Uncharted Territory

I do not agree with much that is asserted in this post. However, I feel it is necessary and healthy that we see things we might not otherwise. I also have problems with this Committee to investigate Russia – it’s a cabal of rich, white men with a lot to lose. This segment of society is used to having things their way and they have benefited mightily from it.

I do agree with this one section:

“Fourth, the notion that “the free world is counting” on the US for leadership is moronic flag-waving, chest-pounding bullshit. I assure you that the free world is not counting on any such thing.”

The “We are at War” video, narrated by Morgan Freeman, the uncontested ‘voice of god,’ presents the ‘evidence’ to date about Russia hacking the 2016 US election with gravitas, fear and arrogance. He even gives Trump a script (which is kind of interesting if you think about it)!

America has always seen itself as a shining beacon on the hill of fucking democracy. They have carried out horrific acts against other countries all in the name of promoting it’s brand of democracy. Students of American foreign policy know that democracy is really code for economic interests. Most American foreign policy actions almost always have an economic goal. (The one exception is lame duck presidents who can’t do anything domestically: to wit – Bill Clinton and Bosnia, but I digress). The bottomline is that American democracy looks good on paper but right now (and for the last 3 or 4 presidents) has not been able to get much done that is meaningful. Instead, presidents are forced to find a way to deal with thorny issues through executive power. So, hate to say it America, you are not a shining model of democracy. Right now, your system of government seems to engender hate, vitriol and downright nastiness.

We are currently in uncharted territory politically. Globally, I do not remember a time where there has been so much abject desperation and human misery. From natural disasters: hurricanes, earthquakes and the ongoing human atrocities of war and genocide. We all have a responsibility to get out of our comfort zones and become informed. Read news that pisses you off but read it critically. Share it. Talk about it with your friends, neighbours and coworkers. And, above all else, ask questions.


Are the BC Greens Really Serious?

John Horgan, Andrew Weaver

All smiles now!*

I am going to preface this post with the fact that I am over the moon about the NDP-Green coalition taking power in BC. We were about 8 years overdue for a regime change. It will nice to see a little bit of compassion coming out of Victoria instead of the usual, victim-blaming detritus. I think John Horgan did an amazing job with the election and I am pleased he will (most likely) have the chance to serve as our premier.

I am finding it a bit odd that Andrew Weaver, environmentalist and passionate Green, would not want to be in Cabinet. In coalition governments, quite often, the cabinet will be representative of the agreement. Here is a chance for Weaver to get out of the weeds of Opposition and find out what it’s like to govern. So, why then, would he choose not to be part of Cabinet?
I have my theories. I think that by not being in Cabinet, Weaver has plausible deniability if/when some things happen that the Greens oppose. He will be able to say that it was all the NDP and they supported them on confidence matters. It’s really easy when you are in the opposition, with no hope of ever forming government, to just simply oppose for opposition’s sake. Once you are part of government and actually responsible for passing legislation, you actually begin to see what actually goes into making governmental policy. It’s not as easy as saying: No pipelines (as BC is about to find out very soon and the topic of another post) is easy to say but hard to implement. Or proportional representation – very easy when you are in opposition but a huge undertaking to implement. Just remember, it took them more than 18 months to undo the HST and revert to the PST.
I think if Weaver and the Greens are really interested in government then one of them should step up and get a cabinet post. The most logical person is Weaver.
*Image from this link.

Ode to Dr. Coodin

I have had a dental phobia since I was a kid. My childhood dentist looked like Vincent Price and was creepy as fuck. Plus he would drill my bottom teeth when they were not frozen. I once had to have 2 teeth pulled on the bottom to make space, my bottom teeth do not freeze, I was severely traumatized.

In my teens and 20s I avoided the dentist with everything I had until it caught up to me. I had a choice between having them all pulled or enduring the dental work. Ativan in hand, I endured hours in the dentist chair. My bottom teeth still didn’t freeze. To fix my front bottom teeth they once had to go so deep to inject right into the nerve so they could work on them. I was again severely traumatized.

