Friday, March 27, 2015

Spring Breakin'

The English Festival last Friday was a huge success and worth all of the stress--thank you all for the good vibes you sent my way! Our walking week got off to a slow start, though. As soon as the Festival was over, I had to rush home to get Soth to the vet for his checkup and vaccinations. I took Barley out for a quick mile-loop around the neighborhood, and then we snuggled up for the rest of the evening.

The weather hasn't been great here this week--the sunny days have been insanely cold, the warmer days have been rainy--but we've logged 25.54 miles this week and got to visit three different parks this week.

Geneva State Park
We got to spend some time at our closest park while I satisfied my donut craving. The skies were beautifully blue and the sun was shining, but there was wind and it was 23 degrees. We got a great walk in, though, and enjoyed seeing how much of the ice has melted. We also had the entire park to ourselves, so overall it was a great walk even if it was frigid!

Barley really wanted to go chase those silly geese.

The ice had pushed up under this thing and made it all tilted.

It was a big change from the completely snow covered roads and invisible trails we had the first week of March!

Holden Arboretum
This is our absolutely favorite place in the world. Barley knows all of the turns to get there and whines at each one. I'm pretty sure she could get just about anyone in the world to the Arboretum with all of the directions she gives from the backseat! We got to visit the Guardians of the Garden sculpture and most of our favorite paths were free of ice and weren't too muddy. 

Barley and I did have a little battle of wills on the boardwalk when we went to check out the creek because she was super excited there was still snow and ice and I was not as excited to slip and slide all the way down to the partially frozen creek. It was still ridiculously cold, but I layered for appropriately and we didn't have the wind coming off of the lake, so it was a very pleasant walk. 

Of course, Barley did get a little worked up when we saw more Canada Geese--her grandpa let her "herd" them out of my parents' old backyard, so she requires a little more management around geese than she does around other creatures. Unfortunately for me, the geese were on the other side of a gate that I had to close and a certain crazy dog lunged for geese while I was trying to do that and made me slam my hand in the gate. I'm pretty sure the geese planned that as revenge for the torment my dad and Barley used to cause together.

Chagrin River Park
This is another of our favorite parks because even though it's usually well populated with lots of dogs, their owners are almost always responsible. They follow the leash laws and they give us plenty of space when Barley and I pull off the trail to let them pass. They don't try to insist on letting our dogs meet or talk on their phones while remaining completely oblivious to the fact that their dog is getting closer and closer to my dog. It's a great place for Barley and I to practice her reactions to other dogs without having to be too worried about having a terrible experience.

We also love this park because there are a lot of deer. For some reason, the deer are rarely scared of Barley. Once upon a time, Barley got ridiculously worked up over deer. There was one day when I was on a rail trail near my parents' old house and a deer hopped across the trail into the woods; Barley sat down and started barking her head off--of course, we were around a curve so all of the people walking in our direction hadn't seen the deer and probably thought I just had a psycho dog that was sitting in the middle of the trail losing her mind. I had to squat down in front of her and put her in a bear hug just to get her to calm down enough to keep walking. After lots of practice, Barley's gotten to the point where she doesn't care about deer at all. She likes to look at them, but I don't even need treats to get her to pass them on the trail (although I do occasionally reinforce her good behavior with some snacks so she doesn't change her mind about how uninteresting the deer are). Now, when we see deer, so usually stops to pose with them.

I thought the littlest one that was closest to us was going to creep up sniff Barley because it kept inching closer and closer. I'm not sure how Barley would have reacted to that, but since every single commercial break I get on Hulu is that Android commercial, I've been dying for Barley to have a weird animal friend! A few minutes after we took these pictures and moved on, we saw another dog coming down the trail behind us and the deer scattered, so it's kind of cool to know that don't just hang out and pose for pictures with every dog that comes down the trail.

