This Post is Brought to you by the Letter i

Hopefully I have not entered the NaBloPoMo hall of shame. I did not blog yesterday. I blogged multiple times on other days so I am hoping to have that taken into consideration.

I didn’t blog yesterday because I spent the day in my doctor’s office, then out for a bite to eat and then being sent to the hospital. I will spare the gory details but, for all intents and purposes, I hav no immune system. All of my counts are profoundly low – especially my white blood cells which were at .6. They should be between 4 and 11. I am not exactly sure what has happened – whether it was the increase does of imuran or the flu really wiped out. I am not sure they know yet either.

A little explanation about the title. Deb brought me my MacBookand I have tethered it tomy iPhone in order to get on-line. K, I thought it was funny. I am going to go to sleep now…where I am sure I will be hysterical in my dreams!

Why?

We are having one of our infamous Pineapple Express storms. Basically, during a pineapple express you can expect 150 mm of rain over the course of 24 hours. What I would like to know, is why or why do people think it is necessary to drive like maniacs? I was on the Mary Hill Bypass coming home tonight and some idiot sped past me, followed by a wave. I could not see and almost crashed into the abutment. Ridiculous! It really does not take a genius to slow down and drive safely.

Wonton Soup

I made wonton soup yesterday. I found the recipe for the wontons here and I just made a plain chicken stock from 2 chicken frames, some chicken herbs and spices and a leek. The results were fantastic! We made the prawn wontons and then we made another batch with ground pork and the same spices. Honestly though I could not really tell the difference between the prawn and pork so when we do it  again I will probably only do pork. I modified the wonton recipe slightly by adding some finely diced water chestnut because I love the texture.

I also thought I would take this opportunity to link to some blogs that I love reading.

365 days of Puppy in Pictures – The Food Lady got a new border collie puppy named Dexter. She has promised a year in pictures of Dexter as he grows up. The Food Lady has mad photography skills which she demonstrates in her other blog Three Woofs and a Woo.

Turtle Gardens and SAINTS – both blogs are written by two women who are in the trenches of rescue every day.

Penmachine – Derek has been blogging at penmachine.com for a very long. His topics range far and wide including techie stuff, photography and living with cancer.

Shakesville – is a feminist, left-wing blog run by Melissa McEwen. The writing is sharp and concise with great insight. Among the regular features is: News from Shakes Manor. Quite often these entries involve a conversation wherein Liss will write in Iain’s Scottish brogue.

Talking to Air – Airdrie blogs about her life raising 2 kids, having a husband living with cancer and her own struggles with depression. Since the addition of Lucy, the shihpoo cross, it is turning into a dog blog! Love those dog blogs!

Mashable – it is a great techie blog. They follow tech trends and explain many of the intricacies of social media.

Wandering Coyote – I linked to WC’s cooking blog Retorte which is where I got the wonton recipe from. I really enjoy this blog as WC does not hold anything back. She brings her tattooed, pierced and potty-mouthed mantra to all of her topics. Especially when it comes to the Conservative Party.

Not to be Trusted with Knives – is the blog of Dr. Beth Snow. Famous for her weekly installments about BC’s premiers is very informative. Dr. Beth is the Queen of Footnotes, devoted Canucks fan and the owner of an iPhone, finally! Oh and she is also my one and only NaBloPoMo buddy. Oh and Dr. Beth totally rocks! She gave me a much desired Google Wave Invitation!

The Life of a Prairie Mom – this blog is about the experience of an Oklahoma family who have gone off the grid. She does not update it often as they are living without electricity. I find it fascinating to read about how they live without modern conveniences.

Pampered Chef Fundraiser for Turtle Gardens

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Zoe, rescued by Turtle Gardens

We are holding a fundraiser for Turtle Gardens through Pampered Chef. We had planned to have a party but it was sidetracked by H1N1. We decided to go ahead and try and get orders for products. The more money we spend, the more money goes to Turtle Gardens!! What a great deal. So here is my shameless appeal! Pampered Chef has great, high quality products. You can place your order in time for Christmas still!

The picture above is of Zoe the newest member of the K-9 family here at The Swamp. Before she was rescued by Turtle Gardens, Zoe spent her life living outdoors and in a cage as a puppy mill dog. She had many litters of puppies and probably only received emergency medical care. When she came to Turtle Gardens she was spayed and screened for mammary cancer. Other dogs coming out of that puppy mill had mammary cancer – which is almost completely preventable if female dogs are spayed before 6 months of age. Unlike our Gemma, Zoe showed no signs of this invasive, deadly cancer.

