07 November 2013

Home Sweet Home: The Country, The City, & The Desert

This post has been a long time coming, but I simply haven't been up to writing for the past few weeks between my trip to Michigan and Chicago from October 11th to the 22nd and the post-travel descent into a steady, but mild depression which has persisted more or less.

The trip itself  was full of family, friends, reunions, food, dogs & horses, etc. as expected.  What I hadn't anticipated was my feelings toward and reactions to those things.

Michigan:  I flew into GRR after lovely delays at PHX and ORD on Friday the 11th.  The weekend was so busy with family things that it flew by.  The following week was slower: horseback riding lessons, trail rides, dinner with my grandparents (a traditional Southern fish fry!), and other things that I can't recall.

One of the biggest highlights of my entire "vacation" was the couple of days I spent in Grand Rapids catching up with two of my closest, dearest friends whom I've known 10+ years and hadn't seen in two years.  Wine, snacks, watching "The Lost Boys," having a beer & crack fries at Hop Cat and cackling hysterically as we shared old "war" stories (or what we could remember of them).  I missed them the moment I left.

I finally got to meet my favourite cousin's husband; we went out for an amazing breakfast (if you're in Grand Rapids, MI you cannot miss eating at Marie Catrib's) and visited a couple of farmer's markets before heading to Ionia for day-before-the-field-trial socializing, running dogs, and grilling.  (Venison backstrap stuffed with cheddar/venison sausage and pheasant, quail, & chukar wrapped in ham then grilled... enough said!)

 

I postponed my train to Chicago from Friday to Sunday morning so that I could meet an amazingly awesome Facebook friend face-to-face, meet her incredible dogs, and attend my very first Field Trial.  Also, my very first time riding a Tennessee Walker after a week of lessons on a Quarter Horse/Paint/American Pony.  Needless to say, going from riding Western to using an endurance saddle on a gaited horse was not a smooth transition initially.
       
Overall:  Enjoyed the time I spent with my immediate and extended family with a lot less stress and anxiety has predicted.  I ate WAY more food than I ever do on a daily basis and gained a few pounds (to compound the weight I've gained back from being off running due to a sprained ankle).  Fie on that.  I really loved being "back home" on my family's property, but I still rather loathe the tiny, podunk town itself.  I've never felt at home there and still don't.  It's my hometown, but not my home.

~*~

Chicago:  Firstly, the train I always take back and forth between Chicago and Grand Rapids, MI is the Pere Marquette which runs on the same track, backwards and forwards.  Which means I was facing backwards during the entire train trip, yet still felt and knew the moment we hit the city even without looking out of the window (I was actually reading my Kindle at the time).  Returning to Chicago has always had that same feeling.  Like a clenched muscle finally releasing and relaxing; this time after nearly five years.

The city has always felt like home to me, from the first day I arrived in June of 2004 when I was 21.  It still does, nine and a half years later.  Walking from Union Station to the Quincy brown like El station I was annoyed by meandering tourists and the ever present pigeons (undoubtedly fed by the same irritating tourists, even though it's illegal and you can be fined).  I impatiently waited for my train while basking in the warmth of the heat lamps (ah, the luxury!).  Got off in my old 'hood to see new chains has sprouted up (Jamba Juice, Potbelly's, H&R Block etc.) on a street formerly occupied almost entirely by local, small businesses.  Thank gawd Clarke's diner (24 hour diner w/ booze), Belmont army surplus, Blue Havana, and Ragstock were still in place.  I walked past another shop, whose name I cannot recall, and was cheered to see a leather jock strap clad mannquin in the window.  Same ol', same ol' Lakeview (name of the neighbourhood).

I stayed with a dear, old friend whom I hadn't seen since I moved from Chicago to Los Angeles (yuck) almost four and a half years ago.  Another part of Chicago that hadn't changed or if so, only for the better (good people are like good scotch as someone, somewhere once said).  Although my visit had been cut short by two days, my time in Chicago was as charming and comfortable as rereading a favourite book that had been misplaced for a time.  On top of that, I was finally over the inevitable jet lag.  Yes!

Overall:  Even after six states, well over a dozen addresses, and three cross country moves Chicago remains the only place that has ever truly felt like my home.  Obviously my dogs would be miserable living in the city proper, but somewhere on the outskirts (within Metra train commute to the city) with an acre or two?  Yes ma'am.  Room for the dogs, room for a large garden, and transit into the city for sushi, Middle Eastern grocery stores, art galleries, museums, the food festival, street fairs, and the Lakeshore.

I missed the city from the pit of my stomach even as I stood on the sidewalk waiting for a cab to O'Hare (for the umpteenth time in my life).  

~*~

Tucson:  I don't know if it was from post-travel exhaustion or what, but returning to Tucson was underwhelming.  The three and a half years I've lived here has been the best three and a half years of my life.  I adopted my dogs, I've made lifelong friends, and have personally evolved more than I'd have thought possible only a few years ago.  Still, I feel like the well has gone dry and it's time to move to greener pastures.  (Yes, that is a very topical Arizona and Midwest analogy.)

The past fifteen days (the number of days I've been back in Tucson) have been largely spent puttering around the house and watching movies on Netflix.  Basically, I've been a hermit with a few very notable exceptions: repairing friendships between myself and the people I love the most in this town.  Otherwise, going to the grocery store and a doctor's appointment have been my sole excursions.

Lessons learned?  My hometown is in Michigan.  Chicago is my home.  Tucson is not really my home.


(P.S.  I didn't feel like proofing this post, except for a bit as I wrote, so please forgive any errors.  I'll get around to fixing them eventually.  Thanks!)

09 October 2013

Not Just the Sky Diving Post

It's almost a quarter after one in the morning and I don't feel like composing my thoughts about skydiving.  Basically it wasn't that fun.  Not scary.  The free fall was awful and seemed to last forever.  Maybe it wouldn't have sucked if I had a full face helmet on like my tandem-pro.  The parachute part wasn't bad, but let's face it.  The middle of the desert doesn't have much in the way of picturesque landscape.  It's mostly brown.  With dots of scrub brush, cacti, & cholla.  There are mountains.  Which are mostly shades of brown.

I feel guilty, but I just didn't enjoy it.  I'm proud of myself that I was able to jump (har har) that far outside my comfort zone.

The best part of sky diving?  Weighing in!  I'm down to 143.  To put that into perspective I have lost 33 lbs. in the past year.  WOOHOO!!

Okay, onto the extras.  Time to reveal secrets.

