light.

The one cool thing about this little exercise is that I discovered a video clip I didn't know I had in the folder. It's from an Alkaline Trio concert nearly 3 years ago. I was trying to take photos at the show and a woman told me that they'd come out better if I turned the flash off. Yeah, like I know how to turn the flash off. I was pushing buttons and flipping through menus and somehow must have shot some video. Major punk rock points to anyone who can name that tune from the 4 seconds of footage. Even Jonny can't figure it out and he has every last one of their songs tattooed in his brain.

Maybe I can have do-overs on the photo thing? If I pick the 4th photo in the 4th folder I get a nice pic of Strummy at the Boulder Rez:
No I'm not tired. Throw it again!

Or if we go to the 5th photo, 5th folder of 2008 after I got my nicer camera we get a photo of my gimpy foot pre-surgery. Which reminds me, I never posted a post-surgery photo of new and improved bionic foot with the badass scar. I promise to get to that because I know you're all just dying to see it.

I feel bad about giving you homework on the weekend so I won't tag anyone directly but if you feel like playing go right ahead.

Friday, January 30, 2009

25 Things or Something

Somebody in Facebook finally tagged me for this. Took so long to type, may as well put it here too. I'm probably the last person left to do this like I was the last person ever to see the original Star Wars in the theater. Yes, I am that old. Oooh, can that go on my list? Are you all sick of this game already? Would it be more fun if I made up half the things on my list and let you guess which were true?

1. Dogs. Yes. I have lots of dogs. Mostly crazy, like to bark a lot. If you come to my house you will leave covered in dog hair and maybe even some slobber and possibly with less of your hearing because of all the barking.

2. No the dogs are not a substitute for kids. I have no kids but that's because I had other stuff I wanted to do with my life. Plus I get to spend all my money on agility competitions and fancy mountain bikes instead of college tuition.

3. 25 things is a lot. I'm stuck already.

4. I've been a vegetarian for around 24 of my 44 years. I'm trying to reintroduce some humanely raised, organic, free range, hand fed by monks in some isolated mountain range animal products back into my life. So far it's not going well. Meat is murder, or something. Protein is overrated.

5. Are we done yet?

6. I nearly drowned in Lake Michigan when I was a teenager. I did not see a Bright Light or have any amazing last minute revelations. Just thought, 'Oh well', then my boyfriend pulled me out of the undertow.

7. I started running when I was 12 and ran my first marathon when I was 18. A guy had a heart attack and died at the halfway point. I saw him being loaded onto the ambulance. He was a doctor/cardiac specialist I think and an experienced runner. The marathon was called the 'Heart Marathon' and was a benefit for the American Heart Association. I didn't run another marathon for 16 years.

8. I ran what was probably my last marathon a few years ago in Edinburgh, Scotland.

9. Henry Rollins and the rest of Black Flag stayed at my house back in the 80's. I didn't think much of him before I met him and thought even less of him after. Greg Ginn stayed up until the wee hours playing guitar though so that made up for it.

10. I can touch my tongue to my nose and when I was a little kid I was convinced I was going to make a fortune with this talent when I grew up. Things did not work out quite as planned.

11. My family had Kerry Blue Terriers when I was a kid growing up. My first dog as an adult was a 6 year old Akita rescued from the Boulder Humane Society. His name was Roscoe and he lived to be 13. He was supposed to be my husband's dog but in the end he chose me for his #1 buddy. Now I have a herd of crazy herding dogs and mixes thereof.

12. In my 20's I was engaged to a guy who played drums in a band called 'Impulse Manslaughter'. I lived with him for nearly 3 years then left him before we got married for my current husband who I'd known for maybe 3 weeks. It was a hard thing for me to do but my husband and I have been married 18 years now and jilted fiancee ended up married with a kid so all turned out for the best.

13. I don't like Mondays.

14. I believe what I believe in.

15. I went through WAY too many cans of Aquanet and tubs of Depp in the 80's.

16. I have lots of fancy pieces of paper that say I'm smart and stuff. They cost me a lot of time and money to get. I'm not sure if they're right or not but for now I'm going with it.

17. My dogs have lots of fancy pieces of paper too that say they're smart and stuff. They have more pieces of paper than me so they must be smarter.

18. I love math and science and numbers and stuff.

19. I sang in a punk rock band when I was in college. Probably the less said about that the better.

20. I am fashionally challenged. I'm amazed every day that goes by that the 'What Not to Wear' people have not tracked me down.

