Conversations with Ocean

We have a lovely, slightly-spoiled doggie named Ocean. She’s an akita, a breed we didn’t know really well before getting her, and pretty independent. We used to have two akitas but, as life would have it, we lost River and now we only have Ocean.

Life as an only dog suits Ocean just fine. She gets twice the kisses, treats and tons of toys. She also gets to participate in a lot of conversations with me. I however, wonder if she wants a brother or sister.

I talked to her about it, but she didn’t seem very open to the idea.

Me: What kind of breed do you think you’d like for a brother?

This again? No brothers. They take my toys

Me: What about a bulldog? They’re super cute.

They’re pretty wrinkled and snore at night. Besides, I’m cuter.

Me: What about a Neapolitan Mastiff?

Are you kidding me? Do you know how much they drool?

Me: Hm…what about a bullmastiff?

This is getting old very fast.

Me: What about an Irish Wolfhound? They’re beautiful.

You may need help

Me: A bloodhound? A Newfoundlander?… You know, if you don’t help me, I’ll end up at the pound and get a rescue.

I am going to ignore you now and go back to looking for squirrels.

Me: Sigh.

Now, let’s talk about our options for dinner

Happy New Year!…and other cuties

Happy new year dog stock photo. Image of funny, english - 44115932
Rua do Loreto, Lisbon / Portugal

A huge thanks to Wicked Aww Pics for those lovely pictures and making our year a little brighter! And a Happy New Year to everyone!

2022 Happy New Year GIF, Download New Year Animated GIFs 2022

Pigeon Wars

Sometime during this summer, we put feeders out for the birds. Unbeknownst to us, the seeds we chose were delicacies for pigeons. Not too soon after, a little family of the birds made a nest on our roof.

Pigeons Nesting, Mating and Feeding Habits
Not our nest…ours was much more messy

I thought this was lovely news but my lovely hubby was concerned. Turns out, pigeon droppings have toxic chemicals in them that, if ingested, could kill dogs. Hubby didn’t want his baby hurt. When the pigeons stayed after their babies had left the nest, he realized these guys were settling in for the winter and set out to change things. The pigeons, he decided, had to go.

The only issue was that our new feathery visitors were quite happy with their new home. They had chosen a spot between two dormers that is sheltered from the rain and wind. They had constant food below and a beautiful view of lovely old trees to admire. They weren’t going anywhere.

Round 1 consisted of my hubby trying out banging pots and pans near the roof. It made our neighbours come out and stare but the pigeons didn’t even budge.

Having accomplished nothing with the banging but to look ridiculous, Hubby decided to bring out the heavy guns and bought a wind chimer. Apparently, the soothing sounds of wind chimes are incredibly irritating to pigeon ears and they fly away. Delighted with his cunning, Hubby installed the biggest wind chime he could find. Right under their nest.

ChimeOut wind chime silencer - large

The wind came and the chimes rang. And rang, and rang. And nothing happened anywhere in the neighbourhood. Day after day, Hubby peered up into the roof to find our unwanted guests snuggled together, as happy as could be.

Round 3 -Hubby decided to involve technology. He bought a machine that made a sound humans ears cannot detect but apparently scares birds. The contraption was massive, it took him an entire day to hook it up on our balcony and get it going but he did and he turned it on with delight.

Of course, we couldn’t hear anything but Ocean did. She started howling at the moon, the sun and pretty much every celestial object in the sky. I had a headache spring up every time I stepped in the house but, otherwise, nothing else seemed to change. Certainly not the pigeons, who were still snuggled together on our roof.

Round 4 – Hubby bought a plastic ball that lit up when thrown and stretched out his throwing arm. The idea was that he’d throw the ball close enough to the annoying birds that they would leave and never return. The problem with this plan was that my hubby has many talents but accuracy is not one of them. The ball landed on the neighbours’ yards, the street, our deck, our backyard but it didn’t come even close to the pigeons.

Seeing the crazed look in my husband’s eyes, even I took a turn at throwing the ball. I got pretty close. The birds did fly away…and returned as soon as the ball fell back to earth.

Pigeon Watch: Get to Know (and Love) Our Amazing City Birds | Audubon
I like my home

By this point in the war, it was winter. Every morning, on my way to work, I would look up as I left and see the two fluffy pigeons in their nook. Clearly winners of the war, they were not moving. I suggested to my hubby making them another home in our yard, one that would tempt them away from the roof, but my idea wasn’t a winner. If they stayed, so would their droppings and that would still endanger Ocean.

