Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Learning Experience Of Farm Life

Well.. it's been a while.  Or, it feels like a while.  It's finally cooled down to a point where I can think.  Oddly, we're at the same temperature for this time in the morning as three days ago (22C @ 1030), but it's different (pleasant) without the humidity.

Anyways, I wanted to talk about my time at the farm last weekend.  Now Lord help me, I couldn't write this week but now that I've waited a week it'll be a test if I can remember anything (stats.. you'll see shortly).

Our adventure started early.  About an hour into our drive, CZ's car died.  We sat at the side of the road, flipped the hood to see if there was anything noticeable - nothing - and waited.  This old European couple (heavy accent, I'm guessing Dutch) pulled over to see if they could help.  They couldn't, but they were generous enough to give us a ride up to the truck stop to wait for CZ's dad to pick us up.  He did, we went for Mass, back to the house and they sent out the older boys to pick up the poor vehicle left at the side of the road.

So we had lunch when we got to the house, put on our barn clothes and went for a ride back to the bush.  The younger brothers wanted to plant some flowers (read: hostas) back at the bees (they have a couple hives).  Turns out there were no bees, but flower planting commenced anyways.  We went for a very short walk along a back path but started to get devoured by mosquitoes, so we left.  They love me, but I don't love them.

On our way back to the bush, guessing easily half a mile if not more.  They have a 100-acre property.

Their neighbour taps for maple syrup. These are the lines, after being tapped in (sorry I didn't get a close-up of that).  They weave in and out of the bush.

On level ground...

The back path with mass amounts of mosquitoes.

Can't remember what happened when we got back.  Oh right.. we just sat outside, took it easy and I laid on the grass.  I can't remember the last time I just laid on the grass.. feeling the earth beneath me.  It was bliss.  Then I think it was time for dinner and we went in.  Not everyone was home for the weekend, so there was just 12 of us at the table.

Me, loving the grass and the sun.

Close-up of a dandelion.

After dinner it was time to milk so we went out to the barn.  Oh.. I almost forgot.  We had the option of making butter (I was so excited to), so we set up the separator while we were milking (making butter is a bit of an involved process, as you can imagine).  We take the milk from the cooler (post-milking) and pour it into the separator.  It took a LOT of milk to fill a 10-gallon pail of cream to make butter.

The separator.  The milk is poured into the large stainless steel basin at the top, pouring out through the spigot, passing through many layers of thin metal discs for separation (separates by weight). It pours the cream to the left and what is skim milk to the right.  The colour here is amazing - you didn't see the difference (between the cream and skim milk) in person.  I learned a very interesting fact while talking to CZ's dad during the separating process, but I'll get into that later.

So I toggled back and forth between milking the cows and pouring the milk into the separator.  I learned how (hands-on) the milking process works, straight from cleaning the cows teets, to applying the milker and how it suctions onto the cow..*fwoop*.. how to read when she's done milking and taking it off and applying iodine to prevent infection.  I just walked around and watch them move from cow to cow, milking.  Some wonderful conversation was made that evening, but I'll get into that more at the end, after the pictures :)

The girls :)  Feeding while milking.  Jersey's are becoming more uncommon, apparently, though I'm told they're a more heartier breed.  I'm used to seeing holsteins, so this was nice.

It's very hard to get good-quality pics inside a barn, let me tell you!

Momma and baby, just a couple hours old.  Wobbly legs and everything.  It was quite a sight.

This is me rinsing, kneading the butter.  It needs to be rinsed under cold water, then we knead it out until it rinses clear.  Then the next step...

After churning, sitting, separating and kneading, the butter has to be compressed to get all the remaining moisture out (buttermilk), or whatever's possible.  So we squeeze it between our hands and compress it into the container for the final product.  Colour, I'm told, can vary - depending on minor factors (humidity, etc).

The numbers are crazy for making butter.  I don't recall, but I think it's like 10/1 or 8/1 or something like that (i.e 8 parts milk for 1 part butter).  It might be even greater than that, I can't remember.  I was blessed to be able to take some home (and buttermilk for pancakes).

So, when we were milking, my head was turning with so many questions, thinking about the process from farmer to store shelves.  Some facts I figured out...

 ~ Farmers have a quota.  If they don't meet said quota, as far as numbers are concerned, they can carry-over until the next month when they hope to have, say, a better day with higher output.  If they exceed said quota/output, they a) don't get paid for it and b) have to pay to have it hauled away...which really, really sucks.  It's a waste.  Well, waste in essence the farmer doesn't get paid for it.  It's still used by the 'middle man' and ends up as product on the shelf, so the middle man uses it to their advantage.  The farmer can buy more quota, but the figure is, IMO, astronomical (it's 5-figures, if I remember.  Or was it 4?  Sigh.. this is what happens when I wait a week to post).  They exceeded their quota for the time, which is why we were able to afford to take some milk out to make butter.  All of this really disheartened me and my heart sank.  And we wonder why our farmers are "poor"*.  Moving on...

~ Quota exists for everyone's benefit. It's established to maintain a fair market price.  I wish I could delve into this more, but my understanding falls a little short.  I will try to come back with more explanation/fact for you.

~ If you're new to farming, you almost have to invest a lifetime of debt to have the rights to milk the cow and have a return income.  That's why it's a good thing when farms are passed down in the family.