21. Writing is not my strong point. See #20 above.

22. Wow, I'm almost to 25.

23. I like chocolate. A lot. This explains the triathlon/running obsession.

24. I have 5 bikes and 3 pairs of running shoes.

25. Is it the weekend yet?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Running Dogwalk Practice

I shot some video of our last practice before I left for Chicago. Plank/table at 4' in the backyard. The first session was his worst ever in the backyard but somewhat typical of what I see out at the practice field when he's having a bad day-8/14 hits (45%). Second session was a few hours later and that was more typical of what I've been seeing in the yard-10/10 (100%). The only explanation I can come up with for the difference is that the plank was set high on the table for the first session. He had to get on it from the side and I'm guessing it threw off his striding. I lowered the plank for the second session and he was able to manage a more straight on approach. The bad part is that his approach shouldn't matter, he should adjust his stride to hit the bottom no matter where he hits the top. I'm hoping he'll catch on eventually with enough reps but this part of the lesson seems to be eluding him. The more hopeful possibility is that he learned what he was supposed to do from the first session because of all the failures. The good news is that he's not jumping, I suppose that's something. I'm going to start backchaining the 4' dogwalk out at the practice field when I get back. Will be interesting to see how the first few sessions go after the short break.

There was an interesting discussion on Facebook's running contact group about the notion of a rotary gallop. The idea is that if a dog is doing a rotary gallop across the dogwalk he will hit the yellow. I've been looking very closely at the video, frame by frame on my t.v. and it looks to me like Strum's doing a transverse gallop but it's so hard to see with the quality of the video and my VCR. I'm going to see if I can get some still photos. I'm not sure if the distinction between tranverse and rotary is important. In any case Strum is doing the same gait down the plank when he hits and when he misses and he has one hit where he's doing some weird combination of gaits. It's impossible for me to distinguish his gait when he's running anyway so it's not something I can select for in training but it's interesting to look at after the fact. Yeah, I know, I'm a geek.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Murder in da hood and Hotel for Dogs

As if I don't have enough weirdness to deal with at the moment, there was a murder down my street last night, less than 2 blocks away. Click on that link and do you see the yellowish house behind the cop cars in the first photo? That is my house. I'm pretty sure it's not a good thing when your house is in the photo of a murder scene. Somebody shot somebody in the street! I do not live in the 'Hood, it's a comatose rural/suburban neighborhood, lots of rich folks with big houses. Police haven't identified the victim or shooter or determined whether or not they're connected with the neighborhood. The shooter is still at large. I swear I've had more incidents with people shooting guns since I've moved to Boulder than I ever had when I lived in Chicago. When I first moved to Boulder one of my neighbors started shooting down the hall one night right outside my apartment door. Best part is that I tried to send Jonny outside last night. I called him about 20-30 minutes after the shooting and he told me the street was blocked off, cops everywhere etc. and at the time he didn't know what was going on. I was amazed he hadn't gone outside to see what was up and told him he'd better go check in case it was a blown gas main or something and he might need to evacuate. He had even heard the gunshots but didn't think they were actual gunshots and certainly didn't assume they were from down the street and someone was getting shot. Strummer freaked out at them as well but Strummer's always freaking out about something so he didn't think much of it. It looks like 2009 is going to be the year of 'Never a Dull Moment'.

While my neighborhood was getting shot up I was at the movies at an actual movie theater for the first time in forever watching 'Hotel for Dogs'. I would give it a rating of 4 steaming, stinking piles of dog poop and yes, duh, I figured it would be bad but wow it was even worse than I suspected it could possibly be. I realize it's a kids' movie but man even the kids in the theater didn't seem entertained. Does Hollywood think kids are that stupid? I don't know, the kids sitting next to me were making fun of it and I hardly could blame them. The only time I heard the theater laughing was for the obligatory 'guy gets kicked in the groin' scene. Doesn't matter the age group or audience, Hollywood seems incapable of letting us leave the theater without witnessing a kick to the groin. Regardless of age group the theater always erupts in riotous laughter so they must know what they're doing.

There was plenty of product placement for Pedigree dog food and they even showed part of one of their commercials for their shelter dog campaign. Am I the only one that tears up at those stupid commercials? Drives me crazy that I do that, I feel so played but I can't help myself. And sure enough despite myself I'm on the verge of bawling when they show it during the movie. I'm such an ass. The only other interesting/bizarre part of the movie was a montage with the dogs with a Tim Armstrong song playing in the background. Even after all these years of punk rock having gone commercial I still find it slightly unnerving when I hear it in a mainstream setting. Especially when it's from someone like Tim Armstrong. I still have an Operation Ivy t-shirt that I bought from him back in the 80's when he was called 'Lint' and had a bad drug problem. He came through the other side though and now is a bazillionaire and apparently hawking his brilliance to crappy movies. In any case the thoughts and memories of all this were a welcome distraction from the movie. There were some cute dogs in it to be sure but they weren't enough to make up for the rest of it and by the end I was ready to claw my eyeballs out.

I don't normally go to kid movies or hokey dog movies or any combination thereof but my friend really wanted to go and couldn't get anyone to go with him, not even his younger nieces who said it was way too uncool to be caught at that flick. He got SO excited when I told him I'd go with him and I was feeling guilty about dragging him to the X-Files movie last time I was in town. This is someone who hates violence of all kinds and likes Disney movies and old classic movies. Because of the violence he walked out of Slumdog Millionaire which is what I really would have liked to have seen but that will wait for another day. And my friend loved Hotel for Dogs so it was worth it.

