Monday, March 30, 2009

Sugar - Sweetest Dog in Town (Almost happy with it)

So, the deadline for the contest looms near....thankfully because without a concrete end date for this I could keep editing, fussing and generally making myself crazy until the cows come home....speaking of cows, I'd like a cow someday, or maybe two so they could keep each other company and then I could write stories about my moo-cows.

Anyhoo, focusing on any piece of my own writing for an extended period of time makes me a little loopy (read crazy).

Feedback would be much appreciated, especially if anyone out there's got kids.

And before we begin, for your viewing muses:

Sugar – The Sweetest Dog in Town

Whenever Sugar caught a glimpse of herself in one of the mirrors, or in the window where she sat to wait for her humans returning home from wherever they went without her, she was always surprised at what she saw. So surprised that she sometimes “woofed” loudly thinking that the beautiful white dog in the reflection was a stranger on her property. But no, that pretty dog in the glass was always just her, Sugar-dog, with silky white fur, soft floppy ears, and a smiley face. Sugar knew herself to be a beautiful animal.
That’s why she was so confused when stranger humans and stranger dogs were afraid of her. Sugar was the breed of dog humans call, “Pit Bull”. This name strikes fear in humans everywhere, and dogs that Sugar met in her travels were not fond of it either. At first Sugar was pleased that humans and dogs thought she was tough and scary. She was never bullied the way some other dogs were. Dogs in the dog park avoided Sugar. But after a while Sugar found this lonely and sad. Humans wouldn’t pet her; they kept their little human pups, called children, far away from her. Sometimes when they saw Sugar out walking they would get angry and use their loud voices to express their fear. Even Sugar’s own humans, who knew her sweetness and goodness, had started to react to the fears of the strangers. They kept Sugar inside or on her leash. They never let her wander too far. They kept her away from the human pups, even though they knew that Sugar loved them best. She loved playing with them and hugging and kissing them. All of this made Sugar very sad. She didn’t understand why all the humans and even the dogs would be so afraid of her because of the “Pit Bull” label. She didn’t think it was fair. So, Sugar decided to do something about it. She would prove to everyone what a good dog she really was. Sugar was usually very obedient. She didn’t enjoy disobeying her humans. But, Sugar was so tired of everyone being afraid of her that she was willing to risk the consequences. So, Sugar came up with a plan. She would sneak away from home just long enough to do a good deed in the neighbourhood. Sneaking was not hard. The hard part was not feeling guilty about it. Sugar simply walked out of her yard one afternoon when she heard the sound of a human pup crying. She followed the sound until she found the child lying on the sidewalk with his bicycle beside him. Sugar knew this boy, his name was Sammy. Sammy was crying so hard that he didn’t even notice Sugar until she was right next to him. Sugar gently nudged Sammy with her nose and he looked up into her brown eyes. He was so scared from falling off his bike that he forgot to be afraid of Sugar. She sniffed him all over. Sugar was a very sensitive, smart dog and could tell someone was hurt just by smelling them. Her nose told her that the bone in Sammy’s arm was very hurt. Sugar knew where he lived and thought she could help by getting Sammy’s mother and bringing her to him. So Sugar gently licked the tears from Sammy’s face, making him forget he was hurt and then she ran as fast as she could to his house. Sugar couldn’t knock or reach the doorbell like a person, so she used her paws to scratch at the door until Sammy’s mom opened it. “What are you doing here? Where’s your leash? Where are your owners? You’re not supposed to be out alone! You’re dangerous!” Sugar wasn’t sure if Sammy’s mother was going to keep yelling or shut the door in her face so she tugged on Sammy’s mom’s pants with her mouth, being careful not to use her teeth. Now, the lady was sure that Sugar was trying to bite her, so, she screamed! Sugar knew that if she could get the woman to follow her she would understand. So, Sugar decided that she had to break a big rule -- go inside the house without an invitation and, even worse, she would take something from the house and carry it outside so that Sammy’s mother would follow her. With her sensitive nose, and her love of