Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Kabira is 13

We went on an expedition to Ikea yesterday, way across the city into the West. The giant building stood blue and yellow like a flag against the sky, its ginormous bulk holding all sorts of treasures. Carm was a reluctant traveller, but to his credit he went along quietly with good humour and didn’t ruin my good time.

I had Swedish meatballs on my mind so we stopped at the cafe for some lunch to fortify us before heading inside, plus shopping on an empty stomach tends to sour Carm’s mood.... I had three things on my list, but as we moved through the store more and more items crept into the giant yellow bag that Carm was carrying. We eventually upgraded to a cart, mainly to hold the carpet runner that we got for Pat’s room. Pillaging completed we shoehorned our treasures into the car and headed for Costco.

I’m sure the odds are pretty slim but as I stepped out of the car at Costco I could see Mom talking on the phone in the car just next to us. I’m afraid I was a bit mean and scared the bejeebers out of her!

Monday night we had a lovely German meal with Trudie & Leo. I’m not sure what it was called, but it was some sort of pickled pork served with saurqraut. Sort of the German version of corned beef & cabbage.

I’m afraid I’m a bit belated with a few photos of Kabira as a pup. Thirteen is a respectable age for a Ridgeback. She’s still in pretty good shape so hopefully she’ll be around for awhile yet.

Bella was just a year old when we brought Kabira home, and was immediately enthralled by her new family member. They were the best of friends from the first moment they met. They’d play and play and then crash out together. These days there isn’t as much playing but they do still stay close together. Losing one of them doesn’t even bear thinking about as I think the other wouldn’t be far behind.

“Don’t walk in front of me… I may not follow
Don’t walk behind me… I may not lead
Walk beside me… just be my friend”
~Albert Camus

Monday, February 25, 2019

to the gallows

It was Spike’s turn with the clippers today. He got the same fancy haircut as Bella and was dancing around like he was ‘something else and all that’. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I didn’t do a very good job. Years ago, when he came to work with me, I’d leave puffs on his legs - somehow he knew he looked special and pranced like a proud poodle.

With the wind gusting up to 70 km/hr last night I was sure the generator would kick on last night. I think I counted 8 times where the power glitched enough to trigger a beep in the UPS (which woke me up each time), but luckily that was all and the generator slumbered through the night.

A pall of horror and resignation hung over the house as one by one, the dogs were led, as if going to the gallows, to the bedroom to await their turn in the shower. It was way overdue, but let's face it, winter is not the ideal time for baths.

Spike went first. Head hung low he slunk into the small space. Kabira paced then stood at the shower door waiting her turn, perhaps she wanted to get it over with, or maybe she couldn’t stand her own stink. Bella was as deep under the little table as she could wedge herself. I needed the leash to coax her out (we never call them for something evil to keep the association of coming to us good).

I forgot the photos of the soup progress, and worse, I forgot to take a photo of the end result, although maybe a photo of the scale this morning would have been better (gulp).

Darn!!! Just realized I almost missed Kabira's birthday today - will post puppy pictures tomorrow. How awful to get a bath on such a special day! Thirteen is surely a milestone of significance for a big dog.

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace.”
~Milan Kundera

Instant Pot Baked Potato Soup

IP Baked Potato Soup *****

Flavour of soup made with cream was perhaps better. It is more convienient to use coconut milk though as I always have that on hand.

3 lbs russet potatoes, scrubbed
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 slices of bacon, cut into lardons
5 cups chicken broth
1 can coconut milk or 1 cup half/half cream
grated chedder cheese
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
pinch tumeric (optional - adds a bit of colour)

*Bake Potatoes*

bake scrubbed potatoes in a 375F oven for 1 hour. Cool till you can handle them. Peel, saving the inside. Discard the peel (or eat it as a snack!)

*Make Soup*

start instant pot on saute setting. Once pot is hot add the slivered bacon and cook until crisp. Scoop out the bacon bits and reserve for topping soup.