Tonight we're meeting up with another of my friends for burritos at my favorite Mexican restaurant. It'll mean an annoying drive into the city but it'll be good to get out of the 'burbs for an evening and to get together with my old friends. Thankfully the Chicago River is frozen solid and it's 12 degrees outside so I won't have to make polite excuses for not going kayaking.

One more day and then I'm on my way home. Can't wait to see what happens next. Or maybe I can.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Paper AND Plastic

Paper or plastic? My grandmother has solved this age old problem by insisting on both. This makes carrying the grocery bags nigh on impossible since the paper bag gets in the way of the handles of the plastic bag. At first I'm not sure if this is some sort of weird store policy. Maybe the store manager has an intense hatred of Al Gore and is bound and determined to prove that global warming is a myth? But the bagger woman tells me she's known my grandmother for 12 years and this is what she insists on. I can't even begin to fathom the logic but I've long ago given up trying. Often my trips home are like something out of a 'Seinfeld' episode except maybe not so amusing when it's happening to you.

I had to make 2 trips to the Skokie Jewel yesterday, one with my grandmother and another when my aunt realized there was no real food in the house and sent me back with the real list. Many of the items on this new list were still baffling to me but I did what I was told and hopefully no one will go hungry. Plus it is always an interesting cultural experience going to the Skokie Jewel, a great place to people watch if you're into that sort of thing. The afternoon crowd consisted of lots of slow moving little old Jewish ladies sporting garish but probably very expensive full length fur coats. One such woman decided to befriend me at the deli counter and it's a good thing since I needed help. One of the items on my new and improved list was sliced turkey and chicken. The pre-packaged stuff looked particularly vile so I decided to get some 'freshly' sliced stuff from the deli. Probably just as vile but somehow it looked better. I had no idea how much meat to get so I randomly chose a 1/2 lb of each and when I saw how much it was, well, it looked like a lot. Just as I was wondering if it could be frozen a fur clad woman shuffled over and informed me that boy was I going to enjoy this meat, it's most excellent. She insisted that I keep a bit in the fridge at a time and freeze the rest, it will be delicious and fresh. I thanked her and told her I was grateful for the info. because I'm a vegetarian and have no idea about freezing meat or what is good meat or anything about meat for that matter. Well, this was absolutely the wrong thing to say because that generation in this part of the world still considers vegetarians to be communist freaks. I'm not in Boulder anymore, Toto. She scrunched up her nose and gave me a disdainful look but continued to chat away to me because old ladies at the Jewel on a Thursday afternoon love to give you advice even if you're a communist freak. Maybe even especially if you're a communist freak.

Did you know that eggplants can sweat and that making them do so supposedly makes them taste better? It must be true because the internets told me so. I decided to make Eggplant Parmesan for my grandmother which yes I know is not super uber healthy but is better than the crackers and Chex Mix she has been eating and I found a recipe that seemed healthier than the stuff you get in restaurants. Instead of frying the eggplant in a heavy batter I used a light egg/breadcrumb coating and pre-baked them instead. I also cheated and used tomato sauce out of a jar instead of making it from scratch but I figured this venture was already iffy enough, no need to make it harder just for the sake of it. I did go to the bother of sweating the eggplants though, it seemed worth it if it would guarantee they would not be bitter. In the end there were no fires (I'm much better with the oven than I am with the stove), a minmum of mess and my cooking was a big hit with my grandmother. She loves eggplant parmesan but for some reason never prepares it for herself so I knew it would be a nice treat for her. I thought it was good too, maybe there's hope for me after all. Now if anybody has any helpful hints from Heloise on how to get charred oatmeal off the top of a smooth topped electric stove I'm all ears.

I can haz Eggplant Parmesan??!!

No? Fine. Be that way.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Apparently you can start a fire fairly easily with an electric stove. And I was only trying to cook oatmeal.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I missed the inauguration speech yesterday darn it. I've never before had the slightest interest in listening to the speech so I didn't realize it would be mid-morning. I could have at least watched or listened from work. A coworker was listening and by the time I realized what it was it was nearly over. I know I can watch it on the net somewhere but I wanted to see history in the making. Oh well. I know I'm probably being naive but for the first time in like ever I'm starting to sort of kind of maybe have a teensy bit of faith in a president. At the very least he's articulate and smart and has a sense of diplomacy and maybe for the first time in forever the rest of the world will not be laughing at us or fearing us or hating us so much that they want to crash airplanes into our buildings. In any case yesterday felt like the light at the end of a horrible, long, dark, rank tunnel full of sewer rats and cholera. And judging by the incomprehensible size of the crowds in DC I'm guessing I'm not alone in that sentiment.


