Friday, April 27, 2007

Dream closet

Walk in closet is finished and already full.
The modular closet hardware came in and Dave finished installing it this week. It took me about 2 hours to unpack all those clothes that had been stored in boxes and fill it up. I can give new meaning to "build it and they will come". I have a few pictures taken as the filling was in operation.
As you can see, I have lots of hanging and shelving space. Eventually, we will also have a linen closet in the bathroom and perhaps one for bedding at the end of the hallway. That will free up some of the shelves. This type of system turned out to be very stable and I am quite happy that we decided on it rather than having units built.

On another note, the walk in shower tile is being grouted today and I will get the final shots of it. Quite a process with the waterproofing and tiling. That will only leave the ceiling to finish, but we believe we can use it even before that step. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mud Season

Maple Sugaring

Maple Sugar Sunday is very big in Maine drawing large crowds.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Asheville Adventures with Monster Milos - Episode 4

The trip home - weather forecasts continue to be for a huge Northeaster. Packing up in the morning, we took off on our 20 hour trek back to the north country. Probably the scenery was just as nice as on the route down, but we couldn't tell you. Fog, sleet, rain and WIND pretty well camouflaged it for us. We plowed on, getting soaked at each potty stop and marveling over the gusts that waved the van around the road.
Mid-morning we passed Blacksburg, VA with no inkling of what was about to happen there in the near future. On we plowed until the weather really got ugly and we really got hungry about 1/2 way through the corner of NY. So, we pulled over at a truck stop and called our daughter-in-law for a weather report while grabbing a bite. "Snow and freezing rain" -- better get a room.
So, we stayed at a Motel 8 - great, except for the 3rd floor room and the shaky elevator. First trip - no problem, all four into the little box. Milos wasn't thrilled at the slippery tile floor, but Sophie was with him.

Then the door slides shut and the box jolts to a start! PANIC! The world is coming to an end and we are stuck in this little box! Bounces to a halt and we are released into a hallway. WHEW! Everyone (canine and human) was exhausted and hit the beds (the dogs each had a chicken leg that I had sneaked out of the truckstop in a napkin - both must be losing weight).

Next morning around 6 am, they can hold it no longer. Up, on with the sweats - a peek out the window shows more downpours - on with the boots, the raincoat. Trotting off and all is well with the world... until....
Mom wants us in that dangerous box again - NO WAY! Sophie hesitantly gets in the elevator. Milos bulks. I am holding the door which is trying its best to close. Coax Milos onto his feet and he starts in, but wait - Sophie bounces back out and that puts a stop to any progress. Deep breath -- by now both are dancing around wondering why we are messing with this stupid machine instead of finding a nice wet grassy area.
Another method - I go in and firmly state: "Gotta go? Come on". Mother nature's call overcomes the anxiety and they both come in. Door closes - Down we go.

When they were thoroughly soaked, but empty - I put them into the van - and went back upstairs to get ready for the final leg of our journey.

We stopped in Wells (our old hometown) for lunch -- flooded roads and wind damage. Up the turnpike (closed to trucks due to the wind which was measured at 74 mph) and home. We were able to get up the slush on the drive thank goodness.

We had some minor damage - one of the solatubes broke from ice expansion. Dave has it covered with a bucket and plastic until the weather breaks and we can get it fixed. He had just mentioned that we needed to put up a weather / snow break above each of those before next winter. It is always the last storms that get you.

Asheville Adventures with Monster Milos - Episode 3

The Big Day - Saturday
Its morning and he will show in the Novice Class.
I drove him down to the arena (indoor soccer fields) in the van. It wasn't hot - as a matter of fact, it looks like rain - we hear there is a major Northeaster on the way. I walked him around using some of the techniques that everyone has been advising. He does respond better, but is a long way from being able to go with me into the ring. We nearly scared the hair off one young leo when they unexpectedly appeared behind a car. I had no idea what I had on my hands - there is going to need to be major changes in our methods of training when we return to Maine.

I brush him out in the van as the show begins and the Youth classes finish - Novice is next. On with the collar and leash and into the arena - Hup, Two - I scoot him past the other dogs with minor snarls and hand him off to the brave handler. Then I must disappear since we decided it would be best for him to not be able to see me or David (or smell Sophie). I had promised to help prepare his dogs for the next classes. He is off to the ring.....