I can't believe Spring Break is almost over already, but I'm glad that we got a chance to visit a couple of the parks we hadn't been to since November. It's currently snowing again, but we're only expected to get about half an inch, so hopefully we can survive this lingering bit of a winter! Hope everyone else has had more Springy conditions to enjoy, too!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tuesday's Tomes: Young Adult Lit

It seems like ages since I finished The Girl on the Train, but I haven't made much progress with the 2015 Reading Challenge since then. Lest anyone think that I've not been reading, here's quick update on what's been on my reading list lately.

Last Friday, I mentioned that my life has been consumed by the Middle School English Festival. Now, it's time to start planning for next year's, so my reading list has also been consumed by young adult literature. We had an excellent reading list that the kids really connected with this year, so now the pressure's on to have an equally interesting list this year. 

Over the last couple weeks, I've made my way through seven young adult novels and have a few more on the nightstand for the near future.

Asylum by Madeleine Roux. One of the kids' favorite books this year was Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and Asylum fits into the same category, so when I came across it while browsing at Barnes and Noble, I had to pick up a copy. Roux uses photos of old mental asylums and tells the story of a group of high schoolers who go to a summer camp on a college campus; they find themselves staying in a dorm that used to be an old mental asylum and are haunted by the experiments that used to take place there. They start to learn more about themselves and their families as they start exploring the basement of the building. The pictures help make the story really creepy and I think the characters are ones the kids would respond to well as they come from a variety of backgrounds but still end up forming a strong friendship.

Sanctum by Madeline Roux. We'd never assign a second book in a series for the reading list, but the committee does like series since kids are more likely to keep reading if they get hooked on the series. I was intrigued by Asylum, so when I found out that the sequel was only $4.99 in the Kindle store, I had to download that one, too, and see what happened next. The characters are still haunted by their experiences and return to the campus for a college tour to confront their "ghosts." I don't think the kids would be disappointed if they continued with this series.

Mosquitoland by David Arnold. Amazon recommended this one to me. The summary sounded interesting--and bonus points: the main character was traveling to Cleveland, and the kids always seem to like when the books are set in familiar territory. I really enjoyed reading about Mim's journey and the interesting characters she met on her bus trip. Unfortunately, there was a lot of profanity in the book, so even though it was a good story and I couldn't put it down, I can't recommend it for our list since the parents of 7th & 8th graders might not appreciate the language.

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. I do not enjoy dystopian literature, but the kids do. Amazon recommended this one to me, too, and since it was immediately available as an ebook from the local library, I checked it out. I was surprised by how much I loved this one. A kid sees his father killed by an Epic (basically super villains who have come to take over Earth) and spends his whole life plotting revenge on Steelheart until he's 18 and old enough to join the Reckoners who have plans to take down the Epics. It was like a dystopian story + a super hero story and I loved it. I was sad that the second book in the series wasn't immediately available from the library. I've been on the waiting list for about 3 weeks and I've been fighting the urge to buy it--but it seems silly to buy the second book in a series when I don't own the first one.

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay. I can't remember where I heard about this one, but it sounded like one the kids would really enjoy. A young girl has a traumatic experience--they don't tell you what it is until the middle of the book--and switches to a new school; she doesn't speak at all and all of her new classmates are scared of her. Except for one, who has lost his entire family. They start to help each other heal. I had to rush through this book because I got it through the interlibrary loan through the campus library and they only gave me a week! I enjoyed the story a lot and though the kids would love the characters, but again there was a lot of language and a scene where the characters are at a party and have a conversation about the best way to make a bong--so we'll have to stay away from this one, too.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer. This is another one that seems to have been recommended by a lot of different sources. It wasn't exactly my style of book--a little more sci-fi than I usually read, but I think it's a great contender for next year's list. It's a retelling of Cinderella where the main character is a Cyborg and treated as less-than-human by her guardian and one of her stepsisters as well as the rest of her city. The world is on the verge of war with the Lunars who live on the moon. I enjoyed it, but I'm not dying to get the next book in the series--the kids would probably be very excited by this book, though.

Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick. The last book I finished was my absolute favorite. It was about Truly, a middle school girl whose father was in the military, so she'd spent her life moving around. Combine that with the fact that she was almost 6-feet tall and you have a character who never felt like she fit in anywhere. Then she moves into a house near her cousin who was her best friend and finally felt like she had everything she ever wanted, but when her dad loses an arm in his last tour, her world is turned upside down. Her dad turns into Silent Man and they move to a small New England town to take over her grandparents' bookstore. Truly finds an unexpected group of friends and a letter she finds in an old used book turns them into sleuths as they try to solve the mystery presented by the letter. I'm not sure the kids will like this one--it's very innocent compared to the others even though it touches on some big issues like bullying, and those books always seem to pale in comparison to the dystopian stuff the kids are so into.

The festival committee and I will probably meet in about 3 weeks to discuss possible books for next year's reading list, so I've got a few more to work through. As good as some of these books have been, I'm very much looking forward to getting back to books I want to read. I'm always open to suggestions of possible festival books, so what are you favorite books from middle school? If you have middle school children, what are they reading now?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Almost Black & White Sunday

Earlier this week, I saw signs that the donut place that's been in business since 1938 in the tourist section of town was open on weekends. Most everything by the lake closes up from September to April. I rarely go down to that part of town because it's mostly gift shops, arcades, and places that sell fair-type food. But these donuts are to die for. In the summer when we have company, Barley and I will take our guests to the State Park where we have a .75-mile walk to the donut shop and then we come back to the park and eat them at a picnic table overlooking the lake. You can smell the donuts before you can see the sign for the shop. It's heaven. I don't even like cake donuts (I grew up on Krisy Kreme), but these donuts are incredible and I've been waiting for months to get my hands on a sprinkle donut.

Since it was a bright, sunshiny day when we woke up, I decided that Barley and I should go pick up some donuts and then go for a walk beside the lake. It was only in the 20s (isn't it supposed to be spring?), so I saved the donuts for home, but we got in a great 2.7-mile walk now that the trails are clear again.

We've waited for so long to have blue skies again that it seemed wrong to eliminate that bit of color from our pictures, so today's pictures are mostly black and white.

Thanks to Sugar the Golden Retriever and Dachshund Nola for hosting the Black and White Sunday blog hop!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Stress Relief

Normally, I write our FitDog Friday updates while I drink coffee on Friday mornings when I'm not rushed and can reflect on the progress we've made during the week.

This week, though, I'll be herding 289 middle schoolers around my campus as they come to the English Festival I organize each year. The kids will go to three different writing and reading related workshops like a writing contest, literature and music, and sessions on books they've read. I'll be trying to avoid the middle school cooties and scents of pre-teens who haven't learned about deodorant yet. I'll probably be on my 6th cup of coffee by the time many of you read this and will have run up and down the stairs in the building at least 20 times. I'll be counting down the minutes until I can take a nap. 

So, I'm writing this on Thursday night as I try to ignore all of the possible things that could go wrong tomorrow morning (in past years, it's been things like a major snow storm causing one of the schools to close and the presenter of one of the sessions to not be able to show up, so I had to reschedule 75 kids at the last minute; other years, it's been more minor things like having two sessions scheduled to be in the same room and having to find a new spot for one of them 15 minutes before kids headed to their sessions). Right now, it seems like this year's stress came early and hopefully I got it out of the way during the planning and scheduling process.

Because of all of the stress of this week, Pup and I went out for a lot of walks. I had to spend a lot of time sitting as I filled out schedules for each kid and then put together folders for them. Barley gave me a great excuse to take breaks and get moving.

We've gotten 2 walks in each day this week, except for Monday because it was raining when I got home from work and we'd already met our daily goal during our morning walk. We logged 25.72 miles this week!

The park near our training center is officially snow and ice free. We also saw our deer friends again (although they were hiding behind a lot of trees), so I guess they survived running out onto the thinning ice on the river last week.

We're loving being able to take some sunset walks after work and agility class again.

