Tuesday, March 30, 2010

R & R - Over

We headed out to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic for one week's total relaxation. And we got it in spades! Weather was perfect, hot and sunny. What a shot in the arm to be surrounded by warmth, greenery and flowers everywhere.

Seems the word must be getting out about our favourite resort as it's becoming increasingly popular. This year was odd in that 85-90% of the people at the resort were Canadian, it felt like we were in Cuba instead of the DR! We heard similar percentages about neighbouring resorts from others on our plane.

Being our 6th time to the Dominican Republic, this was strictly a holiday to relax. Terry golfed almost every day while I stretched out by the pool or beach with a good book, swam or walked the grounds or beach. This resort has 9 a la carte restaurants of which several are top notch so we had some really fabulous meals. The Dominican people are really friendly and that goes a long way to making the holiday enjoyable as well.

I found it a great trip to regroup by getting completely away from everything, e-mail, computer, telephone, house, housework, shopping, cooking meals, even the dogs - put it all aside completely so that I can really think unencumbered. This is a better renewal for me than any New Year's resolutions or such like. When we arrived, it was early on the Saturday of final judging of ASSA. I had been following the judging on the days leading up to our trip. I tried to follow it on Saturday in the DR on Terry's blackberry but for the first and only time, we lost connectivity. That was the real start to the holiday and although I did get to see the results eventually the next day, by that time I was in another zone.


Bavaro beach, a long stretch of white sand, clear blue water, no weeds or rocks on the bottom, about as good as it gets.


Part of the pool. At this resort (Paradisus Punta Cana) they took extreme care to keep it very lushly landscaped with lots of trees, shrubs and plants, the grounds are gorgeous. There is lots of shade everywhere, no bare pool in the hot sun surrounded by concrete.


Our villa.


The view from our patio. Beautiful, mature palms. There is a path there but it's not evident.


You don't realize you are flower-starved until you see all of them. (Hibiscus)


My favourite. Bougainvillea.

Odd and interesting critters to come.


Friday, March 19, 2010

One of the Tri Trio, Updated Photos

Many thanks to Cynthia Charbonneau of Cynchar Shelties for sending new pictures of her Mason daughter, Cynchar Transcendental, at 16 months old. "Jo" is one of three tri girl hopefuls from this litter out of Ch. Cynchar's Blackeyed Pea. One sister has finished her Championship with a lovely Specialty win, one has 7 points and Jo is awaiting her turn. We think she's looking lovely and maturity will be very kind to her.







Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wakey, Wakey, Rise And Shine!

First chipmunk out of hibernation. My favourite rodent - what's not to like?!! Cute AND smart, while others are out in the snow all winter freezing and foraging for what they might be able to find, he disappeared into his elaborate tunnels with his considerable stash in November and resurfaced in March, none the worse for wear. Stretched in the sunshine and was off and running, ready for summer.




Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Rare Trio

I've mentioned that we get all three types of squirrels under the bird feeders. We NEVER see them all together though. The little reds, in particular, will chase off other squirrels, sometimes chasing them all over the yard, even up trees and down again, it's comical to watch! Even squirrels of the same type will sometimes chase each other off, but the blacks and greys, being a little more tolerant, are sometimes seen together.

So, when I saw these three munching away under the feeder, I was really surprised, and had to get a shot.

I got lucky and managed not only to include all three of them, but all of them basically facing the camera and heads up. The fiesty little red is only 1/3 of the size of the other two. I love how they are all acting like they're alone at their meal, I guess eye contact would "bring it on".

Never saw this before, nor have I seen it since. Never say never!

Monday, March 15, 2010

SuperDogs

I was thrilled to hear from Lori Leslie that BOTH of her Whitegates girls are now on the President's Choice (Loblaws) SuperDogs team!! Canadians will be familiar with this group but for those that aren't, this is the group that gives shows all over Canada in front of thousands of people, with their canine stars performing very specialized and exciting tricks and bits and pieces from Agility, Obedience and whatever they excel at. I had previously blogged about Lacie (the skateboarding Sheltie) and half-sister Jovi doing a demo in downtown Toronto.

Lori had originally written to tell me that she had auditioned for SuperDogs and Lacie was the only dog at the audition that was picked for the team. At that time Jovi was sent home with a list of a few things to learn and....a year later....both girls are on the team!

The girls are daughters of our Ch. Whitegates Icy Hot - "Sizzle", one from each of her only two litters, a total of six puppies, all girls. Lacie is a singleton puppy sired by Am./Can./Jap. Ch. Pop Star SS of Northern Farm, C.D. and Jovi is sired by Ch. Imperial Aberdale Bold Image and is one of a litter of 5 girls that included our very special Ch. Whitegates Icing On The Cake.

I am looking forward to hearing more about how the girls are doing with SuperDogs and if I don't get that video of Lacie skateboarding....I am heading down to film it myself!!

Lacie and Jovi at a recent SuperDogs practice sesssion:


Lacie (Pop Star x Sizzle)


Jovi (Recce ex Sizzle), littermate to our own Ch. Whitegates Icing On The Cake - "Sugar".

