Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year's Resolution #37: Use dog as a workout partner, not a hairstyling model

Anyone wanna buy a set of barely-used high-end dog clippers? I guess my good luck had to run out sometime. Roughly 7 hours after we began Freddie's groom, I gave up. Called Dan from Aussie Mobile Pet Groomers — went back to him with my tail between my legs, as it were — confessed my failings, and begged that one of his professionals come and do whatever's possible to repair the damage and finish the job.

After just a bit of brushing and combing, Freddie still likes me.

Once the electric clippers are a-buzzing, he's not so sure. Wise dog.

Botched belly shave, incomplete hack job on the legs, matts in the undercoat ...

It's probably appropriate that his blanket looks hospital green. Poor Freddie-weddie. :-( 

Dan's van is coming Thursday. Today's morning outing was for romping and fetching ... which got me thinking: I need to take better advantage of this dog's boundless energy. Sure, I get some exercise just taking him for his daily walks, but how else could I exploit this completely reliable source of energy and motivation?

I did some Googling this morning and found a very groovy-sounding class that combines dog obedience with bootcamp .... near Toronto. Bah. I think my brother, a dog lover and fitness expert, should start up something like that in Vancouver. In the meantime, I shall exercise my creativity ...

Here's my attempt at a speed-agility course for me and Freddie to run together. The orange things are plastic cones.

Here's what Freddie thinks one does with agility course cones.

"This bootcamp thing is all right, but why don't we just play?"

Good point, Freddie — though I did persist with my original objectives by sprinting from the beach up to West 2nd (holy anaerobic threshold, Batman) then carrying roughly 50 lbs of extra weight (backpack + dog) up five flights of stairs.

I felt ready for this ....

May your senses be stimulated to just the right degree this evening!

Monday, 30 December 2013

Taming the Wildlife

It's grooming day today. Freddie doesn't know it yet, but he will anon, when I start converting our living room into a beauty salon and hauling out slicker brushes, combs, scissors, dematting tools, and the dreaded electric clippers. A full labradoodle groom takes the pros between 2 and 4 hours, so you can see why I call this "grooming day."

I'm intimidated. I've only done this once before — and Freddie wasn't as shaggy and matted as he is now (I confess that house-moving tasks have recently trumped dog brushing). I'm also thinking how weird and kind of twisted it is that humans have created an animal who, if left untended by its humans, would soon be paralyzed, blinded, and otherwise incapacitated by an ever-growing mass of dreadlocks. Doesn't seem quite fair. But I guess most of today's domestic wolves would also find themselves hungry pretty quick without their humans.

Anyway ... a final swig of coffee and onward!

Today's photos come from yesterday's rainforest hike from Bridgman Park to the Baden Powell trail in the company of Leah and her two pooches. Watch for wildlife!

Cairns along the river

Leah and Plouf, the elder statesman of our three-member dog pack
Freddie and Kali, ready to take on mud and moss, rocks and logs, and (before the climbing starts) lots and lots of other dogs! Most people just run their dogs along the river, but the hike up the Baden Powell trail is our favourite part.

I was too distracted yakking with Leah and watching Freddie to be especially ambitious with my photos. But one of these times I'll try to do justice to the teeming density of the rainforest.
I was not, however, too distracted to miss this sighting of a giant Pacific Western mock preying mantis! These towering insects, though they camouflage extraordinarily well, can be terrifying if you happen to come face to face with one. Fortunately, they're completely harmless herbivores.


Trying to lure three dogs into a front-facing sit

I give up!

 Leah commands attention.

Spot the self-cleaning dog ...

... and wish us luck!

Sunday, 29 December 2013

La Vie en Rose

"La Vie en Rose" is of course Edith Piaf's signature song, but since I've already linked Edith once in this blog, I decided to do a search and see if Anjelique Kidjo, who has great pipes and who can do justice to the French, has ever recorded the song. And .... she has! Here it is. And here is the pink that Freddie and I encountered on a recent walk ....

