Saying Goodbye to your Dog

I’ve said goodbye to a number of pets including turtles, fish, dwarf hamsters, cats and dogs. For me, dogs have to be the hardest to let go perhaps because I spend so much time with them outdoors and in my home office.

Three years ago, our handsome Golden Retriever, Skipper stopped eating around age 12. Aside from skin allergies necessitating a fish diet, Skipper was beautiful and healthy. At the beginning of his fast, I was able to convince him to eat. Over months it became a chore for us both, with me cooking him an entire meal and hand feeding it as he turned up his nose like a two year old with mushed peas. The weight came off too and his energy flagged so that he could only eventually raise up his two eyebrows to mock me. See I told you I was old.

My husband didn’t ask me, he just took Skipper to the Vet.  He came home and didn’t say a word ~ the collar hanging by the leashes at the door.   He was quiet for weeks and I cried at the most unexpected times.  Sometimes there are no words.

Two years later, Callebaut, our easy going black Labrador Retriever was 14 and was the marvel of the leash free. Even with gray whiskers since age nine, his hips, eyes and ears [selectively] were pain and disease free and he could roam for miles if left unattended. Over several months, I noticed he was restless at night. He’d wander from room to room panting heavily. Confused, I guided him from the door to the water bowl, but he wanted neither water nor to pee. When I returned from a week’s vacation, I noticed that Kona our Goldi-Poo would no longer sleep in the same room with him. After a couple of weeks, it suddenly hit me that maybe he was looking for the door.

Colin & Callebaut Summer 2014

I know I would rather have my pet die naturally, like I would like to die in my sleep. As a child, our dogs would wander off or go to the dog house or under the porch to die. I’m not sure if it’s the access we have to quality pet food and pet health care, but I know of very very few dogs that have died naturally. Mostly, I know people who have waited too long until their pets were in agony before they chose euthanasia.

How do our pets tell us when they are ready to be unburdened with old life in this age? How do we put our feelings aside to do the right thing? It’s a very personal question. I think in both cases Skipper and Callebaut did communicate beautifully.

I was very blessed that my son dropped by exactly as I was taking Callebeaut to the Vet Clinic for euthanasia. My recollection was correct that in spite of the open file on the Vet’s desk which showed years of tender care and my dog’s advanced age, she still felt it necessary to challenge my decision for euthanasia. What about blood work or xrays, she said? What about an overnight for observation?

I held onto my son and only his tearful face in front of me could remind me of the 14 plus years of the envious life of a healthy, well-loved dog that was Callebaut.

Deep Breath. a Choice, following which the Vet was incredibly helpful and sympathetic. My son and I held each other a cried a river between us.

Criollo and Rooibos Tea – A Warm Hug

When you have osteoporosis you are constantly thinking about how to minimize injuries without dampening your active lifestyle.  Several years ago, I shifted from alpine skiing to snowshoeing.  My ex-husband worried that if we weren’t skiing together that it fractured the family experience, but I pointed out that at the end of the day we are all invigorated and, with rosy cheeks, sharing our war stories whether they be about Double Blacks, the Snowboard Park or Snowshoeing.  The marriage eventually ended, but the aprés alpine tradition continued.


Glencairn Whisky Glass with a measure of Criollo Chocolate Salted Caramel Liqueur and Rooibos Steeped Tea and a side order of Rocky Mountain Fudge.

In the 90’s, apés ski usually consisted of hot cocoa for the kids, beer for the guys and Blueberry Tea for the gals.  Fast forward to today, I’m in loVe with extreme snowshoeing [off trail] and still want something non-caffeinated, hot and sweet to warm the cockles.

While working on recipes, I decided to add a dollop of Criollo Chocolate and Salted Caramel Liqueur to my favourite Rooibos Tea from Steeped Tea.  First the Roan red colour of Rooibos is pleasant to look at and second the fragrance compliments the liqueur’s caramel sweetness perfectly.

I love the look of a Warm Hug in my Glencairn Whisky Glass [with a maple leaf on the bottom] or in a traditional brandy snifter, but I need ideas on how to finish it.  Anyone?

ps should you be admiring it, that’s my Moroccan Tea Pot in the background from OneEarth

The Other Diagon Alley

One of my best memories is after dinner at Grammie and Grampa’s house in Calgary.   There’s was a small house with a huge garden and behind that a triangulated alley with, at it’s heart, a small park.  After dinner, Grammie would do the dishes and I, many times with my three sisters, would lay in front of the television watching the Wonderful World of Disney.  Grampa on the easy chair behind us gently snoring with his false teeth teetering at the edge of his mouth.  This childhood memory evokes a sense of peace, calm and safety.


Disney was my introduction to fantasy which later grew into a love of it, as well as historical and sci-fi literature. Among my favourite fantasy characters and in my opinion, the most famous of wizards, Merlin appears in dozens of novels including those penned by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Stephen R. Lawhead and T.H. White.

Other wizard characters Harry Dresden, Allanon, Dr Strange [Marvel], Elminster Aumar, The Crimson King [Stephen King], Gandalf and Harry Potter all have had a place in my library. Since we are talking about Disney, I must give honourable mention to Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice [Fantasia 1940], but I’d really rather mention his boss, the little known, but great wizard, Yen Sid.

