Friday, August 29, 2008

The Trouble with Trouble

Trouble is my parent's ten year old female Schnauzer. She was rescued in Las Vegas where I was living at the time and my parents took her to her up to Canada. Except for a bladder stone surgery and allergies, she has been healthy.

Up until now.

A month ago she was diagnosed with a liposarcoma on her left front leg. This is a type of cancer that is locally invasive. In other words, the risk of it spreading to other parts of her body was low but she was still in a degree of pain; she hobbled around mostly on three legs despite being on two types of pain medications.

There was considerable debate in our family about what to do. Obviously an amputation was going to be a major surgery but had the chance to be a cure. On the flip side, she is an older dog and perhaps the cancer had spread beyond the leg without us knowing about it. As always, there was the issue of cost. An amputation can run $2000 or so.

In the end, the amputation won out. Everything went well with the surgery and we will be picking her up today for home nursing care. I think she will do fine. She's a Schnauzer, she's not ancient and her uncle is a vet; what more could she have in her favor??

Saturday, August 23, 2008

All about Canada!

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but …

There is a general consensus among Canadians that Americans don’t know much about their northern neighbour. (In case you’re not sure which country is to the north of the USA, it’s Canada).

For this reason, I have compiled a quick list of some basic (and even somewhat interesting) facts about Canada. Since I’m Canadian myself, I figure it is my national duty.

In 1535, two Indian youths told Jacques Cartier about the route to “Kanata”, which was the Huron-Iroquois word for settlement. The first official use of the word “Canada” was in 1791 when Canada was divided into Lower Canada, mostly English and Upper Canada, mostly French. Some people think that Canada should still be divided in this way.

In 1867, Queen Victoria gave her royal approval to unite the colonies of Canada, forming the Dominion of Canada with four provinces; Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. This process, called Confederation, came into effect on July 1st and this date is officially celebrated as Canada Day. It’s not an independence day because we actually liked the queen or maybe we just didn’t want to fight her.

Canada now has ten provinces and three territories. British Columbia (cap: Victoria), Alberta (cap: Edmonton), Saskatchewan (cap: Regina), Manitoba (cap: Winnipeg), Ontario (cap: Toronto), Quebec (cap: Quebec City), New Brunswick (cap: Fredricton), Nova Scotia (cap: Halifax), Prince Edward Island (cap: Charlottetown), Newfoundland/Labrador (cap: St. John’s), Northwest Territories (cap: Yellowknife), Yukon Territory (cap: Whitehorse) and Nunavaut (which was formed in 1999; cap: Iqaluit). The capital of Canada is Ottawa, located in Ontario.

Stephen Harper was appointed as the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada on Feb 6, 2006. Notice we like the British term “Prime Minister” rather than the more rebellious term “President”. He is a member of the conservative party. We also have the liberal party and a couple of others which everyone secretly laughs at.

A Prime Minister does not have a fixed term of office. Once appointed or sworn in, he or she retains the office until he or she resigns, is dismissed or goes tits up. This is how Pierre Elliot Trudeau was able to be Prime Minister for 15 years. To some people (including my parents), this was more than a lifetime.

William Lyon Mackenzie King was our Prime Minister for over 21 years. He was a little eccentric and sought personal reassurance from the spirit world rather than seeking political advice. He was apparently in touch with a couple of dead things; Leonardo Da Vinci, Sir Wilfred Laurier (another Prime Minister), Franklin Delano Roosevelt, his mother and several of his Irish Terrier dogs, all named Pat.

Basketball was invented by a Canadian. James Naismith was born in Almonte, Ontario although he did come up with the game while he was a YMCA instructor in Massachusetts.

Canada has the longest coastline in the world with 243,000 kilometers of shore. Since we have the metric system, that equates to a lot of miles.

Canada is the largest producer of ice wine, a sweet dessert wine with high acidity. To form this wine, the grapes are frozen while still on the vine. This was probably a mistake at first but rather than throw the grapes away, someone made the wine anyway and liked it. The ice wine industry is centered in British Columbia’s Okanagan valley and Ontario’s Niagara peninsula.

There are some 2 million lakes in Canada, covering about 7.6% of the landmass. This provides us with a whole lotta cottage country.

We like to spell certain words like the British, but we are open to using the American versions. Theatre can be theater. Colour may be color. Anaesthesia can be written as anesthesia. Using the British versions makes us feel slightly superior.

Canadians do say, “eh”. To use it in a sentence, you could say, “Take off, eh” in hopes that the person you’re saying it to will leave your presence. It can also be used to request an answer such as in “It’s a good day, eh?” to which you could reply “yeah” or even “yeah, eh” but at that point, no reply is probably needed.

A hoser is a jerk or loser, and quite possibly someone who also drinks beer, wears a flannel shirt and watches curling or hockey.

I don’t know any Canadians who pronounce the word “about” like “aboot” but maybe I’m just in denial.

It’s considered bad form for an American to ask a Canadian if they know another Canadian who lives in an entirely different city or even a different province. Surprising as it may seem, not all Canadians know each other.
We don't all live in igloos, although it gets damn cold here.

There are many Canadians who have jumped the border, including myself. Some of the more notable entertainers include Jim Carey, James Cameron, John Candy, Pamela Anderson, Kim Cattrall, Leslie Nielsen, Ryan Gosling, and Mike Myers. The Canadian government has officially apologized for Tom Green, Eugene Levy, and Avril Lavigne. Occasionally we are embarrassed about Keanu Reeves and Celine Dion.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New slideshow!