Turtle Gardens is the only rescue for a large area in the North. They rescue dogs without questions as they live in an area of the province where the solution to dog over population is a ‘shoot.’ One of the main goals of Turtle Gardens is a low-cost spay and neuter program as they try to reduce the number of puppies being born every year.

Turtle Gardens has pretty much no funding. They rely completely on donations. This year they did not receive their Gaming grant from the province of BC. It is looking like it is going to be a long, tough winter for Yvette, Bear and Dave up at Turtle Gardens. With almost 50 dogs in their care and no steady stream of income, they need all the help they can get to keep everyone fed and moved to their new homes in the South.

If you have a moment, have a look at the Turtle Gardens website. Read the blogs and get an idea of what life as a rescuer is all about in Northern BC. If you are able to help the fundraising efforts of Turtle Gardens order some great items from Heather at The Pampered Chef. You can email Heather directly at chasmundson@gmail.com. You do not have to live in Metro Vancouver to help out Turtle Gardens – your purchases can be shipped elsewhere.

Zoe and Gemma and all the other Turtle Gardens dogs say thank you!

Gemma
Thank you!

 

 

 

Chairs

I know, most people don’t think much about chairs. However, if you are larger than normal, chairs can become an issue. I had to go into a bank today and sign some paper work. As the woman led me into her office, I started to scope out the chairs. I usually like to know in advance if the chair I am about to sit on is sturdy and I look for arms. The chair had arms and as soon as I sat down in it I felt the pain on either side of my legs. Crap! Welcome to yet another torture device. Luckily, I have learned over the years that numbness will set in fairly quickly and it will be ok.

Airplanes are also a nightmare for me. I know many ‘normal’ sized folks who have trouble fitting into airplane seats. If you are wider or taller than the norm you are guaranteed to be uncomfortable on a plane. I know why they make the seats so small but seriously the airlines’ pursuit for more and more profit means that I don’t fly as often as I might if they gave us a couple of more inches of room on those seats.

It is easy to figure out why airplane seats miniscule but what about chairs? Take this chair, for example:

 

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Tiny Chair

We came across this chair at the EconoLodge in Canmore, AB. It is exactly 3 1/2 iPhones across, which translates into about 14 inches. Why would anyone want to sit in a chair that small? Clearly, the people who bought these chairs was not going to have to sit in them.

Then there are the seats at GM Place in Vancouver. Deb and I went there to see Billy Joel. Those seats were so freaking small I thought I was going to die. Again, I am sure the seats are so small so they can fit more seats in but really do they need to be that small? Movie theatre seats generally tend to be ok. Seats in other venues though not so much.

I think the worst chair I ever had to sit in was at a dermatologist’s office. I swear to god these chairs were made for tiny people. They even looked like toy chairs. After sitting in one of those chairs waiting for him for 1/2 an hour one day I decided I would sit on the exam table any time I had to see him.

 

 

 

Bad Day

Today was one of those days that ran completely out of control. It is amazing how the actions of one person can have repercussions that cascade out of control. One thing led to another and then things just didn’t work out.

My day was also populated by very unhelpful technical support people. I am not sure why one has to repeat one’s self ad nauseum to tech people. I did eventually get the problem solved – no thanks to tech support.

I will now leave you with a very cute picture. It cheered me up!

Piper beating up Kirby
Piper beating up Kirby

Pipes loved to play with the big dogs when she was a baby. We never had to worry when she played with her big brother because he was always so gentle with her!

Making the connections

Living with a chronic disease can be a struggle at the least. A disease like ulcerative colitis can be very problematic. Depending on the state of my colon I have varying degrees of symptoms. Quite often, I will be dealing with an issue and it is only after a long time or input from someone else do I realize that it is likely related to my colitis.

I saw my doctor a couple of weeks ago to get some refills. At that time she ordered a bunch of blood work. Today I found out that I have a low red blood cell count and I am likely B12 deficient. Doh! Perhaps that is why I am fatigued? Maybe this is why my legs go to rubber when I walk?  Knowing why I am having a symptom or not feeling quite right sometimes makes it a little easier to take.

