Dispatches from The Swamp – the ‘I am on vacation’ edition

I have next week off. I can hardly believe it. I have been working full out since June and I have had no time off this year that did not involve my mother.[1] Deb also has most of next week off so we are looking forward to some serious together time and communing with the dogs. In no particular order, here are the things I plan to do next week:

  1. Crochet
  2. Let the dogs in and out about 15 times per day.[2]
  3. Cook. I want to make some soups for the freezer to take for lunches.
  4. Sleep
  5. Watch obscene amounts of TV whilst I crochet.
  6. Blog[3]
  7. Listen to music
  8. Play computer games
  9. Buy some new music

If I can help it, I intend to only leave the house to forage for supplies. I really could become a hermit if I didn’t have to leave the house to work. It sounds like a great week to me!

[1] This does involve my mother but not until the end and only for 1 day!

[2] Heaven forbid they all go at once!

[3] NaBloPoMo does not recognize vacations!

Last Day

Well tomorrow we head back home. Five days away was a nice break. The massages were excellent! Today we went for a drive to Campbell River. We really liked it there – it was right on the ocean and very well kept. We may look into going there for our next get away. One thing we noticed was a lot of things for sale – cars, trucks, RVs and boats. Our vacations tend to have a Mennonite theme[1] and we were not disappointed when we saw a Mennonite church. We are going to relax and watch the Bucket List!


[1] Once we went to Harrison Hot Springs and the Mormon Brethren were there. I am not quite sure how they categorized all the women. (I checked for a blog about that adventure but I don’t have one. I guess I wasn’t blogging then.)

Dispatches from the Kingfisher Spa and Resort

  • We have been at the Kingfisher (KF)[1] for a couple of days.  The first night was a nightmare. Piper and Sawyer couldn’t settle. Deb took them out to pee like 4 times. They were climbing all over me. I was telling Piper to stop barking when it was actually Sawyer who was barking. Poor girl! We have been able to leave them in the room with no problems at all. Plus the weather here has been decidedly cool and overcast so we have also been able to take them into Courtenay with us and leave them in the truck without worrying too much about the heat.
  • I have had one massage so far. I have another one for this evening. The RMT I saw has been doing massage for 38 years. She was very good at her job! She found knots in places no one else has ever found. She even found some in my feet! Uggh!
  • Deb and I did the Pacific Mist Hydropath. It is a set of water stations like waterfalls for your shoulders, a hot tub like pool, a pool that you walk through – one side cool and the other hot, a salt pool[2] and a mud tub thing. I enjoyed most of it although I struggle when I get water in my eyes so some of the activities bothered me. Deb is going to do it again tonight while I have a massage.
  • The last couple times we have stayed in hotels that promise free Wi-Fi we have never been able to connect the iPads. This time I bought an Airport Express so that I could set up our own network if necessary. This time it was fine but I will keep it in my bag just for those situations. What did not work so well was the Apple TV plan. I loaded up our first generation Apple TV with lots of good stuff to watch but we could not connect it to this old style TV. So we went and bought a bunch of DVDs so we have something to watch.
  • Food has been a bit of an issue here. The restaurant would be described, in the words of my friend Wandering Coyote, as ‘Chi-Chi.’ Everything is really gourmet and high-end. We have not found much that either we wanted to eat or could eat. I had a duck breast one night but I really couldn’t eat as I have been having serious eating issues as of late. It was really good though. I had crab legs one night that were fabulous. Yesterday we went off in search of comfort food at the White Spot. We were not able to get a kitchenette unit so we have to get by with a small fridge and a kettle. We did go for their brunch this morning, which was amazing to say the least. There were over 125 items. If you love seafood this would be the place for you!
  • We are very grateful for how well behaved Piper and Sawyer are. They get along very well. Sawyer is a real stand out given how young he is. He is so well socialized because Deb took him everywhere since he came to us. I think he would love to live in a hotel room for his whole life so he can burrow under the duvet. That dog is almost always cold. Piper has struggled a little bit. She is feeling the summer badly and panting hard. We will be taking her to the vet but likely they will tell us she is 5 and fat and that is why her breathing is laboured at times. She was quite stressed in the truck on the ferry. She is much calmer now. I am so happy that we toilet-trained these 2 so well. Piper is rock solid and Sawyer is almost too. While Piper can hold it, Sawyer needs to go out whenever he goes to the door. They are both such great dogs!
Sleepy Piper


Sleepy Sawyer

[1] I have decided to abbreviate the Kingfisher, as my fingers want to type ‘Kingfister.’ Better safe that sorry right!?!

[2] My favourite.

Getting Away

Deb and I are at the Kingfisher Spa and Resort in Courtenay. We also have Piper and Sawyer with us. We have been here before so it is a known quantity. We are not in the really nice suites because we have dogs with us. There will be much swimming, hot tubbing and spa treatments!

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘I think there may be a revolution’ edition