The big excitement of the week came at 10:30 Wednesday night when I glanced at my thermostat, which was set at 68 degrees, and saw that it said 64 degrees and I realized that my heat was not working. I have a great little space heater that you can set to a specific temperature and it will go into rest mode if the room reaches that temperature and only cut back on if it goes below that temperature. I pulled it out of it's hiding spot and set it up in the bedroom because I just didn't have the energy to deal with calling maintenance and having them send someone to my apartment in the middle of the night. Barley and Soth made a little nest in the bed and were kind enough to let me snuggle in with them. It's a good thing Barley walked so much this week because she was extra sleepy and snuggly and Soth isn't quite big enough to be sufficient body heat in situations like this!

The maintenance people came while I was at work and I'm happy to report that we're warm and happy again. 

Hope everyone has had happy productive FitDog Fridays. Enjoy spending some time with your pups for me because I'll be apart from my girl several hours longer than usual (but once I get through the Festival, I'm on spring break for a week!), so I'm sure we'll both be having a little separation anxiety. I'll be looking forward to catching up on your posts after my nap :)

Also, be sure to send my sister some love--she's running the Shamrock Half Marathon this weekend!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

I Never Thought I'd Say This . . .

. . . but I almost miss the snow.

I know that I've spent the last couple weeks celebrating the thaw and the warmer temperatures, but sometimes you don't know what you've til it's gone, right?

I don't really want to get snow again--I love seeing the sun again. I love not having to skate from my front door to the dumpster. I love being able to wear the pair of shoes I plan to teach in to school instead of having to wear practical shoes to get across the parking lot and then change them in my office. I love spending less time putting on layers to be able to walk than I actually spend walking. Spring can stay.

But there are two big reasons I miss the snow.

Poop. My neighbors are gross. The sidewalks weren't shoveled once this winter, so Barley and I walked in the street. But my neighbors let their dogs out in front of their homes and let them poop and never cleaned it up. So now that the snow and ice is gone, the sidewalks are walkable again--except they are covered in poop. Some of it is flattened from being under layers of snow and ice for two months. Some of it looks relatively fresh. Barley and I are still finding ourselves walking the street for large sections of our walk. It's disgusting and I can't enjoy the birds and the sun and the blue sky when I'm busy watching my step and dodging land mines.

Barley wants to make rude faces at our neighbors. I do, too.

Other dogs. Barley agrees with me on this one. We had the entire neighborhood--limited as it was--to ourselves for 2.5 months. We didn't see other people or other dogs or even birds and squirrels. The first time we saw people out in their yards this month, Barley started growling. Other dogs on trails are fine. Barley doesn't expect to see them in specific spots, so it's easy to get her focused on me. In our neighborhood, though, she knows where every single dog lives and looks for them every single time we walk by. In the winter, they are never ever out, so we can relax a little more and I still say, "What's that?" when we walk by and she looks for them, but I don't have to reinforce with treats as often. In the spring, we have to go back to square one and start treating every time she even thinks she needs a dog. It's hard to get back into that after a couple months of it just being us in our world.

"I think something has dared to enter my kingdom! Off with it's head!"

Her nemesis, Zoe--a boxer mix, has reappeared. When I first got Barley, Zoe was very good about staying in her yard. There is a track around her yard from where she would run circles around the house barking like crazy, but never leaving her yard. In the last year, Zoe has started leaving her yard to get to Barley. When the kids are out, they grab her and bring her up onto the porch before we get anywhere close. If the adults are outside, they just stand there and watch as I try to get their dog away from Barley. (Is it just me or is there something wrong with that picture?) This week, Zoe was out on her own--I told her to stay and praised her when she stopped at the edge of the sidewalk (and we had moved to the other side of the road) and a neighbor across the street meandered down to the end of his driveway in case she tried to approach us.

Yesterday, we were out enjoying a beautiful sunny walk. Then I heard shouting. I had a hoodie on and didn't have great peripheral vision, so I turned around just in time to see a large dog darting through traffic towards us. A young guy was chasing him. I had my Spray Shield, but I couldn't spray the dog and send him back out into traffic, so I had Barley sit while I still had time to get her focus before the dog got to us. She was fine while it sniffed her back and tail, but as soon as it tried to sniff her face she snapped. Then the dog started circling us and snapping--luckily, the guy made it to us at that same moment and the dog started dodging him instead. As soon as he had the dog's collar, we took off. Barley had her tail and ears down and had lost all the pep in her step. Then a minute later a dump truck pulled up alongside the sidewalk and made lots of noise. Barley basically shut down. When we got home, she went right into the spare bedroom and curled up in the bed. I couldn't even get her to get out of the bed to go potty before I went to work. By the time I got home, she was back to her normal self and we got a nice little walk on a different route, so she's fine now. But it's exhausting.

