Tuesday 30 June 2009

Jigsaw Puzzles

My name is Karen Ramstead and I am a JigZone addict!!!

I am not seeking a cure, I'm just looking to drag more people down to my level!!

Check out the first NorthWapiti jigsaw at

Monday 29 June 2009

Some Oldies - But Goodies!

Visitors to the kennel know that the first dogs you meet/see in our yard - well, other then the fearsome Cricket who tries to intimidate visitors into not getting out of their cars (Truth be told, Mark has a bag of cookies in his car and gives her a treat each day when he gets home, so she is really looking for cookies, but most visitors don't know that!) are the seniors.

Geriatric Park or G-Park as Colleen calls it, is located just off the the side of the driveway. The residents love to watch activities up by the garage and from their vantage point they can overseas just about everything that goes on in the yard.

I was up doing a bit of grooming on the Seniors this afternoon and realized it had been a long time since I had taken pictures of them. Their patience is limited and I don't like to push the point with them, I just generally groom until they tell me they have had enough. A couple, like Joey and Jumper aren't much interested in being groomed either. So, don't expect spiffily groomed dogs, but they are a silly wonderfully affection group!!

BTW - FIVE of these guys are turning THIRTEEN this year. They are spunky, energetic and in great health.

Draco will be 12 in November. He is still quite the character and loves ruling his 'harem' of Joey, Jumper and Kaylinn!

Joey will be 12 in September!

Jumper is still a little leary of strangers, but bossy as all get out in her 'Pack'. She will be 13 in September.

Kaylinn. I think Kaylinn is mostly deaf, but it could be 'Siberian selective deafness'. She turned 13 last month.

Nik. Age has not dimmed Nik's obnoxiousness a bit. He will be 12 in October.

Gus. As sweet and easy going as always. Gus will be 13 in July.

Camilla. Gosh I love this gal. She, like her brother Gus, will be be 13 in July.

Mannie. He actually looks much better in person then in these shots (he likes to be right next to me whenever I'm in G - Park, so it is hard to get a great shot of him.). Mr. Man turned 13 in January.

Loki is really in with the seniors due to lack of space in the main kennel. He will be 10 in August.

I've got a lot of memories with these old guys!


Summer Tea

About 3 months ago I swore off my 3-4 can a day Diet Coke addiction. I suppose on the scale of 'things you can be addicted to' Diet Coke isn't a HUGE deal, but I generally don't like packaged, processed and chemical laden foods, so it really made sense to ditch it from my life. And besides, sometimes you just gotta do these kind of things to prove you can!!!

The biggest deal has been finding something to replace the Coke with. Coffee, of course, in the morning but I really only like it in the AM. Water is fine, but boring all the time. Drink mixes are nice, but probably have about as much junk in them as the Coke did.

So I decided to make my own ice tea. I started off wanting to do Sun Tea, but despite Facebook claiming I'm '93 % crazy' I am a pretty 'play it safe' gal and after a search on 'sun tea' turned up a Snopes warning about bacteria risks in sun tea - I opted for the safer 'Refrigerator Tea' route (really I already have enough bacteria in my life).

I must say, it is working very well. I just pop a couple tea bags in jars of water in the evening and the next day take out the bags and add a little bit of sugar. Delicious!!!

The one on the left is 'Green Tea' and on the right is 'Rooibos Tea'. If you don't know Rooibos red tea, you are leading a deprived life!!! Starbucks Vanilla Rooibos Lattes may be my favorite drink on earth right now. It is probably a good thing I live an hour away from a Starbucks - or I might be totally broke!!

Please excuse the dog dish in the background - dogs gotta drink too!!


A New Coat

The paint on the dog truck has not been holding up very well, so this summer Mark has made it his project to refinish it.

First EVERYTHING was stripped off it - doors, lights, hinges, safety bars, etc, etc.

Next up was the VERY messy job of sanding.

Mark is in town today buying some fancy type (read - expensive) of paint for it. The truck is sitting in the driveway, safely wrapped up in a giant blue tarp waiting for it's new coat!!