  1. I like Taylor Swift
  2. I hate the colour red, but I own one item of red clothing because it's a blouse with tiny GSPs on it.
  3. I am blowing off two days in Chicago to meet a good friend, her dogs, and attend a field trial.  Yup.  That's how you rank, Chi-town!  Let's face it: everything comes in second place when it comes to German shorthaired pointers and GSP friends.
  4. I don't skirts that are above the knee and only own skirts that hit just below the knee or a couple inches beyond (which is perfection).  Call me a prude.  I'm really not, but I guess I'm modest.  Part of being a 30 old spinster?
  5. I fixed my garbage disposal tonight.  Without gloves because apparently they have holes in them.  Grody!  But I fixed it, damnit.
  6. I secretly listen to pop music (like, recent stuff) when I am cleaning the house.  I don't even know the names of most of the songs or "artists" except that I always recognize Taylor Swift.  Did I mention that I like her?  It's true; and not just because she's a spokesperson for KEDS (which I LOVE), although that gives her bonus points.
  7. I sometimes decorate my house for Christmas during months which are not December.  Or even near December.  It cheers me up.  So who cares?  (It's a good thing I live alone and the dogs don't care what I do or don't do.)

14 September 2013

Food Karma: Hunting

I'd like to begin by saying that I eat a mostly vegetarian diet.  Pretty close to vegan with the exception of eggs locally raised with love by a friend and the occasional bottle or jar of kefir.  Okay, I love Middle Eastern yogurt (think Greek yogurt... but better).  I love cheese, but am horribly allergic to lactose so there goes that temptation (most of the time).  99% of the time I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole.  Or any other pole. Or any other Pole.

Anyway.  Back to the subject of eating animals which is what I meant to talk about in the first place.  As a very Buddhist leaning Agnostic, I do overall believe in not harming other living beings or contributing to their suffering.

I especially do not eat factory farmed animals who have endured lives of great suffering (regardless of what the FDA or USDA finds acceptable), which means you won't catch me buying meat, poultry, eggs, or dairy from my local supermarket.  I am not against the consumption of meat as food but I am completely against playing a part in a practice that I find inhumane to the point of barbarism.  By giving those companies my money I would not only be condoning their practices, but playing a vital role in ensuring these unethical practices continue.

I cannot count the number of people I've spoken to about food and their diets only to be told, "well if I knew where it came from, I couldn't eat it."  That should tell you something right there.

Which brings me to a rather contentious point.  A friend of mine who is a Buddhist sometimes eats meat.  While he is respectful of the animal that gave it's life, which is in a likelihood feedlot beef, he was completely appalled and absolutely livid that I am considering learning to hunt.

Deliberately killing another living creature does incur bad karma.  Killing is bad; we all basically know that right?  But how does eating the meat of an animal that spent most it's life in unsanitary, cramped, and inhumane conditions bestow less negative karma simply because you didn't personally commit the act of slaughter?  Is there a karmic loophole I am not aware of?  Someone else gets the full burden of bad karma from taking an animal's life and you get to enjoy cheeseburger while enjoying a lesser karmic weight?  I find this completely unethical and dishonest to the point of hypocrisy.  You're actively participating in perpetuating the suffering of living creatures.  How does this have less karmic impact?  I don't believe it does.  It has more because you've made the deliberate decision to participate in the continuation of a cycle of cruelty.

Moving onto the topic of hunting, how does eating conventionally grown meat or poultry incur less karmic debt or guilt than killing a wild animal quickly and humanely, respecting the animal that gave it's life, the life that you took, and then feeding your family and friends?  At least you own that karma instead of hiding behind plastic packaged hunks of skinned, de-boned barely recognizable flesh.

Is it because the former removes you from the nitty gritty far enough that you can stomach the food products you consume?  Food that would probably turn you into a vegan if slaughter houses had glass walls?

I'm not going to lie; wild animals don't live in an idyllic paradise any more than the milk you drink or butter you eat comes from cows that graze in the technicolor pastures next to Old McDonald's freshly painted red barn.  The difference is that wild animals have the chance to participate in nature and are a part of the natural world; domestic animals raised in factory like farms called CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) have zero chance of living anything resembling a normal, natural or humane life.  They are little more than commodities processed through streamlined, industrial systems.

If you're okay voting for those practices with your hard earned money that choice is yours to make.  We all have that choice.  I choose not to.

Returning to hunting, I grew up in Michigan where hunting has always had a sense of normalcy to me even though I went through a very vocal anti-hunting phase and then became vegetarian for a couple years when I was in middle school.  In hindsight my heart and ethics were in the right place, but if I'd more educated I would have railed against CAFOs and commercial fishing practices.

The anti-hunting beliefs I held when I was younger was the direct result of one particular incident involving poachers on our land.  I was with my grandmother, driving back to her house which is set far back from the road.  A doe was dragging herself across the field because her back end was paralyzed.  She was in agony.  The two hunters were standing next to the tailgate of their pickup truck drinking coffee and chatting nonchalantly.  I couldn't have been more then ten years old.  I was out of the car, yelling at them (I have no recollection of what I said) before my grandmother could lock the door.  I mean, they were clearly assholes, were trespassing, and had guns.  I did return to the car at my grandmother's frantic request... as we drove away I heard a gunshot and hoped they finally put that poor doe out of her horrific suffering.

I would like to be clear that I don't approve of hunting for mere sport or a trophy to hang over the mantelpiece.  And that solitary incident left me with an extremely negative opinion of hunters in general (no one in my family was more than a casual, sometimes weekend hunter).

One of the many benefits of starting an upland bird hunting dog rescue is that while I've met some of the most heartless and inhumane people imaginable I have also had the incredible pleasure of meeting so many hunters who have such overwhelming compassion and respect for their dogs, the environment, conservation, and the game they pursue.

As someone who has a lifelong love of food and deeply held ethics about where my food comes from, hunting seems like an inevitable marriage between my philosophy and inherent pragmatism.

While I cannot give certain dear friends of mine enough credit that is their due for continually inspiring me (and sometimes picking on me), there is one book in particular that I have read and reread which sparked my gradually increasing leaning toward learning to hunt and source my own food.  How far do you have to lean before you tip over?  Hmm.

 The book I am alluding to is "Girl Hunter" by chef Georgia Pellegrini. I only read a chapter at a time (and this is my second read-through), to let the humour, wisdom, and determined spirit of adventure steep into my mind.  Not to mention the recipes, which are worth buying the book for on their own merit.

I could not recommend this book more highly to anyone who hunts, is considering hunting, loves food, loves cooking, cares about eating locally, or who doesn't hold a good opinion of hunting at all.  There is something to entertain and educate everyone.  Plus it's available in multiple formats!  Hardcover, paperback, audio book, Kindle edition, etc.


For more cooking, hunting, gathering, and old timey skills check out Georgia's blog.  You can also find the link to her blog on the right sidebar under ~ Food Blogs ~.


31 August 2013

Sunsets and Sunrises

Sometimes you glide so slowly from one chapter of your life into the next that you barely notice you've turned a page until the plot suddenly feels unfamiliar.

Other times the door slams.  So you shrug, slide the deadbolt, turn your back and then walk off into the sunset like the end of a spaghetti western.