After much frustration, my newest slideshow is ready to be revealed.

These are a collection of pictures from the Conch Republic that I wanted to put in a slideshow format.

Just follow the link and click on the link that says "Key West".

You can right click for the full view and don't forget the music.

It may take a while to load so you'll have time to grab yourself a coffee or something.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Up in Canada, eh?

Last week, Dusty and I made the trip up to Canada, my home country. This was the first time that Dusty travelled in an airplane and everything went quite well; he was a little nervous at first, slept most of the way and then vomited all his food over me once we arrived at our destination. I figured that was pretty good for a 15 1/2 year old Pekingese with one eye and failing kidneys.

I will be spending most of my time at my family's cottage near Fergus, Ontario. The weather isn't too bad (it hasn't started snowing yet) and I can live here very cheaply (my parents pay for food!!).

This month, I have started to write a book about my experiences as a veterinarian. I have the perfect place to get a little peace and quiet; a small cabin down by the lake.

I occasionally get distracted by visitors who try to steal my food.

And my father has provided me with posters for inspiration.

While the sun sets, this is my view.

Is it any wonder why I don't miss my job?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ode to the Fried Green Tomato

The first time I heard about fried green tomatoes was the southern movie of the same name. This chick flick is full of female empowerment and women hating men but it does have some merits for a guy and I did manage to watch it all the way through. I was especially curious about these damn tomatoes; they looked kinda good but why would anyone fry a green tomato? Couldn’t they just wait until it turned red?

It wasn’t until several years later that I enjoyed my first green tomato. It was at The Lady and Sons restaurant in Savannah which was obviously a good place for an introduction. (Paula Deen, after all, should know a little about southern food). I hesitated at first; I prefer my tomatoes fresh, juicy and red but was pleasantly surprised when I bit into a crusted and juicy green one.

Since that time, I have become a big fan of this southern specialty. Last week, I tasted the best one yet. It was at Cha Bella, an organic restaurant in Savannah, where all the food was superb. The fried green tomato had a very light cornmeal coating, was tender and juicy on the inside and was sitting in a buttermilk sauce. Cutting into it was like cutting into butter and the taste was a little hard to describe; I guess I would say that it was slightly tart with a mild tomato taste.

Oh hell, words don’t do it justice. You just have to try them for yourself.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Magnolia Plantation

The Magnolia Plantation is located in Charleston, South Carolina and was founded in 1676 by the Drayton family. Having survived the American Revolution and the Civil War, it first welcomed visitors to its famous gardens in 1872. It is still owned by the Draytons and I can understand why; this plantation is a slice of southern paradise.

The basic entrance fee included all the gardens. For additional dollars, you could tour the house, go on a boat tour, or take a walk through the Audubon swamp. Considering it was over 90 degrees, not including the humidity factor, I opted for the boat and the house tour. I will be back to take the swamp walk when the weather is a little less, uh, icky.

The plantation runs right along the Ashley river. This was obviously used as a system of transportation and the Draytons could travel to the center of Charleston in about three hours. By horse or carriage, it might take an entire day.

I love the Spanish Moss draped Live Oaks. I'm not sure why they are called Live Oaks, suggesting that there are Dead Oaks which are probably not as grand.

They even had an English maze garden. At the center, there was a statue of a lady. In this searing heat, I almost expected a couple of dead bodies as well but no such luck. I suppose the gardeners become quite adept at clearing deceased tourists away.

Here am I in the swamp gardens. You could call me a swamp thing if you want to be nasty about it.
Of course, there was lots of wildlife. I passed by this Blue Heron in the boat and was able to snap my best picture of this species. I have heard they are a cranky bird and dislike tourists so this photo was pretty lucky on my part.

This plantation is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area but try to avoid the summer heat. I have never sweated so much in my freakin' life and little annoying bugs like the taste of suffering humans. Rather, I would opt for spring when the azaleas and the magnolias are showing off their southern colors.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Dr. Phil in Charleston, South Carolina

I drove up to Charleston for two days. It's sooooooooooo hot and humid, my glasses fog up when I step outside.

Toured a plantation this morning and had fried green tomatoes and shrimp and grits for lunch.

Gotta go. I think I have some old houses to look at.

Updates and photos later!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Uncle Bubba's

On the way to Tybee island, which is just outside of Savannah, you will come across Uncle Bubba's restaurant. Uncle Bubba is the brother of Paula Deen, who is probably Savannah's biggest export. She owns the restaurant, Lady and Sons in downtown Savannah, and sells cookbooks, food items, and has her own tv show on the food network. If you haven't heard of Paula Deen, you just haven't been paying attention.

Just like Paula, Uncle Bubba's specialities are southern fare but with emphasis on the seafood. The restaurant is quite casual with indoor and outdoor seating but because this was Georgia in the middle of summer, most of the customers opted for the luxury of air conditioning. As seems to be the norm in southern restaurants, the service was friendly and attentive. In fact, Uncle Bubba himself came over to all the tables and said hello. How many owners of restaurants do that?

For starters, they served warm cornbread with honey whipped butter. I was never a fan of cornbread but down in these parts they do it right, damnit. The sweet butter melting over the golden yellow bread ... yum. For the main course, I chose the flounder stuffed with blue crab accompanied by coleslaw and red savannah rice. Delicious and not too expensive for about $20.

Part of the reason why I love the south so much is the food and Uncle Bubba gave me a real treat.

Thanks Bubba! I'll be back.