Sunday 28 June 2009

Karen's Comments on First Day Sign Up

So, couple of things in the sign up list that interest me -

Nice to see Lynda Plettner , Terry Adkins and the very colorful Fabrizio
Lovati's names on the list again! Very thrilled to see my friend, Ross
Adam's name back on the list too!!!!! (Ross and his fantastic wife, Karen allowed me to make my first trip to see the Iditarod in 1998 and I even got to travel the trail with Karen!! We stopped in Skwentna, Rainy Pass, Nikolai, McGrath, Ruby, Unalakleet and Nome! Not only was it great prep for my first Iditarod - it was one of the most fun trips I've ever taken!)

I'm not a fan of leased teams, but I had a chance to observe Newton
Marshall on the Quest last year and think he will be a tremendous asset to
the Iditarod. He is a fine and inspiring young man! I'm a fan!!!

Also noticing the absence of a couple of my very favorite mushers like Rick
Swenson and Mike Williams.

Very nice to see Michelle Phillips journeying over to Iditarod from Quest.

I also see three Siberian teams signed up - my own, Blake Freking and rookie
Canadian Hank DeBruin. Cool!

Looks like it is already shaping up to be a great race!


First Day Sign Up for Iditarod

Yesterday was the first day of sign up for the 2010 Iditarod. Sixty mushers plunked down $4000 to claim their spot in next year's journey to Nome!

1 Matt Hayashida
Willow AK

2 Kurt Reich (R)
Divide CO

3 Ken Anderson
Fairbanks AK

4 Ryan Redington
Wasilla AK

5 Jane Faulkner (R)
Kasilof AK

6 Lance Mackey
Fairbanks AK

7 Karin Hendrickson
Chugiak AK

8 Nancy Yoshida (R)
Thompson ND

9 Jessie Royer
Fairbanks AK

10 Newton Marshall (R)
St. Anne Jamaica

11 Quinn Iten
Kotzebue AK

12 Sue Allen
Wasilla AK

13 Lynda Plettner
Houston AK

14 Cindy Gallea
Seeley Lake MT

15 Jeff Deeter
Wasilla AK

16 Jim Lanier
Chugiak AK

17 Robert Nelson
Anchorage AK

18 Cim Smyth
Big Lake AK

19 Jeff King
Denali AK

20 Sven Haltmann
Willow AK

21 Terry Adkins
Sand Coulee MT

22 Ramey Smyth
Willow AK

23 Michael Suprenant
Chugiak AK

24 Hans Gatt
Whitehorse YK

25 Sonny Lindner
Two Rivers AK

26 Emil Churchin (R)
Anchorage AK

27 Kirk Barnum
Seeley Lake MT

28 Kim Darst
Blairstown NJ

29 Justin Savidis
Willow AK

30 Kathleen Frederick (R)
Willow AK

31 Hank Debruin (R)
Haliburton Ontario

32 Ross Adam
Grande Prairie Alberta

33 Linwood Fiedler
Willow AK

34 Martin Buser
Big Lake AK

35 Allen Moore
Two Rivers AK

36 Mitch Seavey
Seward AK

37 Tamara Rose (R)
Fairbanks AK

38 Gerald Sousa
Two Rivers AK

39 William Pinkham
Glenwood Spring CO

40 Scott White (R)
Woodinville WA

41 Dallas Seavey
Seward AK

42 Zack Steer
Sheep Mtn. AK

43 William Johnson (R)
Unalakleet AK

44 Pat Moon
Chicago IL

45 Sebastian Schnuelle
Whitehorse YT

46 Blake Freking
Finland MN

47 Fabrizio Lovati
Brenua Italy

48 Dave DeCaro (R)
Denali Park AK

49 Michelle Phillips (R)
Tagish YT Canada

50 Zoya DeNure
Gakona AK

51 Aliy Zirkle
Two Rivers AK

52 Dee Dee Jonrowe
Willow AK

53 Paul Gebhardt
Kasilof AK

54 Wattie McDonald (R)
Stonehaven Scotland

55 Karen Ramstead
Perryvale AB

56 Chris Adkins (R)
Sand Coulee, MT

57 Ray Redington Jr.
Wasilla AK

58 John Baker
Kotzebue AK

59 Kristy Berrington (R)
Kasilof AK

60 Warren Palfrey
Quesnel BC

Friday 26 June 2009

How you doing???