I started to ask my friend a few questions and as we got into it, soon the other older brothers started to gather round as soon as they could walk away from their particular task and got involved in the conversation.  And it was such a great feeling to just stand and talk and connect with them; discussing what's mutually important.  I asked that evening, working in the barn, what I can do, or what we can do to help... and "buy local" couldn't be stressed enough.  If you can't buy local, at least buy into your own country.  We have many import problems (apparently the States does as well, but I'll need someone else to verify this for me).  Make sure it has the 'stamp'; "Canada" for Canada, naturally and US or USDA on U.S-based product (likewise for other countries).  Raw milk is illegal for sale in Canada and we're sure eggs are, too (this fact has to be double-checked, but we believe there are rules of some sort).  Meat and vegetables can be bought direct sale from the farmer.  Invest in a freezer and buy a cow, or half a cow and freeze it.  It's more economical and good relations between you and your local farmer.  You know where your meat is coming from; you can ask questions and get involved.

What keeps the farmer going?  Why does he do it?  Because it's in their blood.  It's personal.  It's their passion.  God love them for it.

* I use the term lightly.  Farmers do well to 'break-even' and even gain profit, but that profit is usually invested back into the farm (repairs to barn or equipment, purchase of new equipment, land debt, health of cows, etc); so it's a cycle.  

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Modern-Day Parent?

There's an interesting documentary on the CBC tonight, 'Hyper Parents, Coddled Kids'.  It's presented how parents these days are getting a head start on making their 'Mensa' child while it's in the womb (Baby Einstein, holding $4000 birthday parties as an "accomplishment" (I'm paraphrasing) for turning one).  Private schools, lessons after schools (ballet, tutoring, gymnastics et al.), and the parents are keeping a constant sort of tethered 'leash' on their kids (cell phones, GPS units in the cars when they're out driving, spy cams).

Parents are even helping their kids set up at college (filling out their applications, speaking to college presidents about their students grades and why they're not doing better and threatening to bring in their lawyer if they don't get moved from the Chemistry teacher they don't like - I wish I was joking).  Parents are also being known now for attending interviews, helping their child set up their desk at work (say, if they're in an office) and speaking to their child's boss when there's problems, or even negotiating salary.  It then presented how these kids are reacting as they're growing up.  Kids are meeting anxiety in college (feeling pressure from parents to keep up performance) and it's no wonder because they haven't been able to go out and experience life and learn to problem solve on their own.

They put the spotlight on this one girl who, out of college, has changed up to 4 jobs and with those not working out borrowed money to start her own company.  But it failed and she's claiming bankruptcy (after being ... I think it was.. $89,000 in debt) and having to call on her parents for help, receiving a sort of allowance from them until she gets a new job.  Do you see what's happened?  IMO, the parents are subconsciously setting their children up for failure because I think they want them to come back. They want to continue to be the hovering parent.  They don't know how to let go.  The child ends up going back to the parent for help because they're insufficient to deal with it on their own.

When I went to college, I left home as soon as I was 18.  They drove me there, they dropped off me and my stuff, but I did everything else on my own.  I had to register for college on my own and if I didn't understand something I had to ask for help from my peers around me.  That shit was hard at times and I was scared but *I* did it.  But I digress...

It will be interesting to see how the Generation Y'ers parent when it's their turn.  Will they become an even more hovering parent, or will they learn to loosen the reigns?  Something we won't see for a few years yet.  Perhaps we should be asking why the parents of these children have an inability to let go.  What happened to that (my) generation to make them want to provide so much more?  What happened to the generation just before me who has a problem letting go of their teen child?  I have a few thoughts on this, but perhaps another time.

I know this may all seem a little choppy or poorly written, but I'm tired and tried to get all my thoughts into an entry before I fell asleep, so I apologize in advance :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

More Pictures..

Don't have any energy to write about anything substantial yet (including the farm), so you'll get pictures for now..

My knife block in the kitchen.

Apple pie, anyone? Organic pastry, mixed half-and-half white & whole wheat. Mitsu apples, brown sugar, and LOTS of cinnamon :)

Piece of the pie.

This was my view at physio yesterday while having my heat treatment.  Exciting, isn't it?




This is how hot it was today.........

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


"A recipe is merely words on paper; a guideline, a starting point from which to improvise. It cannot pretend to replace the practiced hand and telling glance of a watchful cook. For that reason feel free to stir your own ideas into this dish. When you cook it once, it becomes yours, so personalize it a bit. Add more of an ingredient you like or less of something you don't like. Try substituting one ingredient for another. Remember words have no flavour; you have to add your own!"
~ Chef Michael Smith

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Health and Stuff (and More Stuff)

So, after getting sick twice (my fault for waiting 6 hrs to have a meal), I'm sitting down with a mint tea; I figured it's be a perfect opportunity to update you on health stuff (should you want to know).

I've noticed taking the probiotics makes a difference.  When I'm not taking them, I get sick more often.  They somehow balance intestinal flora (like they're supposed to), sugar levels, reactions to food, etc.  Increasing them safely is the key.  I don't want to react like I did before.  Hives are not fun.