Snuggling with Soth is much more pleasant that dealing with other dogs.

I'm so happy to have sunshine again and I love having more time to walk in the evening, but I'm not very good at sharing the neighborhood with other living things.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Two Barleys?

In the past, I might have mentioned that I organize an English Festival for local middle school students each spring. It's a fun experience, but it's also stressful to get workshop facilitators, a storyteller, awards, book quizzes, and then register 300 middle schoolers for their top choices of sessions. Most of the year, there's not much work other than choosing the next year's book lists, but at the end of February, chaos starts to break loose for about 3 weeks.

So, when I saw that one of the local wine bars in town was having another paint your pet's portrait Cork and Canvas night on Friday, I decided that was the perfect excuse to set aside 2.5 hours for myself during this crazy time.

Back in November, I did Soth's picture. That meant that Barley girl was my model for this session.

Choosing a picture was one of the hardest parts of the whole experience. Barley's such a good little Tyra Banks that there were just way too many to choose from. I knew I wanted to use one of our leaf pictures from the fall because they just made me happy and fall is my favorite time of year, so the one that looked like it would work best for the painting was this one:

You send the picture to the teacher a week before the class and then she uses some special paper to transfer an outline of the pet onto the canvas--if we had to take the time to draw the pets ourselves, we'd need much longer than the 2.5 hour session! I sent a couple extra pictures just in case she didn't think this one would work, but luckily she liked it best, too.

When I got to class, Barley's outline was on the canvas ready to be painted. I forgot to take a picture at first, so I'd already started painting--but this is close to what I started with.

Our teachers says you should get the eyes and nose down first since that will really be what tells us that it's "our" pet and not just any pet. Then she says you can do whatever you want to next and just go wild adding textures. I'm not good at letting go and being wild--I guess it's the editor in me. I'm very controlled--and I get so focused on the painting that I don't even remember to drink my glass of wine to loosen up a bit!

With Soth's portrait, I was crazy stressed. I got my nice white cat painted and then the teacher told me to add shading--and showed me with one spot. In a matter of seconds, my beautiful white cat had grey on him and I had a meltdown. He looked grungy and not like my cat who is obsessed with being clean. Then I kept adding more shading and all of the sudden he wasn't grungy, he was my beautiful boy.

With Barley's portrait, I wasn't all that worried about making it look like Barley. In real life, she kind of looks like Picasso put her together with her tiny head, her fluffy chest, her tiny waist, and her crazy tail, so if she looked a little wacky in the painting, it would just capture her spirit.

This picture was really fun because I got to blend a lot of colors. I blended all of the colors for her browns, for her tongue, for the shine on her nose, and for leaves. There's something very relaxing about smearing colors around on a palate trying to get the ones you need. I was excited that the teacher drew in a few of the leaves because with Soth there were no extra elements (not that I had any extra time to do anything but him).

There was a time crunch at the end, so the background looks choppier and messier than I would have made it--but I actually kind of like it. It makes it more texture-y and grass-like I think.

Girlfriend decided she didn't want to sit and pose like the portrait, but I think she's pretty impressed with her likeness. 

It was a really fun experience and I'm so looking forward to doing it again! Have you ever painted a portrait of your pets? How did they turn out? 

Friday, March 13, 2015

When Mother Nature Smiles

The last few weeks, we've been lucky to just get out for a walk. First, there were the bitter temperatures and the thigh-high piles of snow. Then, there was the thick layer of ice covering our whole entire world.

Then, magically, Mother Nature decided she loved us. The sun came out. The temperatures rose. The ice melted.