 From the stereotypical ...

... to the unconventional!
(That construction helmet really was pink. No photoshopping, I swear!)

C'mon doggie people. The pink poop bags are cute, but litter is not!

Grandma's pink toque

Pink head scarf
(with silver threading, which, alas, did not show up)

"Frequently the woods are pink ..."
Emily Dickinson

Our local fishmonger — we have a fishmonger! — is a lovely pinkish blue.

Winter pink

And here is Anjelique Kidjo showing off her pipes and her moves
(a number I first heard at a Chicago concert that Paul & I had the good fortune to attend)

Click if you need a blast of pink energy right now!

Saturday, 28 December 2013

An Awesome Swap

Leah and her family are moving — not far (phew!!), just from their very groovy house near the Drive to a very groovy loft a bit further north (I haven't seen it yet, but all the places this family has lived in have been quintessentially groovy). Anyway, the timing of our respective moves is very serendipitous. In exchange for the crap-load of boxes that Paul and I purchased last month and needed to off-load somehow, Leah and John have given us outdoor furniture, which they no longer have space for — furniture for our own empty balcony and for our building's rooftop deck. Quintessential WIN-WIN.

And all this to say that the exchanging of boxes for furniture took Freddie on a trip by Car2Go to visit one of his best doggie friends, Kali!

Here they are, behind Kali's front gate. Kali is a rescue pup from Mexico. She arrived last spring and is now living the dream with her new family.

This is Kali's human brother, James Dean (aka Dug). If I ever had a son, I would want him to be Dug (except he wouldn't, because I would screw up the parenting gig in ways that Leah and John are incapable of screwing up!).

Dug looks serious in this photo, but his default facial setting is a broad smile. He's wrapping up the glass top of the table that will go on our rooftop deck (once he has uncomplainingly hauled it up there for us).

"Who's at the gate? Who's at the gate? Something's happening at the gate! Gotta get to the gate!"
Hermanas y amig@s

Back home, waiting for Leah's van

(Speaking of serious-looking dudes ...)
Beeyootiful balcony furniture!

And plants!
(The little chair/stand was made by Leah's brother Andrew.)

And, to wrap up, a few arty-farty beach scenes from Freddie's afternoon stroll ...

“For pleasure has no relish unless we share it.” 
Virginia Woolf

Friday, 27 December 2013

My Day (Month?) of Impossible Luck

The photos in today's post come from my morning walk with Freddie (and have little to do with anything); the commentary pertains to a later outing.

Recipe for a Horrid Shopping Trip: 

Mix together for as much time as you can stand ...

2 parcels to be returned/exchanged, at least one of them heavy and/or cumbersome
3 random errands
infinite potential for Boxing Week madness
1 rainstorm
1 untried bus route
a dash (or more) of PMS
1 young & antsy service dog in training (optional)

All other ingredients considered, I decided to leave out the service dog. Still, I was quite confident as I left home that this recipe would "work" and that I would return home frazzled, pissed off, hungry, hypoglycemic, unsuccessful re. my objectives, or all of the above.

I know not what force was conspiring to sabotage the  recipe, but it spared nothing in its interventions ...

First of all, the rain stopped about ten seconds after I left home.
Whole Foods, where I went to pick up a gift card for Veronica (who has been cutting my hair for 16 years and is now my neighbour) was virtually EMPTY. I went straight up to the cashier and was out with my card in two minutes flat.

I spotted my bus about one block away. I crossed the street and dropped a letter I had to mail in a box that was right there. Seconds later, I was on the bus, which had its ticket machine covered up. "Happy birthday!" said the driver. "Enjoy the ride!" I sat down in my favourite seat.