After experiencing the former over the course of the past two or three years to the point that I barely recognize myself (which has its pros and cons), the latter came out of nowhere recently.  I do understand how difficult I am to care about, especially when I unexpectedly isolate people.  Sometimes it is out of depression; sometimes it's because my moods are cycling for weeks and I don't want other people to have to deal with that; sometimes I just want to be alone because I'm feeling good, doing well, like where I am at the moment, and feel like being around others will get me off-track.  But it's never personal and doesn't mean I don't care, although I can see why other people may take it that way when I don't communicate. 

At this point, it is what it is and I've already swiftly moved on because that's what I do.  This blew up?  Doesn't seem fixable?  Okay, what's next?

In other news I've been tiptoeing on the line between identifying myself as a Buddhist or a Buddhist leaning Agnostic.  That is an entirely different post for another day (which I will hopefully write in the few days if I can keep my writing momentum going).  Suffice to say that I've slipped pretty firmly back into Agnostic territory.  Partially because my views regarding food, specifically the karma of hunting animals for food and the act of eating animals in a more general sense.  This has been a source of conflict in my mind and heart for years now.  My views on the ethics, sustainability, and humane (or inhumane) nature of food sources haven't changed as much as sorted themselves out into a cohesive set of principles.  Perhaps this is a peripheral effect of sorting my brain out in the broader scheme of things.

On the topic of brains, mine has been doing pretty well even during the recent personal upheaval.  My Lamictal dosage was recently increased from 200mg to 300mg and although I am only on Day Seven of the transition I am already noticing a significant difference even with the accompanying side effects.  This is par for the course and most vanish or decrease within a week or so.  Now that it's been a week my constant fatigue is becoming sporadic, my energy is increasing, and my ability to focus has improved quite a bit. 

Another new development in the realm of mental health is that I've found an AMAZING online Bipolar Disorder support group which I am so extremely grateful for.  Being understood is important to everyone, but even more so for people who have Bipolar Disorder.  Unless you have experienced what this illness feels like firsthand there is really no way to understand completely what we go through no matter how much you read, research, try to understand and try to show compassion.  Believe me, we ALL appreciate when those around us do what they can to support us and really try.  I know that isn't remotely easy and most of the time there really isn't much you can do.  Finding a group of people where you have the safety to speak openly, vent, and express yourself without fear of judgment is without parallel.  The therapeutic benefit is enormous.

The title of one of my all-time favourite novels seems an appropriate phrase to conclude this post:
The Sun Also Rises




30 August 2013

TED Talk: Ruby Wax on Mental Illness

Below is the link to an absolutely brilliant TED talk given by Ruby Wax on the subject of mental illness.

One of the best points she made is that when someone has a physically visible illness or injury, the outpouring of sympathy can be (and often is) enormous.  You break your leg or are diagnosed with a chronic illness and everyone is sending flowers, cards, visiting you, offering to walk your dog and water your plants, etc.  The difference?  A broken leg is an injury that heals and you're more likely to get loving care & support from a broken leg than a nervous breakdown.

Like any chronic illness, mental illnesses and disorders require doctors, medications, and treatment plans.  Unlike other chronic illnesses our symptoms manifest in thoughts, feelings, words, and actions because it is our brain that is the affected organ.  Yet even when our illness is known by those around us we're accused of being melodramatic or making things up.  Of being selfish jerks or not trying hard enough because we fail to meet our obligations or disappoint those around us.

The worst is being told to "snap out of it" as if it's something we could overcome if we simply applied ourselves.  Or to "perk up" (as Ruby Wax put it) when we're depressed.  Because if that was possible, we would never have thought of that!  Right?!

Not that the insensitivity of others is deliberate even though it is still hurtful.  Most of my family doesn't know or doesn't want to talk about it or thinks of my bipolar disorder as something in the past that I've "grown out of " or that my symptoms will entirely go away because I'm on medication.

By the way... those last two items?   Not even remotely true; that's the thing with many chronic illnesses: they don't go away and they don't have a cure.

Enough of my pontificating.  Onto the video!  I guarantee you will enjoy it, laugh a few times, and quite possibly learn a few things while you're at it.

(Click the link above to view video.)

22 August 2013

20 August 2013

Today: 8 August 2013

Two thunderous booms, one flash of lightning, thirty raindrops on the external side of my bedroom window, and a little post-lightning rumbling... then it's over.  Just an afternoon storm; here and quickly gone.

This song entirely expresses how I feel today:


"Primavera" by Ludovico Einaudi

16 August 2013

Vocabulary Lesson: Couler

You learn something new everyday; or you can if you make an effort.  Yesterday I learned what the term "couler" means when describing an action a pointing breed dog can perform in the field.  There is a link to a very informative YouTube video at the bottom of this point (because I couldn't get it to properly embed).

Makes me wonder if that is what Gatsby is actually doing (on his own, without my direction) when he points and then starts creeping toward pigeons (who are usually milling about).  I will have to watch him more closely to see if he only does this when the bird he's found is on the move.  He definitely has a more solid point on doves, which tend to be pretty stationary.  Gats does seem to enjoy menacing and chasing pigeons, which he doesn't do with other birds.  More on that in the following paragraph.

Not knowing about his past training (I got him when he was 6) and relying on the opinions of a field trainer and a couple experienced upland bird hunting friends (one w/ GSPs, the other w/ GWPs) to determine what Gats knows/doesn't know... general consensus is that he's without doubt been hunted but doesn't have the manners of a field trial dog (also he's huge and FT dogs tend to be small & quick) or competition dog.  He's also a point stealing jerk who flips out if another dog gets to retrieve the shot bird, but that's another story for another day.  Like I said: no manners.  The dudes also think that his desire to bump pigeons (causing them to fly without stopping/pointing) could be because a lot of trainers use them and he doesn't take them seriously because he knows they're not "really hunting" when he's been exposed to them.  I will absolutely admit that I don't know enough about this subject matter to agree or disagree and am very open to other interpretations of Gatsby's behaviour.


Anyhow, I've gotten completely off track (typical) and having provided a definition for the term I began to write about in the first place.

Couler is when a dog points and then begins to creep stealthily toward a located bird, usually because the bird is moving and they're trying to get it to set (sit still) to reestablish point so that the hunter can flush and shoot.  From what I understand, dogs are not supposed to do this on their own and should only do so when signaled to do so by their handler either by touch or motion/gesture (or a very quiet verbal command, so as not to startle the bird).


~Click on the link below to watch an instructive and well presented video demonstrating what this looks like in an actual field setting.  Trust me, it's fascintating and worth a few minutes to watch!




14 August 2013

It's Not You, It's Me

This past weekend was an uncommon and unusual one for me.  I had social engagements two nights in a row and went to both.  One was a LOT more fun than I had expected and the other went, well, as expected.