Without prejudice to the products from Universal Studios or the fictional Diagon Alley in London, England, both which I would aspire to visit, the alley behind my grandparent’s house was as magical as any of literature or film fame.  From there I swung until I was dizzy, climbed trees, watched Canada Day fireworks, had crab apple fights, raided gardens with kids I met on the block and spent those rare sultry Calgary nights catching fireflies ~ all without the supervision of adults. This memory evokes feelings of independence, trust, strength and wonder.

You can look in your own back yard for a purveyor of fine gifts for wizards young and old ~ it’s called MacFie’s.

I first met Danny McAfee and his wife is Shayna at the Guelph Faery Festival.   Their small business started with walking sticks and wizard staffs.  Shortly thereafter adding wands, potions and apothecary ingredients.  Over the years they introduced owls, runes and even vampire hunting paraphernalia and all of these heirloom quality items are handmade right here in Ontario, Canada.

Macfies2My own Wizardry Kit from Macfies includes a beautiful Red Oak wand, wand bag, wand property card, plush owl, 2 owl accessories (brown owl hat & owl scroll) and one apothecary set (Phoenix Tears, Basilisk Teeth, Griffin Hair and apothecary stand).   Boxed and ready for wrapping, this heirloom can be found at Macfie’s for around $50.00

Shop on-line or Macfies will be at the Western Fair District, Progess Building, London, Ontario Dec 4-7.


Criollo and Scotch – The Jem

I don’t like fizzy drinks or anything too sweet, but give me a quality spirit or a lovely glass of wine and I’m a happy girl.  I’d been hooked on Red Velvet from Cupcake Winery and for the holiday season they offered a sample bottle of Criollo Liqueur with purchase.  There’s nothing more fun that experimenting with food and drink recipes which I’ll offer up until I run out of ideas.

Mix your favourite Scotch with Criollo Chocolate Salted Carmel Liqueur – served neat, the way I prefer it, or on the rocks. Since this liqueur is very sweet, you don’t need a lot.  It’s a great option when when you don’t want dessert ~and~ an after dinner drink.

We called our grandmother, Nanny, but I often referred to her as the Dragon Lady.  She always wore a dress, her hair in a French chignon and her signature red varnish on her long nails.  Born in 1900, Nanny was stylish, relaxed, fun, intelligent and the first female entrepreneur in our family.  She apparently loved Dixieland Jazz and Lethbridge beer, but the only time I saw her drinking was on special occasions and holidays and it was always Scotch.  I offer up in her honour, The Jem shown in a vintage, passed down to my Mother and passed down to me and only used for Scotch.


If you are looking for the perfect glass to give with a bottles of Criollo and Scotch, I loVe these classic 13 oz barware glasses made in Italy by Luigi Bormioli

How to Fall in Love with Morocco from your Couch

Bliss Bracelets

Bliss Bracelets

It would give me no greater pleasure than to visit Morocco.  The light of North Africa, the colours of spice, the intersections of costume and traditions of Berber, Jewish and Muslim communities.  I don’t have immediate plans to go, but I have found a way to enjoy a bit of Morocco [and Peru] from Canada and that is through Jessica Torres of Welland, Ontario.

Like me Jessica fell in love with One Earth and decided to become a sales consultant with them.  One Earth products meet my own criteria for company ethics and fair trade, sustainable income for locals, emphasis on local and hand made products, and well, the products are seriously cool.

From Jessica, I’ve already bought the small tea pot and a hand-tooled leather bag pack made in Morocco, but I’ve got my eye on the Lala Satchel Purse for me and the Peruvian Bliss stacking bracelets which would make exquisite stocking stuffers for my sisters and nieces.

Lala Satchel

Lala Satchel

If you are an Anthropologie junkie like me, you are going to loVe Jessica Torres and One Earth.  Shopping local in an entire new way.

Jessica lives in Welland, Ontario and her Twitter handle is @one1earthbyjess

How To Run a Book Club

I love my book club, aka Chardonnay Club [my husband’s phrase] even though it takes me 30 minutes each way. I am jealous that the other 11 gals mostly get to walk, skip or stagger home at the end of the session.
The stagger is not necessarily from the wine, but also that a number of gals are burning the midnight candle.

We are a frolicking, intelligent, eclectic group that put a high value on books that stimulate our brains and conversation, although not always at the same time.

Choosing the book line-up begins at the end of the season with each member putting forward their choices and why. The list is emailed so you have time to pick your favourites. The year-end social *before* wine is the time we discuss, debate and chose. Attention is paid to genre so that we don’t end up with all fiction or all biography. A double header or the longest book is slated for the summer and each person picks a date to host and a date to present.

Some presentations occur in tandem with two members. The host is responsible for the food, but the year end is pot luck. We meet on a Monday of each month excluding the summer and school holidays, but with our children all grown even that has changed.

Yes we do have a moderator and yes sometimes the cacophony is unbelievable, like Guns’N Roses loud. Would you have it any other way, I think not.

Here is our line-up for September to May and I’m already enjoying Life After Life.

• Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
• Love, Dishonour, Marry, etc. by David Rakoff
• The Fever by Mary Beth Keane
• Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
• A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
• The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham
• The Death Class by Erika Kayasaki
• All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu
• A House in the Sky by Amanda Kindhout & Sara Corbett

You are welcome.