Not wanting to be outdone, Sugar is soon to try her paw at something completely different. Stay tuned!

Very proud of the girls!


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Long Time No See!

The turkeys are back!! It's been so long since I've seen turkeys, I'm quite glad to find out that at least some of them are still alive. We've been hearing coyotes a LOT at night, so I feared the worst for the turkeys. I'm sure they've been lying low. There's been a quite a bit of publicity this winter in Toronto about bold coyotes attacking dogs, even when their owners are right there. It's kind of got me freaked out a little about further exploring the land in back of our property. It's all kind of strange as this winter hasn't been harsh, in fact we've had the least amount of snow since 1948. I think the problem with the coyotes is they have no predators, so now there are just too many of them. They are loud enough in the middle of the night, with the windows closed, to wake us up. When I open the window....it sounds like they are right there. I have always been amazed that our dogs *never* react to the coyotes howling. A multi dog owner friend living in a remote area mentioned to me that her dogs don't react to coyotes howling either! How about yours? I'd love to hear from anyone who hears coyotes regularly, how their dogs react to hearing them.

I think the three turkeys who have been visiting us for the last couple of days are all males. I'm quite glad to have them back and with some perseverance and planning, I managed to get some quite good pictures. Most were taken from my open bedroom window with the screen popped out while I froze (literally and figuratively) to get these shots. You have to be in place before they arrive as they react to the slightest movement, especially at this close distance (my camera is a point and shoot).

It's funny to watch the heirarchy for eating under the bird feeders. The squirrels trump all regular birds, but the turkeys trump all and easily scatter the squirrels. Even the feral cat decided against taking on the turkeys!



They look really healthy and in good weight, so the mild winter has been good to them.

Well, you gotta like the colours, at least!














Bye! See you tomorrow........

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut



Sometimes you feel like a nut....









Sometimes you don't....


Friday, March 5, 2010

Gold Rush

Some time in February I noticed an occasional Goldfinch coming to the feeders. I was surprised to see it, as I thought they went South, and I hadn't seen any at all since the fall. I had put away their feeder and changed the food up a bit for the kinds of birds I was now getting. Then more and more Goldfinches started showing up regularly, and I was surprised to see them going after sunflower seeds, which I didn't think they ate. There were other options in the feeder too:


The "guy" on the right has a sunflower seed in his beak. In the winter they all look the same, so I can't tell which is male or female. The distinctive bright yellow with black cap of the male comes out during breeding season. It's just starting to snow.


The snow is really starting to come down and they are still eating sunflower seeds.


Looks strange to see these summer birds in winter.


This was last weekend and this snow accumulated in just two hours! I really felt sorry for them trying to get through to the food.



Here they are eating spilled seed from the ground once the feeders were blocked up with snow. I've never seen these birds eat from the ground before, so I guess that's what hunger will do.

Since they have now become daily visitors again, I put their tube feeder back out filled with niger seed leftover from the fall. I can tell this has been much appreciated, they are happily feeding on it every day.

I have been very diligent feeding as many different birds as possible all winter, so I'm hoping they will all choose to nest here and there will be lots of babies to see come spring, if they bring them around to the feeders.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Proud

I love the Olympics. Winter, summer, I always watch. I was 18 and living in Montreal when the 1976 Summer Olympics were held there, it was SO much fun to live in the host city, as I'm sure Vancouver found out! What a great job they did and I'm so proud of them and of Canada for pulling off such a great event and for bring out our National pride and patriotism in a way we haven't seen before!

A fitting end was of course the nail bitter Gold medal men's hockey game! (NOT the closing ceremonies??!). Both teams were great, making it an excellent game and really, either one of them could have won it. But I think we needed it more and I'm sure no-one was sitting down after that game winning goal was scored!

Like all Olympics the games had their ups and downs (please don't ever let John Furlong try speaking French ever again), triumphs and tragedies, all of which makes the Olympics so special. How proud we all were to see our country do SO well, with the most gold medals ever, and this from a country who had never won a single gold medal on their home soil! How great to stand for the National anthem 14 times! I remember in Montreal how disappointing it was not to hear it even once, and getting oh-so-close in the final event - show jumping - but finishing with a silver. No anthem for us. I'm sure we weren't the only ones who stood and sang in front of our TV each of the 14 times!


He shoots, he scores! And clears the bench. Golden.


Team Canada goalie Roberto Luongo. It's "Louuuu" not "Booooo"!


Gold looks good!


Jerome Iginla, little bit happy!


14 times! I thought the medals looked really nice.


A fitting end.

I've watched more TV in two weeks than I have over an entire year, the Olympics seem to last just long enough, I'm ready for real life again! Loved the I Believe song but I hope it gets locked away for a while, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing!

Most of all, I'm very, VERY proud!

Addendum: For those who have asked, the pictures were taken by me of our TV screen during the live broadcast of the game/medals ceremony