On Sunday, we got a nice stroll in at the State Park. There was actually a little bit of a trail visible (a big change from a few days earlier). We got a second walk in at the park on Monday as Barley's reward for being a good girl while getting her nails trimmed at the vet. We splashed in some puddles, but we'll take that over ice any day. There was still a little snow for the Abominable Snow Pup to enjoy.

There were also a few clear sections of the beach, so we got to extend our walk a little farther. Barley loved getting to smell new smells and kick up some sand.

The later sunsets gave us a chance to get out for a walk after agility class, too. We saw a few deer--and accidentally scared them out onto the semi-frozen river--and the trails were 100% clear of snow and ice and there were very few puddles. Barley was happy that she could trot through the snow along the trails, too.

After a few nice neighborhood walks, too, we ended the week with 23.95 miles, which puts us at 143 miles for the year. We've still got some ground to make up, but it feels like we're getting back on track. Happy FitDog Friday everyone!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tuesdays Tomes: The Girl on the Train

When Amazon recommended Paula Hawkins' The Girl on the Train to me, I was excited. The book sounded good and Amazon said if you loved Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, you'd love this book. I can't say that I loved Gone Girl--it was disturbing and scary and not the type of book I usually read, but I also couldn't put it down and I was looking forward to having a book that consumed me for days.

So, I chose The Girl on the Train for my book that's currently on the bestseller list (so did pretty much everyone else doing the challenge according to Pinterest). When I started reading it, it was #1 on the list when I ordered it (and it still is now). 

While half of me was excited to read the book, the other half of me was wary. 1) I've never been a "best sellers" kind of girl. I tend to find best sellers predictable and they often lack original characters and any depth. I usually can't relate to the characters--especially when it comes to "chick lit." I make a few exceptions for Nicholas Sparks books (hey, everyone needs their guilty pleasures--plus, somebody usually dies and to paraphrase Billy Collins, if you major in English, you're basically majoring in death) and Jodi Picoult books. 2) Gone Girl set the bar high for books in this genre for me. 3) It's British and I usually find British books (with the exception of Mark Haddon and some Ian McEwan books) really boring.

I was in full on hibernation mode for two straight weeks with the frigid cold, though, so I didn't hesitate to get started when my Amazon package arrived. 

The premise of the book intrigued me. A woman rides the same train every day. Every day, she sees the same people in their yard and they seem happier than she is, so she creates this backstory for them and makes up names for them. She imagines what their lives are like. When she sees objects, like a pile of clothing, along the tracks, she comes up with stories for how it got there. I could absolutely relate to this. 

The story was also divided up between three different voices: Rachel (suddenly this is sounding wrong? is that really her name?), the girl on the train; Megan, the woman whose story Rachel has imagined; and Anna, the new wife of Rachel's ex-husband. I love books that switch between points of view from chapter to chapter, so another check in the pro column. I could have stood for a little more variation between the voices--sometimes I wouldn't remember whose chapter I was in until I looked at the subtitle again. 

The downside was that I could put it down. I didn't mind when it was time to get up and go for a walk or grade some papers. I had no trouble walking away from it. 

There were also a lot of ambiguous pronouns. And I get it. They couldn't use names in some of the sections or the mystery would be lost. They needed to keep the options for the culprit wide open and using names would have ruined that. But ambiguous pronouns is a pet peeve of mine--there are ways to make a character distinct without giving away their identity completely and I was annoyed that this book didn't do that; instead it was just "he" this, "he" that--and he could have been any person in the whole entire country of England instead of a very specific "he" who shared similarities with the other suspects.

I also thought it was predictable. I guessed the twist early on in the book. I won't say anymore on that since my sister's not done with it and if she hasn't guessed yet, I don't want to give anything away! (But it didn't take me too long to figure out who "he" was.)

Overall, I'm glad I read it. I'm sure it will be one that becomes a movie and it's a book that probably all of my non-English major friends will have read, so it will give us some common ground--and that very rarely happens! If you like suspense and you liked Gone Girl, this would be worth a read. This could have easily gone into the category of a genre I don't typically read, though, so my opinion definitely shouldn't sway you from reading it if you were interested in it--you might find it impossible to put down if it's your type of book.