A bore is a man who, when you ask him how he is, tells you. - Bert Leston Taylor

This is one of the quotes that showed up on my iGoggle homepage this morning! Good quote and very true. So, in the spirit of that quote, I am not going to bore you all with endless details of my health. I will however say that for the last week I have been dealing with a fairly significant health scare. Significant enough that it canceled Mark and my planned holiday to New Hampshire.

Yesterday morning my doctor took the 'C' word off the table. When I saw her today, she told me I can start breathing again.

There are still a few tests ahead - and possibly surgery at some time but today it all seems surmountable - and it is nothing that I'm going to let stand in the way of my race plans for this year!

I greatly appreciate the support of those of you that knew what was going on gave me - and I know that the support I would have received had I shared with 'the list' and 'blog' would have been great. I appreciate knowing that that support system is there.

Hug your loved ones!


Wednesday 24 June 2009

Cows .... err.....Wild Roses

So a bunch of sleeping, wildly shedding Siberians aren't all that fun to take pictures of, so since our summer neighbours, the cows, showed up the other day, I thought I'd do a blog entry on them.

When I came home from Athabasca this afternoon they were lounging peacefully in the woods right beside the road.

I hopped on the ATV and puttered up the hill to snap the pictures I wanted for the blog entry. No cows. No problem, they are cows, they couldn't have gone far.

I drove along the highway ditch for a bit - no cows. I went back to one of the gates and went into their pasture. There were signs (and smells) that indicated cows had been there not too long ago but no cows.

Now granted, the girls have over 400 acres to roam on but still whenever I have young leaders in front of my teams, I'm sure to find them. And everytime I try and take the dogteam through a gate, they seem to be casually hanging around that very gate.

How tough could this be???

I cruised up out of the valley and checked by the dugouts. Came down a trail I didn't know existed (and that will be nice for running dogs on this fall and winter) and checked out the big pastures. No cows.

I stopped and listened for them. No luck. I was beginning to take this personally.

Yes, I have said some less then nice things about them in my journals over the years. I've also insulted their parentage and threatened to turn them into steaks on numerous occasions (dog teams and cows aren't always the best mix) but really we have a pretty good relationship. I keep them safe by closing gates that irresponsible quadders leave open - and I go out and shoo away Mark's stupid cat when he stalks them when they venture down near our house. You would think they could at least give me a few pictures for the blog.

Apparently not.

Finally I decided I had devoted far too much time to this project and came home.
It's a long ways till September Girls. I will catch you off guard at sometime!

Oh, to amuse myself on my travels, I snapped a few images of the wonderful wild roses that are in bloom all over the place right now. Check out our license plate - Alberta is Wild Rose Country!

Sunday 21 June 2009


The last few days the news, TV and Internet have been crowded with talk of the solstice and the first day of summer. Bah humbug, I say. All I can think about is that this means we have 'turned the corner' and are heading back towards winter. Shorter days, cooler mornings and evenings are not that far away

Soon we will be back to this....

Have I snapped you out of your 'summer solstice party' mood yet?? Sorry - okay, your right - I'm really not!

Maybe part of my focus on 'impending winter' is that I filled out and send off my Iditarod entry form on Thursday. Many thanks to my Mom, Richard and Sue Tremblay, and of course, my hubby (who put in a TREMENDOUS amount of overtime in the last few months) for helping me come up with the $4000 (that $4660 Canadian) in time for a Day 1 sign up!!

Taking last year off was not fun for me - downright painful, in fact. Not that signing up was much better though - I tripped UP the steps to the Athabasca Post Office in my hurry to get the entry off and badly skinned both my knees. I think most adults have forgotten just how much skinning your knees really hurts - let me tell you - it hurts ALOT.

I fretted a bit over the fact that maybe 'the world' was trying to tell me something - but eventually figured out that the message was probably just 'don't try to dial your cell phone while running up cement steps'.

Our traditional 'start of the new season' date is July 1, so I am taking alittle downtime before things start to kick up again - but the excitement is in the air!

So you guys enjoy your solstice party - I'm partying because now winter is officially on it's way back!!

The Winter Chick

Forbidden Love...

