Dispatches from The Swamp – the ‘swimming’ edition

 

The pool we swim at in Maple Ridge, BC

The pool we swim at in Maple Ridge, BC

Recently we have taken up swimming. I have always loved the water. As a kid we spent a lot of time taking swimming lessons and playing in the pool. My limited mobility as a result of obesity and chronic pain issues from ulcerative colitis make exercise an extremely difficult undertaking.

Swimming allows me to feel free. I am able to move my body however I want to and nothing hurts. I can feel the strength in my arms as I pull myself through the water. Kicking loosens up the muscles in my hips. I also do some water running with pool barbells. Those same barbells work really well for resistance work for my arms. Given that I carry all my stress in my shoulders this is an amazing way to work those muscles and loosen things up a bit. The effects last for a couple of days.

Getting out of the water really sucks. By the third step out of the pool, I feel all the effects of gravity magnified. Thankfully it only lasts for a few minutes.

Swimming has been a great way to deal with some of my anxiety. Moving my muscles seems to release some of the tension they hold. I also feel very strong in the water and graceful – two things I don’t have much acquaintance with on land.

Published in: on November 26, 2013 at 5:17 pm  Comments (1)  
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Could Get a Little Bumpy Around these Parts

 

So, I went to the doctor today. She has put me on prednisone which is the two medications I hate the most in the world. Prednisone makes me have crazy thoughts, makes me very grumpy and for some reason, I have trouble eating whilst taking it. I get all the bad side effects and not the one I might actually enjoy. In the past, large doses have messed so much with my blood sugar that I ended up on insulin until I could taper off of it. At least it is only a 5-day course. I am sick of being so sick and I am ready to feel better.

The prednisone is only a short-term plan. I have to go back to see my GI doctor with the hope that I can get on to Remicade with is a biologic medication that treats Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis. In the past, pharmacare would not pay for it but it seems they have loosened up some of the restrictions.

Mostly, I feel sorry for Deb. I get really, really bitchy and moody taking prednisone. At least I have some ativan to help keep it somewhat under control!

Published in: on November 25, 2013 at 4:51 pm  Comments (2)  
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Music from The Swamp – the ‘top 10 most played songs’ edition

music4

Anyone who has read this blog for any amount of time knows how much I love music. It is the salve that soothes my soul, it feeds me and keeps me sane all at the same time. So, dear readers, I present to you my top 10 list of songs:

10. Crash Hard by Dustin Bentall played 164 times.

9. Someone Like You by Adele played 164 times.

8. Torn Screen Door by David Francey played 169 times.

7. What Will Become of Us by Passenger played 180 times.

6. Rest Your Head by Ben Caplan played 198 times.

5. I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons played 212 times.

4. Weighty Ghost by Wintersleep played 220 times

3. Same Love by Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis played 250 times.

2. Lover’s Eyes by Mumford and Sons played 298 times.

1. Ghosts that We Knew by Mumford and Sons played 412 times.

Clearly I have a thing for Mumford and Sons! I am not sure this list is completely reflective of my listening habits over time. I reset my iTunes play counts about 2 years ago so this reflects my obsession with Mumford and Sons late last year. Perhaps I will do another list of 11-20.

Dispatches from The Swamp – the ‘Stevie Ray is growing up’ edition

Stevie Ray

Stevie Ray

 

Stevie Ray is now 5 months old. This is a very important milestone as her first heat is expected in a month. Except Stevie Ray will not be allowed to have a heat as we will have her spayed a few months ahead of time. Besides the obvious reason for doing this, which is birth control, there are many health and behavioral benefits for the dog. Here are some of the benefits:

  1. There are way too many unwanted animals in the world. And unless you really know what you are doing you should not be breeding your dog.
  2. Your female dog never has a(nother) heat. Female dogs in heat are a major pain in the ass. They bleed all over the house. You have to ensure that she does not come into contact with intact male dogs. Even if a neutered dog breeds her, she can have a false pregnancy. I have seen it happen.[1]
  3. The risk of mammary cancer is almost zero if a dog is spayed before her first heat. Spaying is an investment in the long-term health of your female dog.
  4. A dog who has been spayed cannot develop pyometra – which is an infection of the uterus that requires and immediate spay. It can be a very serious condition. My sister lost one of her bull mastiffs to pyometra after spending $10,000 to try to save her.
  5. Carrying and birthing puppies can cause injuries and stress to a dog. Dogs can die giving birth.
  6. Once a female goes into heat her desire to roam increases. If she never has a heat then this behavior is less likely to develop.