I had a doc app't last week and discussed my concern for my latest (what I think are) glycemic episodes.  She said some people just have hypoglycemic episodes (indicating that's normal for them) but we'll do more testing just in case.  I went yesterday morning and had to get a fasting and glucose test done.  Initial walk into the lab was for drawing blood.  I took their orange drink full 'o sugar and had to come back in an hour.  I saved the bottle just for you, Bix (I'll go into these details after).  I was feeling pretty groggy and blah at this point - no food, no coffee, off sleep.  Went back after an hour for my second blood test.  It was a different person who poked me and she couldn't find my veins; thankfully she knew to back off instead of poking around (and got the original phlebotomist).  But while she was poking, a funny (read sarcasm) conversation occurred...

Her, "How's baby?"
Me, "Hmm?"
"How's baby?"
"How's my what?"
"Um.. WHAT baby? Do y'all know something I don't?!" (I wake up at this point)
...she leaves to get my form to confirm my last name. Confirmed.
"You're not pregnant?" *looking at me hesitantly*
"Uh, no!  I can tell you for sure I'm not."
"Oh. This is the test they usually give to pregnant women. Maybe she just wanted to check your sugar."
*trying not to react by smacking myself on the forehead (or her for that matter), at the idiocy of that comment*

Wow.  That was special.  It was followed by a more special conversation with one of my doctors receptionists (which I apologize I can't divulge because it deals with a test I had that I'm not discussing publicly.  I wish I could - it was irritating as all hell).  Anyways, it must have been similar to a test they do for gestational diabetes?  I'm guessing at this point.

Here's the bottle they give you for the glucose test...

It's an orange carbonated beverage, resembling the taste of orange pop (so if you like that you're okay).  50g Dextrose.  Ingredients as follows... Active: 5.0g glucose per fl. oz (29.6ml). Contains: water, dextrose (d-glucose; source: corn), natural flavouring, citric acid, sodium benzoate, FD&C Yellow No. 6 and FD&C Red No. 40 as colour additives.

How many problems do you see with that?  Food dyes, corn as a source, sodium benzoate.  What if I maintain a mostly-organic or whole foods way of eating?  Is that test accurate?  Of course I would react to it (but then if I maintained that lifestyle, maybe I wouldn't have these problems to begin with).

I didn't know much about sodium benzoate, so I decided to look it up.  Ugh.  Some paraphrased notes: it's a preservative used to extend the shelf life of already-long lasting foods (i.e acidic foods).  Also used in alcohol-based mouthwashes, silver polish, cough syrups and fireworks (to name a few).  When mixed with ascorbic acid it forms benzene - a carcinogen (often done with soft drinks).  Some state sodium benzoate can harm on its own damaging DNA in a cell's mitochondria.

This is what started the whole thought process about what we're feeding our bodies, how it's given me more reason to sustain an organic (when possible) or whole-foods lifestyle.  Can't we just buy what we need to, eat when we need to eat it and eliminate the need for 'shelving' food long-term?  I don't think that's realistically possible as a Western society.  We don't know how.  Sorry, I don't think it's impossible, just very difficult.  It would take discipline.  Planning.  Did I say discipline?  You'd have to make your own items like mayonnaise (which I was given a recipe for, btw, from a patient a while back, just haven't tried it yet), your own jam (already there), your own pickles.. wait.. I do most of these already!  Okay, so maybe I'm closer than I thought.  Besides the planning, it takes time.

Although my doctor said some people just have hypoglycemic episodes out of normality, I disagree with this statement.  I don't think it *should* be normal.  If a body is well-balanced, it shouldn't be reacting so harshly to so many things.  So even though I love her for many things and she's better than most doctors I've seen in this city, her thinking may be conventional that "bad things are O.K"... and I just can't conform to that.  Is this what they're teaching doctors these days?  Are they not trained to understand some people know how to read their body and its signs and express there are things wrong...instead of thinking it's a case of hypochondia?

The battle ensues.....

I'm Going To The Farm!

Okay, so some plans didn't fall through! :)  I'm heading out to my friend's farm and spend time with her and her family (parents and 13 kids. Yes, 13).  Her family has cows and is a member in a co-op, Organic Meadow.  Ah, it'll remind me of days on the farm when I was younger and I CAN'T WAIT.  I'll get to get my hands dirty again.  Fantastic.

An Organized Mess

Where do I start?  I'm feeling very unorganized today.  The table is a mess, the kitchen's a mess, the bedroom's a mess.  I have things on the 'to do' list and nothing's getting done, so it's hard for me to organize my thoughts. But, I need to get my thoughts out so I can...organize.  Do you see the cycle?  I hate being a little OCD.

I'll recount my trip to market that I just returned from.  I went only in hopes to buy organic eggs but a) Leon wasn't there (others were operating his stand in his place), b) they didn't have any eggs this all and c) I don't think I know of anyone else at market who has organic eggs.  wtf.  So I got some mitsu apples for this imaginary pie I'm going to bake this weekend and some veggies for my salad next week.  As I was leaving market, there's this girl that sits out there always asking for money.  I feel no need to give her any.  I'm not going to apologize for it and I know it's not very Christian of me, but honestly...get off your ass and work like the rest of us.  She asked me for the time today and I told her and she responds with, "Thanks. I have to watch the time because I have to get a filter for my fish today or he's going to die".  Me in sarcastic voice, "Yes. That could be a problem" and I walk away.  I'm not going to finish my thoughts on this, you can probably imagine exactly what they are.

