Saying farewell to sweet Fudge

Caring for another creature can and should humble you.

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Sweet Fudge arrived on our street one day. No collar or tags. No readable tattoo in her ear or microchip under her skin. Her ears bore battle scars as did her nose. Her fluffy coat was full of tangles and matted knots that any dreadlocked Rastafarian would envy. (Yes, I know that was profiling, but you get the picture right?)

We asked around the neighbourhood if anyone know who she belonged to. No one knew anything about her. We took her to our vet and learned her tattoo was unreadable. We learned her approximate age and weight. And that she was deaf. Totally deaf as post. We brought her home and had to make a few plans. We informed the neighbours she was deaf and that she wouldn’t hear cars approaching on the street, so could they all please be more aware of her on the road.

We built wooden houses, insulated them and filled them with soft bedding for her to sleep on. Her house was decorated at Christmas and Hallowe’en to match our house. You could hear Fudge snoring when she was asleep inside her cozy abode. My weekly Spud delivery guy was always happy to see her.

She became fiercely protective of our property. Dogs were tolerated as they walked on the road, but if one dared step a toe onto our grass or driveway. . . well, Fudge went into Guard-cat mode. The Chocolate Lab went home with a sliced nose. The Golden Retriever went home with a matching slice. One small white fluffy dog, perhaps a Bichon Frise, decided to come to the front door one Saturday morning and sample Fudge’s breakfast. That little dog made noises no animal could make voluntarily. This fluffy white pup went home pink and red. Fudge let him know whose food he dared eat and it was a lesson not ever forgotten.

We spent hours brushing her coat daily. It was common to find twigs and dead bugs caught up in the fluffiest of her underpinnings. She tolerated the daily removal of assorted bricabrac from her fur. Her personal best, was a branch of a rosebush, complete with a spiderweb and a dead worm all firmly woven into her back leg fuzzy bits.

Her favourite place to sleep was with her head under the Azalea bushes.img_1092

One summer, a young man came to our door selling book subscriptions to pay for his Theology and Religious studies. He was distracted by Fudge with her head hidden under the bush. He kept looking at me and looking back at Fudge. Finally he said “Mum, I think there is something wrong with your cat. She didn’t look at me when I spoke to her.” I assured him she was fine. “No, mum, you don’t understand, she isn’t moving when I talk to her.” I explained she was deaf and then touched her side. She brought her head up so quickly, she knocked flowers to the dusty flowerbed. I told him how Fudge came to live with us and how it isn’t my place to turn my back on a creature in need. She may have been a Queen in a former life and it was my job to care for her now. He stopped his speech about religion and shook my hand and thanked me. His eyes were wet and he bent down to nuzzle Fudge before going on his way.

Over the years, we noticed her fluffy coat was getting more and more tangled. She seemed unable to keep herself well groomed. There often were bathroom cling-ons stuck in her fur. We had to help clean these from her coat. From time to time, we needed to wash these southern parts with warm water to remove the dried matter. She was less tolerant of our brushing sessions. We opted to get her a haircut. A Lion-trim to be more precise. Well, that was revealing to say the least.

Upon her haircut, we noticed she was thin. Really thin. We asked for a check up. Her blood work came back revealing she had kidney disease. The vet gave us many scenarios we could explore. She said Fudge could last anywhere from weeks to maybe a few months with a diet change etc. There were also some far more involved options too, if we wanted to investigate those. We chose a food change. We told all the neighbours she was on a new diet and to please not feed her anything. Fudge was known for seeing what was for dinner at the other houses on the street.

She didn’t care for the food switch. We tried every brand, every formulation of food that was designed for kidney issues in cats. She turned her scarred nose up at every single offering. So, now what? Quality or quantity? Give in and let her eat what she wanted or feed her what she didn’t want, and therefore left untouched?

We moved her bed into the garage, installed a space heater for her and fed her what she wanted. She ate happily. Then, one day, she had the look in her eyes.

I’m done.

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We brought her and her litterbox upstairs and made her a spot to sleep on the bed. Fudge no longer had the sweet smell of happy kitty. She was instantly sour and acrid. Her fur, once soft and luxurious to brush, was cold and greasy feeling. We called the vet in the morning.