Add onion and garlic. Saute until softened and slightly browned.

Deglaze pot with some of the chicken broth.

Add 3 cups of broth, potatoes, and coconut cream if using. Blend using an immersion blender until smooth. Add rest of broth, tumeric and salt.  Cover. Put pot on slow cook for an hour. I tried using manual setting for 10 minutes, but the soup was too thick and it wouldn't come up to pressure.

Release any pressure and open pot. Add cream (if using) and simmer for a few mintues.

Serve topped with bacon bits and grated cheese.

makes 6 servings

Sunday, February 24, 2019

in a stormy fashion

Yesterday I noticed that my ears seem to be getting bigger. I’m sure it’s been happening for a while (the years are advancing after all), but you know how you look in the mirror and don’t REALLY see, maybe you see yourself a bit how you used to be, well, suddenly my vision cleared and there I was…  

Maybe I’ve been watching too many ancient ‘Star Trek Deep Space Nine’ episodes with too many Ferengis. (in fact I’m half watching an episode right now)

Test number 2 of the baked potato soup is simmering in the instant pot right now. It smells fantastic and tastes pretty good too - still have to add the cream though. This is most certainly not diet or fat-free or vegan or good for you in any way, but it is good comfort food.

Last night conversation at Trudie & Leo’s turned to relationships and what builds a long-term, happy relationship. They’ve been together over 40 years and we are coming up to 30 so we had some ideas. We couldn’t really agree on terminology though: does ‘respect’ cover it or is there more? What does ‘treating each other well’ mean? Respect is part of it, but there are other things, like being appreciative, showing affection, being kind and thoughtful, spending time together, having common interests…

… after supper …

Soup was excellent. I like it a bit better with cream but would likely make it with the coconut milk as I always have that on hand. I might try making it without the super high fat bacon for a lower calorie vegan version. I’ll post the recipe tomorrow.

We are cuddled up tonight listening to the wind roar like a pride of lions. Sure is nice to have a warm and cosy house, (and a generator at the ready).

In stormy fashion
Ends the dark season;
The wind's in a passion
Out of all reason.
Winter, so loth to go,
Howls, spitting out the snow,
Like froth of madness.
~Danske Dandridge

Saturday, February 23, 2019

home and hearth

Baked potato soup… oh yeah baby! Carm raved and said it was as good as, if not better, than the soup on the ship. I’d like to try it again though with a fairly major change: cream instead of coconut milk. I could taste the coconut and felt that it slightly overpowered the baked potato flavour. Such a sacrifice in the name of taste testing ;-)

I subjected Pat to my experiment and while I didn’t hear any complaints from her, she also noticed the coconut milk flavour.

The weather is supposed to be a bit crappy tomorrow so it will be the perfect day to indulge in another round of rich soup.

Bella is asleep on the futon, and for the first time in ages, I cannot hear her snore or wheeze. I guess she was too hot after all! Thank Goodness as I had scoured the internet and come up with many worst case scenarios: cancer and heart failure to name but a few. She’s coming up to 14 years old so we do tend to worry.

The sun is shining with only the faintest hint of a breeze. It is easy to imagine that spring is near. It is only late February though so we know bad weather will still be upon us, but each day brings us closer.

I do have mixed feelings about winter nearing its end though: I love the feeling of being in a cocoon of sorts, life is simple with not much to do except read, and plan out food to make for friends that come to visit. So much to love: home and hearth; hot soups and biscuits; jugs of red wine and mugs of lemon, honey and brandy; hot baths in the sunshine or by candlelight, lavender or eucalyptus bubble bath scenting the air; days when the sunshine is amplified by the glistening snow; stars that twinkle in the black night; snowy afternoons with an old favorite movie; the silence of falling snow; clean white snow instead of mucky earth.