Hubby started asking for help. He discovered that a lot of people have had unwanted feathery guests stay with them for a while and that it is really hard to discourage such guests. Everyone had advice but it went from the shocking to the ridiculous; someone suggested getting a pet eagle, another wanted him to build an electric fence on our roof…the most consistent one was to shoot them. But my hubby is a gentle man and he didn’t want to hurt the birds.

Then, finally someone came up with the idea that he liked.

He was told that if he got an owl, a fake, plastic one, and installed it near the pigeons, it would scare away them away. Owls are natural predators of pigeons, the person explained, they’ll be terrified of the thing.

My hubby went out and found a massive, plastic owl that terrified everyone, even him. Before the day was out, the thing was hanging from the roof right next to the pigeon home. And, sure enough, the pigeons were gone.

He was ecstatic. “He was right,” Hubby grinned. “It terrifies them. They’ll never come back.”

Do Plastic Owls Scare Pigeons?

Three great reads

Under Currents by Nora Roberts

Under Currents: A Novel: Roberts, Nora: 9781250207098: Books - Amazon.ca

Under currents was the first book I sank my teeth into and it was delicious. It tells the family story of Zane, who had a rough start in life and comes back home to face and reconnect with family. It’s a lovely, thick book and the thrill of knowing there were pages and pages to read made me delighted to have it.

One of the best things about Nora Roberts is how dependably amazing she is as an author. She simply delivers ace after ace and, knowing that, it’s safe to dive in from the start and get to love the characters. I always know I’m in good hands with her.

And she didn’t disappoint. There was lovely description of places, great character development, humour, a lovely pet dog and a plot that didn’t lag. I loved the setting, a small town by a lake and I loved the quirky characters. Most of all, I love how she took the time to develop the story and give it the gravity it deserved. This one is a book I would recommend to all Nora fans but definitely to those looking for a great read, a romantic book or even simply a great family story.

Nobody’s Baby but Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Nobody's Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

This one starts off with a bang. Genius Professor, Dr. Jane Darlington decides that she wants a child but, to spare her child the challenges she had as a genius, she wants the father to have a…well a low IQ. So, she picks Cal Bonner, the quarterback of the Chicago Stars.

How Jane tricks Cal into sleeping with her is simply hilarious. One of the most enjoyable things about Susan Elizabeth Phillips is her dialogue. Quirky, fast and really funny, it catches me every time and I simply can’t put the book down. It was really that good.

Of course, her ruse goes awry and Jane ends up stuck with the QB for a while and sparks fly. Add some delightful, funny characters and a funny setting and you’ve got a great story. Definitely a great book for those who are into romance but also great if you like humour or simply a great fictional read. Susan Elizabeth Phillips doesn’t miss the mark.

This Heart Of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Listen Free to This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips with a Free  Trial.

I chose this one next because I really can’t get enough of this author. Susan Elizabeth Phillips has amazing, simply amazing characters and hilarious dialogue. They are so funny! I can’t get over their come backs. I have always been someone who has no snappy retorts and the lines in these books leave me in awe.

This heart of mine tells the story of Molly who has a long term crush on the quarterback of the Chicago Stars, Kevin Tucker. She has loved him from afar and she’s sure he doesn’t even know she exists. I loved that premise.

Unfortunately for poor Molly, she also has a terrible tendency to get herself in trouble. It’s this particular trait that lands her in a fix with none other than Kevin Tucker. And a fix it is.

I can’t think of someone else who can write two characters who are ready to kill each other and then, somehow, manage to fall in love better than Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I have read the books and I am still not sure where they changed from trying to fight to loving but they do and they do it really convincingly.

Best of all, is the humour. It kept me grinning, laughing and loving the twists and turns of the story. If you’re a fun of quirky, funny characters, this one is for you. And if you like love stories, this one is for the heart. A truly beautiful love story with wonderful characters, I loved every written word.

Volunteering…

I’m volunteering. It’s true. They were asking for people at work and I just couldn’t say no. It was for such a good cause…

The cause is a really good cause and we’re doing great work and making a huge difference. That’s all fantastic news and really really good. The problem is that volunteering takes about 2.5 to 3 hours after work and it is every blessed day.

