Wednesday, April 11, 2018

We went somewhere

A couple of weeks ago, we packed our bags...

PlyAway or bust!

... and drove through this (and later some wicked downpours).

Springtime in Indiana

Along the way, we stopped in Casey, Illinois, home of the world's largest...

Wind chime
Rocking chair
Wooden shoes

There was also a purple house..

...and some street art.

We spent the night in Collinsville, Illinois, and the next day, visited Cahokia Mounds.

We climbed stairs
And more stairs
From here...
... we could see St. Louis (including the arch on the left)

In Kansas City, we saw (among other things)...

Bee hives next to the employee patio at BCBS
Our hotel was build on a rock... literally.
The only sign of spring in KC
Union Station at night, from our hotel room

We also visited Lawrence KS and ate at the Ladybird Cafe.

"And this is for you"

We missed the Final Four Madness there. The next day, we left KC just in front of a winter storm and right behind this guy.

And then we came home, via Terra Haute. The end.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Dog centric

Some dog owners like to refer to themselves as "dog moms". That is not my way, but I am discovering that just like people moms, dog moms are apparently open to criticism regarding their "parenting".

I use an e-collar as a training tool. I have been trained in how to use it. I have tested it on myself; it does not shock but tingles, like a TENS unit. I don't use it as a correction for bad behavior, but as a "nudge" for each command. At a low setting, it says "listen". When there are distractions, I turn it up so that it says "HEY! LISTEN TO ME!" The higher settings are startling but not painful.

I work with my dogs everyday to promote good behavior. I use the lowest setting possible to get a positive result. When there are a lot of distractions, it sometimes takes a bit of trial and error to find the right setting, which results in the dog yelping. I try to avoid this as much as possible but it happens.

I have had Watson for about a year. In that time, I tried several methods of training, but the quickest, most effective one was the e-collar. He now is a joy to walk... unless another dog appears on the scene. He likes other dogs, but when on leash, suffers from "frustration aggression" - he snaps and growls and barks and sounds quite vicious. In group training classes, he is fine; the problem occurs when we are out and about. I am working on this issue, but it is difficult during the winter when most people are not out walking their dogs.

I have had Clio for about six months. She has an exuberant personality and lots of energy. She walks on leash relatively well, but when a person or another dog appears, she acts as though they are her new BFF. She wants to play and jump, but she is too big to be allowed to do this. In group training classes, she is fine; the problem occurs when we are out and about. She needs to learn to be around other dogs without going bananas.

There is a group here in town that has weekly "pack walks". I thought that would be a great opportunity to work with my dogs, so I took Clio to one about ten days ago. In retrospect, I should have walked her ahead of the pack, as it is easier to urge her on rather than hold her back. But we trailed the pack, and I struggled to get her to "listen" to the e-collar and stop pulling. Inevitably, the e-collar was set too high, as distractions waxed and waned, and she yelped a couple of times.

The following weekend, the pack did not walk (too cold - damn weather). But the group admin and I had a lengthy exchange on FB Messenger regarding my training methods. It did not grow heated - I tried to educate her on her misconceptions - but in the end, I felt unwelcome (even though the group promotes itself as "non-judgmental"). Apparently, there is also an application to join the group (which states e-collars are allowed on walks although the admin said they weren't), but this is not clear from their FB page. I ended the exchange by suggesting Clio was not ready for pack walks yet.

I'm not one of those laissez faire dog owners who let their dogs do whatever. Frequently when I am out with the dogs, I get complements on their behavior. They are challenging and have made great improvements in the time I have had them, but sometimes all other people see is their bad behavior. Or what they deem as MY bad behavior.

The dog trainer I use has monthly pack walks, so I will take my dogs there. I also got passes to the city dog parks, where they can run off steam. The e-collars are very useful there, as I can get the dogs' attention across a crowded field. I am also working with my dogs there, where distractions are high. Still, I'm disappointed that the weekly pack walks did not pan out.

Of course, I could still show up, but not walk with them, just be near them, while I continue to work with my dogs. Or would that be passive aggressive?

Practicing "place" at the dog park

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Eat like a dog?

For a while, I was overfeeding Watson. When he began to look a bit chunky, I cut back on his food. Instead of underfeeding him to make up for overfeeding him, though, I fed him what the dog food package said he should be eating for his ideal weight. He slowly lost the extra weight.

Then I had an epiphany. What if humans did the same thing? Instead of eating 1200 calories a day to lose two pounds a week, something I just cannot maintain, what if I ate what I should to maintain my ideal weight?

Of course, the tricky part is figuring out just what that amount should be. Even though Clio and Watson weigh close to the same number of pounds (45 lbs. vs. 35 lbs), their nutritional needs differ to the point that Clio needs twice as much food as Watson.

The only way I see to do this is to figure out how much I can eat without gaining weight, then cut that back a little. Again, this remains tricky, as some days I seem to *need* more food - I'm legitimately hungry.