Before market I did a little research.  I had blood work done yesterday morning and for the glucose test I had to drink this orange carbonated beverage and return in an hour (I'll delve more into this in a bit).  I decided to bring home the bottle and learn about the ingredients (I thought you'd also like to know, Bix).  Ingredients which I'll also get into later, but one caused inquisitive concern which branched into, "oh my God, why are we feeding constant crap into our bodies, I'm going to die tomorrow" (yes, I'm being sarcastically dramatic), which branched into, "I should really start planning ahead and buy what I can at market instead of in the stores", which branched into, "I'm a single person. How the hell am I supposed to plan a menu for a WEEK when I do well to plan 15 minutes ahead sometimes?".  Le sigh.  So I guess I've gotta smarten up a bit.  Even if I plan one or two days of menu (start small), it's something.  I've got ground beef and chicken in the freezer but not using it....because I'm not planning ahead *gives a little tap on the head*.

I have 4 days off and no plans this weekend.  I did have plans but they fell through (both involved getting out of the city), so I'm a little disappointed.  But, I've got plenty to do around the house so that should keep me busy, including studying.

Well, I'm going to make a separate entry about my health, so off to do that now....

Friday, May 21, 2010

il paziente italiano

I feel a little dumb in the head.  Let me re-phrase that...I'm tired and I seem to be lagging a little; mentally, I mean.  I'm zoning out a bit.  It was a steady shift.  My legs and feet were sore and tired today and I even wore my runners.  I just haven't been feeling up to par... and it's frustrating!!!  I JUST WANT MORE ENERGY! *sigh*

So.. the Italian lady.  When I delivered dinner I said excitingly, "I learned a new phrase!  Io capisco un po l'italiano".  "Brava!" she says.  "Bravissimo!"  Hee!  I made some slight changes to her dinner so the texture was more pleasing... and she ate!  It was so exciting.  She didn't eat everything, but she ate more than she usually does.  Later into the shift, in fact it was almost home time, I went to ask her if she had a rosary (Italian usually means die-hard Catholic) and she started to well up.  "You can get one?" she asked, so hopeful, starting to get tears.  "Don't do that," I said (also starting to tear up).  But it was a good sort of cry.  So I brought her a rosary from the chapel and it made her so happy.  I'm smiling just writing about it.

On my way out of the womens change room there was a very attractive doctor behind me and we approached the elevator.  I could tell he was looking at me, but I wasn't sure what his deal was.  "Looks like you had a long shift," he said...and we talked a bit.  He seemed genuinely interested in my day.  It was...foreign.  Now to be honest, I wouldn't recognize flirting at this point, it's been so long, like I can't hit the broadside of a barn, so I don't know if he was or not.  Looking back I wish I'd engaged in conversation a bit more (and more eye contact), but usually when it hits 7:30 I just wanna get the hell outta the building.  Ah well, maybe I'll run into him again :)

On my walk home in the fabulous weather we're having, I was cutting through a park and a couple kids were running around.  Ah, the reckless abandon we had as kids, not caring about tomorrow.  It's all about having fun and running around with your friends and being called in for dinner.  Those were the days.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I bought this at the kitchen store last weekend, did I mention it?  I think I did.  Anyways, it's a cake in a cup.  It gives instructions for use, via microwave, and I thought I'd give 'er a shot.  Something fun to experiment with.  I thought it'd be great to share with a friend after dinner or something (meaning make them one as well).   It turned out!  I also bought that little...thing...of Emile Henry.  I'm sorry I'm not familiar with Emile Henry's products, but I thought it was cute (and since viewing the product line, I've fallen in love with them).  I have no idea what to do with it.  Put coarse salt in it for cooking?

It was quite good.  I think it needs a little tweeking (for taste), but otherwise I think it's a novel idea.

Got close to the goose the other day.  He (she?) kept an eye on me, though, even as I walked away, though it didn't try to attack (odd).  I don't know how to tell a male apart from a female.

Caught this down by the river on the walk home the other night.  I like it (the quote, not the writing on the wall).

io capisco l'

I'm a little sad tonight.  I'm chalking it up to hormones.  Nonetheless, I'm feeling a little lonely and wish I had someone to sit on the couch with me.  I'm not feeling conversational, but even to watch TV, or listen to the radio....or silence.

I went to visit R. at the rectory tonight (he works there in the evenings part-time) and he was visiting with a friend of his, who is also incidentally, at the seminary (R. is joining in the fall).  I felt awful interrupting their talk, but I didn't want to leave. I tried to walk away, but my feet wouldn't move.  I think it was part loneliness, part taking it as a sign that maybe they'll discuss something I should hear, part not feeling very spiritual or God-like (can I say that?) lately that I just wanted to be surrounded by that.  I'm trying to become more faithful; these dry spells are about pissing me off lately.  There have been too many.  It's not that I think my faith is a conditional one; it's not.  But...I guess when I'm not surrounded by it with my friends sometimes or talk about it (faith), it gets a little lack-luster in my head.  It's not the only reason, just part of it.  When they parted ways for the evening one of them said, "Take care. Goodnight".


One word, but it's making me feel so...isolated.  When was the last time I got to say goodnight to someone (in person. Sorry peeps, texts don't count ;) ).

I haven't been feeling well physically lately and that's really had me down.  Every day this week I've had an upset, attack or episode.  I'm worn out.  I don't have anymore energy.  My body's beaten me up so bad I just wanna burrow in a cave.  But it's almost the weekend, time for more reprieve, so I'll wait it out then rest.  I don't have much planned for the weekend so it looks like a quiet one.  A few potential plans, so we'll see.

