Thursday, October 29, 2009

Catching Up on News

First, the personal stuff:

Well, so far there hasn't been any particularly good news to report. I finished up my clinical rotation in Kentucky pretty easily. There weren't any more particularly busy days, and the last day was remarkably slow, but overall I got a nice mix of patients and was able to practice some crucial skills.

All three flights on my way home were packed to the rafters (if airplanes actually had rafters), and I found myself trapped in middle seats the entire way. The longest flight, from Minneapolis to Anchorage, was far and away the worse. It started with a 3 hour airport layover, and continued with me crammed into a middle seat, with screaming babies 1 seat ahead of me, across the aisle from me, and two seats to my rear.

Once on the ground in Fairbanks I did my grocery shopping, then headed home, totally worn out from the whole thing.

Abner's On-Going Recovery

Since Abner no longer belongs to the Stardancer kennel, I only get sporadic news of his condition, generally accompanied by complaints from the same person who saw fit to essentially "remove him" from my custody when my kennel partner and I ran out of money.

It is very difficult to prevent him from licking his wounds, so he is wearing both an Elizabethan collar and a cervical collar. Unfortunately, the combination of collars has caused some sores to erupt on his neck. He's had similar problems in the past.

Otherwise, I'm told he is able to pull well against a leash (perhaps too well), his lab work is much improved, and he is more interested in interacting with the world, people and dogs that surround him.

Now there seems to be some tension growing between other members of Abner's care-taking team. It is truly a tragedy made many times worse than it had to be. It is sad to have been a part of it, and equally sad to see other good people being harassed for no good reason. I wish it would stop, but I doubt that it can be. It's like a freight train out of control, speeding down a long, steep grade.

Everyone involved truly means well, but unfortunately meaning well and doing well don't always equate.

Back and the Ol' Home Place

All of my remaining dogs are now home, so the remainder of the team is back together. The dogs were very happy to see me and anxious to be back in their home yard. I've put together my drop-line so I can conveniently hook up dogs for training runs out of our yard. I scouted the outbound trail, and it's as rough as rough can be. There won't be any lightening starts for a while, and I'll be running only small teams to make sure we stay in control. I dragged the trail with an tire towed behind the four-wheeler, and that should make it a little smoother, but I can't expect miracles.

We should be able to run safely enough, but I'm afraid the dogs will quickly grow bored with slow starts and a repetitious route unless we get some more new snow. The forecast isn't particularly promising, the next sign of snow in the forecast is for next Wednesday, when I'll be flying off to Wisconsin.

Heck, I should just be happy that I didn't crash through the ice in a little pond on my trail. It hasn't been all that cold this fall, and I was a bit concerned about it. I made a total of three passes over it with no issues, and this colder weather will do nothing but help it.

After fetching the dogs, scouting and trying to groom my trail, and hanging harnesses and other gear close to my launch point where it will be readily at hand, I drove up to the post office to check my mail. I had two hands-full of hard-copy spam, and one small handful of stuff I actually need to read. I dropped off a bag of garbage at the dumpster station, and then came home to hand a string of Christmas lights. Well, in the Lower-48 they are Christmas lights, but at the Stardancer home place they are needed to light up the deck that overlooks the dog yard. I'm hoping they will cast just enough light that I can walk out there without tripping over stuff, but not so much as to be blinding. I imagine they will also look pretty to those pulling into my driveway.

Unusual News from Nova Scotia

In a news article published in the on-line edition of BBC news, I learned that a 19 year old up-and-coming folk singer was killed by a pair of coyotes. You can read the news article here.
Of all the wild canids, coyotes are the last I would suspect of attacking a human being. I believe this is the first time I've ever heard of such an incident.

Kyle Belleque is Blogging Again

My friend Kyle Belleque is a freight-dog musher in Dillingham, who uses his team of traditional huskies to perform the traditional tasks of subsistence life, including hauling firewood, hunting, fishing, and other tasks. He was quiet on the web for the longest time as he built, moved-into and finished up his new family home. Kyle is back on line and his blog is active again. To see what he has been up to just click on the Nushagak Kennel link on "My Blog List" in the left-hand navigation column of this blog.

By the way, my answer to the question posed in his most recent post is "14".

Seasonal Progress

Since the weather is such an important factor that all but controls the lives and lifestyles of Alaskans, it seems appropriate to note that we had an unusually mild autumn. Usually winter strikes us with an icy hard fist by the first of October, but this year the transition from summer to winter was far more gradual. We had a nice early fall of snow in September that quickly melted away, and then gradually cooling weather until this week.

The nights are considerably longer now, today had a possible 8 hours and 8 minutes of possible daylight, and tomorrow will be nearly 7 minutes shorter. This is the time of year when I wish we could withdraw some of that daylight we cached as a result of "daylight saving's time". I'm sorry, but daylight savings time is really a waste of time and effort in the "Land of the Midnight Sun." It makes me wonder "What WERE they thinking?"

All Out of News

That's about all the news from here, so I should stop typing and post this. I have a chicken in the oven, baking with a nice selection of veggies and some wonderful fresh sage that I was given while in Kentucky. It's growing darker and dogs will want to be fed soon. There are only two more days in October, and once they've passed perhaps things can start working their way toward a new definition of "normal" around here. Maybe I should do the Halloween Party down at the Lodge this year, just to celebrate the passing of a rather miserable month.

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