We got the order of Bully sticks and couldn’t be more disappointed :-( I knew they were only 7” long, but didn’t realize that they’d be so skinny that Spike can eat through one in 10 minutes. Next time we’ll try a 12” + stick and maybe they’ll be thicker. We bought a huge pack of 40 for $$$$$. We don’t know anyone with a teeny tiny dog.

Though it was scarcely six o’clock, the night was already pitch-dark. The fog, made thicker by its proximity to the Seine, blurred every detail with its ragged veils, punctured at various distances by the reddish glow of streetlamps and threads of light escaping from illuminated windows. The rain-drenched pavement glistened under the lamps like a lake reflecting strings of lights. A bitter wind, heavy with sleet, whipped at my face, its howling forming the high notes of a symphony whose bass was played by swollen waves crashing into the piers of the bridges below. The evening lacked none of winter’s rough poetry.
~Théophile Gautier

Friday, February 22, 2019

potato jacket

There is no sound that has one jumping out of bed as quickly as horking. If you have dogs or cats you know what I mean… that whomp huck whomp huck sound that precedes the contents of a stomach being hurled all over the floor/rug/bed.

I was almost asleep last night when ‘HURL’, the sound of projectile vomiting assaulted my ears. ‘What the heck!’ (heck wasn’t actually the word I used), and I leapt in an athletic move that would be envied by Olympic gymnasts. Dogs were all sleeping peacefully. “Huh?”, and then I remembered. I had just put water into the tub - the air is so dry my nose hurt - and the faucet in the tub has a habit of holding onto water for a while and then horking it all out at once. Relieved not to be having a huge mess to clean up, I clumbered back into bed.

I lead such an exciting life…

Yesterday I extracted myself from the sofa and tackled the snow on the back deck. This time the snow wasn’t deep, but was so heavy I had to work bit by bit to get it cleared. I think the temperature was above 0 as I had no hat and my coat was wide open. Somehow, tendrils of a distant spring are wafting in the air, or at least in my imagination.

Bella has a distinctive wheeze so I’m going to give her a bit of a clip today - her coat is so thick and wooly that I think she’s hot.

Bella hid in her crate when she saw me dragging out the grooming table… no luck in hiding from me though. I snapped a leash on her collar and she reluctantly followed me to the kitchen. Carm lifted her onto the table and then after a brush, my clippers whirred, trimmed and sculpted her into a new dog. I hope she is more comfortable now that she isn’t so hot.

Next on the agenda is baking some potatoes. I want to try to fashion a likeness of the baked potato soup that Carm slurped every night on the ship. I had a few spoons of it and it had a true baked potato flavour, very unlike the potato soups I’ve made myself. So, like some kind of mad scientist with hair sticking up all over, I will give it a try.

a few hours later… the house smells like lovely baked potato! Bodes well for the soup :-)

Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.
~Victor Hugo

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Gnome Alone

Jo Ellen and Don hosted us for supper and a movie last night. She made soup in her instant pot (yummy) and then we huddled around the TV for a Netflix movie that has been on my radar for a while. ‘Gnome Alone’ is an animated movie that was worked on by my brother Olaf. I’m not sure exactly what he did - something about layout supervisor - but I was a proud big sister!

I may be slightly biased, but I thought it was a fun movie, and kindly, everyone else agreed with me. It’s nice to have good friends ;-)

Tomorrow is camping reservation day… I wonder what we’ll book! One thing for sure is that we are coming home on Thanksgiving Monday as it will be just 2 and a bit weeks before we head to Europe. We’ll need time to fully winterize the villetta before we leave.

We are waiting for Spike’s birthday present: a shipment of 40 bully sticks… that’s lots of chewing for Spike, and maybe some for Bella. Kabira would chomp a few times then swallow whole so she’s not getting any. I used to give them pigs feet/hocks until she swallowed one of those whole and then puked the whole thing up at my feet. I was aghast that she would would be foolish enough to do such a thing, but alas, she is.