About 10 minutes into the judging (Swedish judge - Petra Junehall ), chaos! Dogfight - my stomach drops to the floor. It must be the testosterone-boy. I am devastated - but, NO! Here comes a friend with the news that it isn't Milos at all, but two others. He is just standing there looking astounded and being calm as can be. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. It was a long class with several other growls, but he showed very well. Took third place, too. (the winner of his class actually took Best of Show - so the competition was stiff).

What does it mean? He isn't the problem (other than being a teenager) - We are.

Relief - we are having dinner with my cousin who resides just outside of Asheville. Very nice to get away and to see them if even for a short time. Tomorrow we head into the storm.

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Asheville Adventures with Monster Milos - Episode 2

It's Friday morning - one more day before Milos is scheduled for the ring. At least we got a decent nights sleep until about 5:30 before the whining began.
The day's Plan - Walk the "boy" to the show venue and work with him to obtain something that resembles control.

The day's Reality - HELP - I need Cesar Milan! I walked him around a fairly open area, but if anything larger than a beagle came by (pretty much covers all 200 dogs present), alarms were raised. I had to leave as he disturbed the obedience trials - how very very embarrassing!

One of the main reasons for this trip was to have Milos evaluated for Breeding. The LCA performs a total BACL (A BACL is a Breeding Acceptability Check List Evaluation. It is a tool the LCA uses to give your dog a rating based on twelve areas including health, conformation, and temperament. The dogs are given a rating based on their score. This rating, and the detailed feedback is used by breeders to select a dog that compliments the bitch for the betterment of the breed.) If interested, you can see the Instructions for a BACL.
We did get this completed and as soon as I submit his pictures, he will be finished with that process.

The evening ended with a great meal followed by a Memorial video of the dogs we have lost this year, and a Therapy Parade which Sophie took part in. She received a "Share the Love" certificate and was a very proud gal.
This year Sophie turned 8 which makes her a Veteran already also.

We may have a solution for Monster Milos - another owner has volunteered to take him into the ring. David S. is a great handler and understands that Milos just doesn't respect us as his Alphas enough to respond in the ring.
Tomorrow is the Big Day - if he does well, we will know that the monster was made by us and not by his DNA!

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Asheville Adventures with Monster Milos - Episode 1

The Leonberger Club of America held their National Specialty in Asheville, NC this year. This is a trip that we figured we could make from remote Maine - next two years will see it in the western states. So, the planning and reservations were made; both dogs groomed; everything packed; the thermostats set to 50 degrees and we were off on an adventure.

The trip down was beautiful - if long. Maine, NH, MA, CT, NY, TN, WV, VA: those were the states we drove in the first 15 hour day. Through the valleys and over the mountains watching the snow piles shrink and flowers begin to appear. It was even uneventful driving through the Hartford, Waterbury, Danbury areas of CT. View our trip and click on the links.
We stopped at a Motel 6 in Harrisonburg, VA. These are great for travelers and pets as they only charge a $10 pet fee. This one had a large field available for walking - which would have been great except for the rainy night.

Now, Sophie doesn't travel much and Milos get so bored. Neither of them would eat any dinner and no one liked the doggy-bathroom-facilities. Into bed around 11 PM with hopes of a good rest. Milos out at midnight; Sophie out at 2 AM; Sophie (Nervous Nelly) got stomach cramps around 4:30 AM and I sat with her until around 6:30 when we actually started day two.

It was 5.5 hours from Harrisonburg to the show in Asheville which was held at the Crowne Plaza Resort. We rolled in around noon ready for showers, only to be told check-in wasn't until 4 PM -- grrrrr. Off to Pizza Hut for lunch and back to the parking lot to walk the dogs. There were Leos everywhere and it looked like the time to get out our two furry friends. Excitement - Fun - Games - Showing (at least this is what Dave and I thought). Strange Boy Dogs - Good smelling Girl Dogs - Dangerous Times - New surroundings: this is a job not for "Marvelous Milos" but for "Monster Milos". How deep can he growl? How hard can he lunge? How many people and dogs can he frighten? Testosterone Bursts! Where or where did my little dog go?