They accommodated us first thing. The vet explained they would try to find a vein, but in the state she was in, it may be difficult. She wrapped Fudge in a blanket and took her to the back. They emerged a few minutes later, the vet smiling with relief as they were able to find one. (the alternative is to apparently go directly into the heart and not pleasant for family to watch) We held her fuzzy hand as she slipped away. She seemed to smile as she left us.

We miss sweet Fudge more than she can ever know.

Let’s talk about love

Love.

I’m not talking about the Hallmark stuff. I will not be running out to buy a card which would sit on the table or mantle for a week and then get environmentally put in the recycling bin. My family knows I’m not the card type.

Love is in the small things you do everyday. Love is not February 14th. Love is getting out of bed early on your day off and making coffee and breakfast without hesitation. Love is putting the lid down on the toilet. (this also ends the seat up/seat down debate once and for all)  Love is rubbing someone’s feet or shoulders after a long day at work. Love is filling up the gas tank. Love is making someone’s favourite meal and doing the clean up. Love is a walk. Love is silence. Love is giving away the last cookie. Love is understanding and supporting those around us daily. Love is a journey. Love changes along the way. Love can be for a pet. Love can be for a sibling. Love can be for a significant other. Love can be for a child. Love can be for a parent. Love is vital for yourself. Love overlooks the little things. Love understands we are all different. Love supports the honest endeavours of those around us, even if those trials don’t align with our own views. Love doesn’t mock or belittle. Love embraces and nourishes. Love teaches. Love crosses time and space. Love is global. Love isn’t a card.

Love yourself. Love your family. Love your home. Love your environment, your planet.

Love yourself. Feed yourself well. Good, healthy food. Real food, things you can pronounce. If it has more than four syllables and isn’t cauliflower or romanesco, you probably should skip it. If it was created in a factory, again, you probably should give it a wide berth. The best stuff to nourish and love your precious body with should be recognizable in it’s natural form. Don’t eat “food-like” products. Love yourself better than that. Don’t smoke. Really, don’t do it. Feed your brain. Read. Read for fun. Read to learn. Learn something new everyday. This helps you grow. Laugh. Smile, it’s good for your heart and soul. Rest. Protect your quiet time. Practice deep breathing. Sleep in a dark room. Take time to your own thoughts. Move daily, be it a walk, 8 kilometres on your treadmill, kickboxing, dance lessons or tai chi. Don’t lose sight of your own importance.

Love your family. Put down your phone. Turn off the screens. Put a timer on the router to turn the internet off while you sleep. (no more kids up all night glued to devices.) Read together. Be together. Go out together. Create memories. Too quickly, we get older and our lives take us places other than where we want to be. Talk. More importantly, listen. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn from others. Eat at the table. Be the one to offer to pick them up late at night. You’ll sleep better knowing they are safe. Bake with little ones. Give children and teenagers basic cooking lessons so they aren’t condemned to a life of eating Ichiban-style noodles and macaroni and cheese when they move out of the house. Embrace the mistakes and revel in the successes. Plan meals. Everyone makes one meal suggestion. Have dinner for breakfast. That age old question of “what’s for dinner?” will become a thing of the past. Plan, prep and portion your meals on your day(s) off. If you do this, when you get home from work during the week, you just pull out your prepped meals and heat them up. That extra time can be spent doing something important, like reading with a child, walking the dog or meditating. Planning your meals also cuts down on wasted food. You plan your meals, you shop for what you need, (fewer impulse purchases of the warehouse sized jar of pickled banana peppers ’cause you were hungry), and you use what you buy. Get the whole family involved in the planning and prep stages. Shopping online also makes it easy for everyone to help shop without having a meltdown in the cookie and sugar-coated cereal aisles.e5fa0-honest_labels_600

Love your home. Open the doors. Get fresh air inside your home. Declutter. Do you really need that nic-nac? Probably not. Make your purchases count. Invest in real furniture and basic pieces. It will last longer, look better and likely won’t end up in the landfill in two years when the leg breaks or the “wood-like” paper finish peels. Stick with simplicity and your furnishings won’t be out of style. Take pride in your home. Have pictures that make you smile. This is your castle, your sanctuary, be it a 4,000 square foot mansion or a mobile home on a rented trailer pad. Pick up any garbage that blows on your yard. Have pride in your home. Once you close the front door, this is your safe place. Your haven. Keep it clean and keep it safe.

