Birds of spring

Robin? Check.

Red-winged blackbird? Check.

Morning doves cooing the sun up every morning? Check.

Big helping of crow? Sigh - check.

Yep, that is Kip on a retractable leash. Yep, a RETRACTABLE leash. Re. Tract. Able.

The leash I hate. The leash I tell everyone NOT to waste money on. The leash I despise for the lack of control it provides. The leash I bought almost 2 years ago, and used only once or twice before consigning it to the "Why did I spend my money on this?" dog supply bin (which, I am ashamed to say, is really large).

So why?

Since getting Kip, I have been VERY fortunate to live in areas where there are great dog-walking areas and where I can (although against city by-laws, strictly speaking) let Kip run off-leash. I love letting him run off-leash. It allows him to run-and-run-and-run-and-run-and-run-and-run, and it also allows us to work on recalls, distraction proofing, etc.

I moved here in November, and I have been really happy with our dog-walking area all winter.

But recently, something happened.

It got warm.

And people started appearing in greater and greater numbers. People walking, on bikes, with strollers, and running children and other dogs...

And suddenly, having an off-leash dog doesn't seem to be a fantastic idea.

But having a dog continually on a 5' leash seems equally "unfantastic".

Hence, the re... the ret.... the retractable {shudder} came out of the "Wasted Money" bin.

And I admit it - I was wrong. It's not that bad. I still think it limits the control the walker has on the dog. I still think most people can't use it properly. I still think for training, it's the worst leash you could use. But to allow a (somewhat) well-trained dog some freedom on a walk, it can't be beat.

And it lets Kip safely explore the slowly melting ice piles without getting my feet dirty.

Some more pictures:

I can't do justice to the size of the piles of ice and snow thrown up on the lake shore in the winter. But, for the first time, I can provide a reference - those stick figures are two adult humans walking on that pile. And all that snow and ice is on land, not the lake. There is an amazing amount of power in that there water.

And this is taken in a similar location to one taken a mere 5 weeks ago. The snow really is melting. Winter really is going, even if spring isn't fully sprung.


This is my past.

These are pictures were taken on on the farm belonging to one of my great-grandfathers.

The names written on the back of the one above includes "the dog Jim", but doesn't name the two (assumed to be) hired men standing to the left of the picture. I'm glad to see my ancestors had their priorities straight!

A couple cousins and I are doing some research into the family history. It interests me, and I think it should be done before yet another generation leaves us, taking their knowledge, their memories, their family history with them. To date, we have a basic, bare-bones link back to John, born c. 1690 somewhere near York, Pennsylvania (yes, dirty little secret - my family was once American!! Yikes!!! ;D ), so we have a LOT of work to do.

Learning about the past really does interest me. It also puts things into perspective.

When I complain about the cable conking out once again, I need to remember be thankful that I live in a house with electricity.

When I complain about the the price of gas, I need to remember be thankful that I don't have to use a horse and buggy to get where I want to go.

When I complain about cleaning the toilet, I need to remember be thankful that I don't have to go to the outhouse in the middle of the night, or worse, empty the chamber pots.

When I complain about many modern life inconveniences, I need to remember be thankful that I live in time and in a culture where I am free, I have the right to vote, the right to own property in my name, the right to post my opinions openly, the ability to work, to get world-class medical and dental care, the ability to read and learn, the ability and right to be educated.

There are many people living in this world today who live in conditions that would have been thought primitive to those ancestors in the pictures above. And I thank those ancestors, and the sacrifices they made, and the courage they had, that I live in a time and culture where I can complain about cable TV, the price of gas and cleaning the toilet. I promise to try to think of them before I do so however!

P.S. sorry for the poor picture quality - I couldn't get the scanner to work, but I will try again and replace these if I can with better images.

My new workout plan

Gym membership for the year: $480

New running shoes: $125

Workout clothes: $68

The knowledge that hours spent in the gym are completely useless when it comes to being fit enough to spend two days on your hands and knees chipping up peel-and-stick tile flooring: PRICELESS.

And it wasn't even my floor. Sigh.


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