Monthly Archives: July 2010

Dog Culture

Since getting a puppy, our social life has sky-rocketted. I talk to more people in my day than I talked to in a week before she snuggled her way into our lives (and our dirty laundry). People love her. She’s so tiny and when she sees anyone, anyone, her tail starts to go crazy in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, they’ll want to stop and give her the love she thinks she knows she deserves.

Every puppy gets the same oohs and aahs though. When Liia was a puppy, she would get the same reaction from people at campgrounds. When you live close to other people, of course your puppy is going to get more love and affection than she can take.

Mocha gets a much different kind of attention than Liia ever got though. At campgrounds and other places we might take her when she was a pup, Liia would encounter a group of people that were interested in petting her, finding out how old she is, what her name is, and how big she’ll get, and then leaving her behind, not planning on ever seeing another Bernese mountain dog. I get all those questions too. In the elevator, especially, people will strike up conversations about my dog. But as soon as we get outside and out to the grass, there’s a whole different kind of people.

People with dogs. One dog or two. Little dogs or big dogs. Yappy dogs. Friendly dogs. Nervous dogs. Limping dogs. Hyper dogs. And every one of them interacts with every other one. There’s this unspoken rule out there on the dog path that, if your dog’s head turns toward another dog, if they look interested in a sniff, no matter what part of your walk you’re on, whether you’re headed home, or just headed out, you let them touch noses and sniff bums.  Sometimes, they’ll want to play, some more rambunctiously than others. And instead of trying to separate them and keep them calm, everyone sees this as a good thing. This pleasantly surprises me. I guess I didn’t expect city people to be so accepting of animalistic behaviour from their animals.

Some of the owners might just say hi and help keep the dogs untangled while they circle each other with tails going wild. Others though, become very interested in our little girl. They want to know everything about her. They want to coo over her cute soft waves. They’ll listen to me complain about the house training process and offer up whatever advice they have. They answer questions about their own dogs’ behaviours and training and admire the way their dog plays or protects our little sweetheart. They offer warnings and encouragements. They suggest play dates. They ask about M and I. They try to network for me. And the biggest thing? When it’s time to go our separate ways, they say, “See you soon.” And they’re completely serious, because they know that sooner or later, they’ll see us right back out there with our pooch in tow. It’s like she’s making instant friends for us, friends that are mostly outside of any other social circle we might be a part of. She’s instant entry, instant membership, into a club that, before, we didn’t know existed.

Today it’s rainy, the kind of day neither of us want to venture out into. But we will. And so will they.

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Meet our unnamed baby

She’s a 9 week old cockapoo snuggly bunny. And she doesn’t have a name. So, ideas? Please let me know!

I would write more, about things like the dog culture here in Toronto, or about picking her out last night, or about how we’re going to go pick some toys for her as soon as she and the Mister are back from their walk. But I was too excited to sleep last night, so M and I just woke up from a nap and I’m bleary.


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Tomato soup with cumin

M is visiting a friend tonight. Knowing that he wasn’t coming home until late tonight meant I didn’t even change out of my pajamas. That doesn’t mean I was a complete sloth though… I applied for a few more jobs, wrote an article for Demand Studios and made this delicious soup with leftover spaghetti sauce that had been sitting in the fridge for perhaps a touch too long.

But don’t worry. It smelled fine and looked ok. And this was so tasty I almost forgot to take a picture of it for you.

Tomato Soup with Cumin

1 cup onion soup broth
1.5 cups leftover spaghetti sauce with beef
1 small onion
1 teaspoon or 1 clove mince garlic
1/2 tablespoon basil
1/2 tablespoon cumin

That’s it! I enjoyed it with a little bit of toast. The cumin gave it a really interesting flavour. Mm. Tasty. Definitely not the tomato soup that comes from a can.


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Book Review: Late Nights on Air and White is for Witching

Considering I am essentially unemployed, and considering we’ve been camping for the past two weekends (with another shorter trip coming up this weekend), I’ve been doing a lot of reading. The past two books have been so night and day I thought I’d write some quick recommendations.

The first book. Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay.

I love Canadian Literature. I’m proud of my fellow Canadians and what we can do with words. Some of my favourite books are written by Canadians who seriously know what they’re doing and make it up as they go if they don’t. But this one? I have no idea why it won the Giller Prize. It’s pretty quintessentially Canadian: the great white north, grizzly bears, canoe trips over icy lakes, and all that. The book took on the exact identity that I was always glad Canadian literature grew out of. I found it dull, the characters boring or annoying, the landscape vast and empty and boring. I suppose if you enjoy man-vs.-nature stories, you might enjoy the second half of the book, anyway. But 20 pages in, the book became a slog and I couldn’t wait to finish it.

White is for Witch by Helen Oyeyemi, on the other hand, is a confusing twist of delight from start to finish.

It’s impossible to understand what’s going on but you don’t care because the characters grab you, the language draws you in, the movement of the story keeps you engaged. Important plot points reveal themselves throughout, information that suddenly sheds new understanding on the 80 pages you’ve already read. I mainly read this book over the weekend, while attending a family campout. I was fortunate that this particular campout was pretty low-key and no one was offended that I spent a large portion of the days with my nose buried in the book. It’s a book that makes you want to be there from start to finish.

To give you an idea of the difference between these two books: it took me almost 2 weeks to finish Late Nights on Air. White is for Witching I started on Wednesday on a subway trip to visit a friend of mine downtown. I finished it this morning — not even a week. And, when I go to the library later this week, I’m going to do something I haven’t done since I was a child: I’m going to find another book by the same author. Who knows, maybe I’ll discover a new answer to the question, “Who’s your favourite author?”


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There’s the salmon hat!

Yesterday, the weather was excruciatingly hot. And yet, for some reason, even if I knew how much I would feel the sweat dripping off me standing in the crowd in the sun, even if I knew about the headache that would hit me almost the second I stepped foot inside my cool, air-conditioned building, even if I knew I would hardly be able to move for the rest of the night, I would do it all again.

This was my first glimpse of the salmon hat:

A friend and I stood in the heat along a fenced-off walkway for approximately 1 and half hours, wondering aloud if she was going to come down that way, if she was even going to bother greeting the crowd, what with the heat. She is 80 after all. There was a camaraderie among everyone standing in the heat with their cameras at the ready. We commiserated, chatted, joked, and listened in on other people’s conversations.

And then she came. Probably one of the cutest old people I’ve ever seen.

She took flowers from someone about five people down from us. As she moved away, I was struck by her expression: it seemed like there was an apprehension in it, a nervousness about how she was supposed to react to these people clapping and cheering and taking her picture. Perhaps this is what I wanted to see. She would be used to it, I know, after 58 years of being the queen but I can’t help but wonder if she tires of it at all.

She moved on and climbed into a black, air-conditioned car leaving us, her subjects, I suppose, (well, I am… the person I went with isn’t a Canadian citizen and therefore has no patriotic loyalty to the Crown) to find our way out of the park and into a Mexican restaurant where we attempted to find some coolness in the fans blowing in our faces as we devoured a taco salad each and gratefully slurped a cold margarita.


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