Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘happy Thanksgiving’ edition

  • We cooked a 20-pound turkey yesterday. It took a little over 5 hours. I stuffed it with all the old bread heels we had in the freezer. It was cooked perfectly. Since I purchased a meat thermometer I have never over-cooked a turkey. If I was looking at it there is no way I would have thought it was cooked. It was divine – you could see the juice coming out of the breast and the dark meat melted in my mouth. I was very happy!
  • We had some friends over for dinner and there 14-month old son. The dogs were amazing with him. They all wanted to lick him and did. He patted Kiefer. All of the dogs were very good with him, which is great as our dogs rarely see children. We kept the dogs outside while everyone was eating so people weren’t overwhelmed. They hadn’t eaten yet so they were hungry. They ended up getting lots of food and some of them were in turkey comas until well after noon today.
  • My mother has a cold. This is worrisome as she has COPD. I hope she is able to fight it off and it does not turn into pneumonia. I am not sure she would survive pneumonia again.
  • We are so in love with the new pictures of the dogs. There are many more that I haven’t posted yet. However, I have saved the best picture for today:
Amazing picture of Zoe


I have been spending my TV time in the evenings crocheting instead of being on the intertubes or playing some mindless iPad game. I have to say that it has reduced my stress levels quite a bit. Crocheting can be quite repetitive but also requires a modicum of attention. The other bonus is that I produce at the same time. It kind of means my TV time is not completely wasted!

More Pictures

I am busy crocheting this today.

My newest project!

I am two-thirds of the way done, so the push is on.

Instead of a blog, I give you more awesome dog photos!

"I want my agent."
"I have a very large tongue, apparently."
"I have no idea why I am in this pose."
"I am truly one of the beautiful people."
"You don't really think you can get away from me, do you?"

Posting may be light over the rest of the weekend. We have people coming for dinner tomorrow for Thanksgiving!


We had a photo shoot with the Food Lady recently. She adeptly captures all the different personalities of our dogs! If you want great pictures of your dog get in touch with her. Enjoy!

Piper - in motion

Great picture of the Punk running. She always looks kind of goofy when she runs.

Sawyer in a quiet pose

Sawyer in a quiet moment. I love the teeth.

Zoe running

I Seriously, this picture should have the soundtrack to Chariots of Fire playing. Zoe rarely runs anywhere which makes this picture rather rare. Her tail is so perfect! I have working on getting her tail to grow out well and we are there. I adore this picture (and the dog!!).

Talk to the paw!

What can I say? This dog is adorable.


We were trying to get some action shots that day but it didn’t work. Oh well.

Look forward to more new pictures!

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘cancer sucks’ edition

  • Cancer has been very busy the last couple of months taking some really good and relatively young people. It really bites. Steve Jobs died far too soon. It is a tragedy.
  • The dogs are all doing very well. We have a really good crew who all get along really well. Sawyer is really bonded to everyone but Molly. His relationship with Molly consists of him staring at her while she eats. She then growls and snarls at him for the duration. It is very loud and nasty sounding. At least no one is harmed in the process. Raising dogs in a pack makes for some great entertainment. Watching their interactions and relationships is very rewarding.
  • The swamp is pretty swampy right now. The pond never dried up over the summer. The septic is stinky already, which is disturbing. We will get it pumped soon so that it doesn’t back up. I really wish we could figure out why it is so smelly.
  • We have other plumbing issues. We have to get the water hammer fixed. The plumber can’t find where the water comes into the house. Plus, to make matters worse, there is still some water in the crawl space, which makes it very muddy for him. He tried pumping it out but as it was only 2 inches it didn’t do much. Deb said it looked like he was wearing a HAZMAT suit. Hopefully he is going to be able to finish the job tomorrow. WE are hoping to have much improved water volume once this job is done. You end up learning so much about very strange things when you own a house.
  • I have been working hard on my wasp phobia. We have been getting wasps in our bedroom every morning this week. They were getting in through the gaps in the window caused by the air conditioner. I have killed 3 more this week but I am really not thrilled about it. They really bother me. I am hoping a hard frost comes soon so that they will all die!