I’ve been lazy beyond words lately and would like to shake the mood - oh, it’s not really a mood as I feel fine in that regard - it’s more a profound laziness and lack of desire to do much other than putz around house unproductively and then lie on the sofa reading. I’m keeping tabs on things though to make sure this isn’t a precursor to a period of depression. I think if we keep up with lots of dinner guests I’ll be fine.

We are accustomed to consider Winter the grave of the year, but it is not so in reality. In the stripped trees, the mute birds, the disconsolate gardens, the frosty ground, there is only an apparent cessation of Nature's activities. Winter is pause in music, but during the pause the musicians are privately tuning their strings, to prepare for the coming outburst. When the curtain falls on one piece at the theatre, the people are busy behind the scenes making arrangements for that which is to follow. Winter is such pause, such fall of the curtain. Underground, beneath snow and frost, next spring and summer are secretly getting ready. The roses which young ladies will gather six months hence for hair or bosom, are already in hand. In Nature there is no such thing as paralysis. Each thing flows into the other, as movement into movement in graceful dances Nature's colours blend in imperceptible gradation all her notes are sequacious. ~Alexander Smith, "Winter," 1863

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Spike is 11

Spike has made it to his 11th birthday… there have been times when I wondered if he’d meet an evil end on the road by now, but thankfully he is safe and well.

He was such a cute little pup. We got him on a Sunday afternoon and by the next weekend he would get out of bed and walk all the way down the hall and into his ‘pen’ in the livingroom to go to the papers for a pee. I was amazed the first time he did it as he was so small and the distance so great. He loved to play with his toys but never wrecked any of them. I just threw a couple of his baby toys away because they were scruffy but they weren’t otherwise damaged. He didn’t like Bella or Kabira touching them though! Perhaps because he knew they’d make mincemeat of them. He still has a few favorite stuffed toys. He never did like rubber ones though.

Every morning he hangs around until I tell him “Gosh, my feet are cold”, and then he runs down the hall to the bathroom where I’ve left a pair of socks. He runs back just as fast with a sock dangling from his mouth, just one though, so I tell him to ‘bring me the other sock’ and he dashes away. Of course this earns at least one treat, usually two. It never fails to make me laugh.

I still have a few Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown programs on the PVR but even though I love the program it is taking me a long time to watch them. I have to be in just the right mood because as much as I enjoy them I get a sense of loss and disbelief. I try to see in him the reason that he was unhappy, but it isn’t obvious and I wonder if I could miss it in people close to me, or even myself. I can’t really believe that he is dead and don’t want to. Would my feelings be different if he had died of a heart attack or other natural death rather than by suicide? I feel out of balance and mixed up when I watch but at the same time I can’t get enough.

My little dog - a heartbeat at my feet.
~Edith Wharton

Monday, February 18, 2019


Insanity… that’s what it is, pure unadulterated insanity. What you ask? Well, on the Princess $1 deposit sale we booked two more cruises, both for 2020. The first one is 7 days in Alaska, the second 17 days from Rome to Dubai. We’ll most likely do the Alaska one, but the Dubai is a bit of a question mark. It has tons of sea days - as much as a transatlantic - and we don’t know yet how much we’ll like a long stretch like that. Our cruise across from Rome to Ft. Lauderdale this November will let us know.

My mom asked me why we were so crazy about cruising and I didn’t have an answer right away, in fact I am still thinking about it.

  • I like dressing up and the whole ship experience. It is like having a string of date nights.
  • It’s easy - we just book, chose our excursions, show up and everything is taken care of. It is easier on my anxiety when I don’t have to worry about being somewhere and getting places. That’s a lame excuse, but will have to do.
  • If I’m tired (and with this darn illness I don’t have the stamina that I used to have), I can opt out of some of the activities. It is easy to take a nap in the afternoon, and if it was really dire I could skip an excursion. This isn’t possible on a bus tour.
  • We are procrastinators, but by booking more than a year in advance we actually do it.
  • I’m not really great with uncertainty, which is what a trip in the camper to the south US would be. Maybe if we didn’t have a giant camper it would be easier, but with 37’ behind the truck a certain amount of pre-planning is necessary.