I made it to Chicago today with one of the most hassle free travel experiences I've ever had. Bus to the airport was on time, plane left on time, landed 5 minutes early, waited maybe 2 minutes for my friend to pick me up, no traffic between the airport and my granparent's house-crazy! No turbulence on the plane, no screaming kids, no one hacking up a lung, I had a window seat with no one next to me and the guy on the aisle slept almost the whole way. He woke up long enough to tell me that if I needed out just let him know, no need for me to feel trapped. How nice is that? If travel was like that all the time I might do more of it or at least not dread it when I have to do it.

My grandfather is in a hospice just now and for a 92 year old Alzheimer's patient who's just had 2 heart attacks in the space of a week he's not looking half bad. He was awake when I came in the room and knew who I was. He would have a short conversation then close his eyes and fade out then bam he'd blink awake and talk to me again. They're sending him home on Friday, something I thought would never happen. Nobody really knows how long he'll go. He'll be bedridden and won't have much quality of life but thankfully he doesn't appear to be in pain.

My grandmother was pretty happy to see me and I thought the nurse was going to burst into tears when she saw how happy my grandmother got. Yeah, the mega-expensive plane ticket was worth it.

I'm having a hard time figuring out everyone's schedules, when I'm supposed to take my grandmother to the hospice and bring her home (sounds simple but somehow my family has made it into a confusing logic problem) plus other complications I won't bore you all with. A simple trip to the grocery store tomorrow is turning into a major expedition. When you work full time and juggle several hobbies you learn to be very efficient with time. I squeeze grocery shopping in before work or at night on my way home from swim practice, it's certainly not the centerpiece of my day and I don't put a whole lot of thought into it. I could not understand the big fuss or why my grandmother needed to go with me since I could probably get it done in half the time myself until I realized that for her it's something to look forward to, something to get her out of the house and the hospice and give her a sense of normalcy. I now feel bad telling her she couldn't go and now that I've realized what's going on I'll certainly take her with me tomorrow but as you can see I'm a little slow with fitting into the rhythm of what's going on around here and switching gears from my own way of doing things. It'll be a bit chaotic at first when they move my grandfather home but so much better and easier for everybody.

Despite my grandmother's protests I think I'm going to try cooking her something tomorrow. Dinner for her seems to be another crazy overblown problem so when we were at the hospice I told her I'd make her dinner tomorrow. She can hardly hear at all but boy she heard that and protested loudly, 'Oh no you won't!' Then she turned to the nurses and said, 'Her husband, now he can cook'. Yeah, I know I suck at cooking and the insurance company would prefer that I wouldn't but I sort of kind of want to learn and now I finally have the time and a reason to do it so why not try? If it's a disaster then there's always take-out. And she has an electric stove so the potential for fires is reduced I think. Plus the food she has on her shopping list! Half of it is crackers or snack food of some kind. She never used to be like this and I'm determined to make her something somewhat healthy.

It's weird being in a house with no dogs. My grandmother always had a dog but when the last one died maybe 8 years ago she never got another because it was too much work with them in their 80's. The house felt so empty in the years that I came home after the dog died and now that I have a houseful of my own dogs it feels even weirder. Tomorrow or Friday I'll visit my friend who just adopted a second dog that I haven't met yet so I'll get a little doggy fix.

Now if someone could please do something about the weather. It was 71 in Boulder today and, uh, 20 something here. Why ever did I move away?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Lucky Dog

Yeah, I know, the last thing all you people in the midwest and on the east coast want to hear about is how we've had temp's. in the 60's for the past 3 days and how it's going to get even warmer well into next week. The punchline to this cruel joke is that in 2 days I have to leave paradise and go to the frozen tundra of Chicago which I believe had a high of 18 degrees today and that was good compared to the -40 wind chills and 18" of snow they had the few days before. Let's not even talk about the plane fare for this little excursion either. Let's just say there really is no such thing as bereavement/emergency fares which were actually $90 higher than the regular ticket prices on the website. But my family is in a bad state and I need to go so there's no choice but to suck it up and quit my whining.

I did manage to squeeze in a bike ride yesterday and today though my knee's been acting up so I couldn't go for very long, maybe 1 1/4 hours each day. Still it was nice to enjoy a couple of beautiful sunny days on the trails and feel actual sweat dripping down my back. Don't worry, winter will be back soon I'm sure.

I took some photos of the fire damage along the Foothills Trail and looking towards the foothills from the Eagle trail. It still smells like smoke but it wasn't too bad. It will grow back soon enough and by spring I'll bet you won't even be able to tell there was a fire. It's good for the plants and soil too.

This is not a fire damaged area but I liked the view of the Boulder Reservoir from the top of Ice Hill on the Eagle Trail. You can see the snow-packed trail on Ice Hill. I turned around here because I didn't feel like dealing with it with my knee feeling gimpy. It's much steeper and longer than it looks from the photo.

Today's wildlife report includes a coyote in a field off a dirt road and a Golden Eagle that swooped down to eye level and crossed the trail right in front of me. Amazing! Of course I didn't have my camera today and even if I did I never would have gotten it out of my pack in time. Will have to enjoy it as a memory. One of these days I'll go out with my camera with the intention of taking pictures but it's hard to leave my bike at home, especially when it's shorts weather in January.