Regardless of how anyone, on either night, behaved in general or toward me it was ultimately my choice how I felt about it and dealt with it.

In retrospect these two events (each with a very different "crowd") seem like a metaphor for the balance I am striving to create in my life.  Instead of the Old versus New, it is more like the Old versus Recent.  If you can qualify the past three years as "Recent."  The New, The Now, is somewhere in between those poles.

I felt much more comfortable and warmly welcomed in a group were I knew almost no one than I did in a group where I knew most of the people.  Why was this?  Read below.

Friday's Lessons:  Sometimes all you need is a reminder that there are people who own and love dogs, but are outside of the obsessive, takes-over-your-whole-life dog rescue world.  Being able to discuss my other passions with like-minded ladies was refreshing and good for the soul.  Dressing up and doing girly stuff makes me feel good about myself, as opposed to schlepping around in yoga pants and a tank top (covered in dog hair) all the time.  Don't expect me to be hitting the grocery store in high heels and red lipstick (like I used to), but a nice cotton sundress and pinning my hair up into the semblance of a hairstyle is a big step up from my usual errand-running attire (which looks an awful like dog walking/running attire).

Saturday's Lessons:  Sometimes not feeling like you "fit in" is exactly that.  You don't.  Or in this case, I don't.  To be honest, I don't really feel a sense of belonging to the dog rescue community as a whole anymore.  I've often not really felt "a part of things" when among Tucson dog rescuers, but Saturday night really drove that home.  

Firstly, I run a primarily purebred dog rescue.  I own two purebreds and one crossbreed.  I'm not rampantly anti-breeder, as so many rescue people are.  I have good friends who are wonderful, responsible breeders.  My next dog will be a German shorthaired pointer puppy from a breeder.  I'll always have a rescued GSP, but I also want a dog that I can show and compete in field events with.

Over time the gulf between myself and the majority of rescue folks has increased until it has become a concrete fact.  I am not really bothered by this.

In summary, change is a good thing.  Sometimes you simply change differently that those around you.  It isn't good or bad, it just is.




09 August 2013

Green Recipes: Avocado & Kale

At the request of my Aunt LaDeanna I've put together some easy to make, healthy, and tasty recipes using avocados, kale, and one simple salad including both!

First let's talk a little bit about avocados.  I have certain friends who avoid them because they do contain a goodly amount of fat and for their small size are rich in calories.  Don't fear the fat!  While a diet low in fat is healthful there are good fats and bad fats.  Your body still needs some some dietary fat (along with protein and carbohydrates) to create energy.  Energy = good.

In a nutshell:

Dietary fats to avoid:
  • saturated fat (found mainly in animal-based foods)
  • trans fat (occurs naturally in some foods, mostly animal-based, but most often from food processing)
Saturated and trans fats are usually solid at room temperature.

Healthier dietary fats:
  • monounsaturated fat (found in a variety of foods & oils)
  • polyunsaturated fat (mostly found in plant-based foods & oils, as well as fatty fish)
Unsaturated fats are generally liquid at room temperature.

So... where to avocados fall in the realm of dietary fats?  One avocado (while being around 300 calories, depending on the size) contains about 30 grams unsaturated fat and only approximately 4 grams of saturated fats.  Avocados also contain fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, and high levels of vitamins C and K.  Avocados = Good.

Wow... I didn't intend this post to be a lesson about good versus bad fats, but there you go.  Bonus lecture.

Moving on...

KALE.  I'll try to keep this short and sweet.  Kale is awesome.  I probably eat it 5 days a week (I also love chard, spinach, collards, etc.) and I make a point of eating something leafy & green daily.

Kale is one of the most nutritious vegetables on the planet.  One cup of kale is only 33 calories (yay!) and has a boatload of vitamins & minerals.  It contains well over 100% of the recommended daily amounts of vitamins A, C, and K in addition to being a good source of minerals copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, and potassium PLUS it has a lot of calcium!  Yes, not only can you get about 9% of your daily calcium from a vegetable but it's also full of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.

Kale is extremely awesome.  I could write an endless number of haikus about it (but I most likely won't).  Just make sure to remove the stems; they're bitter and yucky.

On to the recipes!


AVOCADO & KALE SALAD (four servings)
  • 2 bunches of kale, stems removed, *bruised & chopped
  • 2 avocados, peeled & cubed
  • 1/2 head of red cabbage, chopped or sliced thinly (your choice)
Honey Mustard Dressing
  • 3 T. Dijon or stone ground mustard
  • 3 T. honey (I prefer raw honey)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 T. poppyseeds, if you happen to like them
  • splash of apple cider vinegar (I use the organic & unfiltered kind)
OR
  • 1-2 T. fresh lemon juice
Method 

Prepare leafy veggies as directed above.  Combine wet ingredients in a small bowl/dish/whatever and briskly whisk with a fork.  Or a tiny whisk if you have one (I don't).  I use a vintage Corelle creamer because it's small, has high sides, and a nifty spout to easily pour the dressing.  Add the spices/season last and whisk again.  Drizzle over salad and toss to evenly distribute dressing.  Add more salt and/or pepper if desired.  Or if you're like me, add enough hot sauce that almost no one else wants to eat it.

*Bruising greens basically involves taking handfuls of greens and rolling them between your palms to soften their texture.  It's employed to soften tough greens and to increase the flavour/fragrance of fresh herbs.  For best results stems should be removed from both green veggies and herbs prior to bruising.  Rosemary and thyme stems will gently stab you.  Ow.


BREAKFAST SANDWICH WITH AVOCADO (one serving)
  • *2 pieces of whole grain bread or 1 whole grain English muffin, halved
  • 1 egg or egg substitute
  • 1 T. olive oil or Earth Balance (I use Earth Balance most of the time)
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1 think slice **organic tomato
  • 2 t. Dijon or stone ground mustard (I like Annie's Naturals, but there are a lot of great brands available!)
  • salt & pepper
  • Optional: 1 t. hot sauce (I use sriracha or Tapatio)
Method
  • Halve the avocado and using a sharp knife cut slices into one half without removing the peel.  This is usually 5 or 6 slices.  Using a tablespoon, scoop out slices and set aside.  Wash & dry tomato and using a serrated (or very sharp) knife slice until you get the size you'd like.  Optional: slice and eat the rest of the tomato.
  • Heat a skillet to medium-high; when hot add olive oil or Earth balance, swirl around, then throw in your egg/egg substitute.  I don't have to tell you to remove the shell (I hope).  
  • While keeping an eye on your egg, toast the bread/English muffin/whatever.  Spread each with with mustard.  Place tomato slice on one half; sprinkle with salt & pepper, if desired.  Smash/smush avocado slices onto the other half (otherwise they will slip around and try to escape from the sandwich with every bite you take); sprinkle with salt & pepper, if desired.  If, like me, you love hot sauce I highly recommend adding it to the avocado side of your sandwich components.
  • Placed cooked egg onto one half and top with the remaining half.  Voila, you have created a breakfast sandwich!