Fast forward to our move to Vancouver in the early aughts and a new dentist entered our lives: Dr. Arnie Coodin. Dr. Coodin was a simple dentist – he didn’t whiten teeth or do any cosmetic procedures. He had 2 chairs – one for cleaning and one for fixing. He did everything himself. Up until Dr. Coodin, I could not stand to have my teeth cleaned and would never let them scale them. He made a deal with me – we started with one ¼ of my mouth at a time. He had a dictum he followed: “If I hurt you, you will not come back.” Now most dentists have a hygienist who cleans all the teeth. Not Dr. Coodin. He said cleaning teeth relaxed him. Over the course of a decade or so, Dr. Coodin got me used to having my teeth cleaned, he even did root planing and it was all fine. I owe him a huge debt of appreciation.

Eventually Dr. Coodin retired (we still drove to Vancouver to see him even living in MR). I was panic-filled. We had to find a new dentist. We started going to Valley Fair Dental because of a car ad I saw that said they ‘catered to cowards’ and offered ‘sedation’ dentistry’. Both Deb and I have had quite a bit of work done there. If it involves my bottom teeth, I opt for sedation. If it is on the top and fairly simple, I can tolerate the anesthetic needle to get it done.

Now, Paul scales and cleans my teeth. He told me today he can’t believe I ever used to be phobic. I told him it was all because of Dr. Coodin.

Published in: on March 16, 2016 at 4:55 pm  Comments (1)  

Books I have read this year

slide_5794_78322_largeSecret Language of Doctors by Dr. Brian Goldman
I was kind of meh about this book. While he did deliver on some of the ‘secret language’ mostly the book focuses on how much doctors dislike the obese, the elderly and the mentally ill. Want to be treated well by doctors? Don’t fall into one of those 3 categories.

Laughing all the Way to the Mosque by Zaraq Nawag
This book is written by the woman who brought “Little Mosque on the Prairie” to CBC. I mostly enjoyed this book. My main criticism is that it treated some serious issue in a trite manner.

A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout
I devoured this book. One would think by the length of time she spent in captivity (15 months) that it would be drudgery and boring. It was anything but. Lindhout studied all her captors and was able to bring the reader along for the ride. At times, it was like the reader was right there with her. There are people who are critical of her for going to Somalia with her lack of experience. Regardless, the book is a great read. I highly recommend this book.

Creatures of the Rock by Andrew Peacock
I found this book to be a pale imitation of James Herriot’s far better books.

The Night of the Gun by David Carr
This is another book I devoured. David Carr worked for the New York Times for many years. Prior to becoming a stable adult though, David led a life of drug addiction and petty crime. The birth of his twin girls to his junkie girlfriend forced him to sober up and get his life together. To write this book, Carr did not rely on his own memory (which was quite faulty). Instead he interviewed people from his past, relied on court and other documents to substantiate the accounts. This was an amazing book. Carr recently had a heart attack and died shortly after a NY Times event.

Listen to the Squawking Chicken by Elaine Lui
Old world meets new world in this wonderfully funny and engaging memoir about her mother written by Lui. I loved this book. It was hilariously funny at times and very emotional at others. Do yourself a favour and read this book!

Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong about Everything? By Timothy Caulfield
Not being a big fan of Paltrow’s lifestyle blog/newsletter Goop, I was looking forward to reading this book. I was disappointed though when less than half of the book focused on Paltrow. The rest seemed to be about all the other wacky things people do that have no basis in science.

Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland by Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus with Kevin Sullivan and Mary Jordan
This was a great book. It was written by 2 of the women held hostage in that Cleveland house of horrors.
Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness by Michelle Knight
This is the book written by the third woman who was held hostage in Cleveland. It seems that conflict amongst the women meant that they all didn’t collaborate on one book. This book was also interesting. Michelle was held in captivity the longest.