food, Sugar had smelled something yummy inside even before the door opened. Now she dashed past the woman, following her sniffer into the kitchen where a tasty looking sandwich sat on the table, probably waiting for the Sammy. Sugar thought back to when she was a puppy and stole food from the table. What trouble she got in! Then she remembered Sammy lying on the road and she did it! She put her front paws up on the tabletop and grabbed the pb&j sandwich from the plate. Sugar ran back out the front door with the sandwich in her mouth. Sammy’s mother stood for a second, totally shocked. Sugar was afraid that she wouldn’t follow her. What would Sugar do then? Just then the lady called out “Hey! Bad dog, what do you think you’re doing?” So Sugar headed down the lawn, making sure the lady was following her. Sugar stopped and turned towards the woman, gently laid the sandwich on the ground and sat down next to it, thumping her whip-like tail in a show of good faith. She turned her big brown up eyes up. They were filled with the hope that the woman would hear Sammy crying in the distance, now that it was quiet. As they stood at the bottom of the yard, a cry could be clearly heard. Sugar could see that the woman heard it and knew it was Sammy. Now Sugar saw a different kind of fear in her eyes, fear for Sammy. Sugar tugged the pant leg again and ”woofed” softly. When she got the woman’s attention she started down the street, stopping every few feet and barking again. Sammy’s mom followed slowly, she was confused about the idea of following this mean Pit Bull to her crying son. When the woman reached Sugar’s side Sugar reached up and licked her hand softly. This time the woman did look into the brown eyes and saw that she could trust Sugar. Together they ran down the street to Sammy. “Sammy! What happened? How long have you been lying here?” Sammy tried to reach for his mother but the pain in his arm stopped him. “Ouch Mommy! I think something’s wrong with my arm.” “Honey, do you think you’ll be okay here while Mommy gets the car to take you to the doctor?” Sammy looked very frightened until Sugar stepped up, licked his tear-stained face and sat right next to him. She looked up at Sammy’s mom and thumped her tail. Sammy said, “I think I’ll be okay with Sugar here.” Sammy’s mom looked into Sugar’s soft eyes and knew it would be fine. She ran home to get the car. Sammy reached for Sugar with his good arm and together they sat and waited. When Sammy’s mother returned Sugar waited until Sammy was safely in the car. The lady knelt down and gave Sugar a hug before Sugar ran home. Sugar was in BIG trouble when she got back home. Her humans had been looking for her all over. They gave Sugar a lecture. Sugar felt guilty and walked into the house with her tail between her legs and her head hung low. But, the happy warm feelings of having done a good deed were stronger than anything else. She wished she could speak to tell them what she had been doing. Later that evening Sammy and his mother came to Sugar’s house. They had a basket of treats and toys for Sugar. Sugar’s parents opened the door and looked confused, “Hi Linda, what’s all this?” Then Sammy stepped out from behind his mother and Sugar’s owner exclaimed, “Sammy! What happened to you?” Sugar sat listening. When Sammy’s mother explained what had happened Sugar came to the door. She was so happy to see that Sammy was okay that it was very hard not to jump all over him. But, she stopped herself and waited for Sammy to bend down and hug her. Sugar’s humans were at first confused and then pleased to hear about Sugar’s activities. Sammy and his mother called Sugar a hero. It made Sugar feel embarrassed but also very happy, and proud! After that day a lot of things changed for Sugar and her humans. The neighbours came to see her often and they brought their children to play. Sugar was invited for play dates with the neighbourhood dogs. Sugar and her humans were very proud of how Sugar had managed to change the way people and animals thought of her and the label of “Pit Bull.”

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Beauty of Photoshop

My latest passion is photoshop. I've been so into taking pictures since I started this blog. It's really reminded me of how much I loved photography in highschool and the passion has been reignited.

Photoshop is really a godsend. I love it. It's eating up hours of my time. I'm pretty sure I need an intervention. Do they have rehab for casual photographers with delusions of creative genious?

This kind of thing is the reason why my life and career are all over the bloody place!