Every. Day.

But it’s for a really, really good cause.

My hubby barely sees me during the week now, though he tries to be supportive of this cause. But, this is why I have been less prolific with my little blog lately.

The good news is that our goal is coming up soon and this volunteering should end.

The bad news is that my hubby tried to cook to help me…

These were once asparagus…

He was much more successful at purchasing Ocean a little gift…

Ocean is thinking about forgiving me from all the time I’ve been away. This new cushion also helped ease the tension…

Though her Fluffiness did only use it once…Apparently, it wasn’t the exact colour she liked…

Finally, to tempt me to stay home, my hubby has been sending me pictures of cute akita puppies…the idea being if we have two dogs, I’ll stay home more…

Ocean’s lesson

We lost River about a month and a bit ago. I didn’t post about it because, at first, it was simply too painful. Then, I didn’t want to post because this blog is about positive things. Now, finally, I think I have turned a corner.

And it’s all thanks to Ocean.

I came home from the vets that day, wrung out and still crying. Saying goodbye to River was awful, just god-awful. It tore my heart into pieces and I cried inconsolably for hours at the vets. I couldn’t see past my pain.

I opened the back door to let Ocean in mentally preparing myself for her reaction to the loss.

Ocean bounced into the house like a spring lamb. She bounced as if she had springs on her feet. She pounced on her toy and proceeded to throw it in the air, bouncing around the furniture with sheer joy.

I couldn’t believe it. Didn’t she miss her brother? Where was her sadness at this terrible situation? Didn’t she care?

Ocean cares. There is no doubt in her soft eyes or her gentle acts towards us that she loves us completely and unconditionally. She adores us and she loved River. But she also lives in the present, not the past. And that was something I had to learn from her.

Homemade Hummus

I love hummus and, lately I’ve been craving it like crazy. Now, normally, we buy it at Costco and we’re very happy with it. Like everything you purchase there, it comes in massive quantities and it tastes great. But just the other day, I thought about trying to make it at home. Would it taste any better?

I used this recipe from Oh She Glows because that woman’s recipes are flawless, culinary art. But I omitted the red peppers. And I got this:

I should add that I doubled the ingredients to make this much hummus.

It was sublime. Really, really amazing. Good enough to eat on its own. And I made enough to last a week.

In reality, this container is pretty large.

Yum! Hummus.

One last thing, if you are thinking of trying this, you do need a blender to get it mixed well. And, if you do try it, let me know how it went!

A cooking experiment

I had never tried it, but Ajvar was a sauce that was highly recommended. When I looked at the ingredient list and saw how small it was, I was intrigued. How could you make something so good with so few ingredients? Then, I went on line and saw how easy the recipe was and I thought, ‘I have to try it’. So I did.

These are all the ingredients required.

I have to warn you, gentle reader, that I am, at best, an okay cook. I can follow a recipe but that’s about it. I had no idea how this was going to turn out.

This is the first step. Chop everything up and put it into the oven.
A little heat sure does change things.

After this, the instructions say you have to put the roasted veggies into a bowl and cover them with a plastic. The idea is that the steam will make them easier to peel. Like I said, that’s the idea. The reality was a little different.

I did what the recipe called for. Into a bowl they went with a plastic top.

I had a heck of a time trying to part those peppers from their skins. I used nails, curses and a knife and it was a still a long and arduous process. Maybe this is a sauce better enjoyed bought than home-made.

This is the veggies without their skins.

Then, it’s the easy part. Add vinegar, salt, olive oil, pepper and blend.

Blended.

And then put in a container.

Voila!

So, how was it? I have never tasted the real thing so I can’t tell you if mine was awesome or not. I can say that the resulting sauce was mild and certainly appealing but it didn’t blow my mind. I wonder if it’s because I was expecting too much or because we had just finished eating sushi and the mixture didn’t work.

I don’t know if I put too much eggplant and that made the taste too bland and the colour too orange. I suspect that might be the case. If I had to do it again, I would recommend less eggplant (some say you can skip it altogether but I was following that recipe as if my life depended on it). Still, it’s a vegan dish and super famous, so there must be a reason.

If you have tried ajvar before or have experimented in the kitchen, give me a shout. I’d love to hear what you think of this famous sauce.