They Left Us Everything by Plum Johnson
This was a really great book about family and the secrets a house holds. The author is tasked with cleaning out her parent’s house after her mother dies. A task that she thinks will take 6 weeks takes about a year. She learns a great deal along the way about her parents and the meaning of family.

There were a trio of escape from North Korea books:

A Thousand Miles to Freedom by Ensun Kim and The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story by Hyeonso Lee
These books were very similar. The both escaped North Korea via the northern border with China. Invariably they face hardship, fear and eventually make their way to South Korea. While these stories were interesting they were both quite similar.

In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park
This book was hands down the best in the ‘escape from North Korea’ genre (is it a genre?). This young woman becomes the head of her family even though she is the youngest. She does this through her intelligence and ability to figure her way out of situations. She and her mother eventually end up being taken by human traffickers. She also eventually makes it to South Korea and is able to mostly unite her family.

Rock Meet Window: A Father-Son Story by Jason Good
Jason Good is an erstwhile comedian. He is mostly known for the blog he did for a year with his reflections on parenthood. He wrote this book while he was looking after his father at the end of his life. It has some good moments.

Dry: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs
Burroughs is best known for his first memoir Running with Scissors. This book chronicles the author getting sober. It was not his best.

Gut: The Inside Story of our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders
This was a transformative book for me. The author is a young woman (25 at the time of the book) who noticed that there was little written about the gut that was accessible for the average person. Her answer was to write this book. What comes across from this book is the importance of gut bacteria.

The Emperor Far Away by David Eimer
This was a really interesting book about minority populations in China. We often think of China as a monolithic culture but this is far from the truth. There are many groupings of minority populations especially where China borders other countries. Beijing treats these groups differently with those in Tibet being the most oppressed.

Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill
This was a very, very long book or maybe it just seemed that way. Miscavige-Hill (niece to David Miscavige) grew up in Scientology. It is really clear how cult-like Scientology is, complete with its own language. There are some very disturbing things that the author relates including her being responsible for the medical welfare of a group of children at age 7.

Doctor memoir figure rather prominently:

Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh
This was a great, gentle and insightful book. The author is a neurosurgeon in Britain. He admits to arrogant and boorish behaviour in the twilight of his career. Each chapter is the title of a surgery and usually centers on an interesting patient or a lesson he learned. Great book.

Living and Dying in Brick City: An ER Doctor Returns Home by Samspon Davis with Lisa Frazier Page
The author is a black ER doctor in New Jersey. I enjoyed it.

Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflection on Race and Medicine by Damon Tweedy, MD
The author not only addressed being a black doctor in America but also the implications of race in health issues. Diagnosed at a very young age with hypertension, he uses his own experience to highlight medical issues faced, in high numbers and severity, by African Americans.

Without You There is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite by Suki Kim
Another book about North Korea. The author poses as a missionary to be able to teach at a university in Pyeongyang. The purpose of this school is to teach the North Korean elite to speak English. While her whole purpose in being in North Korea was to write this book, it does not detract from the quality. The book is primarily comprised of her observations about what happens to people when they lie all the time. Living in North Korea requires one to be able to suspend disbelief about everything from the wealth of North Korea (it is actually poor) to the military skill of the ‘great leaders’ (who actually have no military skill). Great book.

Infested: How the Bed Bug Infiltrated Our Bedrooms and Took Over the World by Brooke Borel
This was a great book about bedbugs, including a history. Great book. Oh and if you ever get bed bugs don’t use chemicals to get rid of them. A hand steamer is your friend.

The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew
Another father dying memoir. A lot of people raved about this book. I thought it was just ok. I think Kinew has great potential as an author he just needs to age more.

Confessions of a Latter-Day Virgin by Nicole Hardy
I loved this book. It was about a woman who grew up in the Mormon church and maintained her virginity. As she moves through her 20s and into her 30s with no marriage proposals coming to her she begins to question her beliefs.

Open Heart, Open Mind by Clara Hughes
Clara Hughes had a hardscrabble childhood and deals with mental illness. Those are pretty much the takeaways of her book which seems to be of the flavour of: ‘I went here and did this’ and ‘I went there and did that’. She was an Olympic medalist in both speed skating and cycling.