But anyhoo, that's besides the point. I wanted to share a picture that I've been working with.

My father carried this photo in his wallet for millions of years, or you know, at least 10 or 20. And so it was pretty badly damaged. This is a picture of my dad's grandmother, his mother (my grandmother), two family friends and my wee daddy...with hair!

I managed to clean it up pretty well I think, but the real joy for me is how happy my father is to see this picture looking clean and fresh again. I'm not sure I'm done with it yet, but here it is. It's so typically Newfoundland and Job's Cove. I love it.

Here they are side-by-side so you can really see the difference it's made. Ahh, technology!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Presenting Master Fuji

I was trying to photoshop these pics of my newly arrived fur nephew Master Fuji (my brother's first son) this afternoon but I just couldn't seem to improve on his natural beauty. I think babies, either animal or human, are just too close to perfection.

Master Fuji is a bit of a tough subject, his fur is so dark and his features so tiny that it's difficult to capture his personality on camera. Regardless he is so handsome in his natural form that I couldn't bring myself to save any of my edits to the images. Here he is, in all his wild beauty.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

For the Love of Simple Yumminess

This is simply the best Oatmeal Cookie recipe. Every time I make them I am amazed yet again by how perfectly wonderful they are. The recipe leaves itself open for you to add any ingredients you enjoy but I have to say that I like them best plain and uncomplicated.

I love a good cookie and I have many recipes in the repertoire but this is the one I return to most often.

p.s. It is also the yummiest dough for eating raw...if you're into that kind of thing. If not just pretend I never mentioned it. Thank you.

Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup Crisco shortening
2 cups packed brown sugar (I prefer light brown, dark brown is yummy too, but a very sweet variation)
2 eggs (room temp.)
1 and 1/2 tsp. vanilla (original recipe calls for 1 tsp. but I really like vanilla!)
2 and 1/4 cups sifted flour
1 and 1/2 tsp. salt (again original recipe calls for 1 tsp. but I add more. I think it adds more flavour and depth to the cookie)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 and 1/2 cups rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at ta time, beating after each. Add vanilla and sifted flour, baking soda and salt. Mix well. Add oats and mix. Make tablespoon sized cookies, flatten with fork. Bake for 10 mins.

Be sure to observe the details like sifting, they make a huge difference to the end result.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More Dogs

These pics have no real context except that they make me think that maybe I want to be a professional pet photographer when I grow up!

I was just playing around with holding the ball thrower while I snapped away on the beach the other day and, well, they turned out pretty well (if I do say so myself).

Monday, March 16, 2009


For the first 25 years of my life I slept soundly through the routine roaring of planes directly over my suburban bedroom. I am still surprised by how quickly I have become accustomed to the relative silence of my new life's rural nights. So accustomed that this dawn I was awakened by honking passage of Canadian geese returning to their summer home on our bay. I was not disturbed by this disruption to my sleep however. Instead I lay in bed feeling more awake than I have in months. The geese have brought spring with them and I am reawakened, reborn along with the rest of my northern world into this season.

I was off dog walking duty this weekend and today returned to my routine beach stroll. The beach has suddenly awakened as well though and there was nothing routine about today's walk. Birds were singing, water was flowing, remaining ice was loudly shifting and melting. The sand was warm enough to sit on and I was even tempted to take off my boots and wriggle my toes in the warmth (I resisted). Dolan appears to be days away from actually swimming, she was in up to her belly today and Sugar was rolling around with unrestricted pleasure and was fully engaged in rock retrieval.

Life is good.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Blue Ice

The icebergs just off the shore are turning blue, a sign that they're melting. They are stunning and surreal right now and I just had to share them.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sweet Potato Fries

My new favourite snack! Tasty, yummy goodness...and yes, healthy too, but mostly just good! As per usual with my recipes my best advice is make it your own, add what you like, don't add what you don't like. Sweet potatoes can handle a lot of flavour, give it to them!