(Oh, the moddish look of this building to the right reminds me of certain Montreal metro stations.)
I got off the bus at the Bay downtown, for the first of my gift exchanges, found the relevant department with nary a glimpse of anything that could remotely be called a crowd, found a lovely replacement item marked down by 50%, found a friendly cashier with no one to help but me, learned that the replacement item came to one dollar and ten cents more than the original item, then found a loonie and a dime in my wallet.

Outside the Bay, my bus was right there. I had to pay this time, but, as before, my favourite seat was available, and the ride was smooth. I returned to our old neighbourhood to exchange one of my birthday items for a different size. The ratio of sales staff to customers in the shop was about 3 to 1, and all items, including exchanges, were two for one (La Vie en Rose, FYI ;-)). I found my size and colour, picked out a freebie, chatted with the friendly sales people, then strolled down to the hair salon, not knowing whether or not Veronica was working today.

She was. Not only that — she wasn't doing anyone's hair at the time, so we were able to visit. I gave her a Christmas card containing the Whole Foods gift card. I checked my blood sugar, which was fine, and strolled home.

Back home, the brother and sister of our friend Jerry (he who, with his partner, Karin, packed up and reassembled our kitchen and book shelves) were visiting. Together Martin and Joanna expertly mounted/adjusted two heavy mirrors that needed mounting/adjusting and diagnosed the glitch in Paul's computer.

Add to this day the extraordinary stroke of luck that contributed (along with our real estate agent's skill and effort) to the quick sale of our old place, and I feel as if I've exhausted my karmic allotment for the next year, at least, and will be zapped by lightning at any moment.

If you're needing some luck of your own just now, please help yourself to this abundance while supplies last!

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Freddie's Long Christmas March

By the time he got to bed last night, Freddie was tired ... very tired. Exactly as I intended him to be. My tire-Freddie-out project began with an extra-long morning walk, from our place in Nofo* to Paul's sister's place near UBC, where holiday merriment was on the program.

(*I'm happy to report that I've recruited the assistance of my cousin Mollie's partner, Teal, in getting the new name out there. Teal works for Transit —in my mind she's everything that is noble and good about the organization — and is thus well positioned to shape the geographical lexicon of Vancouverites.)

OK! Here we are on 4th Avenue, between Yew and Vine, around 8:45 on a weekday morning, and what do you see? That's right! Nothing! Nada! It's that splendid and surreal Christmas morning lull, when the capitalist beast goes into hibernation ever so briefly. Ahhh ...

In the days leading up to the lull, this sidewalk and square were thronged. I stupidly tried taking Freddie into Whole Foods on the afternoon of the 23rd — an expedition that lasted about 37 seconds.

I dig that the Whole Foods sign makers have written "every day" correctly, as an adjective and a noun (as opposed to the oft-misused one-word adjective, "everyday"), though thankfully they're not really open every day. :)

No conventional Christmas decor in view, but this entrance looked festive nevertheless.

Some random views as we made our way west ...

A fetch break in the General Gordon school yard, where we met a family out for a walk

More randomness ... 

Roof of the Ninth Avenue Hobbit House 

After the morning festivities, I took off to my aunt and uncle's place for afternoon happenings and turkey dinner, while Freddie and Paul returned home to prepare another feast chez nous. Splitting up is a bit of a bummer, but both groups together would have amounted to 24 people and two dogs (next year I think we'll go to Bamako or Buenos Aires or somesuch and invite everyone along ;-)). Since Freddie is still recovering from the move, we decided to let him stay home and frolic with Dusty. There wouldn't have been much for him to do, alert-wise. I had a total carb-fest — which can result in lows, if one ODs on insulin (and nothing like chowing down glucose tabs when you've just eaten five butter tarts), but I tried to be conservative. I also appreciated, as always, the fact that my family never gives me the ol' "Can you eat that?" / "You can't eat that, can you?" routine. Merci!

Here are Freddie and his cousin Dusty at the start of their all-day play. 
"That Dusty's fun, but she wears a guy out!" says Freddie.

"Cousin Sally knows just the right spots!"

Happy Day After, everyone!