My Leaky Body by Julie Devaney
The author has ulcerative colitis and it is about her journey through the medical system. I completely related to everything she addressed especially the ‘imposter’ syndrome. I honestly felt like she wrote the book for me.

Mayor Rob Ford: Uncontrollable by Mark Towhey and Johanna Schneller
The author was part of Ford’s campaign team and eventual chief of staff. He details Ford’s spiral down into crack cocaine use and alcoholism in excruciating detail. Every. Single. Detail. I would have felt sorry for Towhey except he was instrumental in getting that train-wreck elected.

Published in: on December 31, 2015 at 4:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dispatches from The Swamp – the ‘almost wordless Wednesday’ edition

Jesse in sepia. I love this photo!

Jesse in sepia. I love this photo!

The mighty bull huntress!

The mighty bull huntress!

Liquid brown eyes. One could get lost in those eyes.

Liquid brown eyes. One could get lost in those eyes.

Gracie being Gracie.

Gracie being Gracie.

The little Prince of The Swamp.

The little Prince of The Swamp.

Thoughtful Stevie.

Thoughtful Stevie.

All photos by Sheena Staples.

Published in: on November 20, 2013 at 4:22 pm  Comments (1)  

Cooking at The Swamp: Making kick-ass bone broth


The nice thing about being home is having time and energy to cook. Lately, I have taken up the gauntlet of making the most perfect broth: chicken and beef. There are no recipes per se and it is dead easy. It takes time and patience (think days not hours) but the result is beyond compare. I have made broth for a risotto that blew me away and we are on round 2 of beef with barley soup. In addition to being extremely tasty, the nutritional value of bone broth is unparalleled. It does help to save as many bones from chickens and beef as you can. Storing them in the freezer is a great solution. Here is the method I use:

  1. Roast your bones. Let’s say you are doing chicken. You may have a couple of chicken carcasses to use up. You can combine those with some necks and backs. You put them in an uncovered roasting pan and roast them at 350 or so until they are browned. With beef bones you do the same thing. Although with beef, I like to use ox tails and short ribs. Both have very rich meat on the bone. We also throw in some marrowbones as we often have them in the freezer for the dogs. Similarly you roast them until they are deeply browned and perhaps a bit dry. It is the cooking of the meat and bones that gives the broth its flavor. You can also throw in some veggies like onions, carrots, garlic and celery.
  2. Once the meats have been roasted about 3 hours remove from the oven and put into a stock pot or crock pot. I have used a crock-pot for my last 2 batches so that is what I will comment on. I start in on high to get it going and then turn it down. I then let it simmer for 24-48 hours. I tend to do beef longer than chicken because the bones are so much thicker.
  3. Once the broth is ready strain the meat, bones and vegetables out of it and discard them. Let the broth cool and place in the refrigerator overnight to allow the fat to rise. Skim the fat and you are done.
  4. You can now turn your broth into a great soup, risotto or freeze for later use.

Your broth may resemble gelatin. This is how it should be. This means it is full of the good stuff form the bones.

I will run this post again when I have some pictures of the process!

Published in: on November 19, 2013 at 2:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘dog’ edition


The canine denizens of The Swamp are doing very well. Everyone is healthy and happy. Our dogs are our lives to put it plainly. I cannot imagine ever living without at least a couple of dogs. You are never lonely when you have a dog (or 7) to keep you company. They make us laugh; they soothe our souls; and they make life worth living. Coming home is like the best of everything when you hear the excitement they have because you did something simple like walking through the door. It is really hard not to feel like a rock star with this much unconditional adoration. They ask very little of us: good food, warm beds, love, and vet care and in exchange they give us everything they have. We, as a species, do not deserve this degree of loyalty.