  • As my regular 17 readers would know, I am not a fan of summer. I hate the heat; it makes me sicker than I already am. I get heat stroke in like 5 minutes. Just going to the car and doing errands makes me want to lose my cookies. I am also not a big fan of the rain. It seems like it started to rain last November and has not stopped yet for any length of time. We had a long, wet winter. A cold, wet spring. Now, it seems like autumn has arrived without a spring or a summer. This weather is similar to late September early October. Even though I hate the heat and the sun I am starting to feel bad for my friends who adore the heat. I hope you at least get the month of August!
  • I am really getting impatient for Lion to drop. It is supposed to come in July and there are only 13 days left of July. I get it free for my Mac Pro, which means I should get it for my other computers. I love how Lion is going to bring more of the iOS system to the Mac. I suspect Mac purists may not like this evolution but it is the direction computer operation systems are heading. One of the things I like best about Mac OS X is that it is intuitive and easy to use. iOS is even easier to use so any integration will only make Macs easier to use.
Clio a week ago
  • Clio is starting to fade. She has been on Lasix and cardiac meds for almost a year now. She is at the highest dose of both. She is not coughing so that part is good. Lasix is hard on a dog’s kidneys but it is a necessary drug to keep the water moving out of her lungs so she can breathe. She is still eating although not as much which is causing her to lose weight. She is not in any pain, nor is she vomiting or having diarrhea. Vomiting and diarrhea are signs of kidney failure. The other thing that the vet told me could happen is that her heart would basically explode which would be a catastrophic death. So, as long as she is not any crisis we don’t need to make a decision. If/when she starts to cough we will immediately let her go.
  • We have decided that Deb’s birthday present is going to be a trip away for both of us. I score too!! We are trying to find a place that will take dogs, has luxury, maybe a dog sitting service etc. I think we are willing to go to Vancouver Island but not the Gulf Islands. Anyone have any ideas?


My mother has gone home. It was a great experience with her over the week on the cruise. It was great because I made it great. It was also great because Deb made it great too. She spent 2 days with her, alone, for me. It is not an easy task being with her for any length of time. She can be demanding and difficult. I was very thankful that she was not rude to the crew on the ship – I don’t think I could have taken it. Also, the crew gave her nothing to complain about. I am glad we had this time together so she could get to know me a little better than she did before.

One thing I am grateful for is that she will be off my case about my weight. Given the amount of food I ate and all the exercise I got she was shocked that I did not lose any weight. I eat less than she does and she noticed. Of course, I did feel like the food police was watching me the whole time. I really did not have much an appetite.[1] I was rarely hungry as we pretty much ate 3 meals a day, which I don’t do normally. She has now concluded that there is something else wrong. I have been telling her this for years but she just does not believe it. Now she does.

I feel quite bad for her, as Kathy is not always nice or kind to her. Kathy was quite upset that we went on the cruise together. She predicted that my mother would want to throw me overboard after 3 days. She said that quite to the contrary, that she enjoyed my company. She also remarked to Deb how I could talk to anyone and hold my own. Plus, we cannot forget the awesome Holland America Rubik’s cube I won play Team Trivia with Glen, the gay Australian Cruise Director.[2]

I really enjoyed the cruise. Now I would like to do it again with Deb! Maybe we could do an Olivia cruise. The scenery was amazing – especially Glacier Bay. Haida Gwaii was lovely too. I finally feel like I am back on land today. It took a couple of days to get my land legs back so to speak!


[1] Something weird is going on again. I am literally not at all hungry.

[2] Glen got increasingly campy as the week on. By the end he was saying ‘toodle loo’ after his announcements.

Back on Land

We got up at 6 am so we could have time to shower and have some breakfast. We disembarked at around 7:45 am. It took us a while to find how to get out of the terminal, which was fine until we could no longer have a luggage cart and I was faced with trying to manage most of the luggage.

I have to say how pleased I am with how the cruise went with my mother. We have never spent this much time alone together ever. We discovered that we actually do get along quite well. My sister had predicted that my mother would be so tired of me after a week that she wouldn’t want to see me for a long time. Her prediction was dead wrong. My prediction hope was that we would be just fine without the additional emotional input my sister provides.

My mother was very pleased with how it went too. We actually spent some time building our relationship, which we had never done. We talked about a few painful things but it was well contained and respectful. She actually admitted she was wrong about my food intake and weight. This is a huge breakthrough for my mother and she finally sees that my food intake is low. She is hopeful that the endocrinologist I am seeing will be able to figure out the problem.

For the first time in my life, I have hope that I can have a relationship with mother. It is something we have never had. She used to say that she doesn’t understand me because I am so different from her. I think this bodes very well for the future. Now she wants to go to Hawaii and I am already looking forward to it!

Vacation Curry Series – Butter Chicken

No curry series would be complete without the butter chicken recipe. A couple of things about this recipe.

  • It takes 5 hours to make this. 3 hours just to cook the onions properly.
  • After you put the tomato paste in make sure you cook it until the oil separates – this will make sense when you see it.
  • Use butter if you want softer onions


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



Day 7 – At sea today

The clocks went forward an hour as we made our way back towards BC. This meant I got one hour less of sleep. Boo hoo for me! I slept until about 9:40 am. By the time I showered and dressed this meant we were a bit late for breakfast so all we got was cold cereal, which was just fine. I am getting a little tired of rich food.

We went for a special luncheon today for just the ‘suite’ guests. As we arrived to the dining room we ran into my former professor and his wife again, so we sat together. It was very enjoyable to talk about politics and other topics.

We went out into open waters today and the boat was rolling quite a bit. This was the most wave action we have seen since the cruise started. We were down shopping for jewelry when it was worst. It certainly made life interesting.

At the end of the cruise is when you decide what you are going to tip. This is particularly interesting given that we have had our own concierge and room stewards. My mother does not tip well. When I went to give the money to the Jean-Paul[1], I asked him to divide the money. He then asked me to put it into envelopes. When I went to divide the money, it seemed a pitiful amount that everyone was going to get. So I augmented the amount when my mother wasn’t looking. This would be on top of the $11 per day we already paid. Holland America says that they do this to make it easier for everyone. I really felt it was important to tip the people who have made our cruise great.

The crew has done a phenomenal job on this cruise. I have a great example to demonstrate how efficient the crew work. Since we embarked on the ship, I had been called ma’am and madam and Ms Shihtzustaff too many times. I said to one of them, please, please, just call me Christine. From that moment on every person who greeted me from room steward to the dining room called me Christine. I could not believe it!

I have some free time so I am going to run away now!

[1] I also gave them our bottle of champagne.