I don't think I've told you about this slightly older Italian lady I have as a patient.  She's been helping me brush up on my Italian (which, I swear, should be a pre-requisite for working at my hospital. We're an Italian-based community).  So we talk now and then.  I don't know much, but I get by.  I can hear and understand more than I can speak.  And she's got a hawt son-in-law, so the days he visits it doesn't hurt either.. heh.  Anyhoo.. she doesn't eat much and I'll keep that story separate.  So she didn't eat her dinner this evening and I asked her if I could do anything else for her and she requested toast......
Me, "Si. Non problema"  (Yes, of course. It's no problem)
"Grazie, tesoro. Grazie" (Thank you, sweetheart. Thank you)
"Prego" (You're welcome)
... and she almost had tears in her eyes, which almost made ME have tears in my eyes.  "You always help me," she said.  I smiled.  It's what I do.  It made me feel good, that I could make her happy...just by bringing her toast of all things (oh, and this evening I also brought her 'formaggio' :))

It was a very good night at work.  Lots of laughing.  More patient-family interaction than normal.  I left work with a smile on my face.

I'm almost done one midterm!  I plan to finish on or by this weekend, so next week will be starting and (hopefully) finishing the other one.

I think when I'm done my studies (or even during them) I'm going to take up Italian more fluently than I presently perform.  I have a lot of people I can practice with.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Couple More...

Forgot a couple pictures yesterday.  I have even more to add, but I have to transfer them off the camera first.

Babu in the kitchen window with said window box I just planted of herbs to have at the ready.  The garlic chives at the end? I thought he'd leave them alone, but he's been nibbling.  So, I switched it around so the marjoram's on that side.  He hasn't touched it yet :)

A trillium.  For the non-Ontarians, it's the official flower of Ontario


So I've taken one pic and changed it to black & white.  I think I prefer it that way... what do you think?

I enlarged them.  Tell me what you think.  Maybe I'll put one in a black frame someday, hang it with my b&w collection in the living room....

And for those curious, from left to right - cactus (forget the species, sorry), cyclamen (that I'm killing), prayer plant, african violet and bougainvillea vine.

First Pictures With The Camera...

Here are some pictures I've taken with the new camera......

Babu laying beneath the kitchen sink. This is one of his 'spots'.  It's okay.. scratch his belly.. he likes it :)

This is the creme brulee I had at the restaurant for dessert.  Sorry, I took a bite before I realized I wanted to take a picture.

This is a table/booth as you approach it to sit down. I should have stood up to take this, but I just took it across the isle, from where I was sitting.

This is a little cup of candy - also for dessert (don't judge) - that I got from a candy table.  It was so cool.  What?  Adults can have fun, too :)  Note the creamer (I think it's cute) and organic sugar.

In the walk I spoke about, behind my friends place in this small wooded area, there was a bed of ferns.  It was fantastic.  I don't think I've ever seen this in a wild area before.  There were lots of areas like this.

I thought the roots were awesome, the way they weaved over one another, almost snake-like.

Look up!

....all the way up!

Are they fighting for who can spread the most territory?

Can anyone identify this little guy?

One of my mothers favourites, Lily of the Valley

Now HERE'S the river with a real camera (okay, there are better, but its a helluva lot better than my phone).  Look at the green! :)

Later Edit: Butterfly identified; Red Admiral, vanessa atalanta. Thanks, C! ;)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Time For Catch-Up. Get Comfy, It's A Long One....

Sorry for the few-day absence; I had a wonderful weekend and was too busy to post, then Monday was playing catch-up with everything else.  I've gotta get some serious studying in tonight to make up for lost time.

I'm sitting here with coffee, in comfort from a dream I had this morning.  Let me preface my morning with saying my night wasn't so good.  I woke up at 0430 to use the washroom and boy was my foot hurting (maybe that's what woke me).  Just a spot in my left foot that's been bothering me lately and doesn't feel... normal (it was throbbing).  I should get it checked out, but, I'm...lazy.  Anyhoo, it took I'm sure 2 hrs to fall back asleep (after caving and taking some ibuprofen) but I had a wonderful dream.  It was with a man (no, not *that* sort of dream) I used to work with.  Well, inadvertently worked with.  I was in a call centre and I had to call him at his call centre at times...and we became friends.  Even met up once when I went to Toronto and had a *fantastic* evening.  I liked him, I really did, but I was with my ex and couldn't tell him so at the time.  Even not being with the ex anymore, too much time has passed and... really... why bother.  I've always held a special place in my heart for him.  I had a feeling he liked me, but he didn't say anything either, so what's a girl to do?  Anyways, that dream was just about being with him and it made me happy :)

So... my weekend was *fabulous*.  Family and friends, what more could I ask for?  The entire weekend was steady with plans.  Well, Friday night was quiet, but Saturday morning I went to market, got some herbs for the window box that I was going to attempt (fears that Babu would nibble at them), went shopping with a friend and FINALLY got a new camera (pictures to follow - I've got lots!), went to Mass in the evening then was invited out to a spoken word poetry evening downtown with a co-worker I haven't been out with before.  It was a lot of fun; I like stuff like that.  Got to hang with new peeps, Would like to go next month, too.