My Hair Sucks

I have had a problem with my hair for a very long time. I like to have it short and spikey. However, since I was diagnosed with sleep apnea about 10 years ago, the headgear I have to wear messes with my hair. My hair is very coarse and really has a mind of its own. My latest problem is a line of flattened hair in the middle of my head. Nothing will make this hair stand up like the rest of it. Given that I have struggled with this for 10 years, I decided it was time to do something about it after I had purchased every single hair care product and unless they are coming out with and instant dry steel like substance nothing is going to change.

The only solution is to grow it out. Knowing that there will be several awkward stages along the way, including right now, hats seemed like a good solution. I have never worn a hat, ever. I have never looked good in hats, or so I thought. Deb and I went hat shopping and we found 5 hats. I got a couple of fedoras and a cloche hat. I am not sure what the others are however Deb probably knows.

Having never worn a hat in public it took me a couple of weeks to work up the courage. On Sunday, I decided to try out wearing a hat. It went ok so on Tuesday I wore one to work. Most people like the hat and complimented me on it. I kept in on all day. Later I happened to take the hat off in the bathroom to scratch and I noticed that my hair was flat! The line was gone. My version of hat-head is actually an improvement. Only in Shihtzustaff world! So now I just need to wear a hat for a bit and my hair is flat and looks just fine. I am going to grow my hair out as it really is time for a change.

Phoning it in

I am feeling like crap. I didn’t get enough sleep in spite of going to bed early. I am still recovering from my virus. Oh and if all that weren’t enough my ulcerative colitis has decided to act up. Catch you all tomorrow.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘viral’ edition

  • I am now on Day 5 of this nasty virus. I think my fever finally broke this morning. I don’t often get these things but when I do they make me really sick. I seem to get more fevers, which makes it difficult to function. The fevers can also carry on after the other symptoms are gone.
  • We watched Morgan Spurlock’s new documentary ‘The Greatest Movie Ever Sold’ the other day. We were both very disappointed. The entire movie was about him trying to get sponsorships for the movie. Instead of exploring the increasing integration of product placement, the entire show was basically a series of meetings with Spurlock negotiating. He talks to some experts like Noam Chomsky and Ralph Nader to get their opinions on the subject. However the documentary missed a really good opportunity. Plus, I hate meetings and watching someone else be in meetings for 90 minutes was pretty boring.
  • Alberta is looking pretty progressive these days with the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta electing Alison Redford. Apparently she represents the left-wing flank of the party. She is going to immediately restore funding to education and health care. The Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta is literally the definition of the old boys club. I wish her well!
  • I have decided I am going to brine our Thanksgiving turkey. We are having a lot of people over for dinner so I hope it goes well!

I have a confession to make

I am an atheist. I have been an atheist since about age 6. My mother decided we should go to church for some unknown reason. We went to the United Church and during the service we were sent to Sunday school. I hated Sunday school. I thought the woman teaching it was a snot and told us we all had to believe in God and Jesus if we wanted to be go to Heaven. I am sure I asked questions, many, many questions. She would also tell us that God knew everything that we were thinking and everything we did. I didn’t buy it. I just couldn’t fathom how this was possible. I felt the same way about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny but I digress. It was not easy having critical thinking skills as a 6-year old. Deb is positive that I must have made my mother mental. I probably did. There is nothing like a precocious kid to deal with on a daily basis.

The one thing I did like about going to church was the singing. I love singing. I think that year we were involved in the Christmas pageant. We sang Mary’s Boy Child and I loved it. However most of the hymns we sang that year were quite boring to me. After a while I no longer had to go to Sunday school and instead had to sit through the boring service. I was never good at sitting still.[1] Thankfully my mother’s commitment to church did not last long.