 

 

Spaying dogs young means they recover very quickly. Spay techniques have improved so much that the incision is often very tiny. I expect Stevie Ray will be quiet and need rest for the first 24 hours. After that, we will try to limit her activity for a week or so. Thankfully she loves her bed in her x-pen so it won’t be too hard to convince her to spend some time there with a chewie.

 

Please spay and neuter your dogs; it’s the right thing to do.

 


[1] Not to one of my dogs!

Published in: on November 23, 2013 at 2:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dispatches from The Swamp – the ‘random’ edition

 

Jesse and Stevie Ray laying together.

Jesse and Stevie Ray laying together.

I had some blood work done yesterday. I am 2 points away from being anemic (explains my fatigue) and my C Reactive Protein has quadrupled since June. C Reactive Protein is the measure of inflammation in the body. It is a relief to know that there really is something more going on than normal.

It has been so interesting watching Stevie Ray develop. The other day she discovered her hackles and her big dog bark when she hears a noise that startles her. I have also noticed that she has become more coordinated.[1] Her default play position is on the ground, usually on her back playing bitey face. This morning she actually play hopped backwards which is something completely new for her. I was impressed! She also seems much more able to run in more coordinated fashion. It is so much watching her grow up and develop – it is not something we get to do very often.

 


[1] She is seriously an uncoordinated puppy! Probably due to her breed.

Published in: on November 22, 2013 at 1:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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WTF is wrong with people?

 darwinawards

Amongst today’s headlines is one that demonstrates that we, as a society, are pretty fucking stupid. Apparently gas can be had for $.80 a litre in Bellingham. So what do people in the Lower Mainland do? Well, they flock down there, en masse and fill up their cars. But they don’t just stop with their cars, no; they fill up plastic gas cans. Some vehicles have been seen pulling away with upwards of 4, 25 litre gas cans to take home.

These people are attempting to demonstrate evolution in action. Imagine you are booking down the highway, giggling to yourself about how much money you saved getting your gas in Bellingham and all of a sudden you are rear-ended or you hit someone else. A minor accident turns into a fireball that could kill you (hopefully) or some unfortunate victim. Who in their right mind drives with 100 extra litres of gas in their car?

Apparently one woman was seen with 4 gas cans in the back of her car. She definitely gets the village idiot award because she didn’t bother putting the lids on correctly. She left them with the spouts pointing out. So now she is going to get high on gas fumes driving home.

So, fucking, stupid.

Published in: on November 21, 2013 at 1:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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  

More pictures from the photo shoot

Bums!

Bums!

Sawyer

Sawyer

I'm gonna get you!

I’m gonna get you!

Happy Jesse!

Happy Jesse!

 

 

 

Published in: on November 18, 2013 at 1:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dispatches from The Swamp – the ‘little bit of this and a little bit of that’ edition

 

–       We had our favourite photographer, Sheena Staples of Big Air Photograpy, back to The Swamp. We have great pictures of most of the dogs. However we have had some new editions since the last time Sheena was here. We asked her to focus on getting pictures of Jesse’s teeth when he plays.[1] See what I mean?

See the teeth?

See the teeth?

And more teeth.

And more teeth.

Our ripped boy!

Our ripped boy!

–       I have to say that even I am stunned by Rob Ford’s latest gaffes. I am sure he thought he was being funny when said he had ‘enough [pussy] to eat at home.’ I bet he rehearsed it in his crack cocaine, alcohol soaked brain and thought it would give everyone some comic relief. Instead it just showed him to be an even more crass, misogynistic jerk. I have said it before: I feel so sad for his immediate family. His wife and daughter must be humiliated. I fear for what his behavior is teaching his son.

–       Something has been seriously up this week with my ulcerative colitis. My pain levels have been through the roof. I am finding very little relief even with strong pain medication.

–       We have started swimming at least once a week. It has been quite magical for me. I grew up in the water. We had swim lessons starting at a very young age. My mother was afraid of water and she made sure that we were not and that we were able to swim. I feel strong and graceful in the water.


[1] Jesse does this thing with his teeth/lips when he is excited about playing. It is so freaking funny!

Published in: on November 17, 2013 at 12:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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