Love your environment. Love your planet. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Take your shopping bags with you to the store. Take your reusable mug to Starbuck’s, David’s Tea or Timmy’s or wherever you get your caffeine fix. Think twice about fast food. Think about the garbage generated from that convenient meal. (remember when McDonald’s had styrofoam containers for their burgers? We’ve come a long way, but the road stretches out far ahead of us.) Pack a lunch in reusable containers. Buy local. A local farmer or artisan feels the impact of your dollar more than the big chain stores. Your purchase can be a difference in his or her livelihood. Your dollars stay closer to home in your community. Buying local allows the farmers and artisans you support, to employ other workers, which in turn reinvests those dollars back into the community. Staying local also can reduce the global shipping of consumer goods. We all know this is better for the environment. Know where your purchases originate from. If you can, choose Canadian made goods. Let’s cut down on as many imports as we can. Turn out the lights when you leave the room. Turn the heat down when you go out or go to bed. Put a timer on the furnace. This helps keep the dollars in your pocket. If you need to use the dryer, use dryer balls instead of liquid fabric softener. They are less expensive, and there are fewer chemicals going down the drain. Sunny day? Put the clothes on the line to dry. Let Mother Nature help with the laundry. Plant flowers that attract bees and butterflies. Don’t use pesticides. Embrace the odd weed in your yard. Grow some vegetables, fruit or herbs if you can. Chilly? Put on a sweater or cuddle up under a blanket. Blankets are far cozier when shared with someone.  Mend your socks. Use your buying power to state that you want local and sustainable goods. Catch and release spiders and flies who accidentally find their way in your home. They too have important jobs outside in this big world. It’s all about love. Love is, indeed, a many splendored thing.

Love.

Maybe The Beatles were right.

All you need is love.



Do you swear to tell the tooth?

 

What’s the big deal with baby teeth?

Baby teeth come with many names. Milk, deciduous, primary  all mean the same set of teeth. The teething guidelines below, vary with every child. Some kids will be later than these posted ages and some with be way ahead and have a full mouth of chompers by their first birthday. I’ve seen 9 year old children with all of their permanent dentition with the exception of wisdom teeth. (I can’t help but think the trickle down effect of the foods we eat plays a major role in the eruption of kids teeth today. All those hormone infused foods have an end point don’t they?)teething chart.png

You may be thinking, kids lose these first teeth so what’s the big deal about taking care of them?

  • S/he doesn’t like it when I brush her/his teeth. So? Get in there and do it. You can make brushing fun. If they start screaming and crying, well, you have better visibility now don’t you?
  • Who cares if they get a cavity? Pull it out. That’s an easy and cheaper fix than having a filling done. No, be responsible and get the tooth repaired. Cavities hurt, can make eating painful and also give nasty breath. Do you really want those things for your precious little one? (Please don’t threaten your child with a trip to the dentist if they don’t behave. This does not serve any purpose other than vilify the people who are there to help. Dental environments can be scary enough on their own, with the weird smells and sounds, without a parent filling a little mind with terrifying images.) Decay in a baby tooth can also affect the permanent tooth waiting to erupt.
  • What if a tooth gets knocked out? Another tooth will grow in to replace it right? Well, yes and no.

Yes. In the right circumstances, an adult or permanent tooth will take the place of the shed baby tooth. If you are lucky, it erupts into the correct position in the mouth. Hooray!

No. Sometimes Mother Nature throws a curveball your way and simply does not form an adult tooth under a baby tooth. Seek the opinion of an Orthodontist. Not a general dentist who also does braces. You want a specialist for this job. This may involve having the baby tooth removed and spaces closed or keeping the primary tooth as long as possible and preparing for a dental implant once growth is complete.

