Maggi

About this time back in late 2005, Wendy and I were out for a drive and she wanted to go look at the SPCA at puppies.  We had just put down Elway the Halloween before because of liver cancer and I was missing having a dog around the house.

We went in looking for puppies and came out with a full sized, rambunctious and rowdy Weimeraner/Retriever cross that had been badly abused.  In the interview room Maggi physically wounded Wendy by jumping all around while Wendy actually said with a straight face that she thought this massive dog would be a good lap dog.

The scene in that interview room at the SPCA reminded me of when two Loonie Toon characters are locked in a room and fighting.  It was hilarious and Maggi came out on top. Then in the line to adopt Maggi, the dog somehow wrestled Wendy to the floor and I remember looking down at Wendy who was flat on her back in the lobby of the SPCA and thinking that this isn’t going to end well.

We took her home and she was confounded by the stairs.  She had never been in a house before.  If you touched her, she would get so excited, she would run off to another part of the house.  If she saw your open hand, she would lay down and cry because she was sure I would hit her.

Slowly she became my dog.  I remember the first time she jumped up on the bed and slept there.  It was a big deal that she trusted me to be that close.  Eventually she realized that no one was going to hit her, stairs could be mastered, and a queen sized bed was just about the perfect size for her to lay on.  Over time she also realized that scaring the pizza delivery guy wasn’t helping her get leftover pizza and chilled out even with strangers.

We went on countless walks to the park and she was never happier than when she had her frisbee.  She ate with the frisbee, slept with the frisbee, went to the bathroom carrying the frisbee, and carried the slimy frisbee to bed.

Maggi with frisbee

She loved to fetch and would do anything to get a frisbee.  She hurdled a merry-go-round once to come up with an errant toss.  She jumped the front of Lee’s car to get another one.  One time two Saskatoon Police Officers stopped just to watch her come down with frisbee after frisbee.  After some tosses, their black police uniforms had blonde dog hair all over them.  They didn’t seem to care.

The one thing that would drive her crazy was fetching snowballs in the yard.  She would tear up all of the snow looking for a ball made of snow.  

Maggi getting a snowball

She would never give up and eventually would bring back any snow as a way to save face.  Of course I would make another snowball and toss it out there and it would start all over again.

Maggi with a stick

Maggi was always a bull in a china shop and we were worried when we brought Oliver home that she would be too aggressive with him who was still two months premature.  I’ll always remember that dog walking extremely slowly across the floor and giving Oliver a little lick before laying down right beside him.  For whatever reason Maggi thought of Oliver as her puppy and was forever overly protective of him.  When he napped, she slept outside his room.  When he played, she always was near.

Wendy and Maggi

Maggi was smart and devious.  She never really accepted sharing a bed with Wendy and was always trying to kick her off.  She would lay beside us and punch Wendy in the head. She would actually uncover Wendy at night while making a nest for herself.  She would also try to push Wendy’s legs out of the bed.  She may have accepted me as the alpha male but she never ever respected Wendy as the alpha female of the pack.  

She liked Wendy and even loved her but never really respected Wendy.  Many times Wendy would get mad at Maggi and she would walk over to me and look back at Wendy with a look of “do something about her.”  That always went over well.

Maggi looking for a ball

This fall she developed a lump on her leg.  We had it tested and it wasn’t cancerous but a fat deposit.  We dealt with that but there was the danger that it could return as cancerous.  In December it did and she started to struggle breathing and walking.  This week I realized she was in an incredible amount of pain.  The lump grew daily and we took her to the vet who told us that it was not only cancerous but had spread to her lungs.  There wasn’t any choice and today we took her to the clinic and I held her as they put her down.

Maggi asleep in the Honda Accord

Maggi and Mark

Let sleeping dogs lie

Maggi and Wendy

Siesta

Goodbye Maggi

Sports Illustrated writer Peter King wrote this about his dog Bailey when he put him down.

I will endure a few weeks of the occasional dark thought, and I will think: ‘Pretty good trade, 159 months of companionship and friendship and unconditional love for one or three months when sadness creeps in. In fact, that’s a fantastic trade.’ I feel the same as when Woody died: The easiest way to not feel this grief is to never have a dog. And what an empty life that would be.

It was a good trade for my family as well.

The Grey Owl’s Expedition Gear Guide

Since we are still planning to do a hike to Grey Owl’s Cabin in June, we have been picking up some gear for the trip.  A lot of people have been asking us what we are taking so here is the quick list of gear that is going.