Seeing as it has been a while, I thought I would update everyone on the dogs. I will split this over a couple of posts. So first up, the new addition:


I am Bull Dog

I am Bull Dog

As everyone knows we are very committed to dog rescue. Most of the dogs in our house have come through rescue, most often seniors, palliative or special needs. Every so often[1], we like to get a healthy puppy. A puppy we can raise to be the dog we want. In Stevie’s case, we had wanted an English Bulldog for a very long time. They don’t come into rescue very often so after waiting for a couple of years we decided to find a breeder. In August, we welcomed Stevie Ray[2] to the family.

True to her breed she has a great sense of humour. She makes us laugh with her antics all the time. My personal favourite is when she beaches her bad self on her back and then barks and growls at no one. She does not like to be cuddled at all although she will put up with it long enough to get kisses. She seems pretty smart for an English Bulldog[3] which is a blessing. Toilet training is coming along quite well.  She is so much fun. Her favourite activities are playing bitey face with Gracie and Sawyer, harassing Jesse[4] and stealing balls while we play fetch.


Piper is doing very well. She is 8 this year! It is so hard to believe how quickly the time flies. She has almost lost all of the weight the vet recommended after her surgery. She is looking downright svelte these days.[5] She has been to the vet for a baseline blood test and she is very healthy. Her teeth are fabulous. While she can be quite standoffish at times, she definitely commands her fair share of attention. She continues to watch TV with us and now barks at gunshots and explosions.[6]


You will love me!!!

You will love me!!!

Ok, can you say emo[7] pit bull? He has been trying to be so close to me all the time that it feels like he would like to crawl inside.[8] He continues to do very well on his tramadol for pain. He loves to play fetch for hours if you will let him. We do have to monitor how much he plays as it can cause him pain. We give him metacam when he over does it. He loves the raw diet here at The Swamp and he has become an excellent raw eater.[9]

That’s it for today, check back tomorrow for the rest of the crew’s updates!

[1] In this case it has been 8 years since we got a healthy puppy.

[2] Her name has several sources: Stevie Nicks and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Her full name is Stevie Raylan

[3] The breed is not known for its intellectual prowess.

[4] She is DETERMINED that he will LOVE her!

[5] Or as svelte as a pug can ever look.

[6] I think it might have been the Burn Notice marathon from summer 2012 that caused this.

[7] I cannot take credit for this nickname. Deb came up with it.

[8] He has taken to laying pressed up against my reclining chair which makes reclining or unreclining very difficult. Forget trying to stand up with a pit bull stretched across the floor in front of you!

[9] When he first arrived he wouldn’t eat anything raw.

Published in: on November 2, 2013 at 12:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

I have been reading all the outrage this morning about the media’s coverage of the Steubenville case. Is this the first time people have noticed that rape is not about the victim and how it will affect her but about the alleged/convicted attackers and how it will ruin their lives? This is a direct result of how our society views women. Women are disposable, we are here to serve men and if we are not serving men we have no value.

Be outraged, by all means. But please remember the next time the high school football team rapes a woman the rape culture will step in to defend their honour again. No surprise here.

Rethink the Rant


The following includes descriptions, photos, and video that may serve as a trigger for victims of sexual violence.
Please be advised. 

Someone asked me today, “What is ‘rape culture’ anyway? I’m tired of hearing about it.”

Yeah, I hear ya. I’m tired of talking about it. But I’m going to keep talking about it because people like you keep asking that question.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and though there are dozens of witnesses, no one says, “Stop.”

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and though there are dozens of witnesses, they can’t get anyone to come forward.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and adults are informed of it, but no consequences are doled out because the boys “said nothing happened.”

Rape culture is when a group…

View original post 1,115 more words

Published in: on March 20, 2013 at 9:27 am  Leave a Comment  

New blogging adventure!

I am going to blogging at Glorify – Basecamp for the Fat Acceptance web! Check out my new post Living Fat in a Thin World – the ‘chair’ edition!

Published in: on February 18, 2013 at 11:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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Busy Day!

I have had an incredibly busy day. No time to blog substantially. Check back tomorrow!

Published in: on November 28, 2012 at 9:01 pm  Leave a Comment