I shot some running dogwalk video in my yard with the plank at 4' but I think I'll wait until the plane ride to process it. Today's results were 8/14 (45%) for the morning session and 10/10 (100%) for the afternoon session. I think the poor results from the morning were because I had the plank set too high on the table. This changed the angle of the plank and also made it harder for him to get on the plank as he had to come in from the side. Or who knows. I think the break from training next week will do us both some good.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Running dogwalk, weaves and class

Been a while since I've posted on our dogwalk progress. I had a bit of a setback in my backyard practice when I moved the plank up to 4'. On the 3rd or 4th rep the plank came off the table and smashed to the ground, hitting an 8" CMU block that I was using to hold the table frame down. The plank split apart and it took me a week to get the materials and find time to mend it. That 4' table is not as stable as I'd like. I've been working on ways to brace it with stuff lying around the house but nothing is doing a great job so far. I put a sawhorse under the plank so that if it comes off the table it can't fall all the way to the ground.

We've had 2 attempts at the mended 4' plank-yesterday was 16/20 (80%) and today was 9/10 ((90%). I'm still using the treat gizmo for reward. Unfortunately it's starting to not work again. I've cleaned it out really well several times too. I click the remote over and over and the stupid thing won't dispense. It's still under warranty but I don't want to part with it because he's got his first trial in a month and I still need it. So I've been running up to it and putting kibble in from my pocket when it doesn't dispense.

We're still struggling a bit with the dogwalk out at the practice field. I'm still backchaining the full length 2' high dogwalk with success rates all over the place. Some days he's brilliant, other days I want to tear my hair out. Yesterday he was at 70% with a mixture of backchaining and running the full length of the walk. I've found that I have to put him either at the top of the down ramp or the top of the up ramp or somewhere on the up ramp to get the most success. If I put him anywhere else on the flat middle ramp he almost always misses. Ideally he should be able to adjust his stride to hit the bottom no matter his striding on the flat ramp but for now he can't seem to get his brain around it so I'm not pushing the point. We may go back to this later once he's more solid and do it as a proofing exercise.

I'm going to have a setback next week because I'll likely have to go to Chicago. My grandfather had a second heart attack in the space of a week and I doubt he's going to last much longer so as soon as I can get the dogs' bordatella vaccinations this weekend so I can board them I'll probably try to get a flight out there. My family is not planning a funeral or memorial service for him which makes my head want to explode and is a big huge ugly rant for another day but it means I have some flexibility in when I can go. I'll pull Strum from his standard runs if I feel he's not ready on trial day but for now I want to keep the entry. It's good motivation for me to get out there and train and be focused and think about what I'm doing.

His weaves are coming along nicely. After much debate I ponied up the money for Susan Garrett's 2x2 weave video (more on that another time) and I tried starting him out on Day 1 with just the 2 poles and he did great at first but then got horribly confused. He's to a point where he can confidently weave 12 poles and he's almost got the nearly straight on, on side entry down so I think we're going to continue on my original plan and revisit the 2x2's after the trial. He's easily got the skills to handle weaves in a novice DOCNA class. Whether he can do them under the stress of a trial remains to be seen.

He had class the other night for the first time in 3 weeks so he was a bit more wound up at the start than he was when he was going weekly but after half an hour or so he calmed down considerably. It helped a lot that the course run throughs in the adjacent ring were lightly attended.

I'm finding a regular class to be frustrating after taking privates/semi-privates all summer. I truly believe I get way more for my money that way. If the class runs small to tall I end up waiting half an hour or so for my first turn and I may get only 3 turns total, maybe 4. On the other hand it's excellent distraction training for Strummer. On the other hand it's a long time to try to keep his brain from jumping out of his head. We have only 2 more classes then the club can no longer use the fairgrounds so I'll be S.O.L. until Joy comes back to town and starts lessons again in late spring. And I'm assuming she's going to do lessons. I've been thinking lately that I need to spend more time practising anyway but I do like having a class to go to. Maybe something else will crop up in the meantime, you never know.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Eldora, Baby

The weather and snow report promised perfect conditions up at Eldora-32 degrees, sunny, 15 mph winds (this is great for Eldora) and 7-8" of new snow. Ha. Quite a different story when we got there-23 degrees by the clock in Nederland and 15 mph winds my ass. More like 25-30 at least and any new snow was long blown away to Kansas. There was a huge squall of blowing snow outside the warming shed where you buy your trail pass. But I figured it would be fine once we got in the woods and it was. The winds died down towards the end of our trek and it turned out to be a beautiful day. Trails were a bit icy in places, especially on the steep downhills but we managed no problem. A few years ago such trail conditions would have stricken terror into my heart but I guess my skiing skills have improved to the point where I'm no longer petrified. One of these years they'll get up to the level of competent but for now I'll settle for not petrified.