Backpacks: To carry the gear, we have some frameless backpacks with hip straps.  You can spend a lot of money on these and after reading around, we think we found the right balance between comfort, durability, and price.

NORTH 49® CYCLONE BACKPACKS

If I was walking the Appalachian Trail, I would definitely have purchased a more expensive backpack but it’s only a day and we are only taking so much stuff.  I bought our bags on clearance for $30.  They are 40 litres and have the external straps I want.  They should do the job.

Tents: Wendy and I are staying in a three man tent we bought for $16 from Wal-mart.  They had a loss leader going this winter and we got it then.  It’s light and just big enough for the two of us.   The tent opens up and hopefully we will be able to sleep under the skies rather than under the fly.  If it does look like it could rain, we’ll be fine underneath it.

Ozark Trail Tent

If I was going camping rather than backcountry hiking, we would have gotten something larger and higher quality.  Weight and size are a factor.  Also the price was insanely cheap ($16 on sale).  If it doesn’t last, no harm done but the reviews online were pretty solid.  It’s no where near as durable as a tent from the North Face but then again, it won’t be asked to do much more than keep the mosquitoes or drizzle off of us.

0765159 1

Mark is staying in a one person tent from Eagle’s Camp.  It is small but it will be only him and his bag. Either way it is really light and since Mark will be carrying it in and out, he will appreciate the weight.  We bought some ropes to add as guy wires which opens it up a bit.  It’s small but it is light.

We did waterproof and seal the seams and upgraded the tent pegs to something lighter and more likely to stay in the ground.  If the weather is miserable, we should be okay.

Sleeping bags: Mark had a sleeping bag but Wendy and I wanted new 1.5 pound sleeping bags.  We will have foil covered sleeping foams as well and inflatable camping pillows at well which are small, light, and are more comfortable than our bags.   We also bought some compression straps so the sleeping bags take up as little as room as possible.

For lighting both Mark and Wendy have headlamps and lanterns  We also have tactical flashlights and Nite Ize LED zipper tags on our backpacks so if we wonder out in the dark, we can be seen.

For the kitchen, we have a Primus Classic Trail Stove and Primus fuel canisters.  Stoves have their own fanboy culture which I understand but for the price, it can’t be beaten.  I know this isn’t the stove to use when it’s winter but since we are doing the hike in June, we should be okay.   It also has a five star review on Amazon.com so it seems to be doing the job.

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Coleman also has a propane stove which uses their fuel.  The big advantage was that you can get the propane at almost any store while you need to get fuel for the Primus at a specialty store like Cabela’s, MEC, REI.  The disadvantage of the Coleman stove is the weight of the larger canister and the stove itself.  in the end it made more sense to go with the Primus stove which is small enough to be tucked into our cooking gear.  Of all of the things we have purchased for this hike, the Primus Classic Trail Stove is my favorite.

For backup we have a Magic Heat Stove and canisters.  I picked them up because they were cheap, good for winter travel, and lightweight.  I don’t expect to have to use them but we will take them depending on the weather forecast.  If it is going to be nice, we will leave them but if there is a chance of rain and the idea of fighting with wet wood doesn’t appeal, then we will take the backup stoves.

As for the camp kit, years ago Lee gave Wendy a great camp set.  We picked up three sporks and we are set to go.

As for water, I have talked to a lot of people who had drank right out of Kingsmere Lake with no side affects.  There are giardia warnings about the water so we will have some water filters.  It’s way cheaper using purification tablets but I am told they are disgusting.  Since we are walking along side the lake, we will be using collapsible water bottles to keep weight and volume down.

Food: Basically MRE’s.  We have been to Cabela’s weekly testing out one or two of them each time.  We will eat some snacks on the way in, have a nice dinner (well away from the campground to keep the bears away) and then a big breakfast in the morning on our way out.  Hopefully we get going in time to be back in Waskesiu for a late lunch before heading back to Saskatoon.

Clothes: I went out and invested in some decent hiking shorts and shirts this summer.  As a friend of mine told me that chafing is not something that you will want to do while on the trail.  We also went to Cabela’s and got tested by the Dr. Shoal’s machine for the kind of insoles we all need.  While the custom Dr. Shoals insoles are right there, a row over are competitor insoles designed the same way for a fraction of the cost.  They make hiking boots feel a lot more comfortable and will hopefully make the trip more pleasant.

