Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas with the 'flu

Christmas Day at the town reservoir.

Nova Scotia was one of the few places in southern Canada that had a White Christmas. We had a snow storm just before Christmas and then it turned cold so the snow stayed. Christmas Eve was a lovely starry night and Christmas Day was sunny and white. I unfortunately was down with the 'flu. Got the 'flu shot the week before and then got the 'flu. So much for the shot. It is supposed to take a couple of weeks to kick in, so I guess I should have gotten it sooner.

Thanks to the 'flu I missed out on a dinner party, a dance, and the Christmas Eve carolling service in the Harbour. Christmas Day I was damned if I was going to miss out on turkey dinner too, so I dragged myself out to the Community Dinner. The dinner was great, but previously when I was still healthy I had volunteered for the after-dinner clean-up crew and that did me in.

As it turned out, there were plumbing issues that resulted in no hot water and a malfunctioning dish sterilizer, so I don't know how good a job we did. Even though we knew it was kind of useless we ran everything through the sterilizer anyway, and that was a major bottleneck; we spent a lot of time standing around waiting while it sterilized each batch of dishes in cold water. Cleaning cooking pots with cold water is not fun either.

There was a lot of leftover vegetables. We joked about having a community mashed potato dinner in January.

One of the organizers, George, offered me a leftover jug of cider and I wanted that cider badly but it meant I would need a ride home because I didn't have the energy to walk home with a half-gallon of cider. And at that point the only rides on offer were from people who were staying to the bitter end of the clean-up.

I really should have abandoned the cider and just gone home. But I didn't. So Boxing Day I paid for my folly with yet more sickness, and added a Boxing Day open house to the list of Missed Events Due to 'Flu. On the other hand, I have had a nice pot of mulled cider on the wood stove for the last week and I am grateful for that. I also got a second turkey dinner as take-away after the Christmas Dinner, and I had made several pots of soup before I got sick (potato-leek, split-pea, and red-pepper-and-kefir), so I did pretty well in the food department. One friend gave me a nut cake for Christmas, I bought a fruitcake and made some chocolate macaroons, and my neighbour gave me shortbread cookies.

Last night the rain storm started and was still going strong this afternoon. All our Christmas snow is gone. And I am still sick. The nice thing about the rain though is that I don't have to walk the dog. She has no desire to press the issue. She has abandoned her doghouse and is sprawled across the livingroom floor on her back.

I've taken an interest in the history of the "Dark Ages", I got a couple of books and a video on the topic from the library. The video was kind of fun, it was called Medieval Lives and is a BBC series hosted by Terry Jones of Monty Python fame. There's a good description of the series in Wikipedia.

The content is serious but the presentation is as funny as one might expect of a Monty Python alumnus. I kind of like Jones' reason for doing this series, that he wanted to get his own back at the Renaissance. He deals with the smug assumption that the Renaissance was so much better than what preceded it. He also says that a lot of what we think we know about the Middle Ages is actually 19th century propaganda. I guess with the Industrial Revolution creating so much misery for so many people, it was a way to convince people that things were so much better than they were back in the Dark Ages.

The books I got are histories by Thomas Cahill, one of them being How the Irish Saved Civilization. It focuses in particular on the period immediately following the collapse of the Roman Empire, which is the period I am most interested in right now. It's hard to find books on that time period through the local library system. And apparently, according to some reading I've been doing on the internet, there is a lack of english-language books on the topic in general. Apparently European historians are more interested than English historians in that time period.

Some photos of my dog...

After three months of visiting this pond in the Acadia woods, Hapi has finally spotted the goldfish that live there.

Hapi strolling in the Kentville Ravine.

Hapi in her doghouse.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Excuses: Hapi and the comfy chair

I am not doing well keeping up a blog. I am thinking about dropping it.

On the one hand I think of interesting things to write about here, but invariably at times when writing is not an option---in the bath, walking the dog---anywhere but in front of a keyboard and monitor. I have had two people in my family recently comment on the lack of blog posting, so the pressure is certainly starting to mount, but that seems only to make matters worse, what the heck would I write about?

So for anyone who cares about such things, I am fine, the lack of posting is not due to any unpleasantness other than an inability to think of what to write about.