*You can also use healthy, whole grain frozen waffles.  I recommend Kashi or Van's.  Their caloric content and nutritional attributes are very similar to whole grain bread or English muffins.  Whichever bread-item you choose be sure to avoid ones that contain bleached flour and multiple sugars/sweeteners in the list of ingredients.  Especially avoid corn-based sweeteners like corn syrup solids, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, high maltose corn syrup, etc. but even if food is organic it can still have multiple sweeteners like brown rice syrup, honey, turbinado, agave nectar, etc.

**I prefer organic, vine ripened tomatoes for two reasons: #1, traditionally grown tomatoes were sprayed with a LOT of pesticides; #2, traditionally grown tomatoes are picked unripe and sprayed with ethylene to appear red & ripe but tend to be rather tasteless unless you consider "watery and bland" a legitimate "taste."  I don't.  If food doesn't taste good it's not worth purchasing at all, even if the price is lower than its organic cousin.


GARNET'S BREAKFAST ROOT VEGGIES (two servings?)
(So much better than your run-of-the-mill breakfast 'taters, I promise!)
  • 1 medium sweet potato or yam, scrubbed, skin on, quartered then sliced
  • 2 medium red potatoes, scrubbed, skin on, quartered then sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, scrubbed, skin on, sliced
  • 2 smallish or 1 largeish parsnip, scrubbed, skin on, sliced (halved & sliced, if largeish)
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (red, yellow, orange, green... doesn't matter)
  • 1 or 2 jalapenos, halved, de-seeded, sliced (optional)
  • 2 T. olive oil or Earth Balance, separated
  • 2 T. olive oil or Earth Balance, separated
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • smoked paprika, to taste (maybe around 1 teaspoon?)
  • cumin, to taste (roughly 1/2-1 teaspoon?)
  • fresh or dried thyme (*1 sprig, de-stemmed, if using fresh; about 1 heaping teaspoon if using dried)
  • 2 cups kale, stems removed, chopped
  • About 2 T. of water
Method

  • Clean and slice root veggies, onion, & peppers.  Heat up a **large skillet (medium-high) then add 1 tablespoon of olive oil or Earth Balance.  Wait until the pan is hot!  Trust me on this one.  Add veggies and keep an eye on them.  Toss or stir when they start to stick and add the second tablespoon of olive oil or Earth Balance, if needed (usually this is needed).  You want them to be a little brown and mostly cooked before you add kale.  
  • While the veggies are cooking, remove the stems form the kale and roughly chop.  
  • When veggies are about halfway cooked (test their tenderness with a fork), add spices and herbs.  I usually add pepper toward the very end so that it doesn't burn.  Toss/stir veggies to evenly distribute spices & herbs.
  • Add chopped kale to veggies, toss in a couple tablespoons of water, quickly place lid over skillet, and reduce heat to low so that the kale can steam.  Wait a few minutes before checking to see how wilted the kale gets.  How long you cook the kale is entirely a matter of preference.  I like mine to have a little bite to it, but some people like it to be cooked until softened.  
  • Once the kale is a vibrant green, stir around to incorporate into your veggies and place the lid back onto the skillet.
  • Test your veggies to ensure that they are "fork tender" and you are done!  You can add more salt & pepper at this point, if desired (I usually add more pepper and some hot sauce before serving).
*Tip for using fresh herbs with woody stems (thyme, rosemary, marjoram, etc.).  Pluck/remove leaves into a small dish (I used a ramekin) prior to adding to a pan or pot of cooking ingredients.  Otherwise you could still be picking leaves off while the food overcooks or burns.  If you've done this before you know how time consuming it can

**Make sure that you are using a large skillet or pan that has a lid!  You will be using it.











25 July 2013

Yes, I Am a Breedist Snob

Instead of precluding this post with wordy explanations and heartwarming true stories of the amazing compassion I have witnessed in the past three years I have been involved in dog rescue, I am going to make a few strong statements and give my reasons after the fact.
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#1 - The next dog I get will be from a breeder.

#2 - I will never own a mixed breed dog.

#3 - The only breed I will ever own is the German shorthaired pointer.

#4 - I will never own a German shorthaired pointer whose tail is not docked and it must be docked to the proper length per breed standard.
______________________________________________________

Anyone outraged or at least deeply surprised yet?

The four declarations above may seem more unexpected in light of my involvement in animal welfare and dog rescue.  Onto more bullet points!

- Yes, I volunteered two or three days a week in the isolation kennels (aka "sickbay") at my local animal control shelter for over a year.  I am very familiar with the shelter system and the mind-boggling amount of animals that end up in these institutions.  I know the staggering statistics of how many animals die in shelters each year.

- I began as a foster for an all-breed rescue and fostered 8 mutts (and one cross-breed, which is my GSP/Lab, Lola).  I was actively involved with them for over a year.

- I have run a mostly purebred dog rescue for the past 19 months.  I know there are plenty of purebred dogs in shelters, on Craigslist, or dumped.

- All three of my current dogs are rescues.  Two are purebred, one is a cross-breed (which means she is the result of two purebred parents).  They are all AWESOME.
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So... why do I want a purebred docked tail German shorthaired pointer from a breeder as my next dog?

Well, firstly... my dogs are fairly young and barring a horrific accident it could be as long as ten years before I get another dog anyway.  Someday I'd love to downsize to only two dogs, but at this point it's not happening.  I love my three and they're not going anywhere.

I also want to get a bitch because I would like to participate in conformation (show) events.  Have I done this before?  Nope.  But I can learn, will learn, and even if we don't do well it will be an experience for us both.  Why a bitch?  Honestly I prefer smaller, daintier females and large, above standard moose-like, big ol' males.  The ideal combination of dogs for me would be a pretty, standard sized bitch from a breeder and a huge, masculine looking neutered male from a rescue.  I really dislike bitchy looking males.  (See?  Told you I was a snob.)

What do I have against mixed breed dogs?  Solely personal preference.  I don't care much for little dogs, fluffy dogs, scruffy dogs, smushed face dogs, dogs lacking high intelligence, or boring, couch potato dogs.  I'm glad other people do and that dogs with those attributes are able to find loving, permanent homes.  They deserve to be loved and well cared for, but it's just not going to be my home.  Sorry.

Why German shorthaired pointers?  The simplest explanation I have other than "I LOVE THEM SO MUCH" is that they possess absolutely every quality I could ever want in a dog.  They are extremely intelligent, adventurous, enthusiastic, friendly, outgoing, and very Type A.  Everything they do, they do with a bold intensity and combine that with an affectionate, sweet, cuddly nature.  Yes, they are lap dogs!  They are regal and beautiful dogs, but are also goofy and totally hilarious.  GSPs are without question high maintenance with regards to physical athleticism and mental acuity.  They are a lot of work, but if you love the breed this is a worthwhile, fun interaction with a dog who is expertly tuned into you.  GSPs are not for everyone and while most people have certain expectations from their dogs they are a breed that has high expectations of their owners as well.