We were only out for 1 hour, 10 minutes because we knew we'd be sore the next day no matter what. Cross country skiing uses lots of muscles that have been sleeping all summer. My knee was complaining on my 2 mile dog walk this morning but was fine while I was skiing and seems o.k. tonight. The skiing motion seemed to be good therapy for my foot, I'll have to try to get up there more often. So expensive though, they're up to $19 for a lousy trail pass.

On the way home I stopped for a photo of the lake I swam in for the triathlon I did up at Eldora 2 summers ago. Whenever you tell someone local that you swam in that lake for a triathlon they shiver and look incredulous and this is why. It looked even worse on the way up when the wind was howling and sheets of snow were blowing across it and the road which is the view most people think of when they think of that lake.

Another shot looking the other way toward the ski resort.

And in summer.

Friday, January 09, 2009


Several months ago a coworker informed me that I've been driving and riding my bike right past a camel for the past umpteen years and I had no idea which goes to show how oblivious I can be. In my defense he's often not visible from the road. He's on my way to/from work if I go a certain way that I don't normally go but I go home that way once a week when I'm taking agility classes from Joy and I looked for him for a couple of months before he was finally visible. I'm glad my coworker warned me because I nearly ran off the road as it was, he's an impressive sight.

His name is Morris and his horse friend is Apache. The woman who owns Apache has a son who rescues exotic animals and he showed up at her place desperate for a place to temporarily house a camel (you people in dog rescue think you have it tough). She agreed (my kind of woman). She had been looking for a companion for her lonely horse and as it turned out the two hit it off and she decided to keep him.

The photos were taken by my coworker. I've never had my camera with me when I've been fortunate enought to spot him. Sometimes I'll take the less desireable route in hopes that I'll see him and it's always worth it if I do. I never realized camels were so huge and impressive. One of these days I'll get photos of my own.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Day After

The fire tripled in size overnight and got to within 1 1/2 miles of my house which was unnerving but we had one come within 3/4 mile several years ago and that was way scarier. Still it was not so very much fun to be awakened by news helicopters flying over the house in the wee hours of the morning. Strummer had a few words for them when he went out into the yard this morning to do his business and Lola was fascinated by them and stood transfixed staring up at the sky. Cody usually goes batshit at stuff flying low in the sky but he was intent on getting back inside for his breakfast so spared the neighbors his opinion on the matter.

It was a noisy walk this morning with all the helicopters blaring but I wanted to see if the fire was still at threat so I headed along the Foothills Trail to see what I could see. I've been meaning to take my camera along the trail to take photos of my morning walks anyway so I thought I'd snap some photos. No dramatic fire pix with flames shooting into the sky, I didn't go chasing the fire last night. I probably could have got some good ones but I'm not really into chasing down natural disasters for a photo op. I'm more of the opinion of 'fire bad, run away'. Plus there were all sorts of circus freaks coming to see the show and driving like maniacs through my neighborhood which has very little in the way of sidewalks and streetlights. Plenty of nice photos here if you're interested.

Here are some that I took this morning.

Sunrise over Wonderland Lake. This has nothing to do with the fires but I thought the cloud formation was cool.

This is looking north towards the southernmost edge of the fire. The fire stopped at Lee Hill Rd. which you can't see in the photo and the shot is taken from the Foothills Trail south of Lee Hill. If you look to the right of the peak at the far left of the photo you can see the Hogback Trail arcing down the hill. I wrote about running on that trail here. You can also see bits of smoke here and there from various hotspots that had yet to burn out.

Token dog photo (don't they look thrilled?) taken at the top of the Kiln Trail looking north. Lee Hill Rd. is between the dogs and the burnt hill in the background. It's a popular cycling route and the Boulder Peak Triathlon goes up it.

Some deer jumping a fence and crossing Lee Hill Rd. Taken from the bottom of the Kiln Trail. Cody was pitching a fit but the deer came towards us anyway.

A closer shot of the burn area. Again you can see the Hogback Trail arcing down the hill at the left side of the photo. It's funny how well you can see the trails after a fire.

The people in the Dakota Ridge neighborhood which is just to the east of these hills (and I do mean 'just') were allowed back into their houses so I feel confident the fire is well on it's way to being controlled, at least the part that effects me so I'm not worried for myself anymore. Must have been horrifying for the people on the plains who have horses and livestock. Lots of people had to open their gates and let their horses go because the fire spread so quickly with the high winds that there was no time to get them in trailers to evacuate. There's a really cool llama ranch that burnt down but thankfully they got the llamas out in time. I'm glad I got out of it o.k. but I feel awful for the people who lost their animals. Thankfully there were no major injuries, a few fireman had minor injuries. Hopefully that will be us done with the fires for a while.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

View from my backyard

Gonna be a long night. Fire is a bit closer, winds are still strong and shifting around. Supposed to die down at 9 pm (it's about 6:30 right now) but we'll see. You know it's not a good sign when you can see your house on the helicopter footage on the news. Also not good when you can hear them flying right over your house as well as all the sirens. Fun.