We walked him around trying to maintain some semblance of order and at least look like we knew what we were doing. The beast at the end of the leash - ever alert for dangers around the next bush or door. This is going to be a challenge. Our room is on the second floor and you must go through 3 sets of fire doors to get there. Milos is certain that there will be an attack on the other side of each one and therefore, they must be approached with a snarl and a pull. By mid afternoon, I am sure the word has spread throughout the show that there is a Maine Monster in attendance. Thank goodness for leo-people, and their understanding and willingness to help.

David took both dogs to the room to calm down and I attended a seminar on the Canine Genome Mapping Project being done at MIT and Harvard (presented by K. Linblad-Toh: Lindblad-Toh, K, et al. (2005). Genome sequence, comparative analysis and haplotype structure of the domestic dog. Nature 438, 803-819.) They are starting to see results which which is exciting for the health of not only dogs, but also people in areas of osteosarcoma, hemiosarcoma, thyroidism and more. Following the seminar, dinner was a southern BBQ where we met up with old friends and put many faces to email addresses. One more potty-run and it was off to bed for night two.

Wonder which Milos will wake in the morning?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Back in the ring

It is Spring on the calendar - although not necessarily out the window as reported earlier. Spring means dog shows for Milos - this year's leonberger national is in Asheville, NC and we are making a family trip out of it. Leonbergers are now in the process of becoming AKC (a long story that I won't give my opinion on) - and the breed specialties are probably in for a change. It is nice that this year is on the eastern side of the Mississippi. So, we are on the road this week. I have a first cousin living in the area and hope to see him. Living in Maine, keeps us away from reunions way too often.

Milos is entered in Novice, but I really go for the friendship and festivities. The New England Regionals are in CT - early May. I have made reservations, but am not certain I will make the trip. We'll see.

What's up with the house? The weather has us back to building fires in the Tulikivi - cozy. The tile are all in for completing the walk-in shower. Now, to decide on the type of wood for the ceiling - anyone with suggestions? please click comment below.

I think we may begin some work with wood and put the rest of the floors on hold. We'll see - there is also the need for a fence around the front. I hope to not need to make the trek to the dog pen next winter (not my favorite part of a Maine winter) - but Milos is too much of a wanderer (he like to chase everything including the wind).

Turbo Tagger

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Late April Fools

We woke up to nearly two feet of slimy snow. During the process of cleaning out the driveway, we managed to get both the tractor and the truck stuck for awhile. Perhaps we better rethink our snow removal methods.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The fifth season

It's not called Mud season for nothing! Maine produces prize winning blueberries, maple syrup, potatoes, and an abundance of that gooey Springtime mud.
"Tipicditocreps" -- not a disease, but a soil type (a clay) that is widespread in the state. Certain properties of the clay favor production of the stickiest gooiest mud you have ever encountered.
The snow melts too fast for the soil which remains frozen a few inches down. It can't infiltrate and you get -- MUD! Deep, brown, mud - a prize season for every Leonberger.
So far, I have been able to keep them out, but their run is rapidly deteriorating and I can see it coming. Another great reason for no carpets; better get out the hose.

The current understanding is that certain soil particles have a high affinity for liquid water. As the liquid water around them freezes, these soils draw in liquid water from the unfrozen soils around them. If the air temperature is below freezing but relatively stable, the heat of fusion from the water that freezes can cause the temperature gradient in the soil to remain constant. The soil at the point where freezing is occurring continues to draw in liquid water from the soils below it, which then freezes and builds up into an "ice lens". Depending on the soil's affinity for moisture and amount of moisture available, a significant amount of soil displacement can result.

The earliest known documentation of frost heaving came in the 1600s.
Three conditions are generally necessary for frost heaving to occur:

* freezing temperatures
* a supply of water
* a soil that has:
o the ability to conduct water
o a high affinity for water
o saturation (i.e. the pore spaces are filled with water)
We have all three.
There is a video of some of our mud in Betts Blab - your will need flash, click on the picture.
The orange player is not functioning correctly, but if you click the download link, you can hear the podcast without video.