Sunday started with brunch at my parents restaurant.  Fantastic, as always.  Then went to pay my brother a quick visit, then my dad (got to see the rest of the kitchen cabinets he's making out of cherry wood and was sitting on the deck for a while surrounded by woods, birds singing and horses in the background ..ahhh..relaxing...).  I was very happy and very content to see my family.  As a random side note, my brother had to downsize and he's trying to pawn off one of his cats to me.  Ugh.  It's hard for me to turn down a cat... but I don't have the room!  I have a small apartment.  I do well just with Babu!  Anyways, after brunch and family visits, we went to see my friend's new condo.  I tell ya, I just can't wrap my head around why someone a)wants to buy an apartment, b)will pay over $100,000 for it and c)will just pay so much money for such a small space.  I don't get it!  But that's me.  I grew up in the country and it's a foreign concept to me.  I mean, I 'get it' and I know some people want their own space without the 'hassle' & paying someone else to do it for you, but I love the 'hassle'.  Fixing up your own yard, having a garage to do work in, putting up Christmas lights, standing at the side property line (over the fence? is there a fence?) having a Sunday conversation with your neighbour with a coffee in your hand (or maybe trimmers from doing yard work), sitting out in your quiet backyard with a book, the sun and a cold drink.  Oops, I got sidetracked.

After seeing the condo we did some shopping and then I got him to drop me off at another friend of mine's place whom I haven't seen in forever and was so pleased to finally get together.  I got to see her new digs and we went for a walk in a little forested area behind a newer-looking suburbian area and got some great pics.  Then we came back to the house, went out for a bite to eat and headed home.  I really enjoy spending time with her (that I never see enough of - we're in different cities, next to each other mind you, but with me not having a car, transportation is difficult) because we're different in a lot of ways (quite opposite in some) but those 'other things' don't seem to matter because we just care about each other as who we are. And that's nice.

I've got some health stuff to discuss, but I'll do it in another post.  I've talked your ear off and I need to start my day... including uploading the new pics.  So stay tuned!  Hope everyone's week is going well.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

To Pass The Time...

Throwing in a couple Babu pictures today :)

Again, horrible quality, but worth the shot.  That bump under the bed?... is Babu :) *lol*

Assuming his normal position.  He likes sitting on the edge, staring out the window.  I know, I know, a cat on the counter.  He'll listen if I ask him to get off (yup, I don't have to yell) but I sure know he's up there when I'm gone.  Mind the dishes :)  Despite the poor quality, I like the light in this picture.  I should have a new camera this weekend!  Yay!

Attention, Please!

Thank you, thank you.  Now that I have your attention, I'd like to draw your attention to Une Canadienne Errant.  It's my friend Amanda's blog that she just started.  It's going to be about cooking (she makes FANTASTIC things), knitting, everyday adventures of a Canadian living in America.  With pictures!  Now go and give her some support!  Stop reading here and go check it out! :)

What are you still doing here??  Go!!   :)

.......Thank you :)

Another Day At The Hospital

Well, today was fun.  And when I say fun, I mean not really.

This morning was an adventure.  My stomach had been hurting me since last night.  I ignored it because it usually passes and tried to sleep it off (terrible sleep, weird dreams and the like).  Woke up tired.  Still sore and achy in the morning.  Cancelled my chiropractor appointment and moved it to Friday (which will be interesting; I'll have 3 appointments back-to-back).  Went to physio with intent to just do exercises then leave.  I walked out to go home, walking along the street, minding my own... then I felt nauseous.  Very, very nauseous.  I had to turn back quickly because I thought I was going to get sick in the middle of the bloody sidewalk.  Got back in the office and sat down.  My sugar *plummeted*.  My sugar has never dropped that bad, that early in the morning (1.5 hrs after eating).  I was fed water and chocolates until I was better enough to walk home again (and I did so, quickly).  Downed a glass of orange juice, made a meal and felt a bit better.  I didn't recover the rest of the day (to 100%).  Co-workers said I didn't look well.  So.. I'm worried.  These 'episodes' are happening more frequently and VERY quickly, which has me concerned.  I have a doc appointment Friday so I'll bring it up.

When I was delivering dinner at work, I thought I'd walked into a room of a dead person (I swear to God she had passed but apparently she hadn't) and that weirded me out the rest of the shift.  Deceased people don't bother me, nor walking into the rooms of such, but this one just... felt different.  I wouldn't be surprised if the poor lady passes by tomorrows shift.

I made an interesting correlation between not talking to the ex and lack of being prayerful.  I can't really make sense of it.  It would make sense if we were together and I didn't pray as much (I could make excuses that I didn't have the time or had no reason to) but now... I don't know what my excuse is.  It has me befuddled.

Got into the studies tonight again.  Half done one midterm!  I'll get into what I'm learning later.  Too tired now :)

It's almost the end of the week!  Hope it's going well for everyone.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Well, I've been working on my Sanitization and Safety course (#5 of 6) and I'm really enjoying it so far.  The following post may or may not appeal to some of you, but I need to talk it out, so you might as well come along for the ride :)  I've come across a bit of a... how can I say...lack of understanding on a subject.  Before I get to that, I'll review a few things I've learned (or re-learned from forgetting) that I'd like to share.