Yes. The permanent tooth will erupt either in front of or behind the baby tooth providing you with a shark-look (rows of teeth). This could possibly lead to some crowding out of the adult teeth. You may need the baby teeth removed to help with this scenario.

 

No. There may very well be an adult tooth lurking under the gums, but for some reason, it has decided to grow in a different location. (picture Bugs Bunny tunnelling underground and arriving inthe middle of a bullfight, expecting to find himself at Pismo Beach, “I knew I shoulda taken a left turn at Albuquerque”)

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Teeth can be impacted in the roof of the mouth, causing damage to the roots of the surrounding teeth. Sometimes, teeth can fuse themselves to the jawbone and will not move up and into occlusion. This is called an ankylosed tooth. These cases are best handled by an Orthodontist as well.

 

Mother Nature designed our baby teeth to act as guides for the permanent teeth. In an ideal world, the adult tooth erupts directly below the baby tooth causing the root to resorb. As the permanent tooth moves toward the gum line, the baby tooth becomes loose and is shed. The adult tooth shouldn’t be far behind the baby tooth falling out. If a baby tooth is lost prematurely, (many a trampoline can boast of claiming a tooth or two) it is important to preserve that space to prevent a loss of arch length and the subsequent crowding. You may be thinking the holding appliance the dentist recommends is just a money grab. No, it’s not. Holding appliances serve a great purpose and not just to pad a wallet. They maintain the space to allow the permanent tooth the best chance to erupt where it is supposed to. (think of saving a place in line at the movies for your friend)

Both the Canadian and American Orthodontic Associations recommend an early assessment by a certified Orthodontist around age 7.

  • Why see them so young? Some bite issues and habits can be corrected and modified during a child’s growth.
  • Why an Orthodontist and not my regular dentist? These women and men have had several years of education and training, specific to orthodontics, in addition to their regular dental degree.

Initial consultations may involve a Panorex x-ray. Regular bite-wing x-rays (the ones taken at the check-up and cleaning appointment) do not provide all the necessary information about what is happening in your child’s mouth. This image is a fantastic diagnostic tool to alert you of missing teeth, extra teeth (yes, that can happen) ankylosed and impacted teeth.

We’ll chat more about teeth and how they fit together another time.

 

Pass (on) the canola oil please

I’m all for knowledge.

In my home, I control what fats we use. Some of the top budget dollars go to properly sourced grass fed/pastured butter and ghee. Unrefined coconut and palm oils, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oils, avocado oils, and so on and so on. When we dine out, (which incidentally is happening less and less these days) we are at the mercy of the oils and fats the restaurant uses. One inquires and makes decisions based on the information provided. Hats off to the servers who have the knowledge or go ask the questions. Thank you for going above and beyond. It is appreciated.

One should never stop learning and one should always be open to hearing another viewpoint. I came across this clip on how canola oil is produced. This video is not a “hate on canola oil” production. It is taking us through the refinement stage from seed to bottle in a matter-of-fact narrative. The opening comment states canola oil is one of the best cooking oils available. Lowest level of saturated fat. More healthy omega 3 fatty acids and is high in mono-unsaturated fat. One would almost believe this was a healthy choice if they quit the video there. I won’t poke holes in those claims today. Maybe another day.

From here we see the many steps of refinement. I won’t repeat each step, because, well, you are capable of watching the video again if you felt so inclined. But, let’s hit the highlight reel. Washing the flattened canola cake for 70 minutes in a solvent (mmm, ok) to extract more oil. A 20 minute wash in sodium hydroxide. Let’s flash back to high school science for a moment. NaOH is lye or caustic soda by another name. This stuff can also be used to break down tissue and make bones brittle enough to be crushed into powder with your fingers. Many a criminal in history has used this chemical compound to break down a body to make evidence (almost) disappear. The canola oil is bleached to lighten the colour. Steam is used for deodorization.