It has been a busy few days: Pat over for supper Friday; birthday supper for my Dad on Saturday; Trudie & Leo for supper Sunday.

I have a chicken soup bubbling in the instant pot this afternoon. Chicken legs with backs attached were on sale so I actually served up meat last night. The bones were collected and stuck in a pot for 45 minutes to make a nice stock. Now the golden liquid is back in the pot, this time with onions, carrots, peas, and some lemon halves. It is a bit of an experiment and I haven’t decided if I’ll put noodles in it or not. I’ll decide at supper time.

The sun is out full-force today - it’s lovely out. A perfect winter day. If I felt that I could skate without breaking my neck we’d head to the canal, but alas, I am a klutz and never learned how to skate. Instead, I’ll sit on the sofa and look out of the window while I dream of swoshing along the ice.

Tomorrow is Spike’s 11th birthday, and just in case I don’t post, here he is the night we brought him home.

It is a spur that one feels at this season more than at any other. How nimbly you step forth! The woods roar, the waters shine, and the hills look invitingly near. You do not miss the flowers and the songsters, or wish the trees or fields any different, or heavens any nearer. Every object pleases.... the straight light-gray trunks of the trees... how curious they look, and as if surprised in undress.
~John Burroughs

Thursday, February 14, 2019

i tip my head back

I tipped my head back and closed my eyes. The sun beat down and with my eyes closed I could almost believe it was summer, or at least late spring. Each day the sun gains more power and I want to make sure I remember to make it one of my pleasures. Even at night, the sun stays longer before dipping down to sleep.

Happy Valentines Day! Do you celebrate? We sort of do, but not with cards or gifts - we are long past the stage of needing physical reminders as we are pretty good about being good to each other most of the time. Our habit is to talk about our relationship often. In the car ride home from the city we talked about when we first met and recalled our first times together, and some of the Valentines days from years gone by. We are both on the sappy side!

We got takeout Pad Kai Mau from our absolute favorite in the world Thai place - we’ll have it for supper with some bubbles. We’ll probably eat it at the coffee table though :-(  maybe while we watch the final bit of the dog show. Okay - I guess we aren’t very romantic after all. (oh heck!!! I’m gonna run and set the table and MAKE us have supper with music in the background and not CNN). I’ll even light the candles. If I was more energetic I’d make us dress up too.

Spike has been on the treadmill everyday but only for a few minutes at a time. He’s up to 1mph which is a slow steady walk for him. I have him on a leash to guide him a bit, and he is also jumping on without much coaxing. He’s still getting lots of treats to keep him going.

How many lessons of faith and beauty we should lose, if there were no winter in our year! ~Thomas Wentworth Higginson, "April Days," 1861

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

silence of winter

I stepped inside the house - rubbery arms, shaky legs and a bit of sweat was the sign of a job well done. I couldn’t believe how much snow had accumulated on the back deck, but slowly, shovel by shovel, I cleared it. Carm worked on the laneway and two hours! later was done.

The storm blasted us overnight, but by the time we woke up it was all over, just the mess to clean up. Thankfully a shift in low pressure areas (or something to that effect) shortened the duration. We were lucky as Carm said it was the deepest he’d ever snow-blowed. But it is actually above freezing today so we are spared the deep freeze.

I used to love riding the horses through the new snow - they’d leap through the drifts, almost unseating me into the snowbanks.

Have you been watching the Westminster Dog Show? We’ve recorded it and have only watched the first night. It’s fun to see all the breeds, especially when there is a new one, but even with so many beautiful breeds, another Rhodesian Ridgeback will join our family someday. Someday a long time from now I hope.

