Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Taiko Drums!

Here's a short clip of an AMAZING performance by Shozuidaiko, the Japanese Training Mission's Taiko and Brass band, on their recent visit to the Port of Halifax.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Lila-dog's sudden illness and departure

Note: I've wanted to post this for a while, but I never had it quite the way I wanted it.  I wanted more pictures, better pictures to capture her joie-de-vivre, but circumstances have forced my hand. Yesterday morning, our other dog, Casey, died of a sudden illness. Both dogs in six months. We are pretty devastated here, but at the very least, I have to get Lila's memorium up now so I can make way for Casey's as well. What a horrible problem to have.


A couple of weeks before Hallowe'en 2012, I wanted to get Lila's shots up to date, so she could go to the park for walks again. She had developed a small squishy area on her tail 2 weeks prior, so I mentioned that as well when we went into the vet's.  The vet said to wait on the shots, because the tail lump looked suspicious - I truly had no idea, it just looked like water retention.  The doctor took a biopsy, but said he had to send it away for further tests - it didn't look like a fatty deposit under the microscope. It turned out it was cancer, and she needed surgery. She had a tumor within a tumor - a small malignant one surrounded by a large fatty benign one. The post-op examiners had never seen one like it.

But as awesome as the surgery went, and as clean as her wound recovered, she never did. She shook all the time, had difficulty eating. We tried pain meds, and mood meds to calm her, and appetite increasers - nothing really worked well, she ate sparingly and kept losing weight. She stayed in this state for about a month. And always, in the back of our minds - had the cancer already spread? The margins still had cancer cells in them, it was possible. Then she finally took an upturn and started eating more. We thought she'd make it! Definitely to Christmas. I bought her a special Christmas collar with bells on. But a week after that, one week before Christmas, she took a terrible downturn. She couldn't even take in water. It was over. It was the weekend, the hospital was closed. I wanted her regular care doc to see her, so we had to wait until Monday. Give her till Monday, and maybe she'll turn it around again? But that Sunday night I stayed downstairs with her all night. She was at the end, and we both knew it.  She refused even the water I tried to put on her lips with my fingers.

Monday morning we got her in, and her regular care doc was able to send her on her way, with Dave and I gently rubbing her body as she faded away. Her doctor was just so awesome throughout this whole thing - he has Jack Russells himself, and he understands their moods and how to deal with them. All the reception/tech girls were really pulling for her too, and all were sad to hear she couldn't make it. The girls used their casual day monies for an "angels with fur" charity, and they made a donation to that charity (which helps animals in need), in Lila's name. So sweet!

Lila and Dave and I tried so hard, but it just wasn't enough. I'm still having flashbacks the grocery store - I made so many soups and cooked strange meats and things to try to get her appetite going, every aisle reminds me of her.

But I wanted this post to celebrate the good things about her life - for most of it, she was a very happy puppy! She loved to flop on her back at the top of a sunny, grassy hill (flower-filled was even better still), and wiggle her way back and forth slowly down the hill, belly to the sun. She loved the summer - the hotter, the better. Sitting in the grass, out in the hot sun of a summer's day, she looked perfectly content and at peace. Winter - she hated. Couldn't wait to get back inside after a quick pee outside. Hated to wear her little sweater, too, which she was very cute looking in, regardless. She did enjoy a short game of 'catch the snowball', however. She shook when she got excited. Or scared. Or hungry. Or happy... To Lila, every time we left felt like she'd never see us again (a result, we think, of us being her 3rd owners). She greeted us with an effusive abandon I've never seen before. It was darling. We called her wiggle puppy sometimes, and that's why - she'd shimmy and twist her whole body in delight, jumping up and down and wanting to give kisses each and every night we came home. We also called her football, because she was built like one, LOL. She loved peanuts. She honked when she was happy. She snored adorably at night. She barked almost constantly during play. It was a habit she picked up early in her life and despite our best efforts, she never overcame. We got her a mini soft frisbee to hold in her mouth during outdoor play time so she would carry it around and growl through it instead of outright barking. She was a picky eater! We went through many different brands to find something she'd love. They stopped making her favorite brand (Alpo soft beef) and we never found it's equal.

She was a dear, sweet puppy who died young for her breed, only 10 1/2 years old, and deserved a far better life than she was given.  Rest in peace, wiggle puppy!

She loved the kotatsu almost as much as the cats. No pics of her underneath as she liked to do on cold winter nights, but here's a couple of her on top, enjoying the sunshine through the window - having so little fur, she was a big fan of all things warm.
Every now and then, we'd take off her collar, she found them itchy. Here she is 'naked' on the back hill enjoying a warm summer day.
Enjoying her new doggie bed a couple of years ago. When Casey got a new, bigger one, Lila tended to hijack that one, and Casey was left fitting into this tiny one, just big enough for her butt. Dogs...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Spring is coming...slowly!

Over at my parents house with Casey today - the crocuses are in bloom! Bees are out pollinating, the sun is shining - it's a nice day!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Gardening officially begins!

This year, most of the seeds I bought are early spring starters, so since it was a lovely sunny day earlier this week, I went for it!