The by-products during the refinement process include:

  • cattle feed (from the “foreign material” in the separation process)
  • soaps (“natural impurities” from the oil after washing in NaOH)
  • vegetable shortening (waxy substance left behind after the lye wash)
  • animal feed (from the solvent-washed canola cake)

The by-products appear to be what was left over after each of the refining stages. The way I interpret this, is those other products are laden in the various chemicals used to process the end product. Isn’t soap supposed to clean our skin? Not wash it with something that could be potentially breaking it down? I’m guessing the soap is refined further to remove those toxins introduced during the canola refinement stage. Cue safer skincare products from companies like Beautycounter.

Another plug for grass-fed/grass-finished/pastured meats when at all possible. The animals are consuming these chemical cocktails. Put your money where your mouth is. You deserve better than factory food.

 

 

Growing up on KD

Who ate this stuff? Who still eats this stuff?

C’mon, hands up. We’re all friends here. No one will judge you.

Confession time. I used to eat 2 boxes of the stuff, BY MYSELF, because I could. I’d eat right out of the pot I cooked it in, no less. I’d make the stuff, grab the salt shaker and plop myself on the couch in front of the tv and mindlessly shovel it in, stopping only to resalt the next layer. I’d eat until it was all gone, even if I felt full at about the halfway point, because, well, noodles and cheese. Oh and salt. Lots of that. As if the 80’s pantry ubiquitous blue box didn’t already have a stupid amount of sodium in it already.

The first time I made it, I recall, I read the instructions on the side of the box to the letter. I dutifully measured the amount of water I set to boil. I measured out the salt, milk, butter (it most likely was margarine that went into it way back then!) and timed how long the pasta cooked. Sometimes, the noodles were a little firmer than I preferred, but I was going by the directions and I wasn’t about to stray. I recall my brother snickering that if I had to read how to make KD, then there was NO hope of me getting married and being able to cook for my family. I always rationalized that the man I was going to marry would have to be able to cook then, wouldn’t he?

I have vague, fond memories of certain foods that, with my rose-coloured memory glasses, were divine. KD, being one of those things I thought I missed. Quitting gluten to heal my gut and save my skin forced me to say good-bye to KD among other things. When I had to eat all things gluten-y to rule out Celiac disease, I bought a box of the stuff. This time though, I winged the water to cook the pasta, used barely a drizzle of milk (because I wanted thick, cheesy sauce) and used butter, baby. One forkful later. . .  yuck. What was the big deal over this stuff? Even though they claim the ingredients on the box have changed from when I was downing it as a teen, (they have removed the Yellow #5 now) there are still a few sketchy items in my book.

The heart pines for what it is denied however.

I have learned to improvise.

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This is my version of KD now. The only thing non-conventional is the Bragg’s nutritional yeast. That stuff packs the cheesy flavour and the yams and red palm oil round out that beautiful colour. Yeah, my photography still requires some work and staging, but, the roughness shows that this is real, easy and tasty stuff I’m sending your way. Feel free to serve it fancily, with all the garnish, but I would rather be eating than fussing with props.

Mac n not-cheese:

  • 2 smalls yams (the orange fleshed ones)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock (homemade is best)
  • 3/4 cup Bragg’s nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/3 cup red palm oil
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk (more depending on sauce thickness preferences)
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound dry gluten free elbow macaroni (I used Tinkyada)

Peel and chop the yams into approximately 1″ cubes. Add minced garlic and boil until fork tender. Using either a hand-stick blender (immersion), regular blender or food processor, blend the drained potatoes, stock, nutritional yeast and palm oil. Slowly add the coconut milk until you get the consistency you want for your pasta. You want the sauce to be smooth, no tell-tale yam lumps in case you are trying to sneak the sauce past someone who may not be on board with eating a potato-based “cheese” sauce. Add chili powder, salt and peeper to taste.

Cook the pasta to your desired level of al dente. Some folks I know like their noodles overcooked to the point they break apart and other folks like a chewier noodle. To each their own.

You can either toss the pasta and the sauce together and dig in right away or. . . throw it into a buttered casserole dish and bake it in the oven for about 30 minutes at 350. If you are going to bake it in the oven, I’d make the sauce a little runnier and to allow for absorption while baking.