Randomy Randomness

Have you ever noticed, when in a grocery store, that quite often the item you want is being blocked by some person with a huge cart? Why is this? It seems to happen to me every time I go to the store. Take today for instance, I was in a huge London Drugs to buy an electric frying pan. Right by the frying pans was a display jutting out into the aisle. Someone stalking shelves, complete with a ladder on the other side and 2 other customers – one with a cart! The rest of the space – empty.

Observed and overheard today at a pet supply store – a woman comes in asking for their suggestions for her dog who keeps throwing himself against her glass doors. They suggest a shock collar and I made some indescribable noise to voice my disgust. The staff go on to tell her that one customer just had to use it 4 times on his dog and the dog learned. The woman goes on to complain that the dog is so loud in throwing himself that the house shakes, the glass doors are being bumped off their tracks and she cannot relax and watch TV. So, clearly, the dog is being kept outside. It is a Greyhound. It is probably cold. Dogs are social creatures who need to be with their people, not relegated to the backyard. It is a shame she did not try the logical solutions first like training and exercise for the dog. My only hope is that the $199 price tag was enough to deter her.

I am really happy the new Pitt River bridge is finished! I can’t believe how quickly they got it up. No more counter-flow lanes and traffic backing up when they had to swing the old bridges!

 

The Shelter Challenge

The Animal Rescue Site is holding its Shelter Challenge. Basically this is a long contest, where supporters vote for their favourite shelter every day and hope to make it #1 so that they receive a prize. It promotes good-natured competition between shelters and their various supporters. They keep a list of the top shelters so you can see where your shelter is ranked across Canada and North America.

What do you do if you like more than one shelter? How do you decide who to vote for? Do you base your vote on how needy a shelter is? Or do you decide to vote based on shelter mandate? Regardless of who you decide to vote for or how you arrive at that decision, voting is the important thing. Rescue can be lonely work, just ask Yvette at Turtle Gardens. If you talked to Carol from SAINTS you would hear about the mountains of laundry and the ‘joys’ of cleaning up after old, leaky and incontinent animals. I think for those in the trenches of running a rescue knowing that there are people out there, voting for your shelter everyday is comforting. Even when they are so alone, or very isolated, they know that somewhere, somehow other people support you.

Vote. Vote for the shelter of your choice. Vote for a different shelter everyday but just vote. The end result is the animals will benefit. Which is why we are all involved in rescue. Our rescued dogs say thank-you!!!

Some of our rescued dogs:

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Tucker - spent 15 years in a pen before going to SAINTS
Mabel
Mabel - had cancer. She came from SAINTS
Zoe
Zoe was a puppy mill dog before she was rescued by Turtle Gardens
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Molly is our ancient Pom - she came from SAINTS
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Gemma came from a puppy mill before she was rescued by Turtle Gardens. She has mammary cancer but no one has told her.
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Kiefer came from the Richmond SPCA after he grew too big for a young woman's purse.
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Kirby was rescued by the Animal Rescue Foundation in Calgary after he was abandoned.

Butter Chicken

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Butter chicken sauce just after the chicken has been added

I am making butter chicken today so I thought I would post the recipe. I did not create the recipe but I have adapted it. Note – this does not produce the reddish coloured sauce you are used to seeing in restaurants. It tastes a little different as well. It is a rich and satisfying meal served with basmati rice and garnished with a little cilantro.

Butter Chicken

5 onions – large  – diced

1 cup of oil, ghee or margarine

5 tomatoes – large

½ cup of pureed garlic

½ cup of pureed ginger

1 tsp of tumeric

1 tsp of garam masala

¼ tsp of cayenne (optional)

1 small can tomato paste

1 litre of whipping cream

Cubed chicken

  1. cook the onions on a low heat in the oil until they are translucent. It is important that this is done slowly. It should take at least an hour if not longer. Stir often.
  2. add the pureed ginger and garlic and cook for 20 minutes or so with the onions. It should start to form a paste.
  3. add tumeric, cayenne (you can also use pureed jalapeno) and garam masala – cook for 20 minutes or so
  4. add tomato paste – cook until the entire mixture is a ruddy brown and the oil starts to separate from the paste. This step is very important or the tomato paste will not be mixed in well enough.
  5. puree the 5 tomatoes and add to mixture.
  6. run the sauce through a blender to liquify.
  7. return the sauce to the pan and add the whipping cream
  8. add raw chicken to sauce. Cook on low temp until chicken is cooked – about an hour

NB – do not make this in a cast iron pan as there is some kind of nasty interaction between the pan and the tomatoes.