Tonight we’ll watch the rest of the show and cheer our favorite on for best in show. I gotta tell you though, there are some breeds that have become abominations and it sickens me to see what has happened to them. Are people nuts? Why would you breed a dog with such a smushed in face that it can’t even breathe properly. Those breeders should go to jail, or at least be restricted from breeding.

We’ve had several purebred dogs including: Irish Wolfhound, Greyhound, Borzoi, and of course the Poodles and a Ridgeback. We’ve had three mixed breeds also: a basenji mix (maybe), a rottie mix, and Ranger, who was a heinz 57 of no identifiable parentage. We loved them all. Five of them were from the hound group - not known for their attentiveness to command. Hounds are more independent and free spirited. They all had eagle eyes and would chase something a million miles away - a fence is a must with these guys. The poodles aren’t sighthounds, but instead have their noses to the ground and ears turned off much of the time. I think they are actually part beagle. That leaves Titan the rottie mix, and Ranger - they were the only ones that would rather be with us than out in the field chasing down critters.

This brilliant silence of winter is most touching, might I not say musical? How different it is from that of a starry night in June, which in mute eloquence proclaims repose! In this is power, an appeal to thought, strangely mingled with one to active energy.
~Henry James Slack

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

the glory of the day

Carm has been out foraging for food and wine as we prepare to batten down the hatches for a big winter storm. We are well prepared for anything Mother Nature throws at us and will enjoy our time cocooned in our fortress. Some fresh snow will be welcomed and I might even get my snowshoes out for a little tromp.

I love the fury of a blizzard (assuming we don’t have to go far). My big winter coat cuddles me like a giant teddy bear, keeping me warm and cosy.

I love the contrast of hot summer to cold winter. There is an ease in winter that lets me recharge for the frenetic summer. The absence of colour refreshes my mind and lets it lie still in preparation for the riotous rebirth of spring. Each season contrasts with its predecessor in a way that makes it more wonderful and prepares us for its successor.

I love having people over, and perhaps the most in winter. The dark nights are the perfect time to gather round a table to discuss life. Dreary afternoons are brightened by a pot of bubbling soup or a pile of chopped vegetables. I like bustling around, sweeping the floors and setting the table. Candles and low lights set the mood. A bit of music sets the tone. I suppose, if I think about it, these are my most enjoyed moments.

Last night we had Jo Ellen and Don over for supper followed by some feisty discussions. There was lots to agree and disagree on, all in good fun and good humour. One of the topics was centered around the disappearance of robust system development lifecycles and the ‘app’ mentality of today’s programing jockeys. I would be considered a dinosaur in today’s shops - I’m glad I’m retired as the development free for all was already a ‘thing’ in my last years and I’ll have to say I didn’t like it one bit! Give me planning and testing!

I served up onion mushroom soup and a chicken cooked in the instant pot. I think it’s my third chicken done this way and I gotta say: it is a great way to get a moist result. We had our new favorite carrots too. I thought I had screwed up the timing of everything, but luckily we’d cooked some baby potatoes in the actifry so had those with some tzatziki dip to keep the hunger demons away. Better than chips! And as it turns out I hadn’t mistimed by much.

In the rush of early morning,
When the red burns through the gray,
And the wintry world lies waiting
For the glory of the day...
~Louisa May Alcott

Monday, February 11, 2019


Glorious. Yes, glorious. That’s the word that keeps coming into my head as I look towards the pale yellow winter sun. It is a small taste of the summer soon to arrive, a little canape of rays before the main event. With no hint of wind to mar the feeling of sun on my face I braved the bit of ice on the laneway and freed the car for a run in the sun.

We had to get out, it was just too darn nice to stay in. Unfortunately our destination options for a drive in the country are few. So, we ended up at liquidation - and came out empty-handed! Then a stop at the grocery store for baby carrots and an orange. Our new favorite veggie is roasted carrots tossed with orange zest and ground coriander. Oh yes, an orange as bright as the sun. What other fruit is so perfectly coloured?