Another aspect of eating to trim down is to make healthy food choices. Dogs have kibble, while we have DQ. I find that the healthier my diet - fruits and vegetables, nuts and berries, beans and rice, watch the carbs, little meat but I won't forsake dairy - the less likely I am to get the munchies. This works unless I'm feeling stressed or anxious or sick.

The results? Well, I have lost a couple of pounds this past month without really trying to do anything except avoid overeating. As soon as I do overeat, though, they creep back on. Per usual.


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Still sick

I can't remember the last time I felt this bad for this long. If I thought there was anything a doctor could do, I would go, but I think this is just a prolonged cold. Today Nora is with her cousins, so I am trying to take it easy, but there is still stuff to do, like laundry. The 'rents will be back late tonight and will pick Nora up tomorrow. Then I rest.

Meanwhile, I am spending money left and right. I decided to go ahead and get a second spinning wheel, oh, and while I was at it, a lazy kate and, hmmm, how about that used drum carder? That was just the "inside" stuff - I also ordered plants and seeds for the garden. If my plans fail, I am turning the yard back into lawn.

I finished Silence of the Grave, started the latest Bosch novel from Michael Connelly, Two Kinds of Truth.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

On my last nerve

I wondered what might cause a break in this boring little diary, and the virus did it. After a night of slimy night sweats, I woke without a fever Friday. Even showered and washed my hair and dressed in something besides pj's. That exhausted me. Here it is, four days later, and I'm a bit better but not much, as I sound like I am hacking up a lung. A friend suggested Mucinex and that seems to be helping.

I'm on "grandma duty" while my daughter and husband enjoy a cruise. They are soaking up some sun in the Caribbean while the rest of us shiver and moan and suffer from cabin fever. Even the pets are turning on each other. I anticipated Nora being in school for the better part of each weekday during my stint, but it was cancelled last Friday, Monday was a holiday, and today was a two-hour delay. Fortunately, two of the other grandparents have helped out some.

Otherwise, it has been really boring around here. I finished Jar City and started Silence of the Grave. No TV except for 72 Dangerous Animals (Nora's choice). Today I knit a bit on the baby blanket, made some phone calls, and thought about cooking soup but opted for beanie wienies instead.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018


From out of the blue, a virus has struck me down. I so rarely get sick beyond a case of the sniffles that I'm not sure what to make of this. The worst part is the throat pain when I cough anything up. To top it off, I had a lousy night's sleep, so besides feeling fatigued from being sick, I'm just plain tired.
  • Since I am picking up my granddaughter from school on Friday, I had to reschedule my haircut to today, at 8:15. That meant setting my alarm clock. The dogs are becoming accustomed to every day bringing a new "schedule". I didn't walk them at all today, as besides being sick and tired, I worry about slipping on the icy streets.
  • After the haircut, I ran a few errands, including a stop at Simply Sock Yarn Co's brick and mortar store. Now I have enough yarn to finish the baby blanket, plus some "sky blue" fingering for a new pair of socks. Some of my older pairs are wearing out.
  • I tried to nap but the dogs were being bad, the robo calls have started in again (the computers must take the xmas season off), the mail carrier delivered my mail and a book from Amazon to my door, etc.
  • I managed to get the dogs in for their nail trims, but decided to bag the spinning guild meeting tonight, even though there would be extruded rose bush to spin.
  • My spinning wheel is not very portable, so I am contemplating getting a second one that folds. It's a sizable investment but if I am going to spin-ins and guild meetings and workshops, it would be very handy.
  • Watched more Call the Midwife.

Monday, January 08, 2018

January thaw?

The bitter cold weather is done for a while, so now it will be dirty snow iced with freezing rain.
  • I signed up for notifications from the local school system and received one today around 5AM, as school was delayed by two hours.
  • The temps and wind speed were predicted to be even all day, so I took the dogs for a walk this morning.
  • But first, I did a half hour of yin stretches. Pleasantly surprised I was not as stiff as I feared, but now my hips hurt.
  • Since school was not cancelled, Feldenkrais class was not cancelled either. It was my idea to have this class in the daytime and I worried we would not have enough, but all four of us were there - me, my SO, a work friend, and my neighbor across the street. We all had different reasons for being there, but all experienced something new and interesting.
  • Then off to Menard's as they are having their 11% rebate sale right now. I had a list, found almost everything on it. Unfortunately, the humidifier filter I brought home is the wrong size, necessitating a return.
  • I managed to knit the required rows on the baby blanket. Only 4 more 4-row repeats to go before the final border. I could be done this week!
  • More Call the Midwife.
  • I listen to audio books from as a sleep aid and have fallen in love with David Clarke's reading voice. I've been trying to listen to The Three Muskateers and David Copperfield, but am not enjoying the readers.