PHF (Potentially Hazardous Foods) are any foods that are capable of supporting the rapid growth of (infectious and toxic) bacteria.  PHF's are foods high in protein or carbohydrates, have a pH above 4.6 and a water activity above 0.85.  The requirements for said bacteria growth is from 6 conditions - FATTOM*.

Food (high in protein or carbohydrates)
Acidity (pH 4.6 to 7.0)
Time (4 hours)
Temperature (4°C-60°C)
Oxygen (though some can even survive without)
Moisture (water activity higher than 0.85)

What I'm having a problem understanding is bacteria and spores.  It says all bacteria exist in a vegetative state, but the text defines vegetative state as, "the active state of a bacterium in which the cells take in nourishment, grows and produces waste".  That, to me, defies "vegetative".  If something is vegetative, it doesn't do anything, especially to which being active and producing waste.  Mental block #1.  Next fact; some bacteria have the ability to produce spores (which help bacteria survive in stressful environments), but spores are *not* active.  They are though, resistant to stress and can be harmful if eaten (and can live for months on a subject).  So I'm trying to wrap my head around inactive bacteria that's actually active and spores that are inactive but promote...activity.  AARGH!!

*To help with understanding, in case it all seems Greek, examples of each are as follows... 
Protein and carbs are self-explanatory, but if you need me to expand, tell me.
Acidity - pH ranges from 0-14, 7 being neutral (distilled water). Under 7 is acidic (i.e chicken, milk, soupls, pickles, mayo), over is alkaline (soda crackers, egg whites).
Temperature - foods should be held outside of above stated temps.
Time -  4 hours is a danger zone; food shouldn't be held in unstable temps longer than this, though some texts state even 2 hrs).  We observe 1-1.5 hrs at the hospital.
Moisture - water activity (symbol: Aw) is rated from 0-1.0.  0.85-1.0: dairy, poultry, meats, shellfish, melons, steamed rice. 0-0.85: dry pasta, flour, uncut fruits and veggies, jams & jellies, frozen food.

Frustrated - Agriculture

I don't know how some people's heads don't pop off.  All I've been hearing lately is how the Senate and Supreme Court in the U.S is stacked with ex-Monsanto people.  And now I just read on Barry Estabrook's blog, Politics of the Plate, that John McCain was one of the senators writing in to condemn the USDA's "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" program.

I was just getting mad at Obama, an administrator I've come to love in light of change, for stacking the deck.  But even if I were to get mad enough at Obama, I couldn't vote Republican (had I been American, of course) :)  So if I were to vote on this one issue alone, I...don't know what I'd do!  Mind you, I don't know if McCain would stack his deck the same way.  Does anyone have any facts about Republican-based opinions on GMO's?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Une journée avec un certain nombre de choses français*

Today was supposed to be some shopping with a friend but she wasn't feeling well, so I did a little of my own.

Picked up a necklace I had on hold and had just a few dollars left to pay on it.  Then I went and picked up a French CD (Carla Bruni - Queleu'un m'a Dit), a bottle of French wine (a new brand for me - Baron Phillipe de Rothschild, Cabernet Sauvignon.  Superbe!) and some food for dinner (mashed potatoes (avec herbes de Provence), green and yellow beans and chicken marinated in rosemary and garlic).  Yum.  Unfortunately I never thought of anything for dessert, so I just had yogurt :)

I watched This Old House during dinner, followed by Ask This Old House.  I love these shows and don't see them nearly enough.  My (Dutch) grandfather was a wood worker (not by trade, just for personal enjoyment) and my father also has a workshop, so it's kind of close to home.  Beside, I like antiques and all things old.  So I'll study now for a couple of hours, have an oatmeal bath to sooth my poor skin (hives are still reducing, but not completely gone yet), then a movie and more wine.  Unfortunately, I don't have a French movie to go with the running theme; though I do have Spanish and Italian.

I've had a few running thoughts today about how I'll find Mr. Right (I have such high standards now, I wonder if that's a bad thing) and how I'd like to get away for the long weekend out of the city but I know it won't happen because bills are too high and I don't have nearly enough money.  A girl can dream, can't she?

*A day with a few French things

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Quiet Night In

Well, we're having pouring rain and a bit of a thunderstorm (I love it), so I'm gonna take it easy tonight. I just noticed The Philadelphia Story (1940) is on so I'm gonna watch that.  It's one of my favs.  Who can pass up Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart all in the same movie??  Haven't decided dinner yet.  I was going to have a shower but didn't think it was a wise idea in the storm.  Just sayin'.

Going shopping tomorrow.  Got a couple of giftcards to spend.  Window shopping for a digital camera.  Nothing planned for Sunday.  Cleaning, studying perhaps.

Do you have many weekend plans?  Getting together with someone?  Going out of town?  Hope it's great!

Friday, May 7, 2010


Okay, so maybe I have a little to say.

The hives haven't subsided at all the past week.  Antihistamines NOR Benadryl have helped (though I think perhaps have helped subside it just a bit).  When I went to physio this morning, I had the physiotherapist massage my shoulders/neck a bit (I haven't had this or heat all week in fear of inflaming hives).  When she finished massaging my neck (I was tense and tight) I suddenly felt inflamed.. *fwoom*.. the hives came out in full force.  Even writing about it has them inflamed again.  Anyhoo... that's when I figured it must be stress that has caused this.  Does that make sense?  Hmm.. maybe they should have gone away after being massaged.  In any case, it rather has to do with stress, or perhaps the stress of my arm?  (The hives have started to extend down a bit of my right arm only - the same one injured).  I am quite bothered by all of this, the stress it causes at work and wish I was back to normal soon.  The Benadryl's not working, not taking my probiotics isn't working.  So what else is left?