We deeked into Dollarama to browse the aisles of junk. I found what I was looking for and we carried on our way. Carm dropped me off to pick up a dozen eggrolls (what a treat) and he went to wash the salt off the car.

A very productive day - or at least a nice outing. Once home we each had two eggrolls for lunch, and froze the rest. They’ll heat up like a dream in my actifry some blustery day.

Cathey told me that she’s training her little dog to walk on the treadmill… so… with few treats in hand I got a minute or two of Spike walking at the lowest speed. We’ll get him comfortable and ratchet up the speed gradually. Maybe he won’t seem so depressed if he has something to do?

Our destiny often looks like a fruit-tree in winter. Who would think from its pitiable aspect that those rigid boughs, those rough twigs could next spring again be green, bloom, and even bear fruit? Yet we hope it, we know it.
~Johann Wolfgang Goethe

Saturday, February 9, 2019


We named the little red cardinal that visits the feeder Carlito (I don’t know why but it seems to fit). He and Mrs. Carlito visit several times a day and feast on the black sunflower that we put out. They are joined by a few woodpeckers - 2 different sizes - many chickadees, nuthatches, goldfinches, red sparrows, bluejays, mourning doves, and goodness knows what else. They nosh thru the seeds in a couple of days. The woodpeckers have made notches in the tree that they wedge the seed into so they can peck the goodness out of it.

The feeder hangs on a tree outside the kitchen window… the window with the cutting board… I have to make myself pay attention to the knife or I’ll cut a finger off while I’m gawking at the birds.

The wind howled the rest of the day yesterday and into the night but we didn’t lose power. Perhaps because we have a generator now ;-)  Isn’t that a sort of insurance: if you are prepared the disaster seems to avert.

Here’s a few photos from a cold winter day in 2001 (could that have possibly been 18 years ago!!!!!):

Those were the days! I’d bundle up into a grotty down coat and big green barn boots and then trudge through snowbanks to the barn. The ponies would be waiting for me to had out their breakfast of hay. First I’d shoo them out of the barn so I could pick up a few muck buckets of frozen poop. Then, if it was windy out, I’d spread the hay out inside the barn and everyone would crowd in to start eating. The sound of contented munching was a balm against a stressful commute to a job that I loved, yet hated. I’d lean my face against their soft necks, breathing in a fragrance more beautiful than the most expensive French perfume.

Gosh, I miss those days.

What started to be a fun trip down memory lane is turning into a journey to depression. It is a cruel reminder of what I had to give up when I got sick… I guess I’d better stop going through those old photos, at least until the dogs birthdays, when I’ll dig out some puppy pics.

Ham and green beans in my evening rice, with a glass of that good blackcherry wine on the side. Hibernation is a fine art!
~David J. Beard

Friday, February 8, 2019

beeps and blips

The UPSs beeped and chirped for a few seconds this morning as the power glitched. It is windy like crazy so it’s no surprise that power might be unstable today. Luckily (?) it was just a blip and the generator didn’t have to engage. Although, to be honest, I wouldn’t mind an hour or two of power outage so we can see that the generator is running the house okay. I guess I should be careful what I wish for though!

Just as I wrote that more glitches, but it seems we are okay still. Or not… still clicking and blipping. Don’t think I hear the generator though. Aside from hearing it there is no clear way to know if we are running on gen power. I don’t like that. I might be hearing something… I’ll go out to the garage to hear better…

we still have power.

Yesterday we barely stuck our noses out of the house - on again, off again freezing rain drenched the laneway making it a terrible slippery mess again. I feel trapped in the house. It was a good day to try making a tomato rice soup:

4 onions caramelized in instant pot (slice, saute in butter for a few minutes, close and HP for 20 minutes, release pressure)
two thai hot peppers diced small
big spoon of diced garlic
can diced tomatoes
can coconut milk
big scoop of pesto (made with just basil, garlic and oil)
1 cup red lentils

Saute peppers & garlic, add rest of ingredients (except rice), cook on hp for 15 minutes, NR for 15 min then release, use an immersion blender to puree, add rice, reheat for a moment.