The Girl on the Train is book #5 of 12 for the reading challenge. I feel like I've powered through the first few categories. I haven't decided which to tackle next--I've been reading a lot of YA lit since I finished this one (more on that later). Now that we're at midterm, I have more reading for prepping for classes now, so until spring break in two weeks, I won't have a whole lot of free time to tackle new categories. Hope everyone else can enjoy some leisure reading so I can live vicariously through you for the next couple weeks!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Barley Drew and the Case of the Solar Thief

Recently, a few things have gone missing around here and Barley is on the case. Being a herding dog, not much gets by Barley, but this thief is a sneaky one.

Yesterday, we went up to the State Park for an evening stroll to celebrate the later sunset. Barley was shocked to see that someone had stolen some of her snow!

This stuff feels weird under my feet. Who took my snow?

I hate to tell Barley this, but I'm hoping that the thief keeps the snow. That's one thing I'm not in any hurry to find.

Today, I got home from work and couldn't find Soth anywhere (but I knew nobody took him because they'd have returned him before they even got out of the apartment complex). He wasn't hiding in the closet or snuggled up in the blankets on the bed. He wasn't in any of his four cat beds or Barley's bed. He wasn't in spare room. I was starting to panic thinking that he'd somehow slipped out of the house when I left for work. 

Then I heard a jingle.

My little handsome was basking in the sunshine behind the curtains. He yawned, stretched, batted at me, and then went back to sleep.

I'm hoping our culprit sticks around for a while. Case Closed.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Is that a . . .

. . . TRAIL?!

Barley and I ended our afternoon with a short stroll at the lake. The last .1-mile of the trail where there are no trees to cast shade across the trail was completely free of snow and ice (although it had its fair share of puddles). Quite a change from earlier in the week!

We're loving this warmer weather and the later sunsets! Thank you, thank you, Mother Nature!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Trekking Through the Tundra

Our world has turned into an ice cube. We got a little bit of snow at the beginning of the week, but the temperatures warmed up to almost 40 on Tuesday--the only problem is that it rained all day on Tuesday. So when the temperatures dropped again on Wednesday and Thursday, our world got covered in a sheet of ice

We did manage to get into the double digits with our mileage this week--finally--and hit 10.44 miles. Even though the mileage isn't much to brag about, we're considering this week a success. 

On Monday, the sun was shining brightly, so even though it was only 25 degrees out, we headed up to the State Park. I kept hearing about the insane amount of ice covering Lake Erie, so I wanted to see it for myself.

I wasn't sure what to expect. The trails at the State Park aren't groomed in the winter, and I know there would be at least a foot of snow and ice covering the trails, but sometimes we're able to walk on the roads through the park instead. I figured it was worth the 5 minute drive to the park, though, so I rushed home after work, bundled up, and we hopped in the car.

Our normal parking lot had a path wide enough for a car plowed through it, but there were only three cleared parking spots--luckily, we were the only ones crazy enough to be there, so we had our pick of spots.
Barley's pretty sure there used to be a trail here.
The roads were plowed enough that we could walk on them even though we didn't have a trail. The park was chilly, but beautiful. The snow along the road was up above Barley's head. We tried to cross one parking lot to get a better view of the lake, but I sunk down past my boots. With all the icy layers, I didn't want Barley getting hurt bounding through it, so we turned around and kept walking on the road.

It doesn't seem like it's been that long since the marina was filled with boats.
We walked about 1.5 miles and then drove over to the other parking lot in the park to see if we could get a better view of the lake from there. The trail was a little better on that side of the park, so we got an additional .5 miles while we enjoyed the icy lake--even though you couldn't really tell where the lake began.

She was so happy I didn't make her wear boots for our short walk.

Even though it felt like we were walking in Antarctica, Barley and I both loved having a chance to get out of the neighborhood and see some new sights for a change. My weather app says there will be several days in the 40s next week, so hopefully we get to expand our world a little more next week, too! 

Happy FitDog Friday! Hope everyone else is seeing the light at the end of this winter tunnel now, too!