Sadly, my childhood religious education did not end there. My mother had a penchant for parking my sister and me with families to look after us so she could go away for the weekend. One of the families we stayed with were Italian and Catholic. My memories of staying there were sleeping in the basement with all these mozzarellas hanging from the ceiling and going to catholic mass every Sunday. I hated it. Half the time it was in Latin and I really didn’t understand what was going on. Another family we stayed were born again, evangelist Christians. These people scared the hell out of me. They insisted that we be ‘saved’ and that we attend the youth club. I was completely bored.

In my early twenties, I became involved in Wicca. I liked the idea of the nature fertility religion that was aligned the world around us. I loved the chanting and the energy it generated. I found met some great people, some of whom I am friends with to this day. It was a great time in my life.

In university, I discovered a passion for religious history. I loved learning about various religions and how they affected the settlement patterns of North America. I particularly enjoyed learning about fringe religious groups like the Anabaptists. Cults and Mormons fascinated me as well. However, what became clear to me in university was that religious belief and faith, while important to many people, did not bear up under empirical evidence.

I am finding as I grow older, I have less tolerance for religion in its various manifestations. Whether it is people saying things like ‘god bless you’ or religion causing war. I get even more incensed when I hear homophobia cast in religious belief; when people talk about god being offended by homosexuality. Today I ready something that completely incensed me. It was about vegan restaurateurs not wanting to kill rodents or insects in their establishments. One Buddhist woman said that giving her dog a flea bath and killing the fleas caused her to have anxiety attacks. So she applied a Buddhist teaching that said if you chanted “Om Mani Padmi Hung” as you killed the fleas then they would come back as human beings. What an absolutely ridiculous assertion.

I work very hard at keeping my opinions to myself. People who are religious get something out of it. Perhaps they need fellowship or someone to help them guide their lives. For many people, belief in something bigger themselves is really important. I just don’t get it.


[1] Come to think of it, I still don’t sit still well.

There’s Something Happening Here

The western world appears to be on the brink of something really important happening. After witnessing so many people from different countries creating meaningful change in their lives through courage, protest and persistence, it would seem that the rest of us are waking up to our corporatized lives and not liking what we are seeing. After all, if the Egyptians can oust Hosni Mubarak then what could we do if tried?

Over the last 20 years the American middle class has been steadily eroded. Peoples’ dreams of working hard and getting ahead are completely gone; they have evaporated in the pursuit of corporate profits. This is why we no longer have well paying, union jobs in North America. After all, if the shareholders aren’t happy and don’t get a bigger dividend every year heads will roll.

The American government (and to some extent the same is true here) is completely out of touch with what is actually going on in America today. If the rich and the corporations don’t have to pay taxes that leaves just working Americans to shoulder the tax burden. As wages have declined and the cost of living has risen, there is no longer money left for discretionary spending. Hell, for many Americans there is nothing left; they have lost their house, their cars and most of all their pride in being American.

So here’s the thing: if you’ve got nothing to lose you might be prepared to do things you might not normally do. Desperation pushes people out of their comfort zones and forces them to grapple for solutions. Of course I am referring to the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests. If you go here, there is actually footage of people drinking champagne above the protesters on Wall Street. Can you say out of touch?

It is my fervent hope that in fact something is going on here. Rioting youth in England and protesters in the United States are all pointing to the same thing. We have governments, which are completely out of touch with their citizenry. We have corporations in control in Canada, the US and Europe. We are all slaves to the mighty profit whether we benefit from it or not. When you take things away from people they will tolerate it for a while but there will come a time when you have taken so much away that they have nothing to lose. And people with nothing to lose are very powerful – just ask Hosni Mubarak.

There’s Something Happening Here

Buffalo Springfield

There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware

I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down

There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind

I think it’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down

What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side

It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away

We better stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Stop, now, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down