Technology: We won’t be taking much technology along although we will have a GPS, compact binoculars, and some rugged cameras.  We will have our multi-tools and a hatchet with us but I don’t know if that is considered technology or not.  In case we do get some rain, we have some gadget bags which are essentially waterproof zip lock bags for gear.  It says that you can submerse them but I’d rather not.  What they do a good job of doing is if a tent or bag does leak, your stuff will still be safe.

We bought everything local.  While MEC had a good price on some stuff, by the time we calculated shipping, it was less expensive to get something at Cabela’s and Wholesale Sports.

Let me know if you have some suggestions in the comments below.

Resolved, 2015

Hi 2015, it’s nice to meet you.  Since our relationship is rather new and still optimistic, I thought I would make some goals before I kick you to the curb a year from now.

Hike to Grey Owl’s Cabin

As Wendy noted, we have never done our expedition to Grey Owl’s cabin.  It’s a two day walk into the backwoods of Prince Albert National Park.  It should be a lot of fun.

Explore & photograph some great urban locations

I hate to think of Moose Jaw as a great urban location but it does have some great architecture as does Calgary and Winnipeg.  My camera and I need to do some some travelling and exploring.  Let’s not take too long to reflect on the fact that Moose Jaw has some of the best architecture in Saskatchewan.

It's Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

So the plan is to spend a day photographing and exploring Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, and hopefully a couple of days in Calgary.  Of course I want to do that with a camera but also with the new Ricoh Theta

The Grove in Los Angeles, US – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Make progress on my book

Last year I was sitting in a Saskatoon City Council meeting listening to our finest elected leaders talk about residential snow clearing and then voting on cleaning some of our streets.  At the same time I was following Calgary City Council make plans for taking over the world.

Saskatoon City Council chambers

Since then I have read more about the formation of cities than I care to think of.  Why do some cities turn into Calgary or New York City while others turn into Cleveland, Detroit or Regina?  Why does it feel like we are wasting the boom?  Why do some cities like Saskatoon allow themselves to be defined by low taxes while other cities defined by the quality of life?

Integrate Evernote into my workflow

I have some big plans for Evernote in 2015 but the biggest is incorporating it into my workflow for columns, roundtables, and this blog.

Evernote

I use it right now and find it invaluable but I know I can more with it in the future.

Enjoy 2015 more than 2014

2014 was okay but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to.  Here is to more coffees on patios, more late nights on decks, and more fires in the backyard.

Starbucks Patio

Mark posted his New Year’s resolutions here while Wendy posted her’s over on her weblog.

<blockquote data-width=”500″ data-height=”375″ class=”ricoh-theta-spherical-image” >The Grove in Los Angeles, US – <a href=”https://theta360.com/spheres/samples/8bb1af62-1209-11e4-a751-52540092ec69-1″ target=”_blank”>Spherical Image – RICOH THETA</a></blockquote><script async src=”https://theta360.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

Some Christmas thoughts

After cancelling cable television and therefore taking advertisers out of my kid’s lives, it changes Christmas.  When I asked Oliver what he wanted for Christmas, he asked for one thing and that was “grown up binoculars” which we got him for $10 at Canadian Tire.  He was thrilled.  He uses them all over the house, even while walking.

I asked Mark what he wanted and he said a good book on history or true crime.  

That was it.  Now Mark wanted a lens but it was out of our budget (I got one for him anyways as I get a deal from Pentax & Don’s Photo on some gear) but he never asked for it.

So I am left with two options.  One is that I have two of the greatest kids ever to walk the earth (possible but not probable) or that the removal of television advertising out of their lives has made them less materialistic.  

Of course it isn’t media that does it.  We have Netflix and the kids watch and I watch that a lot but it has no commercials.  No one is telling the kids to “want this” or “want that”.  No “biggest toy of the season” and very little to make them feel insecure that they don’t have something.

As far as news goes, they consume that via websites and while there is video, advertising online seems rather annoying rather than integrated.  Who really cares what is on that banner ad.

I keep hearing parents tell me that their kids are so demanding and consumption orientated and before we jump at the conclusion that these kids are flawed, maybe it is television advertising.  With no one to tell my kids what is cool all of the time and to tell them what they want, they just figure it out themselves.  For Oliver it is binoculars.  For Mark it is The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

The whole thing has made me wonder if for all of the worry we put on peer pressure, if media pressure is what we should be worried about.