You may be thinking, "well, okay... but you own an English pointer and clearly love him!"  Yes, I adore Foxtrot.  He's one interesting dog start to finish.  But he's although he is the second Elhew I've has the pleasure of owning, he is also my last English pointer, Elhew or otherwise.  (I can already hear a friend of mine bursting into tears of denial...)  Why?  To me they are a sunnier, happier, and less intense cousin of the GSP.

What's so bad about that?  Nothing.  Okay... not "nothing."  This brings us to point #4.  Two words:  full tails.  I could easily write a lengthy post on this topic alone.  Suffice it to say that once you get whacked with one fifty times a day they tend lose their charm.  I still consider them to be one of the best and most amazing breeds out there, but they just aren't the perfect fit for me.

Which brings us to my final point: while I do not approve of docking dogs' tails for cosmetic purposes such as merely meeting breed standard even though the dog is no longer used for it's original purpose or job, I absolutely support docking the tails of breeds who are still regularly used to hunt, herd, and otherwise fulfill the job they were bred to do.  I fully admit that finding full tails annoying is a totally arbitrary position on my part; however, while I do not and will probably never hunt, I do plan on participating in AKC Hunt Tests and possibly Field Trials with my future dogs.  Even with my current dogs, I would love to (and plan to) do this with Foxtrot and Gatsby once I am able to put a lot more work into training them.  Although I do not have their papers, I can still get a Purebred Alternate Listing (PAL#) from the AKC which allows them to compete in companion and performance events such as obedience, hunt tests, rally, tracking, agility, etc.

In a nutshell I started out immersed in all-breed dog rescue with only rescue dogs and along the way became a enthusiastic purebred aficionado whose next dog will be a puppy from a reputable breeder.

So there you have it!

23 July 2013

Morning Rituals

Summertime in the Sonoran Desert for a lot of people means getting up at the crack of dawn (or earlier).  We've been having a remarkably cool summer thus far (knock on wood), so I've usually been getting up around 5am.  The past two summers I've gotten out of bed around 4am to get as much work done as possible before the heat turns on full blast.

Like most people my mornings follow a pretty predictable pattern.  Fox jumps into bed to cuddle, whine, and roll upside down.  Gats runs outside to find doves (and dig holes).  Lola starts dancing around demanding breakfast.  I haul myself out of bed, take my mood stabilizer and allergy pills.  Put the kettle on and feed the dogs their breakfast.  Give Lola her morning dose of Benadryl; if her allergies are flared up she'll get prednisone and cortisone anti-itch cream wherever she has been scratching (lately it's been her armpits).  Sweep the living room and kitchen.  Go outside and fill in Gatsby's recently dug holes, if there are any.  Make coffee or tea, then sit on my back steps relishing to cool air and early morning quiet.  Watch Gatsby run around like a maniac playing with his rope or empty laundry detergent jug (his two favourite toys).  Meditate (while still on the back steps).  Take Lola & Gatsby for a run, if I feel like it.  Make myself breakfast.  Depending on the time I may read a bit before checking the news (BBC, NY Times, and Al Jazeera English).  I then groan, sigh dramatically, and check my email.  Sometimes check Facebook (although I've been mostly avoiding that lately; it's too stressful).  Then dig into whatever I have on my To Do list for that day (sending out resumes, returning emails/phone calls (ugh), working on whatever projects I have going on, working on blog posts whether I actually finish them or not, housework/yard work, etc.).

My morning in photos:



 *I don't actually eat three breakfasts; these are just examples of typical breakfast meals.


19 July 2013

Meet My Dogs!

I've had a few new readers express interest in my dogs' backgrounds, how I got them, etc.

Ask and you shall receive!  (At least in this instance; clearly this does not always apply.)

Because my dogs are such a integral part of my life and are basically my surrogate children, I have given them their own biographical page here on the blog.

You can check out their page here: http://www.garnetscarabin.com/p/about-my-dogs.html

Don't forget to stay tuned for future updates detailing their nutty escapades!

Gatsby, enjoying a green smoothie from Whole Foods.

17 July 2013

First Page of a New Chapter

Several life changes have been brewing for a while now; like most changes they don't transpire overnight but unfold at whichever speed they do.

It goes without saying that I love animals, dogs in particular, and German shorthaired pointers most of all, I have been thinking of ways to expand my participation in the field of animal welfare.  Honestly, I don't want to run a dog rescue forever just like I didn't want to volunteer in the isolation kennels (aka, "sick bay") at my county shelter forever.  The long term high stress, extremes of high and low, and risk of burn out are enormous.

Tonight I sent an email to the Pet VIP therapy dog coordinator at the Southern Arizona Humane Society; my intention is to train Gatsby as a therapy dog and once we are certified to visit the residents of the local veteran's hospital.  Perhaps there are more significant ways to thank them for their service and sacrifices, but this is one way that I am able to show my gratitude and hopefully brighten their day.  Who wouldn't want to see a big, ol' hunting dog with a sweet, crooked grin?

As for my other ideas, aspirations, and daydreams... those will have to wait another day to find expression.
Future therapy dog?


10 July 2013

Ebb and Flow - Living with Bipolar Disorder

I find it incredibly amusing that I just "Liked" the Bipolar Disorder disease definition page on Facebook.  Yes, I already posted a status update referencing the act on Facebook this morning.  This post is a continuation of a topic that cannot be fully expressed in three sentences.

Do I really "Like" having Bipolar Disorder?

My answer may surprise you.

Overall, yes.  If I could wake up tomorrow and choose whether or not to have Bipolar Disorder I would choose to keep my chronic illness.

That may sound "crazy," (haha!) but although it has made my life extremely challenging and often so overwhelming I can barely function, I don't think I would be "myself" without it.  Yes, I'd love to do away with some of the more severe symptoms but not all of them are negative or debilitating.

I do associate my level of intelligence and creativity as being symptomatic of the disease (science tends to support this, as well).  My brain processes and cross-references new information rapidly; this also manifests in rapid speech which often gets on the nerves of those around me (sorry about that).  Sure, I also have had insomnia for over 15 years, chronic fatigue that accompanies depression, and the tendency to get irritated with a quickness (however, I also get over it and let it go of it just as speedily).  Some days I can't pry myself out of bed and the very thought of having to talk to people in person, over the phone or text message, via email or Facebook causes almost paralyzing anxiety.

