A member of our family recently acquired a new moniker.

Dalla is part Norwegian Elkhound, and part cattle dog. She’s got traits of both breeds. She sheds madly, wants nothing to do with water other than drinking it, and loves fish. All of those are typical Norwegian Elkhound traits. In addition, she’s always has to count us again and again when we’re on the hiking trail, she knows how to cut a animal out of a pack, and she’s fairly clever. All those are traits of cattle dogs. When people ask us what breed of dog she is, we usually answer with a longish answer about her background, which is tiring for us. Last week we decided that she is part of an entirely new breed, the Wisconsin Cheesehound. How do you recognize a Wisconsin Cheesehound? Cheesehounds love: cheese, brats, beer, fish (raw or fried), snow, hiking, peanut butter, some nuts, car rides, pizza, bread, chicken, cookies, and some fruits. They do not like: lakes, rivers, largish puddles, baths, garden hoses, sprinklers, car washes, little white dogs, people who ring the doorbell, vegetables, healthy cereals, rice, wearing boots, squirrels, rawhide chews, and the basement. It doesn’t much matter what your dog looks like; if they fit the vast majority of those personality characteristics, you might be living with a Wiscosnin Cheesehound.

It’s been colder than usual here in Madison, so Sarah and I have both been wearing our down parkas and long johns when we walk the dog. When I bike to work, I’ve been wearing long johns and wind pants to keep my legs warm and a set of ski goggles on my face. We’re hoping that it will warm up to more traditional winter temperatures in the near future. This afternoon it should be warmer and we’re planning on doing a bit of cross-country skiing.

When I was gone I accumulated quite a large number of magazines to read. Now that I’ve worked my way through the stack it’s time to work on a book or two. I’ve got a few in the queue, and I’ve also requested a couple from the library.

We’ve also been talking about doing some work in the house. The vinyl flooring in the area around our front door was installed by the previous owners and they chose it to match their color scheme in the living room which was green and red. We have blue walls and the vinyl doesn’t match a thing in the room. We’ve talked about replacing it in the past but we’re getting serious about getting rid of it in March. The perfect solution might be a professionally installed slate floor, but cost may preclude that option, even though it’s only about fifty square feet of flooring. Other options are cork, bamboo, vinyl flooring that resembles hard wood, or laminate flooring. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll probably spend some time examining our options before choosing one. Regardless, no tears will be shed for the demise of the ugly vinyl flooring.

My new bike has been performing well. Several times last week I rode it to work in wind chills and temperatures that were well below zero and it didn’t miss a beat. The fenders will be nice once the temperature starts to warm up a bit and our snow starts to melt.

Sarah and I curled on Friday night as subs in a mixed league. I’d never curled in that league before; Sarah curled as a sub in that league several times while I was in Antarctica. It’s a radically different league than the various mens and womens leagues. It’s not as competitive and the teams can be skipped by players who aren’t qualified to skip in the regular leagues. We had fun but it’s not a league that I’d be interested to play in all the time.

Last night we watched the Badgers take on Alaska-Anchorage in mens hockey. The Badgers won 3-1, but they are so far out of the top of the league that there isn’t much of a chance that they’ll do something interesting in the post-season. The team is afflicted with a seemingly incurable allergy to scoring goals, even though they play solid defense. We can only hope that next year’s team will feature a better offense than this year’s squad.

Daylight savings time begins on March 11, 2007. Are you ready?