There was a period of time in the fall when I was busy getting ready for winter, then there was another period when I was getting ready for Christmas. That one is still going on. Christmas to me is kind of like American presidential elections, it goes on far too long. By the time the actual event rolls around I am thoroughly bored by the whole thing and can't wait for it to be over and done with.

January, January, let's here it for January!

I have had my dog Hapi without Hiro for just over a month, it is working out fine as long as I don't think too far into the future. People ask me how will I do such-and-such now that I have this dog and I don't know. Maybe I won't.

Hapi is very much an outdoor dog, she is very reluctant to come indoors. But I have to force her indoors when I go out without her, because when I leave her alone outdoors she howls. She doesn't howl indoors. So if I want her to come indoors just because I want her company, she won't come because she thinks it is preparatory to leaving without her. Can't win.

Sam says Hiro is doing fine, he likes being indoors and Sam is not yet working so he can spend lots of time with him. He does want to know when I plan to bring Hapi for a visit though.

I have to laugh.

Sam, you gave me a dog that pretty much precludes travel and you want to know when I will be travelling? Uh, not anytime soon I think.

I don't know if I mentioned this in a previous post, but a couple of months ago I used a Groupon coupon to purchase a kind of lazyboy armchair. It is incredibly comfortable. I have it in the living room in front of the wood stove and I have to say I spend way too much time in it. Once it is tilted back I have no desire to go anywhere or do anything else. Just getting up to throw another log on the fire is such a bother! At least I do have to take Hapi for a daily walk.

We have two main places to walk, the Acadia Woods and the Kentville Ravine. There are several other places to walk as alternatives, and I also take her along shopping or going to the library or post office. There are several stores where they keep dog treats for visiting dogs, and Hapi now knows all the places that will give her treats.

Recently we were in a long line-up at the post office and everyone wanted to pet her. The postal lady came out and gave her a treat, and then a customer in the line-up said, Where's my treat? So the postal guy came out and gave him a cookie.

Well, didn't that create an uproar, we all wanted our treats! No one else got a cookie though, but Hapi did get another treat. The post office isn't fair.

The Acadia Woods are part of Acadia University lands, there are several trails and it is only a 5 minute walk from my house so access is really easy. We rarely run into other dogs or walkers there. There is a small pond, it used to be the main source of water for the college in the 19th century, and currently it is occupied by four goldfish. I understand that they have been there for at least a couple of years. I like to go there to check on them. The pond is at the far south end of the Acadia lands and surrounded by fairly muddy woodland, so not a lot of people go there. A good thing from the perspective of the goldfish I think.

In general, a walk through the Acadia Woods involves about an hour of up and down and across several brooks. Hapi likes brooks. She's not into swimming but she does like wading in and drinking from ponds and brooks.

The Kentville Ravine is an absolutely marvelous place, I am quite in love with it. I would go more often but it is a 15-20 minute drive on the highway to get there. The ravine is part of the Kentville Agricultural Research Station lands and is probably one of the very few stands of old growth forest in the province. Big trees. A brook winds through the ravine and the trail crosses it several times. There are some small waterfalls on the brook and the ravine is steep-sided. There is little or no undergrowth in the forest there so you can see a long distance and wander off the trail to explore if you like. It is very popular with dog owners so invariably we run into at least one other dog when we go, and often there are whole packs of dogs there.

If you want to see what it is like, go to Youtube and search for "kentville doggie heaven".

I started taking Hapi there after Hiro left in order to socialize her. As long as the two dogs were together they had little use for other dogs and after Hiro was gone Hapi really didn't know how to get along with other dogs. She learned fast in the Kentville Ravine. She now really enjoys meeting other dogs and I have stopped worrying about how she might behave when she does. She is a large dominant dog who won't back down if another dog wants to pick a fight, but she is not interested in starting anything. In the ravine, dogs just want to have fun, Hapi has lots of opportunity to play.

When we don't encounter other dogs we explore some of the side trails, or simply go off-trail and wander. I've met a few people there and had some interesting conversations as well. So far, nothing but very positive experiences for both of us. And of course walking in a forest of big trees is in itself a nice thing to do.

Including travel time, a walk in the Kentville Ravine usually involves a couple of hours or more. If I add a shopping trip to the expedition, then it is in effect the whole day (keeping in mind that at this time of year a "day" doesn't last very long).

Between Hapi and my comfy chair, not a lot else is going on in my life, and I am quite content with that. Maybe too content. Just not a heckuva lot to write about.