I've also avoided entering into serious relationships due to bad experiences such as being dumped as soon as I told my significant other that I have this disease because of "what might happen" or "what I might do" in the future.  Being summarily discarded for such an excuse is discouraging no matter how unfounded it is.  I've also been dumped or had people lose interest as soon as they discover that I'm bisexual as if that means I am incapable of monogamy or faithfulness... which couldn't be further from the truth.  I am attracted to both men and women, but I don't require one of each as a life partner to have a happy, fulfilling life.  Yes folks, I'm old-fashioned, monogamous, want to get married, and have children.  This is probably not very surprising to anyone who knows me well.

(I do think it's an interesting fact that I am bipolar, bisexual, and ambidextrous.  Does that mean something?  Who knows.  It's still amusing to ponder, though.)

Since I have talked about this as much as I feel like doing today, I would like to conclude with recommending the video below.  If you haven't seen this interview with Stephen Fry talking about his *Bipolar Disorder, please take a few minutes to check it out.  It is one of the best first-hand explanations I have come across that tries to express to people who do not have the illness what it actually feels like.

*Note: Bipolar Disorder and Manic Depression are the same thing.


07 July 2013

A Few Of My Favourite Things

Root Vegetables
Left to Right: carrots, parsnips, yams, & red potatoes.

My dog Foxtrot, in the Sun


Vintage Pyrex

Nancy Drew

My favourite: British Invasion Duchess of Pearl Princess Grey black tea

Tin Mugs (and Homemade Smoothies)


Homemade (although not by me) Walnut Baklava

Best.Baklava.Ever at Zayna's Mediterranean.

01 July 2013

Daily Gratitude - Monday Music Edition

I am once again reviving my Daily Gratitude posts.  It is so beneficial for each of us to take a moment each day to stop, reflect, and recognize how much we have to be thankful for and happy about.

Today (and probably on other occasions) I am sharing with you music of unparalleled beauty that has deeply inspired me recently.  I hope you enjoy this departure from my usual lists.

"Ora" by Ludovico Einaudi


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"Letting Go" by Isaac Shepard


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"Racing Against the Sunset" by Philip Wesley


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"Der Holle Rache" (Queen of the Night) by Mozart,
from the 1969 production of "The Magic Flute,"
sung by the incomparably talented coloratura soprano Lucia Popp 



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"Solveig's Song" by Edvard Grieg (music) and Henrik Ibsen (lyrics),
from the 1982 production of "Peer Gynt,"
once again sung by Lucia Popp


30 June 2013

From Swamp To Table

Upon tasting this recipe the first word that sprang to mind was "swampy."  My second thought was, "I just wasted four perfectly good stone fruits and some fairly expensive yogurt."

My first clue that something was awry should have been when I discovered that the protein powder was green.  Olive green, no less.  But I was feeling optimistic and it was plant-based after all, so what is a little chlorophyll?  So there it went, into my delicious smoothie base in the best kitchen appliance ever: the Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus.  Economical, powerful, and pretty!  (Everything I strive to be!  Does that mean I have an appliance as a role model?)

First, the ingredients and tools (I forgot to photograph the spatula I used.  Big deal.).  Innocuous looking, aren't they?

Nothing scary about this cast of characters!  Right?
Now onto the recipe (and method):
  • 1 banana (organic, non-Dole brand preferred... I'll write more about the Dole Corp. later)
  • 1 plum
  • 3 apricots
  • 1/2 c. So Delicious brand unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 c. White Mountain brand non-fat Bulgarian yogurt (similar to Greek yogurt or kefir)
  • 1 packet of original flavour Amazing Meal plant-based protein powder

Step One - Slice and dice fruit into manageable chunks (remove and discard pits/stones, duh); put into blender or food processor (also, duh).

Step Two - Add coconut milk and yogurt; pulse/blend until partially liquefied, but still a bit chunky.

Step Three - Add protein powder (contents, not envelope... although I'm not entirely convinced that would negatively affect the taste) and pulse/blend once more until desired consistency.

Step Four - Optional!  Add sweetener of your choice: sugar (I prefer raw), honey (again, I prefer raw), stevia, agave syrup, or plain ol' white granulated sugar (which defeats the purpose of this being a healthy, non-crap-filled meal but suit yourself).

*Note: I chose not to add any sweetener because I simply didn't have any on hand.  Raw honey or agave syrup probably would have improved the taste, but I guess I'll never know!

Step Five - Pour into some sort of glass, if you dare.  Makes two approximately 8 ounce servings.  Sadly...


Review:
As I mentioned above, I should have taken the greenish powder as a red flag but persisted on my mission entirely heedless of the likely unpleasant consequences. 

At first all seemed to be going well... the fruit, coconut milk, and yogurt created a lovely bright coral colour when incorporated.

Then came the beginning of the end: the green powder lent its unfortunate colour to the previously appealing concoction.  The smoothie now closely resembled scummy pond water.  The protein powder also contributed a flavour that I can only describe as, "earthy and green in a manner not unlike compost."  Not that I know what compost tastes like first hand (I could ask my dog Gatsby who partakes of it at every opportunity), but I certainly know how it smells and can use my imagination from there.

The first flavours that hit your tongue are surprisingly banana, plum, and apricot.  Unfortunately this is followed by a lingering, bitter, compost-y aftertaste.  That was the only incentive I had to finish my single serving.  That and my refusal to be defeated by green sludge that has many healthful benefits (which it does; I can't knock it for that).

In conclusion, I may be willing to try the flavoured varieties offered by this brand... but the fact that I rinsed my mouth out with a 50/50 mixture of cider vinegar and water (which is also what I use as a cleaning agent around the house...) gives me pause.

P.S.  I don't know why I included the recipe; I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

28 June 2013

Something Fishy

Did you know that one serving of ahi tuna is allegedly only three ounces?  Whoever decreed that probably never ate a nine ounce sesame crusted ahi steak, seared in sesame, oil for dinner.

It was some of the most delicious 800-some calories I've ever consumed in one sitting.  The spring mix with a made-from-scratch-by-yours-truly bright lemony ponzu vinaigrette was a perfect foil for the fishy richness of the tuna.

Hello, my pretty!
33 minutes was the duration of my run/walk with Gatsby.  Nine minutes total running (in three sets); the rest of the time walking briskly, jumping over ledges & benches, and running zig-zag through the trees.

Gats is an excellent running partner: he never gets tired, he matches my pace on locks into that speed like cruise control which keeps me going even when I want to wuss out, and sometimes if it's breezy his ears flap adorably.

The only time he slows down is to try to swerve into every bar or pub we pass... is he my dog or what?!


This is not a photo of me hand feeding Gats a piece of perfectly seared ahi...

26 June 2013

A Beer Reference

If I got married and had two children, my family would be a six-pack.

Yes, dogs count as family members even if they refuse to go to the bathroom inside like civilized humans would.  Actually, I strongly encourage that course of action.

Gatsby, Foxtrot, & Lola Lulu

25 June 2013

Proof is in the Pudding

I'm watching a movie about competitive butter sculptors.  No, I did not make that up in an incoherent haze of being both physically ill and medicated.

