Category Archives: Other Stuff

He was a Terrible Cat, and I Loved Him

 

Near the end of February, my sweet and terrible Orange Cat died. It was sudden and swift, and utterly unexpected. It is amazing what a huge space that little cat took up in my heart and in my home.

 

He’s been with me since he was eight weeks old. He and his brother came from the Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter, where they were dumped off in a box in the middle of winter along with their mom and another kitten. When my now-ex and I went to the shelter looking for one short-haired kitten, the mom and one sibling had already been adopted. These two remaining kittens were tiny fuzzy balls, one orange face and one grey with a vertical white stripe along his nose.  Apart from their color, they were identical in shape and movement: their little tails twitched simultaneously, their sweet heads tilted at the same angle; they moved and reacted in unison.  They were adorable! Continue reading

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Weekly Pet Peeve: Cats at Night

You cat owners out there probably know that cats are nocturnal. That was a nasty surprise to me when I got my Kittenz five years ago. The cat I knew before that, Rakkertje, was already a sedate eight or so years old when I moved in with my then-partner. Rakker spent most of her days on a sunny windowsill, and most of her nights on our bed, with an hour of hunting mice in the yard around twilight.

That’s what I expected of the Kittenz (aside from the yard bit, as they are indoor cats). Boy, was I surprised to find out that no matter how much I played with them, kept them awake, interrupted their naps, and adjusted their feeding times, there would be a nightly hour (at least) somewhere between 1 and 5 am in which they’d be running around wrestling, jumping, singing, and stalking each other. And that’s on a good night! On a bad night, their schedules are staggered, so as one finally curls up to sleep, the other stretches, jumps lightly off the bed, and commences his hour of nocturnal frenzy.

I love the Kittenz. That is a fact. And I will never give them up. But I am a light sleeper, and insomnia is A Thing for me at the best of times, so I can tell you with a fair certainty that I will never get a cat again once these pretty Boyz are gone.

 

 

 

 

Behind the Scenes (or, My Brush with Going Viral)

I had an interesting WordPress experience this past weekend. It made me appreciate how this going viral thing works.

Back in May 2015, my friend’s dog Cookie died and I wrote a blog post about it (When Good Dogs Die). The pain of her loss was too fresh for my friend to want to read this post, and as time passed, it slipped both of our minds.

This past Saturday, I was at Cookie’s mom’s place with The Fluffy Dog for our almost-weekly playdate. We were talking about old dogs, and suddenly she exclaimed “Oh, I didn’t read what you wrote about Cookie yet!” And she felt she was ready. So when I got home later that day, I facebook messaged her the link to that post. She read it and shared it on facebook.

Now, Cookie’s mom is heavily involved with dog rescue and dog sport (agility and flyball, mostly). She has just under 200 facebook friends, and it seems that most of them are also committed Dog People. By the time I went to bed on Saturday, there were over a dozen comments and more likes on the post. Not too much. A nice number of people saying nice things about my tribute to Cookie, and remembering Cookie themselves.

What was fascinating, though, was what was happening on WordPress. My stats were jumping! Continue reading

Using Euphemisms for Death

So Qrys and I were talking today about death. She was wondering about the origin of “passed” as a euphemism. And that made me start wondering about death euphemisms in general. Why do people use euphemisms like passed, kicked the bucket, gone to a better place, departed, and so on? Qrys and I both prefer just to say that somebody died, and so we’re genuinely curious about why there are so many other ways of saying the same thing.

Here’s a little poll. Also, if you have more to say in the comments about the origin and use of “passed” in particular, I’ll pass that on to Qrys (see what I did there?)

Lest We Forget

Twenty-five years ago today In Montréal.

Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student

Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student

Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student

Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student

Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department

Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student

Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student

Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student

Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student

Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student

Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student

Twenty-five years ago today. We remember you. We remember you. We remember you.

 

Hutspot: The Ultimate Winter Comfort Food

When I moved to the Netherlands, I was introduced to two typically Dutch dishes heavy on the Mighty Potato: boerenkool and hutspot. I’ve since stopped eating meat, and have yet to find a satisfactory vegetarian version of boerenkool, but hutspot remains one of my absolute favourite winter comfort meals.

Basically, hutspot is half-and-half potatoes and carrots, with some onions thrown in. Peel, chop, and boil them all up together, then mash them up with generous amounts of butter and milk. Add ground pepper to taste (and salt if you do salt), then nom-nom-nom. Freeze the rest in portions for later in the week (my standard cooking MO).

I bet real Dutch people have very specific ways they make this, and they’d probably be horrified at my cavalier recipe above. I change it up sometimes, too—for example, I rarely have milk in the house anymore so I use soy milk instead. And sometimes I substitute yams (are those the orange ones or are those sweet potatoes? I mean the orange ones) for some or all of the regular taters. And today my bromate made up a batch and he threw in a bunch of garlic as well.

There is nothing like a bowl of hot, buttery mashed potatoes after being out in the snow. Add ketchup or sambal or more ground black pepper or just eat it plain and steaming hot. All hail the magical potato!

 

 

 

 

Today I Can’t Shut Out the World

My Facebook news feed always shows me stories about hard-luck dogs: the ones abandoned, the ones surrendered to shelters by owners unwilling (or, so sadly, willing but unable) to care for them, the ones born wild and now starving / scavenging / suffering.

I’ve put most of those pages on a separate “interest group” so I’m not confronted with them every day, so I don’t start every day in tears as I eat my porridge before going to work.
But most of my Facebook friends care as much about dogs as I do, and the things they share still appear in my main feed.

I always care about these lonely and confused dogs, but at enough of a remove that the sadness doesn’t trip me up. Today, though, I feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of suffering in the world. I am feeling tender and moved toward all the abandoned and unwanted creatures, Continue reading