Wednesday 17 June 2009

Bet and the Rice Krispies

The pups were alittle tentative at first,

but Bet played it perfect and in no time they were happily bounding down the trail with her.

After some playtime in the woods...
we all headed back...

...with Bet happily leading her little charges!

All the pictures can be found at http://picasaweb.google.ca/northwapiti/BetAndTheRiceKrispies
So far, so good!

Tuesday 16 June 2009

“You ain't gonna miss your water until your well runs dry”

As many of you that follow me on Facebook probably know, we had a scare with our water on Sunday morning. Thankfully, I had already gotten my first pot of coffee brewing before the taps started sputtering and snorting. All crisis's are easier to deal with with coffee in your system.

Mark was (as usual when a crisis occurs) at work. We chatted about the problem on the phone but unfortunately water system problems are beyond my scope of knowledge, so it was a 'waterless' day until Mark got home at 7pm. We have a water cooler for drinking water anyway and I ran over to Lisa's for a few buckets of water to top off dog water buckets so it really wasn't a serious hardship.

Mark figured that the problem was related to our water softener unit (this is what takes out the iron that is prevalent in country water systems) so today he spent the day taking that apart and giving it a complete cleaning.

He also got the idea that it was time to give a 'bleach shock treatment' to the well - so while Sunday was a 1/2 day without water without choice, tomorrow is a day without water by choice.

What does it take to get us easily through a day without running water???

This.... (all the dogs with full water buckets)

and this.... (backup dog water)

and this... (backup household water)

and this... (rain barrels for the plants, as we haven't had rain in quite awhile

And oh yes, the coffee pot is full and waiting to be turned on in the morning.

Ain't country living grand???


Flying the Nest

As I reached the end of the driveway the other day and was waiting to pull out onto the highway, our neighbour Markus Husch's truck was doing the same on the other side. As he turned south and I headed north we each waved, but I have to admit that I watched his truck pull away in my rear view mirror with more then a moment of sadness. See the truck was loaded down with Markus belongings, as he is heading off to a new job in Drayton Valley, Alberta.
Certainly it is not that far and with Markus's parents still across the road, I know he will be home and therefore visiting us every now and again - but Markus has been regular around here for about 7 years and we are going to miss him.

He started working for us when he was around 14 (correct me if I'm wrong Markus), shoveling the yard after school and on weekends. Over the years he quit being an 'employee' and just became a good friend.
Markus has bailed Mark and I out of more situations then we can count over the years. Everything from accompanying me to Alaska, handling at races, helping with feeding and shoveling when we got stuck, helping me deal with annoying porcupines and more.

Certainly in the last few years we have seen less of him due to his own work and life commitments, but just last year when Mark and I ended up in a jam due to us both working shutdown at the Mill and some unexpected bad weather, Markus was there waiting to help out every night when we got home.

The whole Husch family is very special to Mark and I, but Markus most of all, as he was the start of the family's relationship with the kennel and therefore part of our lives the longest.

I know Markus that you have a terrific family to support you but I hope you also know that our door is always open to you - anytime/any place. We consider you family!

Good luck in your new job and new life, my friend!


Sunday 14 June 2009

Bait Living LARGE

Yesterday was an extremely exciting day for Bait. See he loves sit on the cars of folks that visit here. Over the years his butt has graced dog trucks, mini vans, rental cars, pick up trucks, tractors and more - but never anything like this!!!!

Yup, that's right a Beamer!!! Now that is living in style - even for Bait.

Notice how his nose is stuck up in the air hanging out on the hood of that Beamer. That's a content cat.

Now the Beamer's owner (who happens to be my baby brother, Geek) wasn't as content, but he wisely decided that as long as the cat was already up there he was unlikely to do any damage to the much loved vehicle.

Geek, Mrs. Geek and I had a lovely, long overdo visit!
All the dogs got pets and loving - well maybe not Bet, who isn't big on visitors - but especially Cricket and the Rice Krispies. Oh yeah - and Jr and Q, Melissa and Jim's respective favorites!

Melissa posted some of her pictures (which are adorable) on her Picasa site http://picasaweb.google.com/melissaamberko/ForKaren

I'm sure you will enjoy them!!