Oh and came home to the fabulous news that my 90+ year old grandfather with Alzheimer's had a heart attack and was freaking out in the hospital because he has no idea what's going on. Oh and Lola got into an ancient container of TVP. Not sure how much if any was in there but this could add to the excitement.


There's nothing like sitting at your desk at work and watching the hills by your house go up in flames via live video footage. The announcer thought he spotted a car on fire and got so excited I thought he was going to pee his pants. The fire is 5 miles away and the winds are blowing it the opposite direction from my house but still it's unnerving. 2-3 separate fires are going at once, one in the hills and another on the flatlands nearby. Winds are 60 mph with gusts up to 70-80 mph so fighting the fires is darn near hopeless. Hopefully the winds won't shift or I'm screwed.

Getting home tonight should be interesting. Jonny's home already and told me the route I normally take is a parking lot. One road is totally shut. I'll have to sneak in the back way and hope it's not too backed up. Wildfires in January-Crazy!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

That's All She Wrote

I had fun at the USDAA trial this weekend, Cody & Lola's first trial since DOCNA Champs. at the start of October. They didn't have much practice, maybe 3-4 sessions in the past 3 months but I don't want to work either of them all that much anymore because of their ages. Cody is 10 1/2 and Lola turned 8 last month. Hard to think of either of them as vet dogs.

The main thing I was hoping for this weekend was for Cody to finish his Perf. ADCH with a Super Q in Snooker and a Standard Q. I wish I had some great story to tell full of drama about how he pulled it all off despite the issues he's been having with the table . The reality though is that he had a beautiful Standard run going on Saturday, jumped on the table then jumped right off and ran into a tunnel, which was a nice thought and the correct obstacle if only he'd bothered to do the table first. I did get him to lie down and we immediately left the ring where I made up for all the celebrating I did not do on New Year's Eve. On Sunday he once again had a beautiful Standard run going and did in fact lie down on the table and hold it for what seemed like 9 million years and I was SO sure we had it but then the stinker blew the dogwalk contact. The dogwalk was heading into a wall which may have been part of the problem but with Cody who can tell. After that I was a bit distracted and late with a front cross causing an off course. Snooker was a perfect course for Cody, a tunnel/jump combo for the 7 and an obvious easy, flowy course for getting all three 7's. The unfortunate thing is that there is no strategy involved, only speed but I thought we still had a chance if I got some tight turns and pushed for speed. Also the pressure was off since he'd already blown his Standard runs. He could still pick up his Snooker title (and the next Snooker title too I think) but I didn't care all that much about it. In the end it didn't matter because after the third red I told him 'here' (7 point obstacle) and he went 'there' (2 point obstacle) and the whistle didn't go right away because I still could have saved it if I'd brought him back to start the closing (no Super Q of course) but as I stood there going, 'Duh uh which way do I go?' he decided the nearby #3 tunnel looked nice and who cares where the judge wanted me to go, I am so Punk Rock. So that was that.

I've decided to retire him from USDAA because when he was lying down on the table today his rear legs were trembling. I've noticed this in training the table at home, it comes and goes and sometimes is a lot of trembling, sometimes very little or none at all. It's the first time it's been that bad in a trial and I don't want to ask him to go through that again. I don't know what it's about whether a weakness in his rear legs or more likely something up with his back and I doubt it's painful but I can't ask him to do something that might bring it on. Every trial I watch him carefully and look for signs from him that it's time to stop trialing and today felt like he was telling me loud and clear. I'll still run him in DOCNA where there is no table and he can jump 16" because otherwise he looked great this weekend, perfect weaves, confident on the contacts, nice jumping, no stress. But no more USDAA. Yeah it's disappointing not to get the big bad title but it felt good to get so close and I can hardly be disappointed overall with his agility career. He's the first dog I ever seriously trained for anything and he was not the easiest first dog ever but he taught me so much and each little milestone along the way felt so huge and satisfying. Those last 2 missing Q's seem so insignificant in the face of how far he came.

As for Lola, she had a mostly fabulous weekend. She and her Pairs partner had lovely clean runs and took first place finishing up her Pairs title (yay! no more pairs!!!). She also picked up another Snooker Q with a wonderful run. She almost had her first Masters Standard Q on Saturday with a beautiful run but she missed the dogwalk contact. I even got her to lie down on the table and I'll write more about that later when I'm not so tired. Thanks for the table suggestions in the comments below, BTW. Today's Standard run started with her running circles around the table and refusing to get on. I got her on and got her down but she got up after 3 seconds and I decided that was enough of that torture. We were both a bit rattled after that and the run went downhill from there. And yes, she blew another dogwalk contact. Darn it, she was near perfect for 4 days at DOCNA Champs. Argh. But overall she was a dream to run this weekend, my timing with her was good and she was happy and full of herself.