Easy and tasty.

Our colds are finally over so Carm has gone out in this windstorm to visit his mom. It's been a month since he’s seen her so will probably see a difference :-(

The wind has the dogs jumping up now and again when a particularly big gust hits the house.

The sun has peeped out from behind the clouds.

Wednesday night Trudie & Leo came by for leftovers from our dinner with Shane & Inga on Sunday. (does that sentence read right? maybe not). We had some pretty good discussions about relationships and what we’d put up with and how much work has to be put into one to keep it alive and well. Can you fall out of love or do you always love the person no matter what?

That’s me in the red sweater meeting my first Fjord horse. Who knew that this moment would be a pivotal moment in my life, creating a lifetime’s worth of dreams. Dreams that I pursued and made come true. The funny thing is, I can barely remember it, perhaps only because of the photo, and didn’t at the time recognize what a driving factor that pony would be in my life.

If you look closely in this photo you can see Spike as a 4 month old pup confined to a stroller. He must have been mortified to be in such a position at a dog show full of dogs who could see him! Or maybe he thought he was emperor of the land, king of his domain (he is rather full of himself).

He had hurt his leg badly a few days earlier and was still limping. We (and the vet) weren’t sure if it could have been a torn ACL so we didn’t take any chances. He was crate/stroller bound for about 3 weeks before we let him have any activity - that’s a long time for a 4 month old pup! All was good in the end though and he hasn’t taken a lame step since.

Those were fun days. We’d book a long weekend at Woodlands campground where the dog show was being held and would hang out at the show for a few hours everyday. The dogs got lots of practice being good around other dogs, we’d see all sorts of dogs from tiny to ginormous, and we’d get to talk to a lot of dog people. We did this every year from 2007 to 2012. We never got back into the habit after our summer travelling out west. Not sure if our new camper would fit into the spot either!

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home. It is no season in which to wander the world as if one were the wind blowing aimlessly along the streets without a place to rest, without food, and without time meaning anything to one, just as time means nothing to the wind.
~Edith Sitwell

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

the past revisited

It won’t come as a surprise to you when I tell you that it is gloomy with freezing rain in the forecast for this afternoon and overnight into tomorrow. That’s been the trend this year and it seems that the trend won’t be broken anytime soon.

I had such a good time browsing old photos the other day that I may include the odd one here and there.

This is Titan. He was part of the group of 3 dogs before the current ‘set’. Pan (Pandemonium), Grizzle, and Titan were a fun bunch. Pan and Grizzle were sighthounds that could run like the wind. Titan was a Rottie mix with bad hips, he couldn’t keep up and I think it made him grumpy. He loved the water though and in the summer could usually be found in the pond, which made him a very stinky dog. We’d have to wash him with disinfectant to get the stench out.

This is Brigitta. She was born in 2004, the year I got sick. Luckily her first few months were during my manic phase so she got lots of training. I used to ‘imprint’ the babies which meant doing stuff with them as soon as they were born, before they even dried off. The training would continue for the next few days. I’d try to expose them (in a positive way) to all kinds of stuff that might otherwise scare them. It was important to always end with them accepting or complying in a soft way. A lesson could never end with any fear or uncertainty or that would grow into a phobia.

They also learned to give to pressure, a skill that lead to leading on a lead rope. They needed to be comfortable having their feet handled. Backing up out of people space was a skill that they learned early. Every day, until they went to their new homes, we’d practice good behaviour. The vet loved working with them and their new owners were always thrilled with how easy they were to train.

New babies are perhaps the thing I miss most about not having horses.

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
    Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!
    And, by the incantation of this verse,
Scatter, as from an unextinguished hearth
    Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
    Be through my lips to unawakened earth
The trumpet of a prophecy! O, wind,
    If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
~Percy Bysshe Shelley