The thing about this recipe is that I mostly just played around until I was happy with the flavour, so um, I don't have exact measurements. Next time I make them (which will be soon) I'll update the recipe to reflect better measurements.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
cover baking sheet with parchment paper or tinfoil (this is important - they will stick - i speak from experience)

4 sweet potatoes (for about 3 servings, keep in mind they shrink up a bit)
cut them up as you like your fries, just be sure they're all about the same size
toss with olive oil (a tsp or two, well coated but not oily)
curry powder
salt and pepper

I decided the fries needed a complimentary dip:

1/4 cup mayo
1 or 2 cloves of garlic (I like it garlicky)
juice from 1/2 lime

Sooooo good!

My Fate is a Chair

Just in case you don't believe in fate, let me tell you a little story.

About five years ago SeaBass (the fiance) and I walked into a consignment shop in our then home of Halifax, we wandered around a bit and in a back room I was confronted with a surprise. There sat a chair that only a month before I had seen on an HGTV makeover show. When I saw this show I fell in love with this chair immediately and I was shocked and disturbed, and completely disgusted with the show's designer, when they got rid of said chair for the room makeover. Well, it seemed to be fate that the exact chair (or a shockingly similar replica) was now staring at me from the back corner of a second hand store in downtown Halifax.

The chair of fate became one of the first presents my dearest SeaBass gifted me with. And here it is today. We never got around to recovering it, mostly because I can't make up my mind to anything and also, we haven't yet settled into our house o' dreams and I don't want to make a decision regarding
the chair that I will regret.

So, in the years since the arrival of
the chair I have searched the net, antique shops and magazines for similar pieces of furniture. I have spent countless hours scanning websites for information on the origins of the chair. Only once have I seen a chair like it, it was a proud moment when I spied my chair on the cover of a home design magazine all prettied up, re-covered and sanded to perfection. I showed that cover to everyone who had ever deigned to question the beauty of the chair.

Here it is, my chair of fate.

Now, more evidence for the existence of fate.

This past weekend I was out running errands when I noticed that one of my favourite antique shops was open, I haven't noticed the store open all winter - things get very slow around here for my beloved antiquers (?) in the cold dreary months. I knew I shouldn't be stopping, no money to spend and really more importantly for a shopaholic such as myself, no more room for my spur of the moment, must have purchases. But not surprisingly it was out of my control, the car just seemed to drive itself into the parking lot. I am so weak, so very, very weak.

Anyhoo, I was quite pleased with myself that I had made it all the way through the main floor of the shop without feeling drawn to a particular object but then I went up the stairs. I am still absolutely shocked that I did not fall directly back down those stairs when I peered over the banister and saw...a pair to my chair!!!

I took a brief moment to grab the banister and catch my breath. Then I spied the price tag, $25!!!!! I closed my eyes, counted to five, opened them again and yelled for Lilli, my new favourite antique purveyor. Lilli came up the stairs and assured me that yes the chair was available for purchase and was indeed only $25. It turns out that Lilli's friend had been about to throw the chair out and Lillie rescued it (yet more evidence of the existence of fate!) Lilli of course, was able to see the beauty the chair was capable of in the right hands (my hands of course).

I proceeded to babble the entire story of the chair to Lilli, pulled my cellphone and started snapping pictures of the chair and within five minutes a sold sign was slapped on that chair and I was on the phone to SeaBass to tell him of the miracle of my trip to the antique shop.

Dearest fiance was less than impressed with the news that I had purchased yet another piece of furniture for which we have NO room. However, when he came with me the next day to pick up the chair and bring it to its rightful home he was forced to admit that it was pretty amazing that I happened upon this chair in a tiny, hardly ever open, antique shop in rural Ontario, after five years of looking for similar pieces elsewhere. He also admitted that I couldn't possibly have passed it up. Hooray for me! I love feeling vindicated.

Here is the chair now with it's rightful owner:

So, the moral of the story? Fate does exist. And in my case, fate is a chair. It is also a lovely fiance who adores me even though I can't stop coming home with things that we have no room for and...he shares my taste in furniture.

Look at them together. I am one happy girl!