I experimented a bit with running the various courses different ways with the different dogs, using a rear cross for Cody and a front for Lola. Both places that I tried to force a front with Lola did not work out so great. I pulled them off but I was way late. Hard to say if the rears would have been any better with her or if the fronts would have been better if I hadn't been so late. It was fun to play around with it though.

The one really bad part of the weekend was my knee. It was sore Saturday night despite icing it twice. Tonight I can't straighten it. I will spare you the moaning about the pain. I even broke down and took some Vitamin I. Was eyeing up the leftover Vicodyn but decided I'd rather suffer (cue violins). I'll stay off it as much as I can tomorrow and ice it a bunch and hopefully will be back to dog walking duties on Tuesday. Getting old is a blast.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Sunscreen, Sweat and Sundogs

A day in January with temp’s. in the 60’s is a rare thing and to have that day off work is an even rarer treat. I decided to stay away from the agility field today. Cody & Lola have a trial this weekend and I don’t like to work them the day before a trial. I took Strum yesterday to work on the dogwalk and I’m trying to restrain myself from working him out there 2 days in a row since it seems to be counterproductive. Less is more, less is more, less is more…must keep drilling that into my head.

Instead I decided to seize the opportunity for a bike ride on the trails by my house. All the trails were plenty dry except for Ice Hill which had, duh, a mix of ice and slush and mud. Well, there’s a reason it’s called Ice Hill. There are ways to avoid Ice Hill but they involve riding on the road and you miss out on a bunch of trails and that’s no good, it’s well worth the slog through the muck and the cleaning of your cleats.

As I was riding along I was thinking about the sundogs I've seen in Telluride and Ouray and how I’ve only every seen them once in Boulder. Then about 20 minutes later I looked up to watch some kind of hawk or eagle swooping through the blue sky and I noticed the most amazing sundogs. Freaky I tell you. But so beautiful, bright vibrant streaks of rainbow colors smeared across some cloud formations and merely tingeing the edges of others. I had to keep stopping for a moment of whimsy so I wouldn't crash my bike trying to look at them while riding. What amazing luck to be out on the trails on such a gorgeous day. In January. I love Colorado.

To top it all off I was nearly home and a big sassy coyote ran across the trail right in front of me. He was running along a creek bed trying to sneak up on a prairie dog town. Sure enough a moment later the dog town erupted in a chorus of squeaks. A perfect ending to a fabulous ride.


Tomorrow winter weather returns and I'm off to a USDAA trial. Only one standard run and one Snooker Super Q stand between Cody and his Champ title. I'm not feeling confident about the table for him or Lola. We've been practicing but when I took him to course run throughs at Boulder County Fairgrounds the other week he took one look at the table and took off in the other direction stress sniffing. I did manage to get him on and gave him boatloads of treats and after that he went on happily 3 more times, a good thing in the end but it doesn't inspire a lot of confidence. If Lola has any faults before the table I'm not even going to try to get her on. Other than the table though both dogs looked great at practice last weekend, fit and full of themselves and hitting all contacts, weaves, etc. Hopefully they can keep it up for the trial.

I only have Standard for Cody tomorrow and Standard and the Grand Prix for Lola. For some inexplicable reason the club offered regular titling Gamblers today but all the other classes were Team and Steeplechase then tomorrow they'll have Team Gamblers and the Team Relay. Makes no sense to me, why not put all the Team events on the same day? I didn't want to enter Grand Prix, SO expensive and I have no plans to go to Nationals. USDAA is yanking the local club around again so they don't know if they'll have a Regionals to try to qualify for. She has boatloads of GP Q's so she doesn't need any more for her title. Normally there's no way I'd spend $22 on this class but I didn't want to drive all the way down to Castle Rock (1 1/4 hours) for just Standard but it's the only titling class offered because of the Team events. If Cody wasn't so close to his title I wouldn't have bothered going at all but I want to give it a shot. I love the GP though so it'll be fun and it's probably the only time I'll enter this year. I'm hoping to cut down on $$ for trials this year and not entering the tournaments saves a huge chunk of change.

Cody is first up in the Snooker line-up on Sunday so I'll have to pick the best course for us and hope it's good enough. In a way this is better for me, I hate watching everybody else and double thinking my course. Lola runs last but there's no pressure on her, she has all her Super Q's and her Snooker title. She's also got Pairs and another round of Standard. No Pairs for Cody, he finished his title and it's easier for me to have only one dog in that class. If Lola gets a Q she's done with that class too. We have a great partner, we just have to hold up our end of the bargain.

Strum is sitting this one out. It's a 2 ring trial and I'd like him to get some more ring experience before he has to deal with the distraction of a second ring. Plus it's hard to deal with 3 dogs and I want to focus on Cody this weekend. He doesn't need the extra stress of the little upstart.

Should be a fun trial, great venue and one of my favorite judges (Paul Stoltzenbug). Now to get some sleep. I'm not looking forward to that 5:00 a.m. wake-up call.