Interestingly enough, I went to the health food store after physio to get a couple things and asked them for something to stop the itch, tingling, etc and they gave me Apis Gel.  It's helped.  Then we also got onto the suggestion of Bach Flower Rescue Remedy.  I got the tin you see pictured at the bottom of the page (the pastilles).  I chewed on one immediately after leaving the store and.. ahhh... the inflammation went down right away.

I'm a big fan of the school of thought that we manifest our mental 'dis-ease' into physical disease.  I hate this sometimes because the mental is much harder to treat sometimes, than the physical.

I'm going to set some time aside right now for prayer and meditation - really trying to relax and 'let go' - and we'll see how it works.


Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force... When we are listened to, it makes unfold and expand.  Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life.
~ Brenda Ueland, writer

More Babu

Here's a sexy pose for ya..

I've been pretty quiet lately, so until I think of something to say, you're stuck with pictures of Babu and quotes :)

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I caught Babu sleeping in the window a few days ago.  At this point he heard me (I tried sneaking up) so he gave me the, "Can I help you?" look.  The nerve that I disturbed his slumber.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Hey all.  Not much to write about today, except that I woke up to an email from F. (my step mother) that my aunt (paternal) has suffered a stroke and was admitted to hospital.  She's driving down now to pick up my gram and take her to the hospital and will update me as soon as possible.  Please keep her in your prayers and if you don't pray, throw some positive thoughts this way.  We could use 'em!  Thanks!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Monday Pt. II

I forgot in my last post - remember how I'd mentioned my stomach was doing so poorly lately?  I figured out the problem over the weekend. The ratio of probiotics-to-meds was out of whack.  I'd stepped up the probiotics in a new way - taking a bottle at a time every other day (instead of half daily).  You're supposed to work up to a bottle a day but it's expensive and I don't want to do that unless I have to. Soooo.... because I upped the probiotics, I had to cut back on my IBS meds.  Truth be told, I stopped taking them (I haven't needed them) for a few days now.  I woke up one morning with a complete 180 change (I would say 360 but I'm not cured :) ).  I'm really glad to see them working.  I'm holding off going back to my Gastroenterologist to shove the information back in his face.  What?  Was that outloud?  I mean, to inform him that one doesn't necessarily need to medicate to help symptoms of IBS and that there ARE natural ways to deal with a 'natural' problem *cough* .

I've taken an anti-histamine to help with the hives.  I hope it works.


How was your weekend?  Did you fill it with sun?  Or rain maybe, as it was here.  Spend time with friends?  Family?  Did you clean your ass off like I did?

Saturday was spring cleaning day, as I'd mentioned last week.  I scrubbed the kitchen from head to toe; cupboard doors, walls, the stove, the fridge (inside and out), some of the floor on my hands and knees - you name it.  Did some re-organizing and cleaned appearances up a bit; got rid of some clutter.  I like it.  Then went to Mass and out to the pub with a friend for a beer for her birthday.  I was so tired (and sore!) after all that cleaning, the beer almost knocked me out and I vegged the rest of the evening.  Oh right, there was a movie on TV; another one to add to my black & white repetroire - "A Foreign Affair" (1949).  What a great movie.. I loved it!  Had some great lines in it.

Sunday wasn't filled with much; I think I overslept so I felt like crap the entire day.  I did very little cleaning/tidying except for all the dishes.  I baked chocolate chip cookies, though.  Yum.  Small problem - they came out flat!  I don't know what I did wrong.  I figure in the end they may have needed more flour (than the required amount).  I don't know.  I had fresh-bought baking powder and everything.

Can I tell you.. the past few days my back has become increasingly itchy.  The past two days it's REALLY itchy.  It's so random.  I thought maybe my skin was dry and I put lotion on it the best I could but it didn't solve the problem.  I don't understand what's wrong but it's kind of freaking me out.  Itchy!!!

I read this article in a paper I grabbed the other day called, "Self-esteem now comes in shades of environmentally-friendly green".  The author first states, "....often leading to devastating results when girls feel they don't measure up to the accepted standards depicted cinematically".  I continued to read the article and how this woman is advertising her day camps for girls on how to wear makeup, skin care, wardrobe planning, eyebrow shaping, journal writing, belly dancing, blah blah blah.  So she states the problem, but then she states  how to fix it - by image.  Right.  How about saying, "Don't give a f**k about what the media projects, learn how to be comfortable with WHO YOU ARE"?  Cause, y'know, that would be wrong and bad for business. I can't believe this.  No wonder we have so many body-conscious girls.  Grrr.

Well, I'd love to rant more, but I've got physio to attend to.  I'm already sore, so todays workout should be interesting.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cinderella, Cinderella....

Just a quick post this morning.  I've already turned on the music and plan to start moving soon.  I've got spring-cleaning fever.  I plan to get the kitchen done today.  Top to bottom.  We'll see how my shoulder holds up; it's still sore from last night.

Happy Saturday, everyone!  Hope you have a great weekend!

....okay, if I'm cleaning like Cinderella, where's my prince?

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