Its hard renting a home and not being able to make a proper garden. :/ But I'll have to continue to be content with container gardening, as long as I've kept my goals realistic.  I chose mostly flowers this year, but I'm sure to end up with more veggies as the spring progresses - my folks always buy extra and give me some. :)

I wanted to plant Bachelor's buttons last year, but I didn't get seeds until it was quite far into the season, and when they sprouted, they were devoured almost immediately by bugs.  There's a reason for following the planting times on seed packets - not only the weather is appropriate, but the bugs that would feast on particular plants aren't around until the plant is properly established. So this year I bought them in February :D.

I'm planting a display of Bachelor's Buttons interspersed with California poppies. The mostly blue buttons and mostly red poppies will make a gorgeous combo. They're the same growing height too, so they go together naturally.

My mother's mom (my Baba) used to grow Calendulas. We had them for many years growing up, it was one of the first flowers I was able to identify because it was so common at home. Their unique, large, curved seeds were fun to gather as a child. I chose some large Calendulas to grow this year, a lovely pale yellow.  They'll be grown in the back of the same pot as Night Scented Stocks.  I grew them as a teenager at home and never forgot them. How delightful to go out in the late evening and smell their amazing perfume!

For veggies, I still have my garlic that I planted last fall (the best time to plant--mulch well and they are ready to pick in early summer!). I planted quick growing crops this year - green onions (scallions) and radishes. I still have to plant the potatoes I have sprouting in my kitchen right now though! I think I need another pot... :)

Should make a nice display, and leave me some little things to add to my diet. :)

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Wonderful news for Hope for Wildlife!

As I've mentioned before, Hope Swinemar is pretty much an angel on earth for animals of all stripes.  And thanks to an enormous donation from a person watching their reality show in Ontario, they got a huge piece of equipment they really needed!  It's super news for this group that will help them get animals diagnosed much faster, leading to better survival rates.

Read all about Mitchell Fenton's 43,000$ (!!!!) donation so they could get a new digital x-ray machine, at the Chronicle Herald.

Congratulations to Hope for Wildlife!

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Clearcutting affecting Broadfork Farm

Having just read that farmers should leave patches of land for natural habitat so local bees can stay healthy with a varied diet, it was heartbreaking to read of what's happened to these poor farmers in River Hebert, NS.  Broadfork farm sounds like they've been really trying to keep stewardship of the land foremost in their minds as they grow their crops.

And then this happens next door.

A New Brunswick company apparently was given permission to clearcut the nearby property to this farm; and the results, as you can see, are devastating. I won't go into more detail here, the letter the farmers wrote eloquently puts all of the facts down in a succinct way that I'm sure I couldn't if I were in the same shoes.  How they can contain their rage and devastation over this is beyond me - they're better folk than I.

So, read the link below, and see what they have observed, and their fears for the ecological future of the area.

Clearcuts Affect Farms!

Thanks to John van Gurp (of Halifax Chickens - someday, John!) for posting the link on Facebook.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Upcoming Easter Menu, Mark I - with recipes

This year, "regular" Easter and Ukrainian Easter are the farthest apart they can be--five weeks. So Ukrainian Easter won't be until May this year! I'm saving the more traditional Ukrainian items like bitter beets for Ukrainian Easter.  Except for the mushrooms. Can't hold those back!

I got a lovely pork picnic shoulder for the ham this year, going to bake it in the slow cooker, then glaze it in it the oven.  Your typical brown sugar, Dijon mustard glaze. And I'm going to do that cross-hatching the fat and studding it with cloves thing, too. Yum! (An example is here, using maple syrup too!

Potato and mushroom bake is a fantastic side for a baked ham, a delightful combination of flavours that's really different from regular scalloped potatoes.  My only change is that I only use 1% milk, I find if I use cream it makes it too rich to eat as much as I want. :)  I also use Swiss Cheese instead of Gruy√®re.

My pidpenky will be prepared as I always do, according to my recipe on my learnpysanky website.   I'll be using mostly Portobello mushrooms this year, because I want this dish to be a little more robust this year.

And I'm going to try this delicious-sounding recipe for Bourbon mashed sweet potatoes I haven't tried before.  I might end up simmering the bourbon a bit longer than stated, as I do find sometimes when cooking with whiskey that the alcohol doesn't burn off enough and the dish ends up a bit harsh.

Uncle Steve's pickled eggs (see my recipe: and my Habitant mixed pickles ( round out the meal.

Dave's family recipe for pineapple whipped cream squares will be our dessert.  I buy canned whipped cream now, because I found it hard to use a whole container of it before it separates.  I know, talk about your first-world problems...

Super Simple Pineapple Whipped Cream Squares

Make a graham cracker crumb crust (you can buy the crumbs in most supermarkets, or buy the crackers and squish them up yourself).  About 1 1/4 cups of crumbs to 1/4 cup melted margarine or butter. Press into 9" pie plate or equivalent square bottom dish.

Drain a can of pineapple chunks or bits well.  Mix about 2:1 or 1:1 ratio of pineapple with whipped cream (enough to make the pineapple stick together nicely).  Spoon onto graham cracker crust.

That's it!  SOOOOO good, too. :)

Have a great Easter, everyone!