I've also read seven Nancy Drew novels (on my beloved Kindle) in the past... two or three days?  Four?  I'm not really sure, but that's not the point.  The point is, if you'd like books one through fifty-six let me know and I'll send them to your Kindle.

A one hour nap turned into four; I only woke up at that point because Gats stretched out in his sleep and clocked me in the eye with an enormous rear paw.  This dog has shovels for feet.  The front paws, from the back of the large foot pad to the end of his middle toes (this is excluding his nails, which are roughly the diameter of a No. 2 pencil) are FOUR INCHES across.  Rear paws are probably three or three and a half inches long/across/front-to-back/whatever.

Thankfully I don't have a black eye.  Good grief.

 I also changed the ringtone on my iPhone to a quacking duck and the incoming & outgoing text message alert to a bird whistle.  Pure enjoyment, when you own there bird dogs.  :)

Ten minutes and pasta will be done; I cannot believe I am boiling water, in Tucson, in JUNE, during the day.  Ugh.  Pure madness.

But then again, I'm about to start a movie about competitive butter sculptors.

I think that is self explanatory.

Also, the title of this post is making me crave butterscotch pudding.

Three or four hours of hard work today (read: dog rescue work), even though I am supposed to be "resting" and "taking it easy."  I'd venture to guess that is why my afternoon siesta was... what it was.  Excluding the being kicked awake by a GSP... that pretty much is what passes for normal around here.

Yes, I understand that this is nothing but rambling, babbling rubbish that almost no one would care to read.  Oh, well!

P.S.  The above-mentioned movie is called "Butter."  Shocking.

P.P.S.  It has occurred to me that the title of this post doesn't make much sense when compared to the content of this post.  Guess what?  Not going to change it.  (I still want butterscotch pudding.)

24 June 2013

Between Chapters

Sporadic is the best word I can use to describe my blog posts over the past several months; writer's block has been a persistent ailment and I'm determined to overcome it... even if it means writing some complete drivel to chip off the rust and flush out the pipes.

That was a terrible analogy.

I really am out of practice.

Between the stress of the dog rescue (5 dogs needing foster homes; no adoptions and every new foster we've had has fallen through... at least half a dozen, total), financial worries, weeks of respiratory illness, and overall exhaustion from 18 months of non-stop chaos it is hard to find the energy or motivation to write, as good as it is for my mind and sanity to creatively express myself.

Yet, their is hopefulness in the midst of all this weightiness.  Things have got to change and changing they are already.  I've applied for what would be very close to a dream job for me, in Michigan about 45 minutes from where my parents and grandparents live.  Hopefully I'll have an answer within the week so that I can give my landlord notice.  My lease is up at the end of July so I will have to give 30 days notice to either vacate or renew my lease.  The idea of a fresh start, even out in the boondocks, sounds exciting and rejuvenating.

I've been reading a lot lately and have gotten better acquainted with my Kindle (and the marvelous things it can do!).  The first 56 Nancy Drew novels will be eating up my spare time for a while, in addition to a complete collection of Antonin Chekhov's short stories and an actual "real" book version of Food Fight by Daniel Imhoff which is describe as a "primer to the US Farm Bill."


06 May 2013

A Poem - Desiderata, By Max Ehrmann


    Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
    and remember what peace there may be in silence.
    As far as possible without surrender
    be on good terms with all persons.
    Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
    and listen to others,
    even the dull and the ignorant;
    they too have their story.
    Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
    they are vexations to the spirit.
    If you compare yourself with others,
    you may become vain and bitter;
    for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
    Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
    Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
    it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
    Exercise caution in your business affairs;
    for the world is full of trickery.
    But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
    many persons strive for high ideals;
    and everywhere life is full of heroism.
    Be yourself.
    Especially, do not feign affection.
    Neither be cynical about love;
    for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
    it is as perennial as the grass.
    Take kindly the counsel of the years,
    gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
    Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
    But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
    Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
    Beyond a wholesome discipline,
    be gentle with yourself.
    You are a child of the universe,
    no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here.
    And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
    Therefore be at peace with God,
    whatever you conceive Him to be,
    and whatever your labors and aspirations,
    in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
    With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
    it is still a beautiful world.
    Be cheerful.
    Strive to be happy.

    Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

10 March 2013

Not the Post I Had Planned

The update that I promised and didn't deliver is still not written.  I think I might need another couple of days to continue to decompress and fully grasp what I saw when I spent the evening in the company of friends and dog rescue veterans at a place called the "Dog Patch."  It's a dumping ground for dogs, out in the desert, but it's so much more than that and I wasn't expecting the severity of the impact that the time I spent there had on me.  That is still another post for another day, albeit one this coming week.

Instead I'll shared some photos of my German shorthaired pointer Gatsby who went with me to the Book Fair on the University of Arizona campus today.  I bought him an ear of roasted corn (which he normally LOVES and will steal from the grill if you're not watchful), which he refused to eat until we got home.

He also locked onto a pair of doves on our way home, as you can see by the photo of him on point to the above.  Not the best angle, but it was a solid, intense point.  Good boy!  (Click the photo to see it full sized!)
CORN DOG!
Gatsby loves corn on the cob.  And the cob itself.  But not the husk.  He spit that right out!


07 March 2013

Quiet Possibly the World's Worst Update

While I should be cleaning my glorified dog kennel (aka, my house), here I sit attempting to write something substantial enough to be worthy of my friend Cheryl's plug on Facebook.  "Read Garnet's blog!  She hardly ever writes a post because she's too busy rescuing dogs, eating organic sprouts, having vegan tea parties or watching Foyle's War on Netflix!"

Crap.

To same time and words, here is a photo:  (I am now going to look through recently uploaded iPhone photos to select something suitably attention garnerning.)

Okay, here we go.  This was an AWESOME dinner created by the contents of our Sunizona FarmBox (organic CSA from Willcox, AZ which is about an hour & a half from where I live in Tucson) and the contents of our (me, my friend S. & her mom) pantries.  Brown rice with ginger peanut sauce and mushrooms, carrots, red peppers, green onions, cilantro, crushed cashews, and sriracha.  Possibly a few other things.  It was tasty!  Not only is sharing a CSA box easy on our pocketbooks, but it is so nice to cook a family dinner together and have a real family meal.  Makes my heart happy and is just as good for my depression as my meds, if not more so.


Obligatory dog photo.  My beloved German shorthaired pointer, Gatsby, on the left and my supposed-to-be-foster-dog-but-probably-my-dog Foxtrot the Elhew English pointer on the right.


I will be undertaking a unique adventure this evening, that has ties to Lola Lulu's puppyhood.  The best part is that my friend is one his way and I haven't swept the floors, washed (or hidden) any dirty dishes OR taken a shower.  Yay!

Stay tuned for a poignant post (with photos) later tonight.